The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pipe trades apprentice contest is taking root

By The Building Tradesman

ANN ARBOR - The long-dormant United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Michigan State Apprentice Contest is starting to become routine, again.

For the second straight year since the contest was abandoned 33 years ago, contestant-apprentices from around Michigan competed in events that tested skills in HVACR service, pipefitting, plumbing and welding. In 2007 - also for the first time in years - winners of the state contests like this one will compete in a UA-sponsored regional contest (held this year in Pittsburgh).

The locale for both this contest on May 3-4, as well as the national competition in August, is the UA Great Lakes Training Center on the campus of Washtenaw Community College.

The participating local unions were 85, 174, 190, 333, 357, 370 and 636. Two days of competition in topics and tasks related to the various trades were judged by industry and training representatives.

"The contest allows all participants, contestants, coordinators and observers to view the knowledge and skill level our future workforce has to offer," said Rod Jara, director of the UA Regional Training Center at WCC. "And I can add that it's refreshing to know that these young members will carry our organization and trades well represented into the future."

In addition to a written exam, apprentices had to demonstrate competency in various tasks such as: copper tube bending and brazing, underground layout of pipe, knot tying and rigging, blueprint reading and material identification, various welding methods of pipe and plate, electrical and mechanical problem solving, threaded pipe fabrication and assembly plus other specific trade tasks.

UA to Iron Workers: thanks for the lift

Apprentices from Iron Workers Local 25 and Cadillac Iron provided a big assist to the United Association's Michigan State Apprentice contest.

The apprentices, with a boost from Cadillac Iron's boom truck, erected an iron rigging structure that allowed the pipe trades to test their apprentices' skills in rigging.

The structure, which can be disassembled and moved, "simulates the red iron of a building and allows us to teach and test apprentices on the proper techniques for different rigging applications," said Scott Klapper, apprenticeship coordinator for host Local 190 who helped coordinate the contest.

The 10x10x20-foot-long frame was erected on the Washtenaw Community College campus, but it's designed to be portable and shipped to different UA training centers.

"I really wanted to let the Iron Workers know that we appreciate their gesture of cooperation and support in setting up the frame," said Rod Jara, director of the UA Regional Training Center at WCC. "It really helped us and we will be able to use it for years to come."