Lake Erie College Partners with Trane and NC3 To Launch HVAC Community Workforce Development Initiative


Although unemployment is at its lowest point in decades and job opportunities at their highest, Northeast Ohio is still feeling the pinch for skilled workers. One of the professions with significant growth potential over the next decade is skilled laborers in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR). Fewer people have been entering the trades or receive the proper education.  Lake Erie College (LEC) identified this as an opportunity to create a commercial HVAC program and sought mutually beneficial partnerships in the region. The result is a partnership between LEC and Trane, a leader in the HVACR industry and NC3, a leader in providing certificate programs to the industry. Together, the partners constructed a state of the art lab with instructors dedicated to educating people in the HVACR field, preparing them for an NC3 certification.  The program will be launched this summer and with an official ribbon cutting ceremony hosted at Lake Erie College, Garfield Center on April 13, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Although it may be a bit unusual for a liberal arts college to host a technical certification course, LEC president, Brian Posler clarifies, “As we look to the future and evaluate what successful companies are doing to position themselves for long-term sustainability, one common trait jumps out which is innovation. As the tides of higher education are continually changing, those that stand still will not survive. We have to look at the challenges through a new lens -- one of innovation and creativity.”

Trane’s General Manager for Northeast Ohio, Mike Bryan, shares his enthusiasm for the partnership, “Trane is excited to be partnering with LEC and NC3 to support the development of future HVACR professionals.  There is an immediate demand for skilled individuals in our trade both in Northeast, as well as across the U.S.” The LEC HVACR program is located in Painesville, Ohio which has ten of the region’s largest manufacturers within a 25 mile radius, making the demand for commercial HVACR a much needed skillset. “This partnership became an immediate match as the vision of our three organizations all aligned to not only drive innovation in our industry, but also to endeavor to be good corporate citizens by giving back to the communities that support our businesses.  Trane will also be providing support via a tuition assistance program that will be managed by the college,” adds Bryan.

The advantage that Lake Erie College provides in this unique partnership is that the lab is just the beginning of the student experience.  Herb Dill, the director of the physical plant and executive director of the program at LEC wanted students to learn how to do something in the lab and then execute it in the field. Utilizing LEC's facilities was an excellent foundation for students to gain real world experience.  Herb states, "Anyone can learn in an environment where everything is new and clean, no pressure is on, but to give a student the opportunity to be out in the elements and see what equipment looks like after long term use is a plus that most programs cannot offer." Lake Erie College has all types of systems ranging from hot water, steam, and chillers that a student can gain actual working experience and help fix problems that will immediately benefit the college.  

Lake Erie College, Trane, and NC3 have created a commercial/residential program that is built to educate those curious about the field or those that already are in the field but want to take that crucial next step.  “This initiative puts more people to work, builds the skilled labor pool, provides for our future workforce and, in the long run, establishes another revenue pipeline. That’s a win-win in my opinion,” summarizes Posler.  For more information or to apply, contact program administrators, Herb Dill, at or Robert Goe, at

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