Ten of Southern California’s top plumbing students at the high school and post-secondary level put their skills to the test under the eye of the San Diego Associated Builders and Contractors during the recent 48th annual SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center.
The SkillsUSA Championships is the showcase for the best career and technical students in the nation. The philosophy of the championships is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to keep training relevant to employers’ needs.
Contests begin locally and continue through the state and national levels. The national competition, held in June in Louisville, Ky., is a multimillion dollar event that occupies a space equivalent to 16 football fields. In 2014, there were nearly 6,000 contestants in 98 separate events. Nearly 1,500 judges who work as construction professionals make the national event possible.
Each competition involves both written exams and practical project work. In the plumbing category, contestants “rough-in” hot and cold water lines with copper tubing and “rough-in” sanitary drainage, waste and vent lines with cast iron and PVC plastic for a water closet, a lavatory, a washer box and a floor drain. Water pipes are pressure tested on completed projects. Professionals judge the contestants on the basis of accuracy, workmanship, proper selection and use of tools and supplies, and proper safety procedures.
ABC members Rick Thorpe, with Engineered Mechanical Services who also serves as chairman of the Training Trust Plumbing and Pipefitting Committee, and Daniel Baldwin, recent Apprenticeship Training Academy Graduate with Interpipe Contracting, served as the judges for the competition.
“Our judges Rick and Dan did a fantastic job with the competitors, taking time to discuss their project and answer any questions,” said Tracey Barrett, director of education for the ABC Apprenticeship Training Academy. “Although it takes a significant investment of time by our members and our staff, we believe strongly in providing these competitive opportunities which give aspiring craft professionals the chance to put their skills to the test. It allows them to work toward a goal in the same way they will work toward goals as professionals on major construction projects in the future.”