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Building their futures

Trades students in annual competition to see who's best

Trades students in annual competition to see who's best

February 10, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN - It was easy to see why they put caution tape around construction sites.

Carpentry is not a spectator sport.

Saw dust flew and hammers pounded as a room full of apprentices worked to complete a project in about six hours.

Forget the distractions, including judges watching their every move.

These men were on a mission.

About 35 Tri-State-area apprentices competed to be the best in their trade Saturday during the 2008 skills competition at the Barr Construction Institute on North Locust Street in Hagerstown.

The event was sponsored by the Cumberland Valley Chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors.

Participants competed in one of four categories, including carpentry, plumbing, electrical or HVAC-R (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration), according to Joan L. Warner, chapter president.

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Warner said the competitors were either third- or fourth-year apprentices. They represented Allegany, Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties in Maryland; Berkeley, Mineral and Morgan counties in West Virginia; and Fulton and Franklin counties in Pennsylvania.

The participants worked individually, she said, and were judged in such areas as skills, safety and quality of work.

Competitors also took a written exam, consisting of 100 questions.

Individuals who won the hands-on portion of their category and scored 85 percent on the written test will advance to compete in the National ABC Construction Skills Olympics, which will be held this year in Puerto Rico, Warner said.

Angus Steinson, chairman of the apprentice committee, said a lot of planning goes into the annual competition.

"This event is quite a big deal," he said. "As soon as this competition is over, we'll begin working on next year's."

David Barr, who was overseeing all practicals Saturday, said the event is a great way to test what the apprentices have learned in the classroom.

"They are given a task and how they complete that task tells us a lot," he said.

Will Horning, who was judging plumbing, said the competition is not only an opportunity to see what the apprentices have learned, but also a chance to show off.

"Some guys can get a little nervous with everybody standing around watching them," he said. "But if they know their stuff, that doesn't bother them at all."

Warner said first-, second- and third-place winners would receive prizes donated by local supply companies and businesses.

"It takes a lot of effort to hold this competition," she said. "But we receive a lot of community support."

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