Inaugural HVAC Engineering & Technology Academy Class at FDTC honored
The Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC) Educational Foundation recently presented scholarship certificates to 10 high school students enrolled in the new HVAC Engineering & Technology Academy.
The new dual enrollment program is designed for high school students, and it was founded through a partnership with Florence-based companies, Johnstone Supply and Quality Service Company.
In addition to helping design the program, both sponsors pledged a combined $20,000 to create the HVAC Future Leaders Scholarship Fund. All 10 students in the inaugural class will receive scholarship assistance from the fund.
The HVAC Engineering & Technology Academy allows high school students to take courses at FDTC and earn college credit towards a certificate in HVAC Technology. Students who complete the program may enter the workforce immediately upon graduation or continue their higher education at FDTC and earn an Associate’s Degree in HVAC Technology.
The inspiration for the new program came from Angie Woodberry and Chris McDonald, two professionals in the HVAC industry. Woodberry is the owner of Johnstone Supply, a leading wholesale distributor of HVAC equipment, parts and supplies. McDonald is the owner of Quality Service Company, a locally owned and operated HVAC company.
Both business leaders said they have seen HVAC contractors struggle to find qualified employees in recent years, and they want to raise awareness about the benefits of studying trades. Woodberry believes that the traditional four-year college track is not necessarily the best choice for every student.
“Tech schools are seen as the ‘alternative’ to a four-year school,” Woodberry said. “We want very much to help people realize that trade schools are not the alternative at all. They are the absolute best place and should be the top choice for these kids!”
Chris McDonald added that for many students, trade jobs like HVAC may offer an opportunity to develop natural skills into a career.
“I think the decision about what to do after high school comes down to finding the best place to develop your natural skills,” McDonald said. “For those students who enjoy using the skills required in trade fields, there are many excellent career choices available to them. Skilled trade jobs are in high demand, because the services they provide are critical to the everyday lives of all people and cannot be outsourced to other countries.”
Students recognized during the ceremony Oct. 5 at the FDTC Automotive and HVAC Technology Center included: Dawson Baker, South Florence High School; Frank Bateman, South Florence High School; Robert Brewer, South Florence High School; Clark Driggers, West Florence High School; Samuel Flowers, S.C. Association of Independent Home Schools; Kyle Grice, West Florence High School; Michael Kirby, West Florence High School; Billy McAllister, South Florence High School; Stephen Stalvey, West Florence High School; and James Weatherford, South Florence High School.