Finding a path through HVAC-R
Thanks in part to MCTC, Mike Palm found his ideal niche in the heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R) industry. As is the case for many people, getting to this point in his career has involved some life exploration, false starts and interruptions. In Palm’s case, however, the interruptions were far more intense than the norm.
From Bemidji to Baghdad
Palm graduated from Lakeville High School in 2000. At the time, he thought he wanted to pursue a career as a police officer. After more than two years in Bemidji State University’s criminal justice program, he realized criminal justice was not the right path for him.
Around the same time Palm was exploring new education options, the U.S. government came calling. A member of the Minnesota Army National Guard, Palm was deployed to Iraq in 2004 where he worked as a diesel mechanic at a base in Baghdad. When he returned to the U.S. in 2005, he started re-exploring new career options in earnest. The more he looked, the more HVAC-R kept emerging as a logical choice. “I knew I didn’t want a desk job,” he says. “Plus my dad worked in the HVAC-R industry, and I quickly learned it involved areas that appealed to me including electrical work, piping, welding and brazing. Once I had my career decision nailed down, I started touring local colleges.”
After several campus visits, MCTC emerged as the logical choice to pursue his education. “MCTC has far and away the best educational facility and the college owns practically every piece of HVAC-R equipment you can imagine,” he says. “The instructors were knowledgeable and experienced and the location was convenient. It all seemed to fit perfectly.”
On the right track
Palm started MCTC’s two-year HVAC-R associate in applied science degree program in 2007. When he was one semester away from graduation, however, the U.S. government once again called him to active duty. This time, he was deployed to Balad, a city 60 miles north of Baghdad.
While it was frustrating to leave so close to graduation, it didn’t deter Palm, a person of strong character and perseverance. Palm returned to the U.S. in 2010, graduated from MCTC’s HVAC-R program in June 2011 and quickly landed a job as test technician with the Bloomington division of Thermo King, a global temperature control systems manufacturer. “It’s a great job and Thermo King is an industry-leading company,” he said, explaining he focuses on refrigeration system and component setup, testing and analysis. “There are new challenges every day.”
Palm adds that MCTC was the ideal training ground for his role at Thermo King. “I’ve had to do some on-the-job learning, but my MCTC education prepared me with the knowledge to work on a wide range of equipment. MCTC and its instructors provided me with the foundation I needed to be a success.”