The 2020 PPATEC training schedule featured over 65 different classes scheduled throughout the year. The first class began on February 18. On March 18, all PPATEC in-person training was paused due to state COVID-19 restrictions. In mid-June, PPATEC received state approval to resume in-person training activity which required establishing a Health and Safety Plan. Safety precautions such as reductions in class size, facemask requirements, temperature checks, and enhanced cleaning procedures were implemented as a part of this plan.
PPATEC continued to offer in-person training on a monthly basis until mid-November. We ended the year with being able to safely host 30 in-person technical trainings which featured 300+ attendees.
The 2021 training schedule is set to resume in February. A majority of 2021 classes have already been added to the PPATEC website and are currently open for registration.
In January 2019, PPA established a new brand called PPATEC (Pennsylvania Petroleum Association Technical Education Center) to better position the association for future educational growth opportunities. The creation of PPATEC included a stand alone website which is solely dedicated to promoting the association’s technical training program. The creation of the PPATEC brand also included a new membership category specifically structured for HVAC/mechanical contractors to join the association. To date, over 30 contractors have become members of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Association under this subcategory.
In December 2019, the PPA Board of Directors approved a plan for PPATEC to begin the process to become a Private Licensed School in Pennsylvania. This designation falls under PA Department of Education oversight and will allow the association to accept tuition from individuals of the general public. Currently, all of the individuals who attend PPATEC classes are funded by their employer which does not require our program to obtain specific recognition from the state.
The primary purpose of PPATEC becoming a Private Licensed School is to begin offering a 10 week gateway program. The goal of this program will be to recruit new individuals into the energy & HVAC industry. Graduates of this 10 week program will receive basic training on electrical, A/C, gas, propane, and oil heat training. They will also receive valuable industry certifications (EPA 608, CETP, and NORA). Once individuals complete the program, they will have the opportunity to be hired by PPA and PPATEC members. Candidates for this program include veterans, vo-tech graduates, and individuals who want to begin a new career.
PPATEC anticipates receiving the approval by the state to operate as a Private Licensed School in 2021. After that point, PPATEC will begin the process to become a GI Bill approved school through the Department of Veterans Affairs. This designation will allow veterans to utilize GI Funding to cover the cost of tuition when attending the PPATEC 10 week program.
The PPA has also invested in expanding the technical training capacity at our Middletown training center. The previous lab space dedicated for hands-on training was 650 sq ft. Building renovations took place in June – August to increase the hands-on training space to 1,550+ sq ft and to create a new 750 sq ft state of the art classroom.
Building Expansion Project Images & Timeline
March 2020: Previous PPATEC classroom (front view)
March 2020: Previous PPATEC classroom (back view)
September 2020: PPATEC hosts first class in new upstairs classroom (front view)
September 2020: New PPATEC upstairs classroom (back view)
October 2020: Cleared out space along with various equipment donations from industry stakeholders
November 2020: Addition of new workbench and preliminary equipment sets
December 2020: Significant progress for equipment installation and piping
December 2020: Additional space is utilized at facility to install water heaters and propane appliances
The new hands-on training space will feature 15+ pieces of live-fire HVAC and appliance equipment. Members of the Education Committee and the Propane Committee actively engaged in contacting the manufacture and wholesaler community to support this initiative. The PPA and PPATEC would like to recognize the following suppliers who have contributed to this project to date.
Thank You To The Following Companies Who Supported This Project To Date
Viega piping/fittings products provided at discount by RF Fager Company
Propane & Natural Gas
Natural gas supply line installed at no cost by UGI
Donated by Rhoads Energy
The majority of equipment will be installed and operational before the end of the year. PPATEC currently intends to host three 10 week HVAC & Energy Professional Programs in the next two years. This new gateway program is anticipated to add 30 – 40 new individuals into the industry during that time period.
A 501(c)(3) Scholarship Foundation is currently being established to help qualifying individuals receive tuition assistance to attend the PPATEC 10 week HVAC & Energy Professional Program. More details will be available in 2021 for how members and industry stakeholders can support this foundation.
All of the newly installed equipment will be incorporated into traditional PPATEC class offerings attended by membership companies. This specifically will include more hands-on training opportunities for upcoming propane/natural gas, air conditioning, and electrical classes.
If you are interested in becoming more involved in providing feedback and direction regarding the PPATEC training program, then please consider joining one the following committees in 2021:
12/22/2020 Update: PPA is excited to share that Alan Mercurio will be joining the association as a full time employee in January 2021 to serve as the Lead Technical Trainer for PPATEC. This addition will continue to support the growing PPATEC program.