English | Español

Boilermakers, TVA mark one year in Hartsville facility

We value our partnership with the Boilermakers. We value the relationship and help with training.

Jesse James, TVA Nuclear Director of Strategic Alliance

The TVA facility has 32 operational booths—six flux-core, 16 tube and six for buddy welding.

   View Photo Gallery (5 photos)

It’s been over a year since the Boilermakers opened a new training facility in Hartsville, Tennessee. And in the year since the Tennessee Valley Authority offered the union use of its empty buildings, Boilermakers have made excellent use of the space. In its first year, 280 people, mostly recruits, attended one of the many three-week boot camps—with an impressive weld testing pass rate of 95%.

“For years, Jeff Hughes and I have been working together doing boot camps for the locals and recruits,” said Jay Brophy, MOST training coordinator. “This place is great. It's centralized, so it doesn’t matter where you’re located.”

Because of its location—about an hour outside Nashville—the facility isn’t just for Boilermakers in the Southeast. It’s also easily accessible to those in the Great Lakes and Northeast. And several of those locals are taking advantage of the facility.

Boot camp instructor Joel Kipfer, L-26 (Savannah, Georgia) said that many people want to get into the Boilermakers. This is one avenue to meet that demand.

“The point of the boot camp is to send people who are trying to get into the union. It streamlines the process,” he said. “The boot camps also have journeymen who come in to get their certifications, but we typically see more apprentices than anyone else.”

At a boot camp, new recruits undergo three weeks of training, then test with contractors to gain certifications. Contractors who’ve tested at the training center to date include Day and Zimmermann, GUMBK and Hayes Mechanical.

This is a valuable resource that TVA gave to the Boilermakers, because TVA sees the value in training our next generation of welders.

Nathan Sloas, Contractor GUBMK

Lead instructor Bill Campbell from L-2020 (NTD-SE) has been teaching boot camps since they began. “I teach the majority of the time but I still work in the field if they don’t have classes.” One of the reasons he enjoys teaching is that he’s a part of training the next generation. “We’re fortunate to be here, to run this shop and see where it is now from where it was a year ago,” he said.

Jeffrey Hughes, director of national training services for CSO, said the center has 32 operational booths—six flux-core, 16 tube and six for buddy welding—and four classrooms in another building. TVA contributed two forklifts and a Broderson crane so Boilermakers could set up the space for official apprentice training. There’s still a lot of open space and Hughes has plans to add an EPRI rigging structure and some virtual reality training booths, in addition to new programming.

“As we grow, we’re going to have human performance training, compliance and we’re getting ready for nuclear mechanic training,” Hughes said.

Nathan Sloas from contractor GUBMK was onsite in December testing boot camp attendees. He’s become a fan of the boot camp model for training and testing Boilermakers.

“We’ve been here since the boot camp’s inception in Muscle Shoals in 2018,” Sloas said. “We were some of the first contractors to test at the boot camp. When we get the call and we’re told they’re ready to test, they’re ready. It’s not a waste of my time when I see top notch welders coming out of the boot camp.”

Sloas noted the new facility has space to grow and evolve. “This is a valuable resource that TVA gave to the Boilermakers, because TVA sees the value in training our next generation of welders.”

The training the union provides is a boon for TVA, according to TVA Nuclear Director of Strategic Alliance Jesse James. “We value our partnership with the Boilermakers. We value the relationship and help with training.”

He said there’s a need for more welders in both nuclear and fossil plants, which is one reason why TVA appreciates the boot camp model. The craftsmanship that comes from the Boilermakers is a critical skill set for nuclear and fossil, James said. And TVA is pleased with what’s coming out of the new training facility and the boot camps, which are hitting the mark.

“I’m really impressed with the safety, the quality of work, the skills of the craftsmen and the professional demeanor when Boilermakers are at work. We need that,” James said.

Boot camps train students to become Boilermakers

Boot camp students from all over the United States attend training and advance their skillsets, giving students the opportunity to test for signatory contractors at the end of each phase of the camp. Boot camps are held at local lodges across the U.S. The current weld test pass rate at the boot camps is at nearly 96%. To date, 815 students have completed at least one phase of the program.

About This Article

Boilermaker Reporter Issue
V61N1
Share

Published February 24, 2022

The Boilermaker Reporter

Volume 61, Number 4
Oct 2022 to Dec 2022
Online |  PDF


Older Issues
Submit an Article