The Future of Concrete Masonry Looks BRIGHT

Skills USA 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. Skills USA 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 awards ceremony was held at Kemper Arena in front of a crowd of over 15,000.

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, Alabama. Second place honors went to Jesus Guzman, representing the Arizona Masonry Contractors Association, Phoenix, Arizona. Third place went to Robert Gregory, Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The 2010 secondary/high school Gold Medal winner was Brandon Boldon of Claiborne High School, New Tazewell, Tennessee. Boldon’s instructor is John Hatfield. Second place honors went to Matthew DiBara, Montachusett Regional Vo-Tech, Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Third place went to Jacob Perkins, H. H. Ellis Technical High School, Danielson, Connecticut.

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 to be 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 of the Brick Industry Association Southeast Region, chairman of the technical committee since September 2003, 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 was complimentary in his appreciation of other supporters.

“The masonry industry’s support of this competitionremains 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 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.

The Skills USA 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.

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.