15 August 2023
Apprentices at air conditioning distributor Cool Designs are celebrating success in this year's exams for national industry qualifications.
Shawni Dunn, a member of CDL's pre-sales project team, achieved distinction in her BTEC Building Services Engineering (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) course, following five years of day-release study with Trafford College.
She discovered the air conditioning industry when she joined CDL as a temporary admin assistant to gain work experience after leaving university. "It just clicked and I enjoyed it. The company offered me a full-time position in the pre-sales team. They have been really supportive and I haven't looked back."
"Studying on day-release was really helpful, as it meant I was able to apply the principles learned in college in the workplace, and see immediately how the theory worked in practice. Learning technical drawing skills and heat load calculations was particularly valuable, as I was able to use this to produce schematics and quotations for live projects."
Dunn particularly enjoys working on the project side, where attention to detail and quick turnaround is vital. "I started working on smaller split systems, then moved on to larger VRF-based quotes for building-wide installations." Next will come more complex projects involving a combination of technologies, such as VRF, chillers and air handling units.
Owen Wintle, CDL's latest trainee, is following in Shawni's footsteps – focussing on the technical, hands-on side of the business, having just passed his F-Gas theory and practical exams. He has successfully completed Level 2 and is now studying for his Level 3 in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning at Manchester College's Wythenshawe Campus. He started working in CDL's spare parts department before moving on to the technical side.
Wintle said: "Like Shawni, I came into the industry really by chance, after hearing about air conditioning in the news and from friends who worked in sales."
He was attracted to the hands-on aspects and the problem-solving side, supporting customers on site. "I really enjoy fault finding and diagnostics. It's essentially detective work, to get the root of the problem. I really enjoyed learning about thermodynamics and how the refrigeration cycle works, and how this helps in fault finding."
He is now working as a trainee air conditioning technician, shadowing an experienced field engineer on site visits across the UK, while continuing his studies on day-release.
CDL has prioritised training as a key to business development, covering both customer training and its own staff. Managing Director Darrel Birkett said: "We are delighted at Shawni and Owen’s success. Training is key for both the industry and, inwardly, at CDL. The sector changes at a fast pace, technology evolves and, as we are seeing, refrigerant legislation is constantly developing.
"The industry needs to keep on top of these changes to maintain excellence and safety. For CDL, we need to keep abreast of all this and train the young people we need – with fresh ideas and perspectives – to carry us into the future."