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October 23, 2015
Electricity has always been in Wade Smith’s blood. It’s been passed down in his family over three generations. And he is sharing that knowledge with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technology students at Piedmont Technical College.
Smith is the third-generation owner of Cullum Electric and Mechanical. He never had any questions of what he wanted to do. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Clemson University.
“Electricity has always interested me,” Smith said. “I toyed with the idea of fiber optics because of a class I took at Clemson, but I like volts and amps.”
A help wanted ad in the newspaper caught his eye 10 years ago. Piedmont Tech’s HVAC department was looking for an adjunct instructor to teach electricity in the program. Smith knew David Kibler, HVAC program director at the time, through the program’s advisory committee. The idea of teaching interested him, so he applied.
“I enjoy teaching the students because it’s different from what I do every day,” Smith said. “It’s not the pressure of building a system, you’re building knowledge.”
Over the past 10 years, Smith said the HVAC industry has changed tremendously, especially with the changes in energy efficiency requirements and the increasing sophistication of equipment. These changes have led to a shortage of skilled technicians. He says that is why he continues to teach.
“It’s getting harder to find workers who have the ability to work on heating and cooling equipment,” he said. “If they come to Piedmont Tech and get a certificate or an associate degree in HVAC, work hard and apply themselves, they can definitely find a good career where they can be very successful.”
For more information on the HVAC program, call (864) 941-8473 or visit www.ptc.edu/HVAC.