Mechanical service technicians, pipe fitters, welding and plumbing apprentices from across North America and as far as Australia came to Ann Arbor, Michigan, Aug. 8-13 for the 28th annual United Association International Apprenticeship Competition.

The 32 contestants were competing for the world title in their specialty. The contest consisted of a series of tests in each discipline.

For the exams that involved copper, the Copper Development Association donated the materials and was responsible for designing and judging the four-hour contest. Contestants had to demonstrate their joining proficiency with copper piping systems.

It wasn’t easy, said Andy Kireta Jr., vice president of the copper association.

“This isn’t like putting together Ikea furniture,” Kireta said. “The apprentices must apply their on-the-job skills and knowledge they’ve gathered at their local union halls. There are no step-by-step instructions.”

The winners of the copper contest were:

Plumbing: Michael Harris of Spokane, Washington

Pipe fitting: Jeremy Bergen of Syracuse, New York

Sprinkler fitting: Brian Price of Cleveland

Service technician: Christian Valenti of West Palm Beach, Florida.

Welder: Andrew Schwan of Milwaukee

The CDA taught “Copper Piping Systems, Advanced Installations, Specialized Design and Safe Operation” twice a day during the event. The course covered copper techniques and applications such as soldering and brazing, dissimilar metal joining, alternate no-flame joining, joint analysis and corrosion.

Over the years, the ITP has proven to be extremely important to these men and women for their continued development and expansion of the industry,” said Dale Powell, a CDA project manager who has served as a UA course instructor and competition judge for many years. “This year, attendance was up, which is a positive sign that the construction economy is on the rise.”

 The winners received plaques and $1,000 each from the Copper Development Association.