Monday, November 3, 2014

New Certificate in Energy Systems Technology

image of instructor showing students how to read an energy reading device

To meet the demands of the growing field of building management, Rio Salado College offers a new certificate in Energy Systems Technology that begins January 12, 2015.

“The college has always wanted to offer curriculum in the energy field,” said Richard Cuprak, faculty chair for Applied Technology. “An area that has grown exponentially over the last two years is commercial building management and energy systems integrations. Two years ago there were three of these programs in the country. Now there are more than 30.”

Why the steady incline? “First of all, everything we use to create energy consumes natural resources and increases the production of greenhouse gases,” Cuprak said. “We can’t continue to want more without addressing sustainability and a embracing a conservation-minded approach to energy consumption.”

When creating the certificate program, Cuprak created an advisory council with representatives from local companies to assist in developing course content and competencies that address energy management issues.

“We have representation from companies such as Trane U.S. Inc., Jenco Inc. and Climatec, all experts working in the field,” Cuprak said. “Some are serving as technical editors and some are applying to be instructors in the program.”

Course content focuses on energy management and conservation concepts, building codes, standard rating systems, blueprint reading, and efficiency. Students will also learn how to control building operational systems.

“This means taking systems that once controlled fire, lighting, climate, HVAC, security and electrical and integrating them under common platforms for overall building control through a remote or distributed network,” Cuprak said.

Cuprak said the certificate will also cover retro commissioning, or how to reduce energy consumption in existing commercial buildings.

“Hospitals, schools and government buildings are all classified as commercial,” Cuprak said. “Commercial buildings consume about 30-percent of the total energy in the United States, so reducing the energy consumption is critical.”

image of a tech monitoring an energy generator

Who can benefit from the certificate?

The certificate is geared toward those looking to work in the field of building energy management. Courses are structured for students with no previous energy management knowledge, but will also benefit those with some experience in the construction fields.

“Many current practitioners have trained as HVAC, pipefitter, and other related fields and have moved into facility management and Building Automation System positions,” Cuprak said. “The industry has a strong need to enhance the integration and knowledge of how all the pieces fit together and work as a system. The certificate will provide this kind of training.”

Certificate overview
  • In-person classes begin January 12, 2015
  • Classes held at RSC Downtown, 619 N. 7th Avenue, Phoenix
  • Hands-on lab and field-based learning experiences
  • All classes are scheduled for 8-week duration
  • Affordable tuition - $84/credit for Maricopa County residents
  • Program qualifies for Federal Financial Aid

For more information visit

This story can also be found in the Nov. 1, 2014 edition of the Tempe Republic. By Mira Radovich, Communications Coordinator at Rio Salado College.