By Rebecca E. Jones
Today, Brad Trevillian (B.S.’06) oversees a $500 million revenue stream for air conditioning giant Trane. He said VCU’s engineering program gave him a solid foundation in keeping things cool — and making it real.
“My career started at VCU, literally,” Trevillian said. “Between my junior and senior years, I created an internship for myself at Trane, and I’ve been there ever since.” The skills he gained came in handy at Capstone time as his team designed a specialty ice rail — a frozen bar surface that keeps users’ drinks extra cold. “The client didn’t want compressors running all the time, so we invented a ‘smart ice rail’ that senses when a cold surface is needed,” he said. “It definitely taught me a lot about refrigeration.”
He returned to Trane’s Richmond office after graduation as a sales engineer and quickly stood out as a top performer. He went on to lead large sales teams and was promoted to general manager with profit and loss responsibility for the Central Virginia market. In 2017, he became Trane’s director of energy contracting for North America.
Trevillian may have been Trane’s first VCU engineering intern — but he’s not the last and takes every opportunity to hire VCU engineers. Students interested in co-ops or internships with Trane — or a host of other companies — should contact Engineering Career Services. In the last academic year, Engineering Career Services has helped students land 185 internships and 53 co-op rotations with companies throughout the nation. Trevillian explains why employers are eager to hire Ram engineers. “VCU students bring a sense of the real world with them,” he said, adding that their work ethic, maturity and business savvy set them apart. “I think they have more emotional intelligence, too, because of the diversity of backgrounds and disciplines they’re exposed to at VCU.”
That diversity was what tipped the scales when Trevillian was applying to colleges. He met then dean Robert Mattauch, Ph.D., on a recruiting trip and was impressed by VCU’s collaborations across engineering, business and the arts. “After that, other universities seemed much more siloed — siloed by design. VCU was different.”
Trevillian advises current students to take advantage of the VCU difference and explore many career paths. “Be receptive to opportunities that may look different from what you had envisioned,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been happy as a ‘lab coat engineer,’ but at first I didn’t even know the sales engineering field existed. If I hadn't stayed open, I’d have missed a huge opportunity.”