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Boilermaker son earns first place in welding competition


Bobby Novak, son of L-1 member Clayton Novak, proudly displays his first-place medal and plaque from the “Skills USA” welding competition.

Bobby Novak learned to weld from father, vocational school

CLAYTON C. NOVAK joined the Boilermakers union in 1974. A member of Local 1, Chicago, he now works as a state boiler inspector. He is also the proud father of a welding champion —18-year-old son, Bobby.

“He has been learning how to weld by watching me and attending the Grundy County Vocational Center in Morris,” Novak explained. As a senior at Minooka Community High School in Minooka, Ill., Bobby competed in the “Skills USA Competition” at the state level in Springfield, Ill., April 26-28. Going up against 40 other contestants, Bobby placed first in the welding competition, earning scholarship money, a new Miller MIG welder, and $200 towards a trip to Kansas City for the “Best of the Best” national competition in June.

“Bobby did not fare as well at the national level, placing 20th out of 50 contestants; however, his just being there means he is in the top two percent of the country,” Novak said.

And now Bobby has to decide what to do next. Local 1 wants to sign him up to their apprenticeship program. One of Bobby’s welding instructors is a member of Pipefitter Local 597, so the Pipefitters want him, too. But Bobby is also thinking about going to the Baran Institute of Technology in East Windsor, Conn.

“Baran is an excellent welding school and offers job opportunities with some ‘high-end’ employers,” Novak reported. “When Bobby heard NASA was one of those employers, his eyes really lit up.”

Whatever Bobby decides, it sounds like his days of watching his dad weld are over. It’s time for Bobby to take it on.

Published on the Web: September 21, 2007

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