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 Ken Delcore

An instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College was named the best heating and cooling technician in the United States in 2007 by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE).

Ken Delcore, Luxemburg, placed first in the 8th annual NATE Certified Technician Competition. He is the first instructor ever to win the national Top Tech title. Delcore teaches in NWTC’s Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) program.

Delcore qualified for national competition based on his scores on the 2006 NATE exam, a rigorous test that evaluates a technician’s knowledge of heating and cooling.  Delcore’s scores on that test were highest out of 20,000 tests administered in 2006.

He traveled to the nation’s largest home comfort show, HVACR Comfortech, in Saint Louis, Missouri, where he competed against six other heating and cooling technicians who earned the top scores in their regions. There, Delcore achieved the best combined score from a series of timed, hands-on events that simulated real-world heating and cooling challenges – earning him the 2007 Top Tech title.

Delcore originally took the tests to see whether they would be appropriate for his students. Nationwide, only about two-thirds of test-takers pass the exam. It is fairly common for technicians to make more than one attempt.

“I had heard from many other technicians the exams were pretty tough,” he said, “so I thought I would check them out.  I wanted to see how I would do on the exams to see if there was any merit in the tests and to determine my own level of competence in the tested areas.”

He said the tests have become a popular tool for technicians, employers and customers.

Many of the technicians in the field are encouraged by their employers and the manufacturers of the equipment to take the exams.  The employers are looking for a way to ensure their technicians are competent and to also offer their customers a sense of knowing the technician working on their systems knows what he/she is doing.”

Delcore has worked in the HVAC industry for 21 years. During the Certified Technician Competition, heating and cooling simulators were rigged with specific problems requiring competitors to demonstrate their problem solving skills by analyzing, diagnosing and correcting equipment and system malfunctions.

The Certified Technician Competition was founded in 2000 as a means of recognizing the knowledge and skill necessary to service today’s highly sophisticated heating and cooling systems.  NATE President Rex Boynton stated, “NATE Certification benefits not only the professional technician, but also consumers. Certification provides assurance that a technician knows heating and cooling.” 

North American Technician Excellence, Inc. (NATE) is the leading certification program for technicians in the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) industry and is the only test supported by the entire industry. Headquartered in Arlington, VA, NATE is the nation’s largest non-profit certification organization for HVAC technicians.

NATE certification requires both core knowledge and applied knowledge in a specialty. Delcore, who has earned numerous NATE certifications, says that certification adds credibility to the industry. "The exam proves that a technician understands HVAC. NATE certification improves confidence among contractors and customers and benefits the HVAC/R industry," he said.