Local 83’s Knox wins national apprentice competition

Christopher Knox of L-83 (Kansas City, Mo.) admires his first-place trophy during the 2007 National Outstanding Apprenticeship Award banquet held in Kansas City Sept. 27.

L-40’s Vanmeter takes second place; Southeast Area sweeps top spots two years in a row

CHRISTOPHER KNOX, Local 83 (Kansas City, Mo.), placed first in the 20th annual national outstanding apprenticeship competition Sept. 23-27, and teammate William Vanmeter, Local 40 (Elizabethtown, Ky.), took second. The pair also won the team award for the Southeast Area. This is the second consecutive year the Southeast has won the top two individual places as well as the team honors.

Results of the grueling four-day competition, held at the Boilermakers’ national apprentice training center in Kansas City, Kan., were announced at the annual banquet Sept. 27 in Kansas City, Mo.

Other graduate apprentices competing this year were, from the Western States, Leo Seitz, Local 11 (Helena, Mont.), and Thomas Baker, Local 92 (Los Angeles); from the Great Lakes Area, Joseph Garfield, Local 107 (Milwaukee), and William Sumner, Local 374 (Hammond, Ind.); and from the Northeast Area, David Cook, Local 197 (Albany, N.Y.), and John Williamson, Local 154 (Pittsburgh).

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 spots in their area competition.

Apprentices compete in four areas

BNAP INSTRUCTOR JOHN Standish said the 2007 competition mirrored last year’s event, with contestants vying for points in four areas: classroom, rigging, welding, and Boilermaker skills. Contestants could earn a maximum of 300 points in each area.

Heavy rains on the second day led to rescheduling the exercise in the rigging section. In that test, contestants set up and performed a tank lift using winches, a boom derrick, and an equalizer beam, controlling the lift using hand signals. The tank had to be placed onto a pad at a specific elevation and nozzle location. The test required contestants to reeve a four-part line and calculate the percentages of the load to be carried by the line and the derrick. Also in this section, contestants showed their skills with ropes and knots as well as blocks and reeving.

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. They measured and cut the tube, then replaced it using heliarc and SMAW techniques. Judges assessed measuring skills, quality of cuts, beveling, and membrane welding. Contestants also connected vertical and horizontal plates using both 3/16- and 5/32-diameter welding rods.

Apprentices competed in five areas under the Boilermaker skills’ section. These included tube rolling, layout and fabrication, boiler component identification, tool identification and use, and CPR. Contestants laid out a small boiler hopper replica to scale, calculated dimensions, cut and bent the metal, and assembled the replica. Another task involved laying out a structural member with precise alignment of bolt holes.

Judges work under pressure, too

WHILE GRADUATE APPRENTICES feel the stress of being observed and graded, the judges themselves feel pressure as well. John Robinson, a retired instructor with Local 502 (Tacoma, Wash.), said all of the judges strive for absolute fairness. “We know what it’s like to be in their shoes. We want all the candidates to do well. To a limited extent, we can suggest certain things during the physical tests, but we are careful not to help one candidate more than others.”

Robinson and Dave Gleason of Contractors Cargo were the Western States judges. Also serving as judges were, from the Great Lakes, Larry McCafferty of GEM Industrial Inc. and Jim Condrich, an instructor with Local 744 (Cleveland); from the Southeast Area, Randall James, Babcock & Wilcox Construction Co., and Camilo Juncal, IR; from the Northeast Area, Howard Hinkley of Day & Zimmerman NPS Inc. and John Doherty, vice president and apprentice coordinator for Local 28 (Newark, N.J.); and for the National Transient Lodge, Allan Chadwick, project manager for Fisher Tank Co., and Ronny Vanscoy, IR.

William Elrod, retired AIP, served as the test administrator.

Banquet honors contestants, recognizes apprenticeship supporters

AS IN PAST years, the results of the competition were announced during the awards banquet held on the final day of the event. The banquet honored all of the contestants, as well as those who promote the Boilermaker apprenticeship program throughout the year.

IP Newton B. Jones addressed the banquet via videoconferencing. He called the BNAP competition, “a special celebration of that which makes us a skilled craft and a progressive union, specifically our commitment to apprenticeship training, the passing down of our best craft knowledge and traditions to those who will carry them on, and in turn pass them on.

“You are now our standard bearers,” Jones told the contestants. “You carry the flag of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. You represent a new generation of this 125-year-old union that has survived beyond its odds and beyond the expectations of so many over our many years of service to our country.”

The banquet also honored two individuals who have contributed much to the apprenticeship program. Brad Bradford (Babcock & Wilcox Construction Co.) and Stan Miller (PSF Industries Inc.) shared the National Recognition Award for 2007. Bradford is the outgoing vice chairman of the Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program. Miller is a retired National Joint Board member and a retired chairman of the Western States Joint Apprenticeship Committee.

Bradford addressed the banquet as the keynote speaker. He spoke of the lessons he learned as a Green Beret during the Vietnam War and in his career with B&W. He advised the apprentices to seek out a mentor, a person who they admire, who is successful in their field, and who embodies positive traits. “Remember that good leaders set goals, not only for themselves, but also for their people. Don’t try to lead by any other fashion except by example.”