ASHRAE Grant to Build HVAC ‘Playground’

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An “HVAC&R playground” to give students hands-on experience with HVAC equipment and systems is being built at Pennsylvania State University using a grant from ASHRAE.

The facility will include an air handling unit, two air-conditioning window units, a small heat pump, low differential pressure instruments and manometers, carbon dioxide meters, VOC meters and a human simulation device.

Currently, Penn State juniors majoring in architectural engineering are exposed to HVAC&R equipment primarily through course lectures, a few site visits and weekly practicum where problems are solved on paper. As a result of the lack of hands-on experience, the field of HVAC&R loses students to other career specialization options, such as lighting, according to Jelena Srebric, Ph.D., Penn State.

“The lab will give students a place to interact and play with HVAC&R equipment and principles they learn about in their class,” she said. “It will promote HVAC&R while directly impacting students’ career decisions.”

The grant to Penn State University was one of 26 ASHRA grants to colleges and universities worldwide to promote the study and teaching of HVAC&R and encourage undergraduate students to pursue related careers. The grants are used to design and construct projects.

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