Eight men graduated from Bevill State Community College and Alabama Power's HVAC Fast Track program on Tuesday.
A graduation ceremony was held at the Bevill State/Alabama Power HVAC Training Center at Industrial Court in Jasper on Tuesday to celebrate the graduates.
Bevill State President Dr. Joel Hagood said the men completed an 11-week HVAC program with 295 hours of instruction that included learning resume writing, interview skills, and the technical knowledge necessary for repair, installation, service, and maintenance of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration components.
"That also included diagnostic techniques, use of testing equipment, principals of mechanics, electricity, and electronics as related to repair," Hagood said during the graduation ceremony Tuesday. "Wow, that's pretty incredible."
He added, "I commend you, graduates, for your hard work."
Completing the program qualifies graduates to take the State of Alabama HVACR Contractors Exam and to earn the EPA Section 608 Refrigerant Handling Certification.
Al Moore, dean of workforce solutions and economic development for Bevill State, also spoke during the ceremony and thanked many who are involved in the offerings that the HVAC Training Center provides.
He also presented certificates of completion to graduates.
"I want to say a special congratulations to all of our graduates today. We're so proud of you for your accomplishment," he said.
HVAC Training Center Manager Joel Owen also thanked HVAC center staff and teachers for helping the students succeed in their educational endeavors.
"It has been a pleasure to get to know you and see how you each have developed in your different ways," Owen told the graduates. "Our goal was that you have a life-changing experience."
For graduates Cedric C. Davis and Carter S. Moorer IV, the program was indeed life-changing. Both told the Daily Mountain Eagle that the program has created unlimited career opportunities.
Davis said participating in the HVAC program has allowed him to pursue a second career.
"I've been able to develop a lot of technical skills that I did not have prior to the program, and it has opened up a lot of doors for me," Davis said. "In the AC and refrigeration industry, there are so many different aspects to it, and the training I received through this program has prepared me to pursue those opportunities. It's really been a game-changer, as well as a life changer for me."
Moorer added, "It has definitely given me a lot of special experience. It's great that we were selected for the program because it was on scholarship. It was for sure a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. ... I really, truly feel like the sky is the limit for which way you want to go."
Davis and Moorer expressed their gratitude to those who made the Fast Track program possible.
"I would like to thank Alabama Power, and, particularly, Joel (Owen) and his staff. The facilities were great. They were second to none," Davis said. "If you walk down and you look at the machines we have the opportunity to work on and be exposed to — I've never seen anything like it. The environment and the educational opportunities that the staff here provided us were second to none."
In conjunction with the graduation ceremony, some industry professionals were on hand Tuesday to interview all of the graduates and potentially offer them jobs.
The Bevill State/Alabama Power HVAC Training Center opened in late 2018 and has allowed many people to receive HVAC training in the 33,000 square foot facility. Nearly 50 manufacturers and distributors provided equipment that is used to train students at the center.
Training at the facility, administered by Alabama Power instructors, is expected to support the industry amid an expected shortage of thousands of HVAC employees in the coming years.
More information about applying to participate in training at the facility can be found by visiting https://www.bscc.edu/hvac-fast-track. Information is also available on the website about applying for scholarships.
Jeff Peoples, executive vice president of customer and employee services for Alabama Power, said he is proud Bevill State and Alabama Power were able to partner in having the HVAC Training Center in Walker County.
"We have the opportunity now to work with a lot of technical schools across the southeast, from Virginia and all the way up into Illinois, and Bevill State is the absolute best," Peoples said, crediting the college's leaders for their collaborative vision. "You don't have facilities like this everywhere or opportunities like this everywhere, and we have it right here at home."
He further described the training center as a "model partnership."
The eight men who graduated from the HVAC Fast Track program on Tuesday include Davis, Moorer, Jeffrey L. Adair, Michael Blake Carroll, Joshua A. Cook, Eddie W. Kirkland Jr., Cheyenne Moore, and Quilin D. Tarrance.
For more education news from the Daily Mountain Eagle, visit http://www.mountaineagle.com/education.