IMG 5152 372x451 - Donation to TSTC promotes HVAC student success

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s HVAC Technology program in North Texas recently received a donation, through the TSTC Foundation, of an AAON rooftop unit (RTU) that will be used for teaching purposes.

The unit was donated by Rusty Vaughn, a partner at Texas AirSystems and a TSTC Foundation Council of Advocates member.

Douglas McCuen, an instructor for TSTC’s North Texas HVAC Technology program, said he had been in search of a unit like it and sat down with Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus, to see what could be done. 

“Marcus picked up his phone and texted a message to Mr. Vaughn, and within minutes Marcus asked me what size of unit I was looking for and put me in contact with Mr. Vaughn,” McCuen said. 

McCuen said Vaughn went even further with his donation than McCuen had expected.

“Mr. Vaughn also had a custom stand with wheels built so that we could move the unit around the lab and to demonstrate the ‘curb’ feature that the AAON RTU sits on,” he said.

The new AAON RTU is a unique addition to the HVAC lab.

“This unit is special; it will be the only equipment in the HVAC lab that runs on 460-volt 3 phase electricity,” McCuen said. “This will be very helpful to our students because AAON units are engineered and designed very differently from most RTUs (and) will give students a look into what the future units will look like.”

McCuen said having units like these is fundamental to preparing HVAC Technology students to enter the workforce.

“TSTC needs to have the most advanced equipment available to train our students,” he said. “At some point this ‘new’ equipment will need to be worked on. Be it a warranty issue or a breakdown issue, the owner of this equipment is going to want someone who is qualified to repair it.”

It is the value of having these opportunities for training that McCuen said is the reason for getting prospective employers invested in the students.

“The more that we get the industry manufacturers, distributors, business owners to care about training the future workforce and training service technicians, the better it will be for the business owners, distributors and manufacturers,” McCuen said. “It is a trickle-down effect. One day those service technicians will become business owners or open a distributorship, or go to work for a manufacturer as an engineer, a designer or quality-control personnel.”

Ryan Thornton, The TSTC Foundation’s field development officer for the North Texas campus, said Vaughn has long been one of these supporting employers, and that this donation will continue to help students grow.

“This is a great donation to The TSTC Foundation,” Thornton said. “It will help continue to unlock the endless opportunities in technical education, tools for success and innovative, hands-on, simulation for our students in the North Texas Campus HVAC Program.” 

In addition, Vaughn employs multiple TSTC graduates from TSTC’s HVAC Technology program.

According to, heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers earn an average salary of $48,720 a year in Texas. The field was projected to grow 21% in the state between 2020 and 2030, according to the website.

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