BTC student earns HVACR scholarship

When Dan Gretchmann entered the HVACR program at Blackhawk Technical College last fall, he was looking for a challenge. Now he knows he is more than able to meet it.

Gretchmann, who is 30 and lives in Clinton, recently learned he is one of nine students from around the nation to receive a $2,000 scholarship from the Clifford Rees Foundation, the charitable arm of the Air Condition, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) of Arlington, Va.

“I knew a couple of people who were in the program, and I took a look at what Blackhawk had to offer and I knew this would be the challenge I was looking for,’’ Gretchmann said of the BTC program. “I was very stubborn thinking I could make my life what I wanted it to be without school, but then I finally realized that I was not going to make it without more schooling.’’

The AHRI scholarship has been in existence since 2003. It has rewarded 121 students with more than $200,000 in scholarship money in that time.

Gretchmann also will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. on June 12-13 as part of the scholarship. He and other scholarship recipients will be honored at an awards dinner on the 12th and then will attend the Energy Efficiency Forum on the 13th.

“These students are a shining example of the qualified, dedicated HVACR and water heating technicians we need to fill good paying jobs that cannot be out sourced,’’ said Steven Yurek, the chief executive officer and president of AHRI.

Gretchmann filled out an application and wrote an essay on his career goals as part of the application process. He also received letters of recommendation from BTC instructors Tony Jordan and Chris Esser, as well as submitting his high school and BTC transcripts.

“I don’t think you can ask for better counselors or instructors than Tony and Chris,’’ Gretchmann said.

Gretchmann said he understands that some HVAC students may be intimidated by the application process, especially the essay portion. But he encouraged HVAC students to reach for awards like this.

“I told my teachers to use me as an example of what you can,’’ he said. “I actually ended up wanting to write more than they needed.

“I knew something like this scholarship would look very good on my resume and be a big boost to my future in the field. That’s why I jumped at the chance.’’

Blackhawk has a storied tradition in the scholarship competition. He is the eighth BTC student to win the award from AHRI. Previous winners were:

Brian Matijevich in 2010 and 2011.

Dale Townsend in 2010.

Anthony Gelander, 2009.

Steven Lustig and Mathew Tegt, spring 2008.

Nguyen Don Mau and Amy Karpes, spring 2007.