Ryan Young, a fourth-year apprentice with U.A. Local 853 Sprinkler Fitters Ontario, took home the main title at the 31st annual International Apprentice Competition in Ann Arbor, Mich. recently.
Young competed against six other apprentices, five from the United States and one from Australia. The gruelling five-day contest included testing on basic theory knowledge, code utilization, blueprint reading, welding and a large practical project.
“Pretty much every aspect of the trade, things that you don’t ever think you’re going to be dealing with when you learn it in school, those are all the things you get tested on in the competition,” explained Young, who installs new sprinklers in renovated units or retrofits.
The major project involved installing a single interlock deluge system with a foam connection.
“You had to trim up a deluge valve connected to a main which had two sectional shut-off valves on it and it also had a detection line that fit two sprinkler heads, so you also had to tie in a foam system into the main for the deluge,” Young explained.
The most challenging part of the competition for Young was the time constraints and the deadlines.
“They give you a certain amount of time to do something, and for one guy to do it, you are running to the point where your boots are sweating,” he described, adding studying is critical because it involves more than what you do on a daily basis.
In order to compete in the international contest, Young, representing Central Canada, competed in and won the U.A. Canada National Competition earlier this year in Edmonton defeating two other Canadian apprentices representing Western and Eastern Canada.
He also participated in both the Skills Ontario and Skills Canada competitions and won both.
In addition to participating in previous competitions and his hands-on experience in the trade, Young said his in-class apprenticeship training provided him with a good base to prepare him for the competition.
“You go over a lot of what you have to do (in the competition),” said Young. “That helped a lot, especially with the theory portion. On top of that, I got to do a lot of service when I first started the trade which gets you into the valve rooms and gets you into the inner workings of the system, instead of just laying out pipe, so I got some experience there and that was good.”
The U.A. is comprised of plumbers, welders, steamfitters, sprinkler fitters and HVACR technicians from across Canada and the U.S.
The U.A. has affiliations with Australian and Irish trade unions. Instructors from all three nations gather once a year in Michigan to take an instructor training course and the International Apprentice Competition is held at the same time.