Faculty Spotlight: HVAC Instructor Bradley Higgins
Meet Bradley Higgins, HVAC Instructor at United Education Institute in Las Vegas
As any desert dweller in the Las Vegas Valley will tell you, the weather shifts as dramatically as one’s luck at a craps table. Through the course of the year, temperatures swing from an average low of 26°F in the winter to an average high of 108°F in the summer. According to National Weather Service data, the hottest temperature ever recorded in Las Vegas was when the mercury hit a scorching 117°F in 2017, and the coldest a frosty 8°F in 1963. Occasionally, “Sin City” even gets snow.
The meteorological dichotomy in Las Vegas means that Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) professionals are essential to every aspect of life, and more of them are needed than ever before.
“Our industry is absolutely vital and essential here. Every business, hotel, casino, hospital, factory, government building, military facility and private home depends on us all year long, but you can’t survive a Las Vegas summer without air conditioning” said Bradley Higgins, HVAC Instructor at the new United Education Institute (UEI) campus in Las Vegas.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) industry outlook shows the need for trained HVAC workers continues to grow. “New construction, the retrofitting or replacement of old systems with new smart technology, and ever-evolving energy efficiency demands are just three of the forces fueling this growing demand for qualified technicians— especially in the greater Las Vegas area,” Bradley said.
To meet this growing need, UEI included HVAC Technician Program as one of its key programs when the new campus opened earlier this year. Bradley was tapped as one of the inaugural instructors because of his more than 25 years of experience in the industry and his love of teaching.
From Military Veteran to Business Owner
A native of the Columbus, Ohio area, Bradley joined the military after he graduated from high school. He served several years in the U.S. Navy where he was trained as an electrical technician. It would prove to be a great background for going into HVAC, although it took Bradley a while to discover that.
“When I got out of the military I was just going from job to job with no real sense of purpose,” he said. “I was looking for a job and submitted an application as a helper for an HVAC and plumbing company. I wasn’t all that excited about it but they hired me on the spot, and I ended up falling in love with this work.”
The helper job convinced Bradley to go to school for HVAC technician training. “Six months after going to school I was in my own truck. Three years after that I was the lead tech at the company. Ten years after that, I owned my own company,” Bradley said.
Discovering a Love of Teaching
After several years of running his own company, Bradley was asked to go check out the new HVAC lab at the school where he attended in Columbus. That visit ultimately led to him being hired as an HVAC instructor there.
“I had been training people for a long time but had never really thought about a formal role as an instructor,” he said. “It was a real full-circle moment to return to teach at the school where I learned my trade.”
It didn’t take long for him to fall in love with teaching.
“When I first started teaching, I did it so that I could make a positive impact on my industry by training good techs. But I started to observe in students what I call the “aha moments” where everything clicks together for them and they understand how it all works. Where they get it. What made me fall in love with teaching are those moments. To see the change in a person, where they are now at the point where they believe in themselves, have confidence in their skills, and are going to change their lives for the better. That’s the best,” he said.
In late 2019, Bradley relocated to Las Vegas when his wife’s job transferred her to Southern Nevada. He learned that UEI was opening its new campus with HVAC training as one of the inaugural programs and decided to apply for an instructor position.
“As I looked into UEI, I found that they have the right philosophy about teaching this industry,” he said.
“Students really like Mr. Higgins because he spends the extra time to make sure that they have a thorough understanding of everything. He is dedicated and determined to ensure student success, and that’s what we are all about at UEI so he fits in very well,” said Robert Parks, Director of Education for UEI Las Vegas.
“Bradley is passionate about training HVAC technicians who are good problem solvers and stay on top of the changes in the industry. We are fortunate to have him at UEI and I am grateful for his contributions to student success,” said Jim York, Campus President at UEI Las Vegas.
COVID-19 is a good example of how quickly changes can come for the HVAC sector. “Now there are advanced air filtration systems and we need to stay on top of that. HVAC technicians are the ones who install those things. We have to make sure that these systems are working properly, especially in hospitals and surgery clinics,” Bradley said.
“In both commercial and residential sectors, there is rising demand for more efficient HVAC systems, and those which have a higher degree of technological sophistication. This industry is changing constantly and you need instructors who want to train knowledgeable technicians. It’s not enough to know what’s wrong with a system – you need a thorough understanding of why,” he said.
“I’m proud to be at UEI where we are training technicians who know what to do, but also why they are doing it so they can provide the best service to customers. We want them to be good problem solvers so they can deliver customer solutions,” Bradley said. “There’s a definitive need for good HVAC instruction and I’m just happy to be part of a system that is constantly updating our curriculum to stay on top of things. We are training people who you can depend on.”