The Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program hosted its second National Instructor Conference May 3-5 in Oaklawn, Illinois. Instructors brought their energy, ready for three days of hands-on experience including interactive learning, tool and product exhibits and a visit to the Local 374 (Hobart, Indiana) training center for a demonstration on riveting.
After the success of the first National Instructor Conference in 2018, it was evident from instructors’ feedback they wanted to continue this type of immersive, interactive training.
“Between your positive attitudes and the work ethic you’ve all brought with you here this week, you are also setting an example at your locals for the future men and women joining the Boilermakers. Using the resources and tools given helps advance not only you but the future generations of our craft,” said BNAP Chairman Michael Bray during his opening remarks.
Planners organized instructors into four groups that rotated through classes and demonstrations together so that instructors from around the U.S. had the opportunity to learn as much as possible, network and glean ideas from one another.
Among many conference highlights was a “field trip” to the Local 374’s training center, where Assistant Apprenticeship Coordinator and Assistant Director of Training Nick Tokarz gave a demonstration on riveting. After the demonstration, instructors had an opportunity to try their hand at driving hot rivets, old-school Boilermaker fashion.
“I’m a fifth-generation Boilermaker, so I thought the riveting was awesome,” said Shadrick Napier, an instructor with Cleveland Local 744. “It made me think of the old days before me and how far we’ve come.”
Kelly Press’s hands-on virtual reality demo was also popular among instructors. Kelly’s Director of Knowledge Distribution, Ken Rogers, explained how VR is fun, increasing in popularity, and can be used as a job-site simulator, allowing for members to gain experience and problem-solve ahead of real-life application.
“There are major benefits of VR when it comes to training. It’s safe and convenient,” Rogers said.
During the conference, Director of National Training Services Jeffrey Hughes updated instructors on Welding Boot Camp, and there were also classes on CPR, insurance basics, changes to the learning management system, Helmets to Hardhats, EPRI training, and internet resources.
BNAP National Coordinator Mark Wertz spoke about the importance of recruiting from and utilizing local schools that offer welding programs for students seeking a career in field construction. When coordinating with these schools, BNAP provides curriculum and training exercises so students gain the right information needed to be successful Boilermakers.
The BNAP National Instructor Conference, he said, is a way to ensure all instructors are prepared to provide strong outreach to schools and in other ways and to continue with recruitment and training for all local lodges.
“This conference is intended to help you in training and providing our union with the best possible apprentices of any craft. As instructors, with your knowledge and skill, you play a vital role in molding these apprentices to become next leaders in the field. The BNAP, along with the coordinators, is committed to giving you all the tools to help make that possible.”