Grant Funds to Provide New Resource for ATU-Ozark

ATU-Ozark HVAC-R Student File Photo
File photo of a student from the air conditioning and refrigeration program at Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus.

The air conditioning and refrigeration program at Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus has received a $29,000 Perkins Reserve Fund grant.

The grant funds will be utilized to purchase a walk-in cooler/freezer combination unit designed for commercial and industrial use as well as components such as installation wiring and equipment. ATU-Ozark will become the third campus in the state to provide such equipment to its air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) students.

“Our advisory board members and I believe this added, industry-relevant equipment will attract more students, both traditional and non-traditional, to the program because their chances of securing and maintaining a well-paying job will be greatly improved,” said Kenneth Beeler, program chair for air conditioning and refrigeration at ATU-Ozark. “This modernization of equipment will increase the learning opportunities for graduates and create job advancement opportunities for students who are already employed in the field.”

According to the U.S. Department of Bureau of Labor Statistics, the HVAC/R industry will experience a 15 percent increase in the number of available jobs by the year 2026. The national annual average salary for an HVAC/R mechanic is $47,610 per year. The average salary for HVAC/R technicians/mechanics who specialize in commercial and industrial installation and servicing ranges from $60,00 to $95,000.

“ATU-Ozark Campus is grateful to be a recipient of the Perkins Reserve Funds grant,” said Dr. Sheila Jacobs, ATU-Ozark chief academic officer. “The addition of a commercial grade walk-in cooler/freezer unit will provide HVAC/R students with an additional skill set making them more employable in a high-demand industry. As a result of this grant, ATU-Ozark will be better positioned to provide students and their future employers the practice and skills they need to earn much higher and competitive salaries and secure work with well-established industries such as Walmart and Tyson.”

Perkins Reserve Funds are part of a $1.3 billion annual investment by the U.S. government in career and technical education programs for youth and adults under the auspices the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which became law in 2018 and was a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006.

“This added equipment will help students learn how to work on commercial refrigeration equipment, both installation and servicing,” said Philip Kile Sr., HVAC/R manager for Walmart’s west Arkansas division. “Having this experience will aid in students obtaining jobs once they have completed their education.”

Learn more about the ATU-Ozark HVAC/R program at