Frank serves as one of our duo of HVAC Experts, a job he approaches with a great deal of instructional experience, and a down-to-earth perspective.
“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.”
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.”
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 historyMark 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!”