Adapting educational offerings to meet the needs of young professionals in the hydronic systems field and also to attract new talent is a frequently discussed topic within the industry.
Engineers, contractors or installers new to hydronic systems require a basic introduction to this highly specialized field. Flexible educational programming that is offered in a variety of formats, from traditional classroom training to online instruction, has taken hold in recent years to accommodate the way people want to learn. Virtual learning offers the benefit of logging on anytime and anywhere. The advantage of in-person instruction is the opportunity to see firsthand how hydronic system components work.
At Xylem’s Bell & Gossett Little Red Schoolhouse, more than 61,000 industry professionals have experienced in-person training on proper hydronic system design, installation and troubleshooting since 1954, and its Online Little Red Schoolhouse has furthered systems knowledge since 2014. Time and time again we’ve also observed that the benefits of continuing education extend beyond the classroom in a myriad of ways.
1. Impact the built environment
The engineer tasked with designing a hydronic HVAC system in a commercial building has the opportunity to put his or her thumbprint on the mechanical system that will likely last the life of the building. Employing the systems knowledge gained from ongoing education will help ensure design of efficient systems that meet the project’s energy and budget goals.
While the principles of hydronic system design are standard, each new project involves a custom design, providing the design engineer opportunities for creativity and innovation.
2. Employ problem-solving skills
Engineers and others in the HVAC and plumbing fields have a common characteristic: They are natural-born problem-solvers. They like to use their natural curiosity to solve practical problems or make something better. Expanding one’s knowledge about hydronic systems and how they are supposed to operate is a benefit not only in designing mechanical systems but also in the field when problems arise.
3. Build a network of experts
Continuing education courses and seminars are great ways to broaden industry connections. Developing professional relationships with instructors, peers and fellow problem-solvers can prove valuable when problems or questions come up on the job.
4. Expand knowledge base
As increasingly complex technologies are integrated into HVAC and plumbing system design, engineers must be well educated on basic processes as well as technological advancements that affect systems and design. Further, keeping up-to-date on industry standards and regulations such as ASHRAE 90.1 or LEED requirements will provide critical information to help professionals service, install and design the most efficient hydronic systems, no matter how long they’ve been in the industry.
In addition, many states and industry organizations require the accumulation of annually approved Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to maintain current professional license.
Though many of the fundamentals of hydronic system design remain constant, new products and technologies mean new ways of doing things and new opportunities for learning. It’s at this nexus between tried and true and new and now that will continue to shape the future of education and hydronic system design.