25th UA Competition Crowns North America's Most Skilled Apprentices

August 28, 2012


Competitive Craftsmanship Still Alive in Ann Arbor This Year

ANN ARBOR, MI-Using the knowledge and techniques applied on the job and taught in their local union halls, North America's top apprentices showcased their copper joining abilities in the 25th International Apprenticeship Competition.

The United Association of Journeyman and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA) held their annual competition in conjunction with the Instructor Training Program (ITP) this month.

As has been tradition every year, 30 apprentices from all over North America competed in the UA timed-contest in the open field house of the Washtenaw Community College.

The winners of each of the six UA regions moved on to compete live on a national stage pitting top apprentices against one another in each of the five different disciplines: plumbing, pipe fitting, sprinkler fitting, welding and service technician.

In addition to multiple, trade-specific projects, the contestants were tasked on their ability to successfully apply multiple joining techniques to a complex copper assembly. Contestants put their soldering, brazing, T-Drill™, press-connect, push-connect and roll-groove techniques to the test.

The Copper Development Association (CDA) generously donated all copper materials and some of the tools (Rigid, Victaulic and Milwaukee Tool Companies also provided equipment), as well as their time, to design and judge the copper-portion of the competition. They were judged on workmanship, quality and overall skill in completing the project.

The five winners of this year's "Best Copper Projects" were:

  • Plumber: Ben Wagner, UA Local #527 (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)
  • Pipefitter: Steve Abbott, UA Local #773 (South Glens Falls, NY)
  • Welder: Keith Bauman, UA Local #392 (Cincinnati, OH)
  • Sprinkler Fitter: Jared Johnson, UA Local #696 (Newark, NJ)
  • Service Tech: Neil Mani, UA Local #601 (Milwaukee, WI)

CDA also taught two sessions on Course 207 - Advanced Copper Installations and Techniques during the ITP. Each class consisted of 4-hours per day, in the classroom and in the shop, for a 20-hour total over the five days of training. Participants in Course 207 received training and information related to copper codes and standards, installation practices to ensure long-term satisfactory performance, soldering, brazing, no-flame joining, dissimilar metal joining and a litany of other copper-related information.

Dale Powell, a CDA regional manager who has served as a UA course instructor and competition judge for many years, said the ITP is extremely important to the continued development and expansion of the industry.

"Every year we meet here in Ann Arbor to promote the importance of these trades and reward the hardest working apprentices in North America," said Powell. "Even the toughest of economic times can't stop these talented professionals from wanting to hone their craft and put their skills to the test."

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