Space Coast ASHRAE Presents STEM Air Conditioning to Merritt Island High

The ASHRAE Space Coast Chapter partnered with the DaVinci Academy at Merritt Island High School for National Teach In Day on November 21, 2019, to introduce future engineers to large commercial HVAC systems and career opportunities. The DaVinci Academy is a STEM program based on the Project Lead the Way curriculum. 

Teacher Charles Parker invited ASHRAE Chapter Members Bruce Lindsay, PE and John Constantinide, PE to pilot an in-school field trip for a hands-on experience with chillers, pumps, and cooling towers.  25 tenth-grade students participated in the 90-minute program.  Mr. Constantinide used an ASHRAE STEM video of young girls touring the Georgia Aquarium and learning about HVAC from a female engineer.  Mr. Lindsay used a slide presentation to introduce key concepts about air conditioning and how residential and commercial systems differ.  His title slide, “The Most Important Thing to Kids in Florida is Air Conditioning,” set the stage. 

Students were briefed on safety and strongly discouraged from sticking their fingers in the cooling tower basin.  The group moved to the central energy plant to view the two 500-ton chillers, multiple large horsepower pumps, and two cooling towers.  The more adventurous students petted their new chiller friends. 

The group returned to the STEM classroom and shared their impressions.  Most were not aware that the equipment was on campus and had no idea of its size.  Mr. Parker was ecstatic.  The chapter followed up by providing ASHRAE continuing education certificates to each of the students and organizing a bus tour to the AHR Expo in Orlando in February.