WHEELING - Plumbers and pipefitters from across the state will soon converge on Wheeling for the annual West Virginia Pipe Trades Apprenticeship Contest.
Eric O'Donnell, training coordinator for Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 83, 117 29th St. in Wheeling, said the competition is slated for Tuesday through Thursday at the union's headquarters.
Plumbers and steamfitters will show off their skills during the contest that allows apprentices to compete in welding, pipefitting, plumbing, HVAC and sprinkler-fitting.
Winners can move on to the regional contest in Pittsburgh and later a national contest.
Tests involve erecting heating, ventilation and air conditioning electrical systems; piecing together piping systems for household plumbing; rigging pieces of pipe to allow for precise movement through a steel structure and more. Before reaching the journeyman status, apprentices must have five years, or about 8,000 hours, of training and take a final test.
In addition to the hands-on work, the apprentices must learn and use a lot of higher math, including algebra and trigonometry, and science involving chemical mixtures and pump pressures.
"If you are a third-, fourth- or fifth-year apprentice you are eligible to compete," O'Donnell said, adding there are many prizes to win including a welding machine. "It's a nice meet and greet and gives us nice exposure. ... It means a lot to the apprentices."
Third-year welding apprentice Keith Kidd, 21, of Moundsville said he started learning the trade while at John Marshall High School where he found the work "fascinating."
He also received training at the Hobart Institute of Welding in Troy, Ohio.
Kidd will compete this year along with fellow welder Morgan Morgan, 24, of New Martinsville. Morgan studied welding at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.
"It's exciting. It's neat seeing what everybody has worked for," Kidd said.
O'Donnell said he has faith that Kidd and Morgan will do well during the competition.
"Even if they don't, everyone will have a good time," he said