Black Hawk Apprenticeship School opens - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Black Hawk Apprenticeship School opens

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A new apprenticeship program kicks off in eastern Iowa, and students are excited.

The Black Hawk School of Apprenticeship is located at 35 Fletcher Avenue in Waterloo in part of the Bergen Plumbing Heating and Cooling building.

There's a need for younger plumbers and HVAC technicians since a majority of people in the industry are 45 years old or older.

Class started Wednesday morning, and students seem eager to learn.

Drew Nicolaus and  his seven classmates learn the basics in the morning, and then it's hands-on training in the afternoon nearly every Wednesday for the next three years.

"I kind of like that I get to do something new every day. Everyone here is nice, and I get to try new things I guess," Drew said.

Drew said he's most looking forward to working with his hands.

"I'm kind of looking forward to the copper piping. I get to sodder. I get to run a torch. So, that's what I'm looking forward to do," Drew said.

As students get the basic hands-on training they need in a room filled with HVAC equipment, their traditional classroom sits right next door where they can learn those fundamentals.

"We want to give them the best opportunities they need to succeed in the concepts, but also give them to time to put it into practice," instructor, Loren Gardner said.

Gardner said he's been working with others to put this program together for the past year and a half.

His main focus includes providing a new generation of plumbers and heating ventilation air-conditioning technicians.

"We want to train them so they pass first time, because the sooner they become journeymen, they're helping out their community, their family, and themselves with a career," Gardner said.

Even though students have class every Wednesday at the school, they still have to work throughout the week in their respective trade.

So, when it's all said and done, they need 8,000 hour of field experience, and more than 140 hour in the classroom.

So far, eight students are enrolled in school this year, and instructors say they hope to have more students next year.

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