Competitors at the 2019 National Apprenticeship Competition held at Local 28 in Newark, New Jersey are, seated, l. to r., winner Billy Shick, L-374; L-29’s Zane Martin and L-169’s Justin Zueski, runner up. Back row, l. to r., L-193’s Ben Weisharr; L-83’s Jessie Siems; L-5, Z-7’s Jacob Weber; L-627’s Mauricio Apodaca and L-92’s German Ortega Ramos.

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Local 374’s Shick earns top honors at National Apprenticeship Competition

Just to get here you’re more than a winner. I walked through the contest the other day and everybody was killing it.

BNAP chairman Michael Bray

L-5, Z-7’s Jacob Weber and partner Zane Martin, L-29, both from the Northeast, work on the buddy weld exercise. The test requires contestants to cut out a section of a bad tube and replace it with a new one.

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BILLY SHICK FROM Local 374 (Hobart, Indiana) took home the top honor at the 2019 National Apprenticeship Competition held at Local 28 (Newark, New Jersey) August 12-16, upsetting Detroit Local 169’s four-year winning streak. The close finish had L-169’s Justin Zueski coming in as this year’s runner-up. Team honors went to the Great Lakes team of Shick and Zueski.

Boilermaker National Apprenticeship Program chairman Michael Bray, from Riggs Distler Company, spoke at the awards dinner and praised all the competitors.

“Just to get here you’re more than a winner. I walked through the contest the other day and everybody was killing it,” Bray said. “There’s no contractor in the country that wouldn’t want any of you to work for them.”

BNAP national coordinator Mark Wertz said the eight contestants showed “class and professionalism” throughout the competition.

“You should be very proud at how you handled yourself,” Wertz said. “That’s what Boilermakers do. We take tough situations and make them easy.”

Shick, who lost to Zueski at the regional level competition, said that the regional defeat was hard, but it motivated him to commit to comprehensive training and to a regular study schedule.

“Being the runner-up is what drove me to push it harder,” Shick said. “I knew the areas I needed to improve on and worked on those as much as I could.”

Also contending were Mauricio Apodaca, L-627 (Phoenix); Zane Martin, L-29 (Boston); German Ortega Ramos, L-92 (Los Angeles); Jessie Siems, L-83 (Kansas City, Missouri); Jacob Weber, L-5, Z-7 (Orchard Park, New York) and Ben Weisharr, L-193 (Baltimore).

To reach the national competition, sponsored by BNAP, contestants had to finish in the winner or runner-up spot in their respective area competitions.

In addition to the hands-on competition, candidates competed on a written exam covering their four years of related studies and on-the-job-training. The hands-on portion included rigging, layout and fabrication, tube rolling, knot tying, hand signals, reeving and equipment use, along with welding and cutting. Judges scored contestants on blueprint reading, safety, overall knowledge and demonstrated skills.

This is the second year that Local 28 hosted the competition. L-28 BM-ST Jim Chew said it was an “incredible honor.”

“Everybody is thanking me for hosting, but it’s not me you need to thank. It’s my staff,” Chew said. “I can’t say enough. These guys are the ones who pull this thing off. There has to be one winner tonight, but in my book you’re all winners.”

The awards dinner recognized contestants and announced the winners. Presenters included IVP-NE John Fultz, Chew, Bray and Wertz, who also served as master of ceremonies.

The lead judge for the competition was Michael Stanton, Local 154 (Pittsburgh) with Lawrence McManamon Jr., GLABAP, as assistant lead judge. Other judges for the event were Shon Almond, AD-NTDS; Monte Causey, IR-CSO; Jason Dupuis, NEAAC; Abe Inghram, L-107 (Milwaukee); Collin Keisling, WSJAC; Joe Khoury, Graycor; JT Lofley, Central Maintenance & Welding; Stephen Murphy, NEAAC; Eric Olson, SAJAC; BM-ST Chris O’Neill, Local 237 (Hartford, Connecticut); Dean Parker, Riggs Distler; IR-CSO, BM-ST Tim Ruth, Local 101; Dwight Seay, McDermott International; and Dan Walsh, Forest City Erectors.