LEWISTON, Idaho – Beau Tippett, a 2014 graduate of Lewis-Clark State College, came away from the national SkillsUSA Championships in Kansas City with a gold medal in the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVAC-R) competition. The championships were held June 25 and 26. Tippett, of Lewiston, won a prize package worth over $6,000 that included industry specific tools and equipment, as well as work clothing.
Beau Tippett and Mark Smith at the SkillsUSA Championships.
More than 5,800 outstanding career and technical students, who were all winners of state contests, competed in more than 100 different trade, technical, and leadership fields. “The competition in HVAC-R consisted of eight hands-on stations, with a written test given the day before the main contest,” said Mark Smith, a professor of HVAC and Appliance Technology at LCSC. Smith accompanied Tippett to the competition as advisor and coach.
The eight stations included:
- A brazing area where contestants made and assembled a project that had no leaks, resembling much of the blue print of the project.
- An air-flow area where the contestant measured air flow, and made some other tests to assure the system was properly charged with refrigerant and operating as designed.
- A refrigeration station that had an electrical problem where the contestant had to find the fault.
- Another refrigeration station that had a mechanical failure where the contestant used meters and gauges to determine the fault.
- A gas furnace that had two electrical faults.
- A geo-thermal heat-pump that the contestant took several technical readings and described if the unit was working as designed.
- An air conditioning unit that had an electrical failure.
- A refrigerant recovery station where the contestant identified various refrigerants, connected gauges, and demonstrated proper recovery and evacuation methods as well as leak-checking the unit.
Tippett finished with over 930 points out of a possible 1,000.
He earned a certificate in Advanced HVAC Technology from LCSC and is employed by Kinzer Air in Lewiston.
"The SkillsUSA contest is one of the largest gatherings of new, talented HVAC-R technicians,” said Smith. “Only gold medalists from each state are invited to compete. It is a great assessment of an HVAC-R student, comparing our best to everyone else's best."