New class of Billerica HVAC technicians looks to prepare buildings for return to in-person work

BILLERICA – Like many graduates of Shawsheen Valley Technical High School, Jacob Majeski’s interest in working with his hands started at an early age, helping his father as an electrician with all the small chores that cropped up around the house.

But it wasn’t until he reached Shawsheen and went through an exploratory program that his true calling became manifest: HVAC work.

“HVAC has a little bit of everything: some plumbing, some pipes, you have to do a lot of electrical work and you also have to deal with all the refrigerants and all the chemicals. So I knew this is what I wanted to do, ”said Majeski. “I will never get bored in the HVAC industry. There is always something new to learn and something new to do. “

At just 24 years old, the Billerica resident has already started his dream career as he was one of 14 Merrimack Valley residents who graduated from Pipefitters Local 537’s apprenticeship program last month.

Pipefitters Local 537 graduates will be sworn in as an official travel agent on April 24, 2021.

As newly minted journalists, Majeski and his fellow students will install and maintain ventilation systems in buildings across the state so they are well prepared for professionals returning to work.

“I feel extremely happy to be where I am today,” said Billerica resident and HVAC engineer Mike LaRosa. “Both of my sisters work in the service sector and because of COVID they were out of work for quite a long time, so I feel like I won the lottery.”

Likewise, graduates turned certified pipe fitters will build pipeline infrastructure across the region, answering a clearance call that President Biden made in late March when he announced his American Jobs Plan.

In particular, Biden said pipe fitters will be key in “replacing 100% of the country’s lead pipes and service cables so that every American, every child, can turn on a faucet or fountain and drink clean water.”

“It’s incredible and I think he’s right,” said Shane Donovan, Billerica resident and HVAC engineer. “All of these buildings need pipes and pipe fitters, and the more work we can do, the better for everyone.”

However, completing the union internship during the coronavirus pandemic was not without its challenges.

Like most other students, the students had to divide their time between personal learning and distance learning, a particularly complicated issue for those learning a hands-on subject.

“It was difficult, you can’t really get the full experience through Zoom, because a lot of the way we learn in this trade is with our hands,” said Majeski. “We missed that, but we made it anyway.

Jacob Majeski, formerly of Billerica, who recently moved to Westford, graduated from Shawsheen Tech in 2015, who became interested in HVAC during Shawsheen, and recently completed a pipe fitter apprenticeship program. JULIA MALAKIE / LOWELLSUN

Majeski, LaRosa and Donovan all said the union officials had done an exceptional job training them despite the circumstances, adding that they are excited to contribute to workplaces as the restrictions of the coronavirus begin to be lifted .

“I feel blessed and I think it’s going to be great when the economy opens up and people go back to work,” said Donovan. “People will want to build more, which will mean more pipe fitters, so it’s great for my union brothers and myself.”

In all, seven of the graduates are from or live in Billerica, two are from Tewksbury and two from Lowell and Chelmsford.

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