San Jacinto College HVAC team selected as finalist in national contest

12.04.2014 | By Rob Vanya

A San Jacinto College faculty-student team was recently selected as a finalist in a national contest sponsored by the Fluke Corporation, a world leader in electronic testing tools.

The winner of the Fluke Connect Student Contest will win a trip to Fluke headquarters in Seattle, as well as electronic tools worth $3,500.

The San Jacinto College HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) team submitted a project proposal that utilized Fluke testing equipment. Their proposal, which has the potential of enhancing testing equipment performance, qualified the team as a finalist, along with four other college teams. Other colleges who qualified include Brigham Young University, California Polytechnic State University, the University of Kentucky, and Western Iowa Tech Community College.

Community members can help the San Jacinto College team win the contest by voting online. Twenty five percent of the decision about which team wins will be decided by public vote. Online voting runs from Dec. 8 through Dec. 12. The public can vote on Facebook at:

The San Jacinto College team includes HVAC instructor Ben Ficklin, and students Larry Duff, Jacob Hernandez, Keith Hardy, Carlos Silos, and Manuel Munoz. The team’s proposal involves the charging (adding refrigerant) to residential and commercial HVAC systems using Fluke’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enable instruments, providing a more efficient workflow.

Ficklin, who served as supervisor and advisor, said the students worked well together and learned a lot about collaboration and how to operate cutting-edge digital equipment. “It’s amazing how many advancements have been made with electronic testing equipment thanks to new technology,” Ficklin commented. “Fluke meters are able to communicate with smart phones, which enable HVAC technicians to perform jobs quicker and more efficiently.”

San Jacinto College HVAC student Larry Duff says participating in the project was not only educational, but also provided valuable workforce skills.

“At San Jacinto College, we learn to use both analog and digital HVAC equipment, and I am learning how the newest digital equipment provides more precise readings,” Duff said. “In this particular Fluke project, we worked with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology, sending data for cloud storage on the Internet so that it can be retrieved later. Learning to use the most advanced technology like this will be a great addition to my resume and will no doubt help in a job search.”

The training that Duff, 45, is receiving at San Jacinto College is enabling him to make a career change in a short amount of time at an affordable cost. He was working as a photographer, but at the age of 45 he decided he wanted to learn a skilled craft. “HVAC is a high demand career field in the Houston area, and offers great pay and job security,” he said. “Once I earn an associate degree from San Jacinto College, and work for another two years for an employer, I will be able to apply for a contractor’s license and start my own HVAC company.”

San Jacinto College offers HVAC classes and degree options at the North and South campuses. For more information, please visit

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.