Central Pennsylvania celebrates new training center

In 2016, the administrators at Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 in Central Pennsylvania established a building committee to work together to design a new, energy efficient, state-of-the-art training center to replace the local’s aging building in Shoemakersville.

The new training center, which officially opened last summer, incorporates as much sheet metal as possible on the exterior of the building and is heralded by Local 19 training coordinator Patrick Edmonds as a “life-size educational experience, utilizing sheet metal products that Local 19 workers will use in everyday job activities.”

The exterior of the building incorporates 4-inch CENTRIA roof panels, utilized for their 32.3 R-value and clean design, and two additional CENTRIA products; a vertical panel system in the shop areas and horizontal panel in the classroom area of the building. Both of the wall panel systems carry an R-value of 25.83.

The building committee focused heavily on the building envelope to create a state-of-the-art facility with very good energy efficiency, adding several different types of wall panels in the construction that Local 19 members will learn how to install.

The committee chose to keep the interior of the building fairly simple in its design. They used an open concept design with the classrooms, hallways and vestibules having no ceilings so that all of the sheet metal duct and components are exposed. Aspects such as diffuser design, fire damper installation and inspection, duct design, proper duct and accessory installation, and various other learning experiences can be achieved using this open concept.

Understanding that technology plays a very important role in modern sheet metal training, Local 19 added a CAD/sketching room with 12 stations equipped with AutoDesk products for duct design, estimation, fabrication and building information modeling (BIM). The room is also used to teach plans and specification, and basic drafting.

The new facility also includes a sheet metal shop that houses new equipment including a power shear, power brake, iron worker, power rotary machine and automated plasma table, as well as equipment from the old building.

“We wanted the students to understand and take pride in the old methods of layout and fabrication, and at the same time, utilize more industrial equipment and techniques so we incorporated the old equipment back in to the design with new machinery,” said Gary Masino, Local 19 president and business manager.

Local 19 has been an American Welding Society Accredited Test Facility for many years, so the building committee knew it had to equip its new building with a welding shop that would allow it to maintain its ability to certify welders in various welding procedures. The new building has 12 welding booths and a larger space for one-on-one instructor involvement. The new welding shop is about twice the size of the old shop.

The group also focused on creating a service shop that would allow its students to install and service split and package air conditioning and heating systems. The shop includes equipment from several manufacturers so that students can be as well rounded as possible.

With Testing, Adjusting and Balancing (TAB) becoming more important than ever in the industry, Local 19 created a system that allows for the entire building to be used as a TAB learning experience. They also included a hydronic water testing wall and two separate TAB air handling systems.

Finally, the committee planned for the future addition of a cleanroom for students to learn HEPA filter testing and cleanroom setup. The area will include two biosafety cabinets and three fume hoods for training in ASHRAE 110 fume hood testing and biosafety cabinet decontamination.

“This area of the sheet metal industry is growing substantially in this region, and the ability to provide this training will be the key to growth for our members,” Edmonds said.

Apprentices, such as the students at Local 19, receive college-accredited training in AutoCAD, air balancing, refrigeration/service, welding and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) design, fabrication and installation. While they are learning in the classroom, they are gaining skills on the job site including installation of architectural sheet metal, kitchen equipment and duct for heating and air conditioning systems in residential and commercial buildings.

The goal is for apprentices to graduate with a college degree, zero college debt and a career to last a lifetime. More than 14,000 apprentices participate in 148 training centers across the United States and Canada, learning curriculum and using the free training materials provided by the International Training Institute (ITI), the education arm of the unionized sheet metal, air conditioning and welding industry.

For more information about ITI and its available training curriculum for members covering sheet metal trade work, visit the website or call 703-739-7200.

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