Interplay Learning's SkillMill™️ course catalog is built by trusted industry experts in HVAC, Solar, Plumbing and Electrical.
"Over the years, I've learned a lot of lessons by doing things the hard way, making mistakes and going back to fix them,” he says. “Interplay Learning is the best way for me to reach the most people and train them how to do their job without learning the hard way."
Frank began his career in the plumbing trade. He worked for a company that also did HVAC work. A chance to visit the ASHRAE trade show in Chicago gave him the unique chance to explore the inside of a rooftop unit on display that was large enough to literally walk inside. Immediately, he was hooked. The experience inspired him to begin studying HVAC at the local community college and 18 years later he became the Program Chair of the HVAC department at the Fort Wayne campus of Ivy Tech.
As an educator, Garro is a firm believer in teaching the fundamentals, or as he says, “the science that supports the mechanical systems we interact with every day,” adding that, “If you understand the how and the why behind the way mechanical things work, there are no limits to what you can do and your value (earning potential) will continually increase.” Over the years, Frank has taught in a variety of situations, from one-on-one apprenticeship training to classroom and lab environments, and has even developed his own course materials. But he feels that the biggest thing a technician can gain from training is confidence – something Interplay Learning’s unique training experiences instill. “In my early days as a technician, when I would approach a piece of equipment I had never seen before I would stare at it like a deer in headlights,” he reveals. “I believe we can take the intimidation out of learning complex concepts, accelerate the productivity of new employees and also expose the more seasoned technician to things they have not yet encountered in the field.”
"I authored an entirely new curriculum, one that reflected current changes and technology in the industry. I believe Interplay is on the cutting edge when it comes to technical education, and I love being a part of it."
Tim Smith, an Interplay Learning HVAC Expert fell into HVAC work a bit by accident. After losing his job as a hotel and restaurant manager, he leaned on a lifelong love of (and talent for) fixing electrical and mechanical systems to fuel a career shift, enrolling in an HVAC/R program at Hudson Valley Community College. He found the work interesting, challenging and he was great at it. Twenty-nine years later, after working in the field for a few decades, he returned to teach at his alma mater, serving as Senior Professor. Now helps shepherd techs through our VR and 3D HVAC learning modules as well.
Tim believes that HVAC professionals that truly excel are those who are at their core good communicators, able to relate to customers, have good reading comprehension and math skills, and are consummate professionals. Most of all, he believes that great techs are at their core problem solvers.
Connectedly, he’s a big believer in up-to-date training as a key step to becoming a better technician. “When I came to teach at Hudson Valley Community College, the HVAC Refrigeration program was very dated,” he says. “I authored an entirely new curriculum, one that reflected current changes and technology in the industry. I believe Interplay is on the cutting edge when it comes to technical education, and I love being a part of it.”
"I think solar technology is one of those few things in our modern world that inspires everyone."
A photovoltaics expert, experienced instructor and accomplished mime, Mark Mrohs serves as Interplay Learning’s Solar SME, working with our team of designers, programmers and 3D artists to create a full curriculum on residential solar. He’s been working in the industry his entire life. As a matter of fact, ever since a love of physics in high school led to a summer gig as a technician at Spectrolab—in the company’s burgeoning solar cell R&D department. After high school graduation, the company hired Mark, and the rest is history
Mark brings unbridled energy and a passion for solar (which he enthusiastically describes as “magical, awesome physics,”) and its benefits to consumers to the Interplay team.“I think solar technology is one of those few things in our modern world that inspires everyone,” he says.
“There's just something so great about seeing a house electric meter spin BACKWARDS, and a homeowner's eyes going wide with delight and wonder and satisfaction.”
He’s also a huge proponent of the benefits, but moreover promise of VR training for technical trades like solar installation and maintenance. “I love the fact that Interplay decided to jump all in to doing everything in VR as well as for computer screens, and that we are right at the front of the wave of this VR revolution,” Mark says. “For me, having done years of training in specialized classrooms with heavy, expensive equipment, I immediately see the benefit of being able to simulate hands-on activity in the virtual world – you can do it anywhere in the world, you can update to the latest equipment easily and inexpensively, you can train on dozens of scenarios that you might never get to see in a training class, you get to use your whole body and mind and so you really 'get it' much better than through lecture, and it's super fun!”
"My role here at interplay learning is to build robust electrical training experiences with all the tools & technology available, it’s a dream come true! I believe my field experience enhances my ability to deliver self-directed learning."
Chad serves as the Electric SME for Interplay Learning.
Throughout Chad’s career, he has been fortunate enough to work in several aspects of the electrical industry. Starting out rewiring houses with his dad and uncle, Chad’s early experience led him to become a contractor; rewiring apartment buildings, stores and offices. Chad then went on to join the IBEW. In his earlier career, he spent a lot of time traveling throughout the United States; Pickney High School in Ann Arbor MI, Hy-Vee grocery store in Lincoln NE, apartment complexes in St.Paul MI and commissioning electrical systems and instruments at a local refinery. Chad continued on with his training and actually ended up traveling for most of his career as an electrician. Eventually, all that travel landed him a great new opportunity in 2012 as an electrical apprenticeship instructor.
Chad prides himself on always being his best and bringing the best out in his co-workers and students. He’s a dedicated, hard worker; consistently improving, and practicing adult learning theories combined with NFPA 70(E), NEC and trade practices. Chad continuously adds to his skillset and is committed to electrical safety and sound adult learning theories. These are what represents his core values, grounded with a growth mindset of a lifelong learner.