Ann Arbor, Mich. — More than 1,600 United Association instructors spent a week here in mid-August learning about the latest in green and sustainable construction and service. At the same time, 30 of the top apprentices from across the country competed in the International Apprenticeship Competition in HVAC, pipefitting, plumbing, sprinkler fitting and welding.
This is the 20th year that UA instructors and apprentices have spent the week learning at Washtenaw Community College.
This year there were almost 90 concurrent sessions. Some of the classes included Building Information Modeling, hydronic heating and cooling, centrifugal and rotary screw chillers, advanced HVACR troubleshooting, commercial market refrigeration, teaching R-410A, energy auditing, carbon monoxide and combustion analysis, and green awareness.
New this year, the Carbon Monoxide and Combustion Analysis Certification comes courtesy of the Green Mechanical Council. The Esco Institute, one of GreenMech's founding members, developed the course.
The UA is focusing on green training and has developed partnerships with both the Green Mechanical Council and GreenPlumbersUSA.
GreenMech, HVAC Excellence, Ferris State University and the UA created the Green Awareness training program, said UA Training Specialist Phil Campbell. The groups developed coursework that was about 100 pages of material and the test was 100 questions long. Now they have partnered with GreenPlumbersUSA and expanded the course and the test to 125 questions. Students who pass the test are now certified GreenPlumbers.
There are five sections that students have to pass on the residential test: core knowledge, electricity and energy, HVAC, plumbing, and GreenPlumbers. National Inspection Testing Certification, Los Angeles, administers the testing.
The UA is also training its members for the LEED accreditation exams, of which there are three levels: LEED Green Associate; LEED Accredited Professional plus an area of expertise, such as plumbing; and the third is a LEED fellowship, which is more suited for architects and engineers. Similar to the green awareness training, the UA does the training and the testing is done by the U.S. Green Building Council.
At the event, the UA unveiled its second green mobile training center. This state-of-the-art classroom includes radiant floor heat, radiant cooling above, and other state-of-the-art equipment. Also on display was the “Green House” built by Hampden Engineering. This house will be used to train technicians on energy auditing and other energy management procedures.
GreenMech and HVAC Excellence took particular interest in the HVAC portion of the apprentice contest while the Copper Development Association sponsored a copper segment of the contest.
CDA sponsored and judged the copper segment of the competition, which was held over two days and tested the expertise of all the fourth- and fifth-year apprentices. CDA member companies donated all copper tubes and fittings for the competition.
The Apprenticeship Competition included 30 contestants from all over North America. The participants comprised of six standout apprentices from the five different disciplines — HVAC, pipe fitting, plumbing, sprinkler fitting and welding — who all advanced past state and regional qualifiers to tackle the grueling challenges of the national finals.
To be crowned the winner of each discipline, the competitors had four hours to show they had what it takes to complete a project that required the completion of nearly 40 copper joints, using multiple joining techniques and enough calculations to fill a college curriculum.
“It takes a long time to measure, cut and fabricate the joints and follow the plan's dimensions precisely,” said Andy Kireta Sr., CDA's president and CEO, who competed in the copper segment of the UA Competition when he was an apprentice and judged this year's contest. “It's a pretty grueling week for these guys.”
Once assembled, their work was put through a compressed air test to make sure their brazing and soldering had no leaks and that their measurements were calculated correctly. They also had to compete with Mother Nature, as the temperature broke into the 90s with humidity that wouldn't let up.
CDA offered a 20-hour course in copper piping systems, advanced installations, specialized design and safe operation.
The courses were taught by CDA project managers, Harold Moret and Master Plumber Dale Powell, who provided the UA instructors the knowledge to return to their local unions and teach tomorrow's craftsmen the necessary skills for properly installing copper systems for water distribution, HVAC and refrigeration, medical gas, fuel gas, sanitary drainage, fire protection and many other applications. Along with classroom instruction, the tradesmen applied the knowledge they learned in the classroom to hands-on shop projects.
The overall apprentice contest winners were, Plumber Jarrad Taylor, Local 5, Washington; Pipefitter Nick Unfried, Local 136, Evansville, Ind.; Sprinklerfitter Joshua Coale, Local 669, Columbia, Md.; Welder Peter Larou, Local 597, Chicago; MES Tech David Fruehauf, Local 22, Buffalo, N.Y.
CDA's copper contest winners were Plumber Edgar Perez from Local 24, Newark, N.J.; Pipefitter John-Mark Carlson, Local 32, Seattle; Sprinklerfitter Joshua Coale from Local 669, Columbia, Md.; Welder Thomas Wright, Local 190, Ann Arbor, Mich.; and MES Tech David Fruehauf from Local 22, Buffalo, N.Y.
While Fruehauf won the HVACR service tech contest, the other district winners that participated were Jeremy King, Local 189, Columbus, Ohio; Juan Ibarra, Local 211, Houston; Daniel Glaves, Local 597, Chicago; Brad Taylor, Local 598, Yakima, Wash.; and John Wisman, Local 787, Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
This year's judges included Stan Bandoski, Hampden Engineering, Jerry Weiss, Coy Gibson, Randy Petit, Turner Collins, Howard Weiss and Thomas Tebbe, all from HVAC Excellence, Warren Lupson from Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, and Patrick Murphy, North American Technician Excellence.