Nation's Top Apprentices Square Off in Ann Arbor

October 14, 2010


The 21st UA Apprenticeship Competition Crowns Another Winner in Copper Joining

There was a buzz around the campus of Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, MI, as spectators watched the nation's best plumbers, welders and pipefitters showcase their talents.

This summer marked the 21st year that the United Association of Journeyman and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA) has held their International Apprenticeship Competition and Instructor Training Program (ITP).

The Copper Development Association (CDA) once again sponsored and judged the copper segment of the competition, as well as two, twenty-hour classes Copper Piping Systems: Advanced Installations, Specialized Design and Safe Operation for the ITP, which were taught by CDA project managers. These courses sent UA instructors back to their home locals armed with the latest information and methods on design, installation and operation of copper piping systems to pass on to their apprentices and journeyman alike.

The copper installation segment of the apprenticeship competition was held over two days and tested the apprentices from the five different disciplines - HVAC, pipe fitting, plumbing, sprinkler fitting, and welding - on their ability to successfully apply multiple joining techniques to a complex copper assembly. These included traditional joining techniques like soldering and brazing, flameless joining methods like roll-grooved, push-to-fit and press-to fit systems, and additional fabrication methods including tube bends and T-drilled connections. All copper tubes and fittings for the competition were donated by CDA member companies.

Apprentices had four hours to assemble a top-secret copper system, and once done, their work was checked for accuracy, as well as a compressed air test to check for leaks on all joints.

"Every year, we're impressed on the skill displayed in the apprenticeship competition," said Andy Kireta Jr., CDA's vice president of building construction. "[CDA] always looks forward to participating with the UA program. It's a pleasure dealing with the apprentices and instructors who take the time to participate, and the many, many hours in preparation honing their skills."

The week ended with the ITP graduation ceremony and the announcement for the winners of the Apprenticeship Competition. Aside from a commemorative trophy, the winners of the copper portion of the contest also received $1,000. The winners were:

Copper Segment Winners:

  • HVAC
    Region 3
    Joel Vigneaux (Local Union 72, Atlanta, GA)
  • Plumber
    Region 5
    Skylar Daniels (Local Union 469, Phoenix, AZ)
  • Pipe Fitter
    Region 2
    Chad Ward (Local Union 157, Terre Haute, IN)
  • Sprinkler Fitter
    Region 1
    Dale Sheetz (Local Union 696, Newark, NJ)
  • Welder
    Region 3
    Chase Norton (Local Union 572, Nashville, TN)