SPC student sees future in refrigeration technology

LEVELLAND – Having family and friends who work trade jobs, South Plains College student Adyson Rodriguez considered career and technical education as a potential next step in her academic journey. It was in the college’s heating, air conditioning and refrigeration technology (HART) program that she found her passion for refrigeration.

Rodriguez, a second-year student from Lubbock, did not start at the college in the HART program. At the beginning of her college journey, she focused on prerequisites for teacher education, as she was working as a preschool teacher. After realizing the major was not the right fit, she consulted a friend, who was an SPC HART student at the time, for insight on the HART program.

“I have friends and cousins that do welding, my dad is an electrician and my sister does mechanics,” she said. “I was weighing my options on what trade I would be most interested in, and my friend really sold me on HART.”

In addition to speaking to her friend, Rodriguez said she talked to HART instructors Octavio Perez and Eric Gamez for more information about the program.

“Once I was able to speak with them and get more detail about the program’s classwork and hands-on learning in the labs, it sounded like it would be great for me,” she said.

Rodriguez, who is the first in her family to go to college, aims to get her HART Commercial Refrigeration Air Conditioning Technician Certificate this semester and her associate degree in HART in the fall. She hopes to potentially return to SPC to broaden her knowledge in the welding program.

“There’s so many avenues that you can take once you graduate,” she said regarding the HART program. “Yes, you could do the residential side where you work on houses, but there’s also refrigeration.”

As a full-time employee at United Supermarkets, Rodriguez said she will sometimes see a refrigeration company service the refrigerators and freezers, which piqued her interest in the field. She also spoke to a family friend who opened her eyes to the many opportunities in refrigeration, such as servicing and installing units.

In the HART program, Rodriguez said she credits her professors and classmates for helping her achieve her goals.

“There were times when I wanted to give up,” she said. “But that’s when my classmates came into play.”

Adyson Rodriguez

Being the only woman in the class is a factor Rodriguez said has not held her back, as the students are always willing to help each other. Her professors, who are the ones who encouraged her to pursue the HART associate degree, also provide a lot of guidance.

“My professors have faith in all of us,” she said. “We all want to see each other succeed.”

For a student in any program, Rodriguez said overcoming challenges requires heart.

“If you really want it enough, you got to work at it,” she said. “For females wanting to go into male-dominated trades, not just HVAC, don’t let the fact that you’re a female hold you back. Let the fact that you’re a female propel you.”

Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology

SPC provides a two-semester or four-semester technical program in heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration technology. Participating students receive hands-on training from qualified faculty that gives them the skills needed to succeed in this career field. There are three training options: a certificate of proficiency in air conditioning technology, a certificate of proficiency in commercial refrigeration technology or an associate of applied science degree in air conditioning and refrigeration technology.

Students spend approximately a quarter of the class time in lectures on areas including electrical theory, heating and cooling theory and other related technical subjects. The remaining class time is spent in the program’s well-equipped laboratory which features 3,200 square feet of floor space for basic and advanced studies of refrigeration equipment and air conditioning mechanics. The lab contains various modern refrigeration equipment and air conditioning equipment. Students also have access to several training systems that add a different dimension to the program. (SPC Photo/Chris Nazario)