2020 NDSCS Alum Comes out on top at National HVAC Competition

Hunter Lee recently won first place in a national HVAC competition.

While scrolling through Facebook, Hunter Lee, a Breckenridge MN native and 2020 NDSCS HVAC/R graduate,  stumbled upon the ServiceTitan HVAC competition. Curious, he filled out an online quiz and was selected to move onto round two. While he was intrigued, he was skeptical that it may be a scam. About a month later, a package arrived in the mail with instructions for phase two — a torching and braising assignment. Lee decided that it may be legitimate so continued the competition, commenting he used the techniques he was taught at NDSCS. Not knowing what to expect, Lee was thrilled to learn he was one of 15 finalists that would compete in Tampa, FL.

Lee and his girlfriend Vanessa flew to Tampa on a Monday in November, still questioning if this was ‘for real.’ With all expenses paid, he was excited to see what the next phase was, but still unsure of what he was getting himself into. The competition was two parts; the first part required installing duct work. With materials, tools, and a model wall in front of him, Lee worked as efficiently as he could, focusing on quality and safety — keeping his composure even with cameras all around. Three competitors would advance to the final round where wiring and electrical components were added. The three finalists had one hour to prove their skills, and Lee came out on top — earning the $25,000 grand prize.

One of Lee’s first stops when returning to Wahpeton was to visit Mark Wood, his NDSCS HVAC/R Instructor. In Lee’s words, “there isn’t much about HVAC that Mr. Wood doesn’t know; the guy has all the knowledge.” Lee has kept in touch with Mr. Wood since graduating from NDSCS, reaching out when he is in need of assistance with an unusual HVAC problem.

Lee has been around HVAC for many years, even before attending NDSCS. His mom was employed by Elite Heating and Air in Wahpeton. His exposure through her office position was enough to spark his interest in an HVAC career. He began working for them part-time while in high school and continued throughout college. Upon graduation from NDSCS, he began working at Schmitty’s Plumbing and Heating, where he currently works.

Lee encourages high school students to explore the trades and all the job opportunities available. He is thankful he was able to graduate from NDSCS with minimal student loans, allowing him to purchase his first home in Breckenridge. He plans to use some of his winnings from the ServiceTitan HVAC competition for house projects, some fishing gear, and will tuck the rest away in savings.

You can watch Lee’s competition on CBS Sports Network this Friday, December 16, at 7:00 p.m.