L-169 hosts high school welding competition

L-169 Apprenticeship Coordinator Mark Wertz speaks to high school students about a career with the Boilermakers.

Annual event draws 42 students from 12 schools

FORTY-TWO VOCATIONAL education students from 12 Michigan schools competed in the Local 169 (Detroit) High School Welding Invitational May 2. It was the 11th year for the annual event, which gives contestants an opportunity to test their welding skills and learn about a career as a Boilermaker. More than 500 students have participated since the event’s inception.

Marty Spencer, National Coordinator for the Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program (BNAP), spoke to the group about apprenticeships.

“I was a vocational tech student; I was what you are. We’re always looking for some great men and women to move our program forward. Pay attention to what you hear from the instructors you will talk to today, and what your teachers tell you back at school. Work hard, and there’s an opportunity here for you to start a promising career.”

Mark Wertz, L-169 Business Agent/Apprentice Coordinator, told the contestants that 40 out of the 500 contestants who have competed in the contest over the years went on to become Boilermakers. “They were sitting where you’re sitting. They are now highly-skilled craftsmen with a good career.”

Wertz, who established the welding invitational in 2003, went on to join BNAP effective May 5. Mike Card, L-169 President/Business Agent, will lead the event going forward.

Local 169 Business Manager Robert Hutsell said, “The collaboration between Michigan’s building trade unions, our National Apprenticeship programs, and our communities has been a key component behind the success of Boilermakers Local 169 for nearly 120 years. Working together, we supply our owners and signatory contractors with the safest and highest skilled craftsmen available."

Winners of the 2014 High School Welding invitational are, Ricky Nemitz (1st place), St. Clair TEC; Derek Coch (2nd place), Flat Rock High School; and Jeffrey Cejmer (3rd place), Utica Stevenson High School. The Team Award went to Mecota Osceola Career Center, represented by Ian Ames, Michael Barker, Adam Kehr, and Gabriel Morse.

Source: Marty Mulcahy, Editor, The Building Tradesman