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Nation’s only HVAC advanced diploma forged in extreme conditions

Western Australia’s remote and often harsh environment has, by necessity, driven innovation in the state since the arrival of the first settlers. 

South Metropolitan TAFE’s delivery of the nation’s only Advanced Diploma of Engineering (HVAC) qualification owes its inception to the wave of iron ore development that swept the Pilbara region in the 1960s and ‘70s. 

As development—and money—poured into the arid, sweltering region it brought with it an unprecedented demand for retail, industrial and commercial air conditioning. Entire towns emerged from the red dust, as did the need for qualified technicians and engineers to design, install, maintain and repair air conditioning systems that were pushed to their limits.

SM TAFE emerged as a premier provider of refrigeration and air conditioning training, first delivering the Diploma of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineering in the mid-1970s.

It has, through its unrivalled Carlisle campus facilities just eight kilometres from the Perth CBD, retained its mantle as a leading national provider of refrigeration and air conditioning vocational training.

Graham Boyle, SM TAFE Portfolio Manager, said the industry had long wrestled with bridging the divide between certificate-trained technicians and university graduate engineers.

“Most universities don’t offer engineering specialisations in HVAC so the design area often relies on mechanical engineering graduates gaining HVAC expertise through mentors or courses run by AIRAH, whereas in WA they can come to us and complete a diploma or advanced diploma in HVAC,” he said.

There are a range of job roles at this para-professional level, including design, drafting, sales, application engineering, project management, maintenance planning and as an engineering associate.

As part of SM TAFE’s Advanced Diploma, students acquire skills in industry standard software such as Trane TRACE, ACADS-BSG, SolidWorks, MATLAB, Revit and the latest Innotech controls. 

Campus facilities and equipment have been custom designed for the purpose of teaching HVAC qualifications. State-of-the-art hardware enables students to use industry-relevant equipment, with zones where the ambient temperature is controlled to provide heat loads, regardless of the weather.

The Advanced Diploma of Engineering (HVAC) focuses on the application of the skills gained in the Diploma. Much of the Diploma of Engineering – Technical (HVAC) is spent developing the requisite maths, science and CAD skills, while the Advanced Diploma involves using the application software deployed in design offices, control system design and energy auditing.

The courses offered are on a full-time and part-time basis. With staff possessing an engineering or science degree, a range of additional trade qualifications and extensive industry experience.

Articulation arrangements are in place with most WA tertiary institutions, with the Advanced Diploma providing one year’s credit towards a Bachelor of Engineering degree.

Image: SM TAFE Advanced Skills Lecturer Jean L’Aiguille demonstrates usage of the cooling tower control.

Page last updated July 30, 2018