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Local 40’s Dowdy captures win at Apprentice of the Year Competition

I’d just like to thank everybody and thank L-107. I appreciate the hospitality and the competition—you’re all excellent Boilermakers.

Matthew Dowdy, L-40, 2022 Apprentice of the Year

The 2022 Boilermaker National Apprentice of the Year Contestants. Pictured l. to r. are Rudy Portillo, L-92; Benjamin Kolosky, L-237; Tim Krause, L-28; Adam Stempel, L-363; Matthew Dowdy, L-40; Dean Flanagan, L-242; Dakota Bell, L-108; and Matthew Edwards, L-374.

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Matthew Dowdy Local 40 (Elizabethtown, Kentucky) took home the top honor at the 2022 Apprentice of the Year Competition held at Local 107 (Milwaukee) September 19-22. Coming in as this year’s runner-up was Dakota Bell from Local 108 (Birmingham, Alabama). Team honors went to the Southeast duo of Dowdy and Bell.

During an awards dinner, Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program Chairman Michael Bray, from Riggs Distler, praised all the competitors. 

“Before we announce the winners, I want to say you’re all winners,” Bray said. “The contest was very close. We wish you the best of luck in the future.”

BNAP National Coordinator Mark Wertz said contestants were excellent throughout the entire process, including at the regional level. “I was able to go to a couple regional contests and I was blown away,” he said.

Wertz noted that it takes a lot of effort to host the national Apprentice of the Year Competition. “There’s a lot of moving parts that go into this,” he said. “You must have a strong executive board. You need a really good BNAP board, which consists of owners and contractors.”

After winning, Dowdy commended fellow competitor and partner Bell.

“I think I got really lucky with my partner,” he said. “He’s an excellent Boilermaker and a good man.” He also took time to pay tribute to the other contestants and the hosting local.

“I’d just like to thank everybody and thank Local 107. I appreciate the hospitality and the competition—you’re all excellent Boilermakers.”

Also contending were Great Lakes competitors Matthew Edwards, L-374 (Hammond, Indiana) and Adam Stempel, L-363 (East St. Louis, Illinois); from the Northeast were Benjamin Kolosky, L-237 (Hartford, Connecticut) and Tim Krause, L-28 (Newark, New Jersey); and from the Western States were Rudy Portillo, L-92 (Los Angeles) and Dean Flanigan, L-242 (Spokane, Washington).

To reach the national competition, which is sponsored by the Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program, contestants had to finish as winner or runner-up in their respective area competitions.

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

This was the first year Local 107 hosted the competition. “We’re happy to be elected as the local to sponsor this,” said BM-ST Blane Tom. “We appreciate everyone who came—all the contestants and all the bright futures you’re going to have.”

The lead judge for the competition was Michael Stanton, Local 154 BM-ST (Pittsburgh) with Lawrence McManamon Jr., Coordinator for the Great Lakes Area Boilermakers Apprenticeship Program, as assistant lead judge. Other judges for the event were Don Placko, Hayes Mechanical; Chris Darnell, NAES Corporation; Herman Gibbs, Crawford Boiler; John Bauman, Babcock & Wilcox; Dwight Seay, CBI Services, Inc., Michael Anthony, L-502 (Tacoma, Washington); James McManamon, L-744 (Cleveland); IR Mitch Brown; IR James Cain Jr.; IR Chris O’Neill; Eric Olson, SAJAC; Jason Dupuis, NEAAC; Stephen Murphy, NEAAC; and Collin Keisling, WSJAC.