Tidewater Tech Blog

Loan, Grant or Scholarship: What is the Best Financial Aid for Your Trade School Training?

By Jul DeGeus

Furthering your education by going to a trade school is a quick way to invest in your future and advance your career. While going back to school can be costly, there are different types of resources available to help you get the training you need to be competitive in today’s job market:


The most common option for paying for tuition is a student loan. This loan is a lump sum of money that is to be used for educational spending and must be paid back, often with interest. There are different types of loans that you can apply for, like federal, state or private loans, but regardless of what type of loan you chose, you must understand the requirements of the loan contract. Come up with a list of questions to ask your loan provider so that there aren’t any surprises when it comes to paying back your debt.


A scholarship is an amount of money that you “win” for your education. From essay writing to art projects, there are many different types of scholarships that you can apply for. Scholarship money awarded to you does not have to be repaid, however, there is usually an obligation associated with it, like maintaining a certain grade point average or participating in an internship. It’s important that you understand how you can use the money you are requesting and know the terms to which you are agreeing to when you apply for each scholarship. There’s no limit as to how many scholarships you can apply for (and there are billions out there), but keep in mind that they are competitive. Make sure your submission is unique from the rest.


Grants are almost identical to scholarships except that there is less overall funding and, if awarded a grant, the amount is based on the results of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid; no chance to win with an essay or art piece. Most grant awards are need-based aid, in other words, for those with low income. Like scholarships, grants do not need to be paid back, but with a high demand of grant requests and a lower amount of funding than scholarships, money can run out fast. Fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible for a higher chance of receiving a grant.

Get into Gear: Career Opportunities for Automotive Technicians

By: Esperanza Poquiz

Choosing to work in the automotive technician field will provide you with ample opportunities when it comes to getting your career started. After all, vehicles -whether it’s your own, a friend’s or public transportation- are an essential in getting you from point A to point B.  And if you own a vehicle the maintenance and repair of your automobile is one of your utmost priorities to staying safe and getting you to the places you need to go in a timely manner.

Automotive technicians identify and inspect vehicles with special tools and equipment. After finding and assessing the problem, mechanics take action to correct the vehicle. Once fixed, they run tests to confirm that the vehicle it is operating smoothly and properly. Technicians run regular maintenance, inspections and repairs on a day to day basis. Their duties may include: changing oil, rotating tires, performing a state inspection, checking the vehicle’s fluid levels and sensors, or fixing any problems the vehicle may have.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of automotive technicians and mechanics is expected to rise 5% from the years of 2014-2024. Jobs for automotive technicians and mechanics are escalating due to the number of vehicles increasing and becoming more relied on, causing career opportunities for entry-level technicians to increase as well.

You have the chance at working at dealerships as well as at an independent repair shop. Employment opportunities include:

  • Auto technician
  • Service writer or service manager
  • Parts counter clerk
  • Outside salesman
  • Automotive wholesaler
  • Technical representative
  • Technical editor
  • Owner of a repair facility

If learning about automotive technicians has sparked your interest, Tidewater Tech has a program for you: Automotive Technician Program.

Keeping Your Computer Safe: Internet Security Education

Having a computer, or access to one, is very common in this day and age. Most households have either a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone for each member of their family. But because of the familiarity, many people do not realize the risks that a computer presents.

Computers are storage houses for information. Banking, work and even personal information is stored in program files. If someone had access to that information, your identity and credit could be at risk. And if that isn’t enough, your computer could be hacked to run background programs that can be used to attack other computers without you even knowing.

To keep your computer and data safe, it’s a good idea to have some sort of internet security education. This basic education can guide you to help keep your computer safe from harm. Here are a few steps to keeping yourself safe:


Your firewall is your first line of defense against hackers and identity theft. It’s a security device in your network, usually run through your router, modem or both, that monitors ingoing and outgoing traffic to your computer. When an unauthorized traffic signal comes in, the firewall automatically blocks it.

Virus Scans

Virus scans are your second barrier. These are programs that are downloaded onto your computer to that look for programs that can harm your computer. Some are subscription services and some are free. Virus scans should be updated at least once a week and your entire computer should be scanned regularly.


Passwords protect against data theft. You should have a different password for each and every site or program that you use. This is a very important step in keeping your data safe because if you use the same password for several sites and someone steals your password, the hacker will then have access to any site that login is used.

Common Sense

Lastly, use common sense when surfing the internet. Do not click on pop-ups that appear on the screen. Even when you click “X” on a pop-up, you could still activate a virus program. Right click from your taskbar to close out those items. If you get an email or instant message from a friend or family member that seems suspicious, send them a message to see if they sent it on purpose. Do not share private information or passwords in chats or without confirming the source.

HVAC: Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

By Jul DeGeus

It’s summertime; a blistering 101 degrees outside, with humidity so stifling you can barely catch your breath. However, you are cool as a cucumber- sprawled out on the couch, watching Stranger Things in preparation of the season two release date, all thanks to your hardworking air conditioning unit. Midway through your viewing, you decide to change into shorts, as the discomforting heat of your pajama pants is distracting your ability to fully submerge into the storyline.

You make your way upstairs and it hits you; a stagnant wall of heat, so sweltering you debate whether your body can muster the energy to make it to the thermostat to fix this terrible situation.  Channeling your inner Eleven, you brave your way to the AC control unit just to find that, despite multiple attempts, your AC unit has died, putting an unexpected end to your series splurging marathon.

Vowing never to let a broken ac unit interrupt your plans again, you realize your life’s mission: Become a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technician to save the population from overheating or freezing to death.

But what exactly do these every-day HVAC heroes do and how does one join the ranks of these noble technicians?

Well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC technicians preform the following tasks:

  • Set up and/or fix AC units
  • Preform regular inspections and maintenance
  • Test parts of the unit to determine the source of the issue
  • Once identified, repair or replace damaged components
  • Survey HVAC systems and suggest cost and energy effective changes
  • Assemble HVAC systems, including electrical wiring, air ducts, and other necessary parts.

And, just as Batman taught Robin, Ironman mentored Spiderman and Antiope educated Wonder Woman, all technicians must get the training they need before taking on the world of HVAC. To start that training, check out Tidewater Tech’s Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning diploma program, now!

Tune-up Your Training for Your Next Interview

By Esperanza Poquiz; Edited by Jul DeGeus

Going into an interview can be stressful for some of us; others may find it easy. Being well-prepared can help calm your nerves before going into the interview process. Whether you find it easy or hard, these tips could help you feel more confident when walking through the door.

Initial Reactions

A survey showed that 660 out of 2,000 hiring managers knew within 90 seconds of meeting an applicant whether or not they would hire the interviewee. To ensure that you are giving off a great first impression, be mindful of your appearance and dress appropriately. Pick colors that are neutral; navy blue, white, black or gray. Upon first meeting, smile and give your employer a firm hand shake. You should keep an upbeat, positive tone throughout the exchange. Communication is key; enunciate, speak with proper grammar and don’t use profanity or bring up inappropriate topics.

 Believe in Yourself

Radiating confidence lets your employer see that you know what you want and take initiative to get it. During the interview don’t mumble, play with your hair, touch your face or cross your arms over your chest. When speaking, make eye contact and keep hand gestures to a minimum. Let your personality shine by showing warmth and enthusiasm.

Do Some Research

            Before going to your interview, research the company for general information. What is the company’s mission statement and what do they stand for? Is this a mission you support and are passionate about? Have the specific position you applied for in mind and be ready to talk about the requirements and responsibilities in the job description. Always have at least three relevant questions prepared to ask about the company or position; this stresses your interest to obtain the position.

Final Suggestions

Stay away from saying unfavorable comments about previous employers and peers; your opinion could project negativity. Regardless of the reason, have a generic answer on why you left your last job. During the initial interview, don’t focus too much on pay or schedule. If the company is interested in you, you will have the opportunity to negotiate that in following conversations. When in doubt ask family, friends or mentors to perform a mock interview to prepare.

Keep these tips on the forefront of your mind for the most productive interviews.

The Test of Tools: Auto Edition

By Eric Soule and Jul DeGeus

Automotive students- It’s time to test your knowledge! Identify the names of the following tools and click the picture to see if you got them right:


Belt Tension Gauge or Tire Inflator Gauge?

Eric Soule Click to Flip
It’s a “belt tension gauge” and it measures the amount of tension put on belts.

Boot Pliers or Spark Plug Pliers

Eric Soule Click to Flip
Those are “boot pliers” and they are used to removes spark plug wire boots.

Dial Indicator or Cylinder Compression Tester

Click to Flip
The “dial indicator” is a precision measuring tool for processes such as brake alignment.

Drum Micrometer or Digital Drum Caliper

Eric Soule Click to Flip
A “drum micrometer” is used to measure the inside diameter of a break drum.

Video Scope or Gas Leak Detector

Eric Soule Click to Flip
The “gas leak detector” monitors if there is a gas leak, such as R134A refrigerant.

Radiator Pressure Tester or Harmonic Balancer Puller

Eric Soule Click to Flip
“Harmonic balancer pullers” are used to remove the engine’s vibration reducer or the harmonic balancer.

Metric Crows Foot Tool or Hydraulic Flaring Tool

Eric Soule Click to Flip
It is a “hydraulic flaring tool” set that fabricates flaring, double flare, and bubble for fuel and brake lines.

Infrared Thermometer or Heat Gun

Eric Soule Click to Flip
This “infrared thermometer” is used to measure thermal radiation from a distance.

Circlip Wrench or Oil Filter Wrench

Eric Soule Click to Flip
It’s an “oil filter wrench” that can remove various size of oil filters.

Serpentine Belt Tool or Rethreading Tool

Eric Soule Click to Flip
A “serpentine belt tool” is used to push or pull the tensioner pulley to release tension on serpentine belts.

Swivel Type Sockets or Cylinder Piston Ring Set

Eric Soule Click to Flip
“Swivel type sockets” have a head that swivels to reach just the perfect angle.

Universal Brake Caliper Tool or Bearing Adapter Kit

Eric Soule Click to Flip
It’s a “universal brake caliper tool,” which depresses screw type calipers.

Rotary Tool or Valve Core Remover

Eric Soule Click to Flip
A “valve core remover” extracts valve cores in R134A systems without loss of refrigerant.


Job Weld Done: I’ve Got My Welding Certification, Now What?

Welding is a career that offers many options as to what to do once you are trained. You can choose to work outdoors, indoors or even under water. With this profession, you have the chance to expand your knowledge through further education. Here are a few areas where welding can become a career:


A Boilermaker is someone who welds boilers and vessels that contain materials like oils or chemicals. Their role is crucial when it comes to making these containers; Boilermakers must make sure that the pressure systems are in check and the container is welded properly when working with potentially hazardous materials.


From bridges to sky scrapers, Ironworkers focus on framework for standing structures. They also are the people you can thank for installing things like railings and fire escapes, making the environment we work and live in a safer place.

Pipe Welders

There are two types of welders associated with pipe welding: Pipefitters and Pipeline Welders. A Pipefitter creates, assembles and repairs piping systems, like the heating and cooling systems in your house. Pipeline Welders repair and assemble important pipelines, such as a water, oil or gas distribution lines, in a construction setting.

Welding Technician

Welding Technicians are essential to the future of welding. Using their knowledge of current and previous welding techniques, the purpose of a Welding Technician is to invent new methods and processes to advance welding technology.

Welding Engineer

While a Welding Technician develops new methods for welders to practice, Welding Engineers produce the technology to support those new methods. Their job is at the forefront of developing new materials, tools and processes to efficiently enhance welding as a whole.

Welding Teacher

Every artisan must learn about their craft. While some might have a “knack” or natural talent for welding, it is import to go through training to obtain the most knowledge you can. Welding instructors are essential to carrying on the skill, as well as passion for welding.

These are only a handful of welding opportunities. To start your welding training, check out Tidewater Tech’s Combination Welding Program.

History Recap: Independence Day

4th of July History

The Fourth of July celebration commemorates the date on which the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. The historical event happened 241 years ago in 1776. Before 1776, there were thirteen American colonies under the rule of the British Empire. On the 4th of July, the colonies declared independence from their empire, and joined together to form the United States of America. The significance of this date is at the core of the nation; Independence Day is the official day the United States of America united.


July 4th Fireworks. Washington DC is a spectacular place to celebrate July 4th! The National Mall, with Washington DC’s monuments and the U. S. Capitol in the background, forms a beautiful and patriotic backdrop to America’s Independence Day celebrations. Source: Library of Congress.

Before 1776, the thirteen colonies in America had been in conflict with the Kingdom of Great Britain for over a year in the American Revolutionary War. However, on the 2nd of July the same year, the Second Continental Congress approved a resolution of independence through a vote without opposition. This resolution had been proposed in June by Virginian Richard Henry Lee. The Lee Resolution, with the backing of John Adams, was approved on July 2nd, 1776.

After the approval, Congress focused on creating the Declaration of Independence. This was essentially a statement formally declaring independence of the country and explaining its decision to be free from the British Empire. The declaration had already been drafted prior to the actual independence and was prepared by a committee of five: Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the statement, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston. On the fourth of July, the final version of the Declaration of Independence was approved. Hence, the federal holiday is celebrated on the Fourth as opposed to the second of July.


Independence Day was commemorated in 1777 for the first time. The celebration was honored in different ways around the independent states. Rhode Island memorialized the occasion with a formal ceremony in Bristol; 13 gunshot salutes in the morning and 13 gunshots at night. In Philadelphia, the occasion was celebrated much like we do today: parades, speeches, music, prayers and the thirteen gunshot saloon.

In 1781, the Fourth of July was first “officially” recognized as a state celebration by the Massachusetts General Court. Almost 100 years later in 1870, Independence Day was made a holiday for federal employees, albeit unpaid. It was not until 1938 that the Congress declared the Fourth of July a paid federal holiday. Today, the Independence Day is celebrated by the colors of the American flag and extravagant outdoor events such as parades, picnics and barbecues, to honor those who fought for our freedom.

BMR Breakdown: What Does a Building Maintenance & Repair Worker Do?

By Esperanza Poquiz

There are many factors that go into keeping a facility operating smoothly, whether it’s dealing with: plumbing, general building repairs, keeping up with building codes. The go-to person that we turn to for these matters is the facility’s Building Maintenance and Repair (BMR) Workers.

Plumber connecting PVC pipes

BMR Workers are essentially a jack of all trades. Daily duties of a BMR Worker varies on a day to day basis. They may be touching up paint on a wall in the office one minute and then repairing an outlet with faulty wiring the next. Their main goal is to ensure that the building is a safe environment for all employees. Listed below are a few more tasks it takes to be a Building Maintenance & Repair Worker:

  • – Conduct regular inspections and address the areas that need fixing
  • – Move facility property, such as desks, chairs, computers
  • – Troubleshoot
  • – Replace light bulbs and air filters
  • – Change locks and doorknobs or oil the hinges
  • – Facilitate general building repairs like damaged floorboards or ceiling structures
  • – Assemble new equipment

Not to be mistaken as janitorial work, BMR Workers occasionally have cleaning duties. They may be asked to sterilize an area after a pipe has burst while assessing the repairs needed.

All buildings require upkeep to operate successfully and generally have a BMR Worker on call 24/7. Here are some examples:

  • – Apartment complexes
  • – Hotels
  • – Corporate/Business buildings
  • – Hospitals and clinics
  • – Real estate and lending agencies
  • – Educational services departments

If you would like to know more on how to become a Building Maintenance and Repair Worker, a great place to start is by looking into Tidewater Tech’s Building Maintenance and Repair Program.

Summertime Car Maintenance: How to “Summerize” Your Car

What it means to ‘Summerize’

Summer is a great time to enjoy the warm weather and outdoor activities like water sports, camping, fishing or road trips. However, you need your car to be in good condition in order to get around without a problem.

When the brisk months come around, you winterize your car to keep it in it’s best shape. It only makes sense you should “summerize”, or prepare your car for the hot months, as well. It’s easy and can save you money by increasing fuel efficiency. The following steps will ensure that you have a smooth and fuel-efficient ride throughout summer:

Replace or Tighten the Gas Cap

Gas caps that have broken or have weak seals allow fuel to evaporate. This potentially reduces your fuel efficiency by 2%. It also pollutes the air and also allows dirt and other contaminants to get into the fuel.

Avoid this by checking that the seal on the gas cap is kept tight every time you stop to fill up. If the seal is bad, you’ll need to replace the whole cap with a new one. With some cars, a “check engine light” will come on and may signify that the seal is broken.

Check Tire Inflation

Another check you need to make is your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated saves your fuel consumption. If they are not well-inflated, tires have a higher rolling resistance which is what compromises fuel efficiency. The right amount of pressure improves gas mileage by up to 3.3%. Replacing tires with efficient low rolling resistance tires could reduce fuel consumption by up to 6%.

Change the Oil

It’s important to keep oil changes scheduled as suggested by your car manufacturer. Schedules can also be found in your owner’s manual. However, there are some types of oil that can increase efficiency. Two examples are energy conserving or synthetic motor oil. They reduce engine friction which improves efficiency by between 1% and 2%.

Replace Spark Plugs

When a spark plugs misfires, a check engine light will come on to draw your attention to the problem. Up to 30% of fuel efficiency is compromised by problematic spark plugs. Replacing them not only increases fuel efficiency but also improves combustion and also reduces emissions.

While this is a simple thing to do, it’s very important to replace your spark plugs when necessary. If you know how to do it, you can do it yourself. Otherwise, you can get it done at your local repair shop.

Replacing the engine air filter

Replacing a clogged air filter with a carbureted engine can improve fuel economy by between 2% and 6%. This is especially the case on older car models. When the air in your engine is clean, it also keeps the air outside clean, therefore, gas efficiency is improved and the amount of gas you need to burn is reduced.

Efficiency can be improved by up 40% if the air filter was completely clogged or so clogged that it affected drivability. A damaged air filter allows dirt to get into the engine which increases its wear.

The engine air filter is usually replaced when the car goes in for routine servicing which is usually every 15,000 miles. However, if you typically drive on dirt roads, it should be replaced more often because it is more likely to get clogged.

‘Summerize’ to Make the Most of Summer

When you take that road trip, go camping or are chauffeuring the kids to their games and other activities, the last thing you need is for your car to break down. Take the time to get your car summer ready and minimize chances of that happening.