Trade apprentices square off in craft competition

April 02, 2011|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |
  • Eric Horst, 21, of Hagerstown, builds a service and installs circuitry Saturday at the 2011 ABC Construction Craft Competition at ABC/Barr Construction Institute in Hagerstown.
Photo by Alicia Notarianni

HAGERSTOWN — Tough-looking guys in work boots, hard hats and goggles worked diligently Saturday in a quiet room with concrete floors, makeshift walls and an array of materials and equipment.

They focused intently on their implements, from time to time consulting prints and scratching their heads.

The men were participants in the 2011 ABC Construction Craft Competition. The Cumberland Valley Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors and Barr Construction Institute hosted the event Saturday at the ABC/Barr Construction Institute on North Locust Street in Hagerstown.

Institute President Joan Warner said competitors are ABC/Barr students who work in the trades during the day and take evening classes. The competition is a tradition of more than 20 years in which students of the apprenticeship programs square off against one another to demonstrate knowledge of their trades. The three divisions of competition were electrical; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; and plumbing.

“It gives students a chance to show their skills after four years of training at the institute. Families and contractors are invited to come,” Warner said.

Nearly 30 competitors labored from 8:30 a.m. until around 3 p.m., with a break for lunch.

Eric Horst, 21, of Hagerstown, competed in the electrical division. The required components of his task were numerous, and included building a service and installing circuitry.

“It’s helpful to take what you learned on paper and to know that you can do it rather than just how to do it,” Horst said. “You have to really wrap your mind around it. And you have to be prepared for what you are about to do, even though you don’t really know what is to come.”

Nick Cavey, 30, of Hagerstown, is a 2006 graduate of ABC/Barr who returned Saturday as a judge at the craft competition. Cavey, who is employed as a journeyman with Baltimore-based Fire and Life Safety America, said the event provides practical, hands-on experience that is key to success in the field.

“The tasks are challenging. The prints don’t have everything in them, so the judges can see what these guys can pick up on themselves,” he said.

In addition, Cavey said, the competition provides a glimpse into students’ work ethic and character.

“When you give a paper and say ‘try to make this work to the best of your ability,’ it shows the integrity of the students,” Cavey said. “I’ve seen  good stuff here, guys quoting code they’ve learned from the book, and it makes me proud.”

Cherie Rowland, 39, of Clear Spring, stood out at the event as the lone female competitor. Rowland said she studied electrical and mechanical engineering in college, then set it aside while she raised three children. Now she is completing an apprenticeship with RCD Inc. Electrical Services. Rowland said the hands-on competition is “very helpful” to the learning process.

“You don’t always get to do stuff at this level as an apprentice on the job. You’d be more likely to observe it,” she said. “To be able to do it by yourself really helps you understand.”

The top three winners of the competition received cash awards of up to $250.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning

  • First place: Billy English, James J. Craft & Son
  • Second place: Chris Bumbaugh, Home Air Services Inc.
  • Tie for third place: Robert Flanary, James A. Wheat & Sons Inc.; and Marc Zeger, National Institutes of Health      

  • First place: Steven Miller, M.C. Dean Inc.
  • Second place: Aaron Comer, Ellsworth Electric Inc.
  • Third place: Andrew Meyers, Glen Myers Inc.

  • First place: John “Dan” Staton, Tyler Mechanical Contracting Inc.

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