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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Posts
    11
    Hello, I'm currently in the IT field and would like to jump over to the HVAC field and found controls to be interesting.
    Now mind you I'm 28, married and with kids so I do have bills on the table. So, what is the best way to get into controls?

    Thanks,

    jp

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Posts
    7,321
    try submitting resumes' to either johnson controls or honeywell. they would be the most likely places to hire you with no controls experience. they like guys who know compuiters but not necessarily hvac. most regular contractors will hire guys who already know how to use these systems and can not afford to train you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    862

    Why?

    So you can work for a contractor? I'll trade with you. How often do you hear, "There's nothing to do so go home"? How often do you wonder where your next project is going ot come from? Contractors and training are oxymorons. Contracting is for the birds.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    466
    Wow, sounds a bit harsh. Perhaps I'm just spoiled with the economy in California, but contracting here is rarely slow. There's no doubt where the next project is coming from - it was in the backlog 4 months ago, waiting for manpower.

    I've worked both for a controls division of a mechanical contractor, and an independent controls-only contractor, and I've never been sent home for lack of work. Nor has training ever been an issue. If you're trainable, many a company would spend the $5K it takes to send a guy out for a week of training - and at least once a year.

    For someone who doesn't care to see the insides of the same building year after year after year, contracting (more precisely, working for a quality contractor) makes a lot of sense.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    1,372
    Originally posted by davem
    I've worked both for a controls division of a mechanical contractor, and an independent controls-only contractor, and I've never been sent home for lack of work.
    We normally have a backlog of work. However, we still sometimes need to send a few folks home for a bit. Normally only a few, normally the newest and least trainned. The reason primarily being that we have to deal with the seasons of Minnesota. Construction goes on year round, but really slows in the depth of winter. So one often faces 8 months of balls to the walls work, followed by 4 months of slow times.

    In slow times, easier to justify keeping the better trainned, more experienced guys around. And we will, even if what we keep em employed at is making the company owners little or no money. After all, we sure as hell don't want our best folks taking a walk on us. Too friggin hard to replace. Easier to keep em doing something at least nominally productive, as they're more flexible in knowledge and skill levels.

    ie The example of two of our guys recently. One automation tech is a pipefitter. Work for him in automation is slow right now, as while we have installers on several sizeable projects working like crazy. The jobs just aren't ready for an automation tech to do his thing. So we made arrangements to loan the guy to the mechanical service department for a couple months. He's a chiller heavy weight, and long experienced service pipefitter. So they had work for him.

    The other guy is an electrical sort turned automation tech. Licensed electrician. So we've found him things to do. Toss him some strictly electrical work, time to time. Small one man projects. And toss him some small automation jobs. Where he does the whole project. Engineering and design, layout, documentation and programming, install and commissioning. He's fully qualified at all the necessary skills. And our engineering department is happy to dump the small jobs on him while they concentrate on the big ones.

    Point being, we make every effort we can to keep our "good guys" working. If they want. Some, in the slow season, OTOH don't mind a short layoff, or will voluntarily use up some of their vacation time, or just take a week or two off unpaid. Have planned their money. Take the slow time opportunity to go visit Aunt Sarah in Florida for a couple weeks. Or, like one recently did, he said he wanted a couple weeks off to go to the family cabin up north, try out his new snow mobile and catch up on some ice fishing.

    The newbies, lessor trained and skilled? Well, in Minnesota it's part of the job and the business and they know from apprentice indoctrination that it's to be expected that one might well get sent home in deep winter. With us, we do everything we can to make sure the winter layoff for them is as short as possible. Rarely exceeds 2 months. That is, if we're at all concerned whether or not they'll come back. Sometimes in the case of any particular individual, we're not. I think you know what I mean. But for the promising sorts, the hard workers who want to work and learn, we'll bend over backwards to bring em back before long. ie I noted the manager of one of the other departments has already brought back 3 of his apprentices who'd been sent home for a couple months. He's still waiting for some projects to get ready for them. ie Waiting on other trades, masons, iron workers, etc. But didn't want to leave em home any longer, in case they got tempted to jump ship and work for someone else. So he's "found" work for em. In the shop. Repair and maintenace on equipment. Stock inventory and cleanup. Getting stuff prepped. Because soon now things will shift to the balls to the walls mode. Where the real issue will be, "Jeez, how are we gonna get all this done in the time allowed?"

    Nor has training ever been an issue. If you're trainable, many a company would spend the $5K it takes to send a guy out for a week of training - and at least once a year.
    Hmmm. We certainly don't do this once a year for each employee. Almost never for a union apprentice. As they already have schooling to attend. The cost of which both they and the company pays for. There are exceptions if apprentice is particularly sharp and a go-getter.

    But for the old hands and more experienced, yep, pretty usual for us to send em off for a week or two. Not every year. Every 2 or 3. Add some inhouse training.

    ie For a couple months we've had a hot shot pipefitter. A sharp guy wanting to learn automation. So an arrangement was made to have him tag along with various of our automation techs. It's a money loser. What work he accomplishes isn't paying his wages. But that's okay, it's training. And the techs he's with take extra time on the job to do training. In the end he'll go back to mechanical service dept. But will have the basics he needs to add automation service for the type controllers he's been learning to his bag of skills. So we figure it's a win-win thing.

    Add, this month, we've scheduled time for one of our top automation guru's (no, that's not me. I'm pretty good. Not THAT good.) to spend a week holding a formal sit down in the classroom training session for select inhouse folks. Some from the automation department, some from service department. We keep a record of training for individuals. And identified some specific weak areas for a group. That's what he's going to address. Training to be both academic, and live, using working equipment. We specifically spent money and time to purchase and set up "test benches" using live controllers, actuators, etc. That're used to pretest concepts and planned installs/programs. Also used for training like this. It was a sizeable investment. But we feel it's worth it. The test benches include not only HVAC system controls, but also fire alarm, door access, etc. We did save some money by using old stuff or obsolete stuff where we could.

    For someone who doesn't care to see the insides of the same building year after year after year, contracting (more precisely, working for a quality contractor) makes a lot of sense.
    Yep. My background is primarily in-house repair and maintenace. This job is my first on the construction and contracting side of things. Well, I've hired contractors many times, just haven't been one.

    And it's interesting, to me. To see the other side of the fence. And there are different challenges to face. But I also get to see lots of new faces, new places, and new equipment. And has allowed me to see contractors from a whole different view. To walk in their shoes.

    Chuckle, an interesting and sometimes even fun change from things like I've done in the past. A refreshing break from things like, when I was in the Navy, spending years in the same old enginerooms and boiler rooms. You got to know the equipment very well. And if a person was like myself, by the time I left an assignment and moved on, everything hummed to perfection. BUT ... it sure could get boring sometimes. And more than once I sorta wished I had a job out in the fresh air, at least sometimes.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    1,806
    Only ones I send home are the whiners who do not want to do different jobs when things are a bit slow ( not very often )

    There are some HVAC techs that are starving to death during their slow periods but my control techs are keeping buisy.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    466
    You bring up a good point, osiyo, about not training everyone in the company. I didn't even think about all the field guys, and I guess that myopic view comes from my current position in controls. When I hear a 28-year-old IT guy ask about getting into controls, I assume he means that he wants to do a job like mine, totally forgetting my years in the trenches INSTALLING controls. Yes, getting into controls will involve a few years of OTJ training, learning how to install them first (while learning the systems side of the business), then getting onto a laptop to do checkout and commissioning (at which point, putting him through some factory training once a year makes sense), so he then evolves into a competent programmer.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Posts
    11
    I have no issue learning the trade at all and I know that I will be at the bottom of the pile. I'm just trying to get my foot in the door. Here in Indiana the IT field is not the greatest and I would like to have a more stable job.

    The controls side of things interest me but since I have no exp. in that dept wasn't sure of how to make the leap.

    Thanks,

    jp

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Portage
    Posts
    909
    what part of in??
    I don’t always drink beer, but when I do I prefer Dos-Equis. I am the most interesting man in the world. Stay thirsty my friends.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Posts
    11
    I'm in Columbus, IN

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,144
    Understanding all aspects of what your controlling is a must, or you will never be anything more than the average joe schmoe control guy that thinks he knows everything yet really knows nothing. And you would find out that 99.9% of the "control guys" out there fall directly into this cat.

    Being the the IT field is a pretty broad statement, what exactly did you do?


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Posts
    11
    I'm a network administrator so I deal with the different network setups, servers, desktop pcs, user admin, and stuff like that...I can go into greater detail but seems pointless.


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    1,475
    I would think that if you are sending quality people home for lack of work, that that is a management problem.somebody has overestimated their workload and should be concentrating on keeping the guy working to make up for the managerial ineffeceincy. If youu do not have enoughtwork then send th emanager home not the tech.

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