Event to strengthen HVACR technician training draws record numbers.

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and The Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration NEWS presented Bernard "Bernie" J. Merkel with the 2008 HVACR Instructor of the Year award at the HVACR and Plumbing Instructor Workshop.

During this three-day event, which drew more than 300 instructors from secondary and postsecondary school-based instructional programs across the country, AHRI and The Newsrecognized those instructors who dedicate their careers to improving technician training. The HVACR Instructor of the Year award is presented to an instructor who possesses outstanding teaching credentials and demonstrates a commitment to effectively training the next generation of HVACR industry professionals. This instructor goes above and beyond the call of duty to provide a strong foundation of learning for the future of the workforce. His or her dedication to high educational standards makes this instructor one every student wants to have.

For more than 40 years, Merkel of Rochester, NY, has dedicated his career to not only working behind the scenes to improve HVACR service training across the country, but also in front of the class training the next generation of HVACR service technicians. He spends more than 300 days a year on the road dedicated to this mission.

"Bernie is known in the industry for his involvement in practically every effort to improve technician training," said Warren Lupson, AHRI's director of education. "Whether it is reviewing industry tests, developing curriculum or structuring training programs, Bernie is at the table providing his expertise as a teacher and as a technician."

In addition to recognizing the dedication of HVACR instructors, the purpose of the annual industry-driven workshop is to provide information to help instructors and administrators of educational programs effectively train the next generation of skilled workers in the HVACR and plumbing industries. The workshop this year focused on the latest technologies through hands-on sessions presented by a wide range of manufacturers.

In addition to networking with industry experts, instructors also learn from presenters and each other about innovative teaching techniques and student recruitment tools. The 2008 Instructor workshop was sponsored by a coalition of industry trade associations including ACCA, AHRI, CARE, HARDI, NATE, the PHCC Educational Foundation, RSES and SkillsUSA.