HVAC Engineering Courses and Degree Program Overviews
Read about training options in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineering. Learn about courses, programs, common career choices and continuing education for voluntary professional credentials.
While degree programs in HVAC engineering are rare, HVAC engineering courses are offered through some mechanical engineering (ME) bachelor's degree programs as well as through continuing education and certificate programs. Training typically covers HVAC design with an emphasis on safety, efficiency, and teamwork with project managers. Continuing education to obtain optional certifications is available to HVAC professionals, as are graduate level ME programs.
HVAC Engineering Courses and Degree Programs
HVAC engineering involves the design of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, typically for larger buildings, such as industrial and office buildings. HVAC engineers consider many elements during the design phase, including volume of the space, intended building use, air distribution and energy consumption. HVAC engineers coordinate with architects and contractors when designing systems for new buildings and when retrofitting new HVAC systems into existing buildings.
HVAC engineering is usually considered a specialty within the field of mechanical engineering. Some ME bachelor's degree programs offer HVAC or HVAC and refrigeration (HVAC&R) as an elective concentration. HVAC engineering courses are also offered as non-degree extension education and certificate programs. These non-degree programs typically require completion of 4-5 courses that cover theory and principles. Some also require completion of an HVAC design project.
Admissions requirements to ME bachelor's degree programs commonly include a high school diploma and completion of specific college-prep courses. Admission to some non-degree programs is open to all applicants, while other programs require applicants to have already completed a bachelor's degree. Some HVAC courses require completion of prerequisite coursework in math, science and engineering.
ME bachelor's degree programs include broad academic coursework in addition to the core HVAC subjects they share in common with non-degree programs. Program curricula typically include the following subjects:
- Heating technologies
- Refrigeration cycles
- Psychrometric analysis
- Electrical load computation
- Energy calculations
- Air flow and balancing
- Air handling equipment
- Pumps and piping systems
Popular Career Options
Programs such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) have increased the emphasis on energy efficiency and occupant safety when designing buildings. HVAC engineers play key roles in designing systems that support this emphasis. Possible careers include the following:
- Mechanical engineer
- Environmental solutions engineer
- Test and balance engineer
- Design engineer
Continuing Education Information
Interested candidates may seek professional certification as a High-Performance Building Design Professional, offered by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Applicants for initial certification must pass an examination. Certification credentials need to be renewed every three years; this process requires applicants to prove that they have earned a certain number of continuing education credits.
Students may continue their formal education by pursuing an advanced degree, such as the Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME).
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