Skip to main content
San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Inspiring the Next Generation: Meet Craig Chambers, HVAC-R Instructor

September 19, 2023

Growing up, Craig Chambers had three important things going for him: he had a natural curiosity about how things worked, his hyperactive nature pushed him to pursue those interests and he had parents Todd and Lachell, who helped him focus his energy toward a productive outcome.

Machines intrigued Craig. He wanted to touch everything, explore its nature, and parlay that knowledge into a better understanding, along with its smooth operation. His grandfather, uncle, and dad all worked in the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry. Craig spent more than a few nights up on a rooftop, holding a flashlight for his dad, as he worked on an A/C unit.

Craig’s father, Todd eventually taught an HVAC program at a local college, where Craig later earned his HVAC certification. Todd also left deep vocational footprints Craig would easily follow. The homeschooling his mom provided helped Craig to better organize his thoughts and direction. “Mom was the main teacher, but Dad was always there for the hands-on, mechanical skills, he remembers.”

Craig took all of those influences to his role as instructor for San Joaquin Valley College’s HVAC-R program on the Hesperia campus.


What excites you about teaching the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration program at SJVC?

A lot of things excite me about it. I get to see the lights turn on in these gentlemen’s heads, as they unlock all the mysteries of refrigeration. And student development. I watch them evolve throughout the program: their skill set, sense of responsibility, and maturity.


What kinds of backgrounds do your students reflect?

Age spans 18-60. It makes the learning environment so full to have that age variation. Older never means less; and those older students bring a lot of structure from how they were brought up. Younger students are more comfortable with digital equipment and electronic applications. They all work well together and show respect for each other, regardless of age.


What is your teaching style?

I’m pretty hands-on. We’re going to be with each other for the next 9 months, and I want this to be a learning environment; there are no wrong questions. It’s our opportunity to learn – and to mess things up a little bit. You don’t want to make mistakes out in the field; make those mistakes here and go into the field more knowledgeable.

I like those learning-from-mistakes moments in class. Everybody gets a laugh, but the learning is still there. I remind them that mistakes in the field can be expensive, but always be honest with your employer when they happen.


What are some of the areas taught in the HVAC-R program?

Our students learn the theory and advanced applications of electricity, air conditioning, and refrigeration, as well as soldering and brazing, along with proper charging, along with charging, evacuation, and recovery of units. All must be done according to EPA standards, codes, and policies. And I drill the importance of safety – everything is dangerous in this industry. And I’m always preparing them for life after school; an accurate picture of the career they’ve chosen.

Graduates have the opportunity to earn OSHA 10-Hour Construction and EPA 608 certification.


When do you know a student ‘gets it’?

I really look for critical thinking; when they’re in the ballpark of being correct and I know they’re going to be OK and are ready to move forward. I can tell from conversations with them if they’re getting it or not. I know when they’re in good shape.

Seeing students wanting to do something new; their courage in jumping into it. They feel ready.


What do you do when a student is struggling academically, at home or in the field?

They have a lot on their plates. If they’re struggling with homework, family, kids; it’s hard. I tell them to evaluate their circumstances and options. Is it class, the work? And how might I help.

I’m supportive and I try to give any and all they need from me that I can. I leave my phone number and email address on the board; we’re in a group chat. I’ve lent my laptop, helped them with homework.

Same with our graduates. If you’re in a situation in a career or on a rooftop, you can reach out. I’m your key resource at the school for whatever situation you might need help in that I can provide.


What do you want your students to complete their HVAC-R program knowing? 

I want them to know they won’t know everything, but they can walk up to a situation as a new learning experience with confidence. I also tell them they will leave this class with the information and tools they will need to start making money – earning a living that provides for their family.


What made you decide to enroll in SJVC’s Bachelor of Science degree in the Construction Management program?

I wanted to lead by example. How could I ask my students to do all they needed to do and sacrifice for their future, if I’m not willing to do that myself?  I started school to have the advantages of higher education and bring what I’m learning into my classroom. Writing papers is new to me. So many aspects are new and challenging to me, but it’s worth it. Getting a Bachelor’s degree is going to benefit my life for all the right reasons.

Becoming a teacher has shaped me differently. I’m more organized, more on top of things. I think I grew up a little bit more. I feel like that effort was rewarded by making the Dean’s List. My wife, Melissa, daughter and son are my motivation and inspiration to reach my goals.



Request Information

All fields using an asterik (*) are required.

Step 1 of 2

* Required Field