IIAR Plans Training Collaboration


The IIAR International Committee has been hard at work on several important initiatives since it became a formal working committee in 2012. One of the group’s most important goals in 2013 has been to facilitate training by conducting seminars and providing educational materials to governments and working groups in other countries.

The importance of ammonia refrigeration as an environmentally valuable technology has grown around the world, and with it, the importance of training.

As many countries look for ways to replace HFC’s with natural refrigerants, they are also looking for ways to build the training and educational resources necessary to support the growth of what is, in many places, a relatively new industry.

And that training effort is as varied as the countries themselves. In some places, training is still close to nonexistent, while in other places, governments have taken an active role in developing the resources necessary to turn out an experienced workforce of technicians and engineers.

One such country, Costa Rica, has made a significant investment in training through a publicly funded autonomous institution, called the National Learning Institute, or INA.

INA’s mission, to provide training and professional development services with the goal of fostering productive work in every sector of Costa Rica’s economy, fits with the environmental goals the country has set out to meet by training ammonia refrigeration professionals.

INA’s Refrigeration and Air Conditioning program is part of an effort to develop energy efficiency that was set up through a Swiss – Costa Rican cooperation agreement.

Under the program, INA built an ammonia refrigeration training facility that was inaugurated and first used during the 2007-2008 academic year.

INA’s facility has had a big impact in Costa Rica. So far, 100 students have benefited from hands-on training with an ammonia system and it has generated a passion for ammonia in Costa Rica’s HVAC-R sector.

Former students of the program have also become involved in providing ammonia refrigeration training, and it has increased awareness of ammonia safety issues including personal protective equipment.

Meanwhile, the local industry has benefited from the availability of more knowledgeable technicians.

The facility is the first and only publicly-funded ammonia refrigeration training facility in Central America, and is important because it represents the kind of collaboration between private organizations and governments that can produce successful training efforts.

An example of a public-private partnership, the facility exists because private companies, including IIAR members, have provided or lent equipment, know-how and other forms of assistance, including demonstrations on the use of equipment.

Private companies like Refrigeración Industrial Beirute also facilitate efforts to keep the equipment up to date with the technology the industry uses today.

INA’s Refrigeration and Air Conditioning technician training program is a two-and-a-half-year course. Potential students must pass a series of tests and an interview to be admitted to the program.

The first phase of the program lasts six to eight months and covers domestic air conditioning and refrigeration as well as thermodynamic theory.

The second phase also lasts six to eight months and covers commercial refrigeration and air conditioning. The final phase consists of one year of specialization in either industrial refrigeration or air conditioning and culminates in a practical internship at a company.

IIAR staff recently toured the refrigeration training facilities at INA’s main campus in San José, where INA representative Wilberth Alvarado Marín outlined several potential areas for expanding the impact of the program.

These include developing agreements and exchanges with other countries in Central America that lack programs or facilities comparable to INA’s refrigeration training center.

Nevertheless, while the program makes Costa Rica a leader in its region when it comes to ammonia refrigeration training, it lacks written educational materials.

That’s exactly the kind of need that IIAR, through the International Committee is ready to meet. In the coming year, IIAR will work with INA to explore how IIAR materials could enrich the industrial refrigeration module of their refrigeration and air conditioning course.

The collaboration will certainly break new ground for training in Latin America, and may well serve as the best model yet for IIAR’s training advocacy efforts around the world. Q