National Contest Supports Masonry Skills Training and Development
Companies and organizations of the masonry industry joined together June 23 through 25, 2010, to support the 46th Annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference and the National Masonry Contest.
SkillsUSA is a national organization serving high school and college students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations.
For up to six hours, 53 young masons from 36 states competed at Bartle Hall in Kansas City, Mo. Each contestant, using block, brick and mortar, tried to construct the winning project by placing the masonry materials, according to plans, on a concrete block base.
The highlight of the competition was the announcement of the 2010 Gold Medal winner of the post secondary/college competition, Bradley Wright. Wright, a rare three-time winner, is a student of instructor Kenny Allen at Wallace Community College, Selma, Ala. Second place honors went to Jesus Guzman, representing the Arizona Masonry Contractors Association, Phoenix, Ariz. Third place went to Robert Gregory, Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Oklahoma City, Okla.
The 2010 secondary/high school Gold Medal winner was Brandon Boldon of Claiborne High School, New Tazewell, Tenn. Boldon’s instructor is John Hatfield. Second place honors went to Matthew DiBara, Montachusett Regional Vo-Tech, Fitchburg, Mass. Third place went to Jacob Perkins, H. H. Ellis Technical High School, Danielson, Conn.
Student interest in masonry vocational training continues to be strong. This year, 34 high school and 19 post secondary/college contestants competed in two divisions. To qualify, the students had been winners,or designated second place finishers, of their own state contests.
They competed against the clock and against themselves to demonstrate their expertise. The contest consisted of a written test and the construction of a brick-and-block composite project. The project for this year’s contest was designed by Bryan Light to test the skills needed for successful entry into the masonry profession.
Trade professionals from Bricklayers Local #15 (MO/KS) and selected vocational instructors judged the projects by taking extensive measurements, measuring plumb at four locations, and judging finishing techniques and overall appearance.
Bryan Light of the Brick Industry Association Southeast Region, chairman of the technical committee since September 2003, was complimentary in his appreciation of other supporters.
“The masonry industry’s support of this competition remains fantastic,” says Light. “Everyone understands the importance of technical training and the proper use of materials. Instruction, training and supervised preparation contributes to excellence in finished brick and block projects.”
The Masonry Technical Committee’s sustaining members and sponsors of the contest included Bon Tool Co., Brick Industry Association national office and SE Region, EZ Grout Corporation, Hanley-Wood LLC, LaFarge, Marshalltown Co., Mason Contractors Association of America, Masonry Institute of Tennessee,National Concrete Masonry Association, Portland Cement Association, and Spec Mix.
Through the efforts of the Brick Industry Association and the National Concrete Masonry Association, this year’s contestants were supported by donationed brick from Evan Schnegelberger of the Kansas City Brick Company and block from Midwest Block & Brick. Spec Mix salesmen, under the supervision ofVice President Brian Carney, were “slingin’ their mud,” donated of course, in support of the aspiring masons. Other organizations supporting the contest, monetarily or with in-kind donations, included Lowes and the 12 members of the SkillsUSA Technical Committee.
The 46th annual gathering included a field trip to a local block plant arranged by NCMA representative, Harry Junk. The tour was followed by a luncheon in honor of the contestants and their instructors.
At the luncheon,Patrick J.McLaughlin, executive director of the Florida Masonry Apprentice and Educational Foundation Inc., gave the keynote address.
McLaughlin’s three-part presentation included a status report on the masonry industry in the State of Florida that includes 53 high school programs and 14 active training programs. He then promoted masonry as the “strongest building material available,” showing before and after photographs of hurricane damage that showed the only structures standing, amid almost total destruction, were masonry structures. McLaughlin concluded his presentation with a tribute to masons sighting pride of workmanship, craftsmanship and achievement.
Masonry competitors were among more than 5,000 students who competed in 96 different career trade, technical and leadership fields. The contestants effectively demonstrated their expertise in the occupational skills required for such trades as electronics, technical drafting, precision machining, carpentry, plumbing and masonry.
The awards ceremony was held at Kemper Arena in front of a crowd of more than 15,000.
The SkillsUSA organization represents more than 300,000 students and instructors in 54 state and territorial associations. The event is booked in Kansas City, Mo., through 2014.
2010 Post Secondary Competition WinnersFirst Place:
Bradley Wright, 23, Wallace Community College, Selma, Ala.
Wright earned a Gold Medal for the third consecutive year – two post secondary awards and a high school award following a third place finish in 2007.
Jesus Guzman, 35, Arizona Masonry Contractors Association, Phoenix, Ariz.
Robert Gregory, 23, Francis Tuttle Technology Center – Reno Campus, Oklahoma City, Okla.
2010 Secondary Competition (High School) WinnersFirst Place:
Brandon Boldon, 18, Claiborne High School, New Tazewell, Tenn.
Matthew DiBara, 18, Montachusett Regional Vo-Tech, Fitchburg, Mass.
Jacob Perkins, 18, H. H. Ellis Technical High School, Danielson, Conn.
For more information about the Masonry Technical Committee, contact Bryan Light, 770-760-0728. To learn more about SkillsUSA, visit www.SkillsUSA.org.
Originally published in Masonry magazine.
About the Author
J. David Holt, freelance writer and owner of Holt Marketing Group Inc., has been reporting on the SkillsUSA National Masonry Contest since 1994.