International Update: A Focus on Education in Latin America

In Chile, the International Committee of the IIAR has been working with the University of Santiago’s department of mechanical engineering along with the Chilean Chamber of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (CChRyC) to develop a diploma track specifically to prepare refrigeration engineers to work with ammonia systems. The first class – 14 engineers in total – recently graduated.

Chile’s government is using IIAR Standards to create national guidelines for the use of ammonia refrigeration systems, but the process has been slow, International Director Yesenia Rector said. Instead of waiting for the IIAR standards to be signed into law, Rector said the university and by extension the professional students involved in the program were proactive about the process – learning about best practices in this specific corner of the industry – to be prepared for when the laws are finalized.

“The first 14 students have graduated, and they are enjoying their IIAR membership and studying and applying the norms as they go,”

Rector said. “But there will be some changes coming for the second version of the diploma.” Rector said as the program grows, they will likely partner more closely with CChRyC, their local memorandum of understanding partner, to help deliver the curriculum to a wider audience more efficiently. “I’m very hopeful that this will develop into a bigger program,” she said.

Speaking of this partnership, Rector said IIAR will also be participating in a conference sponsored by CChRyC in May. It’s important that IIAR maintain a presence in the country while fostering strong relationships with its industry partners, Rector said, so that natural refrigeration can become more prevalent.

Outside of Chile, IIAR, along with Argentina’s Institute of Mechanical Technology, is getting close to finalizing its national norms governing the use of ammonia refrigeration systems based on IIAR standards. Once it is signed into law, IIAR will be providing support and technical materials.

Also, in Argentina, the National Technical University is reviewing a proposal from IIAR to create a diploma track similar to what is offered in Chile. However, instead of focusing on professionals already in the field, this program will seek to educate engineering students to help sustain the industry and help it grow. The program is still in its early stages, but Rector said she hopes it will be ready for classrooms by the first half of 2020.

Meanwhile, the IIAR chapter in Mexico has just finalized its plans for 2020 and 2021, with a heavy focus on education, Rector said. The objective is to develop programs either through local universities or other instructional bodies to train professionals using IIAR standards, ANR courses and other technical publications.

Finally, in Costa Rica – the flagship country in the region where national norms have already been established using IIAR standards – the Academy of Natural Refrigerants will offer a certificate course taught in Spanish on IIAR 2. Rector said around 40 students are expected to become certified through the course, which will be offered next April.