By Mike McKissack
College of DuPage HVACR students Joe Zulegar of Oak Lawn (above, center), Conner Foley of Aurora (above, right) and Trevor Cook of Lombard (above, left) took first, second and third place, respectively, in the fifth annual Vocational/Junior College HVACR competition hosted by the Chicago Pipe Fitters Local Union 597. COD students have placed in the top three at the competition in four out of the last five years.
Open to vocational, private and junior/community college HVACR students, the contest included a general HVACR industry knowledge test, a wiring project and a basic practical piping/soldering test. The top three competitors were awarded cash prizes, received plaques and will have their names added to the Local Union 597 perpetual plaque.
Zulegar said it felt good to take first place, particularly because of the talented and skilled competitors he faced. He also said he values these kinds of experiences in his educational journey.
“It’s important to have these events and participate, as I believe the challenge helps us push ourselves by allowing us to think on our feet with the help of some friendly competition,” he said.
Currently working as a maintenance engineer at a nearby university, Zulegar is pursuing a Facility Maintenance Mechanic Associate in Applied Science degree, as well as Stationary Operator and Building Automation Systems certificates at COD.
He said he is pleased with the education he’s receiving in the HVACR program at College of DuPage and that it is helping prepare him for success.
“Everything that COD and especially the teachers have instilled has allowed me take part in the contest and improve my skills,” he said. “It seems that every day at work I can relate back to something that I’m currently learning at COD.”
The HVACR program at College of DuPage provides students with the theory of refrigeration, air conditioning and heating, electrical circuitry, control equipment, and system design, as well as hands-on experience a state-of-the-art lab on cutting-edge equipment. Students can choose from a variety of certificates, including Energy and Analysis, Service Technician and Stationary Operator, as well as associate degrees such as Contractor, Service Technician and Facility Maintenance Mechanic.