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What is HVAC&R Engineering?

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From winter hockey to summer baseball, ice cream to silicon wafers, mechanical engineering affects your daily life in more ways than you realize. If you have ever gotten a flu shot, flown on an airplane, eaten ice cream or frozen waffles, worked on a computer at school, swam in a heated pool, visited the penguins in the zoo, gone ice skating or even just stood under an air conditioning vent in your house to cool off—you’ve experienced a special kind of mechanical engineering called heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigerating (HVAC&R) engineering.

Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

Mechanical engineers who specialize in HVAC do a lot more than keep us cool in the summer and warm in the winter! Most of these engineers work for architectural and engineering firms that design the systems for homes and/or office buildings, hospitals, stores and schools. Air planes, offices, schools, cars, homes, hospitals, malls, restaurants and even space shuttles all need good heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems so that the people who use them are kept comfortable and have clean air to breathe while inside!


You have a refrigerator in your kitchen, but mechanical engineers who specialize in refrigeration do so much more! These engineers usually work in the commercial and industrial sectors. The commercial refrigeration community designs refrigerated vending machines and systems for supermarkets and convenience stores, to name a few. The industrial refrigeration community designs food processing plants, cold storage warehouses and ice rinks. Refrigeration engineers have even changed what and how people eat by creating ways for fresh food from around the world to be shipped without spoiling!

Do you have what it takes to be an HVAC&R Engineer?

  • Are you a good problem solver? HVAC&R engineers make the world a better place by answering the questions and solving the problems that no one else can.
  • Do you use creativity to solve those problems? One of the reasons that HVAC&R engineers are good at problem solving is that they’re not afraid to try a new approach to an old problem. Thinking outside the box is the key!
  • Do you learn best by doing things “hands-on?” Designing, drawing, modeling, working on the computer and the ever-popular “poking around” are all crucial to HVAC&R engineering. Otherwise, how will your great idea ever make it out of your head?

Who Can I Contact for More Information?

Please contact the Assistant Manager of Student Activities, Katie Thomson, at to get more information about your local ASHRAE Chapter or Student Branch.



ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. The Society and its members focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability within the industry. Through research, standards writing, publishing and continuing education, ASHRAE shapes tomorrow’s built environment today.


To advance the arts and sciences of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigerating to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world.


ASHRAE will be the global leader, the foremost source of technical and educational information, and the primary provider of opportunity for professional growth in the arts and sciences of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigerating.