A State of the Art Training Facility in Central PA: Eight Decades in the Making
In Local 19's Central Pennsylvania territory, a cutting-edge training facility that could serve the
needs of apprentices, journeypersons and signatory contractors had seemed like a dream for
the past eighty years. But what was once a far-off vision will soon be a reality.
The Long Road
In 1938, Local 19's jurisdiction was increased by the International Union to include twenty
counties in Pennsylvania and three in New Jersey. A large portion of those were Central PA
territories; in the 1960's, Easton and Allentown merged to form the Lehigh Valley section of
Central PA branch Locals. It wasn't until 1967 that a Joint Apprenticeship and Training
Committee was formed to serve the members and signatory contractors of Local 19 Central. It
took a little over a decade to set up an adequate training center in Shoemakersville, PA.
The building was originally the local firehouse, converted to suit our needs to train the future
sheet metal mechanics from Easton to Altoona well into the 2000s. However, changing
technology in the trade, job growth, and lack of adequate space had become an issue.
Something had to be done so that our apprentices and journeypersons could receive the
highest standards of training anywhere in the nation.
In 2016, Local 19 Central PA put together a building committee that would design a new
training center to meet the needs of our members and, at the same time, address changing
technology and the market. After a 15-month design phase, Local 19 Central had a building
design that meets our needs.
Since the building is designed to educate sheet metal workers, the committee felt it was
necessary to implement as much sheet metal in the design as possible. The building will act as
a life size educational experience utilizing sheet metal products that Local 19 will use in
everyday job activities. The roof of the building will be 4” thick Centria roof panels. These
allow for open space below and provide a clean look for the interior and exterior, as well as
have a 32.3 R-value. The siding of the building will utilize two different Centria products: a
vertical panel system in the shop areas and a horizontal panel in the classrooms. Both types of
wall panel systems carry an R-value of 25.83. The committee decided to use Centria due to its
exceptional R-values and because their products are made with 60% recycled materials.
The design will also incorporate several “ribbon” style windows that allow sunlight into the
classrooms and shop areas of the building. The high east-facing windows will light the shop in
the morning hours. Two accent walls were added to incorporate different types of metal wall
panels that Local 19 members will learn how to install. The overall building envelope will create
a state-of-the-art facility with excellent energy efficiency.
Interior Office and Classrooms
The interior design is very simple. It was decided that an open concept would achieve the desired effect for the building. The classrooms, hallways, and vestibule will all be without ceilings so that the sheet metal duct and components will be visible. Aspects such as diffuser design, fire damper installation and inspection, duct design, proper duct and accessory
installation, and various other learning experiences can be achieved using this open concept.
The CAD / Sketching room will consist of twelve stations which will utilize Autodesk products
for duct design, estimation, fabrication and BIM. The idea is that all students will become well
rounded since CAD is a vital part of the learning experience. In addition to CAD stations, the
CAD room will be used to teach Plans and Specifications and basic drafting skills.
Sheet Metal Shop
The sheet metal shop will utilize much of the equipment from the Shoemakersville facility with the addition of heavier equipment. The sheet metal trade takes pride in its long history of old methods of layout, fabrication, and assembly. The new shop will enable students to appreciate the old methods while utilizing more modern industrial equipment and techniques. New equipment including a power shear, power brake, iron worker, power rotary machine, and automated plasma table will teach student skills needed to be productive in the modern sheet metal shop.
Local 19 Central PA has been an American Welding Society Accredited Test Facility (ATF) for
many years. This allows members to become certified welders in several various welding
procedures. The new facility will have 12 weld booths that will be equipped to weld using many
different weld procedures and materials. The design of the weld booths will utilize a larger
space for one-on-one instructor involvement. The booths are also designed with an exhaust
system that operates on Variable air volume to help with energy efficiency. During the design
process, the committee decided that adding 50% more booths, as well as making the booths
larger, would create an improved program to teach skills necessary to weld in the sheet metal
The service area is located on the mezzanine of the shop. This area is a simple design that will
allow students to install and service spit and package air conditioning and heating systems. The
service area will include several manufacturers’ equipment and will help make students as well-
rounded as possible.
Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing
Because Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing (TAB) is an important sector in the sheet metal
industry, the new training center will incorporate many aspects of TAB work. The HVAC systems are designed to allow students to use the entire building as a TAB learning experience.
This, coupled with a Hydronic water testing wall and two separate TAB air handling systems,
will give students a comprehensive experience in the TAB sector.
The entire building will be lit with LED fixtures. Due to the open concept, the lighting system
will utilize pendant style lights as well as dimmable strip lighting in the CAD room for better
visibility. Motion sensors/occupancy sensors in the shop area will be used to conserve energy as
much as possible.
Heating and air conditioning will consist of two main air handlers: one for the shop area and
one for the office and classroom areas. The classroom and offices will be served by a Variable
Air Volume system which will enable the system to run as efficiently as possible while providing
temperature control in every zone. In addition, the shop will incorporate a large slow-moving
ceiling fan manufactured by Big Ass Fan Company, preventing air stratification and help keep
the shop areas comfortable.
Cleanroom / Biosafety Cabinets / Fume Hoods
As the industry changes, so do the needs of Local 19 contractors. A small portion of the
building will be utilized as a cleanroom so students can learn HEPA filter testing and Cleanroom
setup. The area will also include two Biosafety Cabinets and three fume hoods. This equipment
will allow for training in ASHRAE 110 fume hood testing as well as Biosafety Cabinet
decontamination. This area of the sheet metal industry is growing substantially in this region
and the ability to provide this training is key to growth.
A promising Future
Eighty years after merging with Local 19, Central PA apprentices and mechanics will have one of
the best training centers around. None of it could have happened without the many tireless
hours put in by Local 19 staff and members. Nearly every weekend, and even on some
weekdays, members volunteer to build our new ‘house of learning’ which will become the
foundation of Local 19 Central Pennsylvania's bright future.