Northwest students get hands-on experience helping others

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SENATOBIA, MS (12/17/2018) Students in Northwest Mississippi Community College's Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology (HVAC) program recently got some hands-on experience while helping someone in need.

When HVAC instructor Josh Buchanan was approached by Joe Cooper from Highland Baptist Church to help the church with a project, he and fellow instructor Chris Blount jumped at the chance. A local man, Washington Burdette, had lost his home in a fire. Highland Baptist Church was building him a new home and needed Buchanan and Blount to help install the heating and air system in the home.

"We approached our industry partner Carrier Enterprise South Central in Memphis, and the company happily donated new equipment to us, so that we could install it and do the labor," Buchanan said.

Buchanan decided to turn the project into a learning experience for his students and was pleasantly surprised at the enthusiasm his students showed for the project. For Buchanan it was not only teaching his students hands on, but teaching them a life lesson as well.

"This is the real thing. There were no simulations at all. You can't simulate this type of thing in the classroom. This is exactly what they would be doing if they worked in the residential or housing market," Buchanan said.

Buchanan also praised Carrier for their willingness to help. "They really stepped up for us. They are on our advisory council and are one of our industry partners. I was really proud of them and the help they gave us on this," Buchanan said.

The Northwest HVAC program currently has 13 sophomores and 22 freshmen, Buchanan said. He stated that the sophomore class did the actual install of the system, but some of the prep work was done by freshman students. "We went through the whole process, and it took longer than it normally did because we were teaching as we were going though it," Buchanan said.

Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology is a postsecondary instructional program that prepares individuals to work in engineering departments or private firms installing, maintaining, and operating small or medium air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration systems. An Associate of Applied Science degree (60 hours) is awarded upon completion of the program. A two-year Technical Certificate program, which requires 45 semester credit hours, is also available.

"It was an opportunity for our program to give back and a great learning experience for our students. Several students have come back to me and told me that they had gotten a lot of good experience from doing this," Buchanan said.

For more information on the program, contact Buchanan at 662-562-3387 or email him at

Pictured: Northwest Mississippi Community College Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology (HVAC) students recently installed a new system in the new home of Tate County resident Washington Burdette, center. Burdette's home was destroyed by fire and is being rebuilt by Highland Baptist Church. Left to right are Chris Blount, instructor; Joe Cooper, Highland Baptist Church; Dalton Fillyaw of Water Valley, Moises Bravo of Senatobia, Demptravious Cox of Sardis, Javonta Jackson of Senatobia, Corneilous Rubbin of Byhalia, Washington Burdette, homeowner; Brian Wilkes of Courtland, Evan Doubleday of Batesville, Zach Woolfolk of Senatobia, Priest Jerry of Courtland, Tucker Burris of Senatobia, Laddarious Baker of Sardis, Bud Perry of Sarah, Ryan Wallace of Senatobia and Josh Buchanan, instructor. (Photo by LaJuan Tallo)