Local 154’s Dunlevy wins national apprentice contest

BRANDON DUNLEVY places first in the national apprentice competition.

L-85’s Harman places second; NE contestants take team honors

EIGHT TOP BOILERMAKER graduate apprentices from across the United States tested their skills during the 24th annual National Outstanding Apprentice Competition held at the Local 7 (Buffalo, N.Y.) training facilities in Orchard Park Sept. 25-29. Contestants competed in written and practical tests. They were graded individually and as teams from their respective geographic areas. Judges included veteran Boilermakers and contractor representatives.

Brandon Dunlevy, Local 154 (Pittsburgh), won first place in the event. Joshua Harman, Local 85 (Toledo, Ohio), representing the Great Lakes Area, took second. Team honors went to Dunlevy and Jonathan Gibli of Local 5 Zone 5 (New York), representing the Northeast Area.

The event was the second to be held outside the national training center in Kansas City, Kan. The NTC facility was closed in 2010 as part of a restructuring program. Under the new format, local training facilities in the United States will host the event on a two-year rotation. Local 169 (Detroit) will sponsor the event in 2012 and 2013.

Results of the national competition were announced at an awards banquet held Sept. 29 at Salvatore’s Restaurant in Depew, N.Y.

Other graduate apprentices competing this year were, from the Great Lakes Area, Brian Rose, Local 169; from the Southeast Area, Chris Wallace, Local 40 (Elizabethtown, Ky.), and Christopher Ridenour, Local 453 (Knoxville, Tenn.); and from the Western States Area, David Pittsley, Local 502 (Tacoma, Wash.), and Randy Thomas, Local 549 (Pittsburg, Calif.)

All eight contestants earned their way to the national event by winning the top spot in their local lodge competition and finishing in one of the top two positions in their area competition.

Apprentices compete in four areas

The 2011 competition covered four areas: classroom, rigging, Boilermaker skills, and welding, each worth up to 300 points.

The classroom work included a 10-hour written exam on study lessons, blueprints and drafting, Boilermaker history and organization, OSHA safety rules, and on-the-job training modules.

In the team rigging test, contestants set up and performed a duct section lift using a tugger and hydraulic crane. The exercise involved calculating the mechanical advantage to be employed and reeving blocks accordingly. Contestants were required to move the duct section horizontally into position near the steel structure, rig it for a vertical lift over the top of the structure, and set it into position with hanger rods at the appropriate elevation and orientation.

Candidates were also judged on safety and hand-signaling skills.

Apprentices competed in five areas in the Boilermaker skills section. These included tube rolling, layout and fabrication, boiler component identification, tool identification and use, and CPR.

In the welding section, judges evaluated the contestants’ skills in tube welding, plate welding, burning, stud welding, arc gouging, and safety.

The apprentices were given five hours to remove and replace a failed tube from a water wall section using the buddy welding system. They measured and cut out the bad tube and replaced it with a 12-inch pup using GTAW and SMAW techniques. Judges assessed measuring skills, quality of cuts, beveling/tube preparation, and membrane welding. Welds were tested by X-ray for conformance to ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) standards, with points deducted for any weld failures.

Judges for the 2011 competition were, from the Great Lakes Area, Anthony Parasiliti Jr., RMF Nooter, and James Condrich, apprentice instructor, Local 744(Cleveland); from the Northeast Area, Larry Ross of North American Energy Services, and Jack O’Halloran, apprentice coordinator for Local 28 (Newark, N.J.); from the National Transient Division, IR Shon Almond and IR Mike West; and from the Western States, Kenneth Null, Babcock & Wilcox, and Sterling Park, retired Boilermaker, Local 11 (Helena, Mont.).

William Elrod, retired AIP, served as the test administrator. Retired L-7 Business Manager Joe Brown served as the assistant test administrator.

Banquet honors contestants, supporters

THE RESULTS OF the 2011 competition were announced during the awards banquet held on the final day of the event. The banquet honored all of the contestants and acknowledged those who promote the Boilermaker apprenticeship program throughout the year.

BNAP Chairman Ken Wasilewski, of Babcock & Wilcox, opened the program by stating that “the Boilermakers are the life blood of the industry that my company participates in. Apprentices are the heart of the Boilermaker trade.” He noted that over 3,000 apprentices are currently in the system and that projected increases in man-hours over the next two years will require “a lot more apprentices, every journeyman we have, and many others that we’re going to have to find along the way.”

Wasilewski said the apprentice competition is a gateway for future leadership opportunities. “Over the past 20 years, at least two of the fellas that won are currently working in B&W supervision. You see them all throughout industry — in union leadership and in contractor leadership. It’s just a great launching pad for your careers.”

BNAP Coordinator Pat Smith emceed the banquet. He recognized all those who participated in the competition and who support the apprenticeship program throughout the year, including judges and test administrators, BNAP board members, national training staff, and local lodge training staff.

He said the contestants “have worked their tails off and have been exposed to a lot of pressure. It makes me feel good that the future will be in their hands. ”

In an emotional moment, Smith announced that after 10 years with BNAP he will be retiring in December 2011. He offered his appreciation to “all those in this room, who have made [the apprentice program] possible.”

SAIP Marty Spencer will assume the duties of BNAP Coordinator upon Smith’s retirement.

“I wanted to see if I could do it.”

BRANDON DUNLEVY, winner of the 2011 competition, is no stranger to union labor. “A big part of the culture in Pittsburgh is hard work; it’s skilled labor; and it’s union,” he said. “I’ve been going to Labor Day parades since I was five.”

Dunlevy said his grandfather on his dad’s side began working in the steel mill at age 12, and his father started with the railroads right out of high school. Dunlevy took a different approach, working at various office jobs. But after meeting some Boilermakers, he asked himself if he could do that kind of work and live that kind of life. “I wanted to see if I could do it.”

In accepting the top apprentice award during the banquet, Dunlevy offered his thanks to all those who support the program. “Thanks, also, to all the officers at my union hall and the instructors at the hall for all the things they taught me. Most especially, thanks to the men who are not here that I have worked with over the years. That’s where the greatest part of my education has come from.”