Companies and organizations of the masonry industry joined together June 22 to June 24, 2011, to support the National Masonry Championships held in conjunction with the 47th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.
For up to six hours, 50 young masons competed at H. Roe Bartle Hall in Kansas City, Mo. Each contestant, using block and brick and mortar, tried to construct the winning project by placing the masonry materials, according to plans, on a concrete block base.
The 2011 winner of the post secondary / college competition was Dylan Ennis from Midland, N.C. Ennis' masonry instructor is Todd B. Hartsell who has trained national contestants in nine of the past 11 competitions.
The 2011 winner of the secondary / high school competition was Jordan Zook, representing Berks Career & Technical Center East, Oley, Penn. Zook's instructor is Christopher Nappi.
Student interest in masonry vocational training continues to be strong. This year, 35 high school and 15 post secondary / college contestants competed in two divisions. The student masons qualified for the national contest by winning, or being designated second place finishers, of their own state contests.
Contestants competed against the clock and against themselves to demonstrate their technically developed skills. The contest consisted of a written test and the construction of a brick and block composite project that was designed by Chris Sutherland, masonry instructor at Pinellas Technical Education Center in St. Petersburg, Fla., and himself the winner of the 2002 SkillsUSA National Masonry Contest.
Brian Light of Brick SouthEast, a Brick Industry Association affiliate, has served as chairman of the masonry technical committee since September 2003. Of Sutherland's design, Light said,
"Chris' plan tested the ability of the student masons to follow a unique design with a bit more difficulty than usual while using fewer actual units (brick and block). I'm happy with the results, and so were the instructors in attendance."
Trade professionals from Bricklayers Local #15 and selected vocational instructors judged the projects by taking extensive measurements, measuring plumb at six locations, and judging finishing techniques and overall appearance.
Light was complimentary in his appreciation of the continuing support of trade competition. "Quality products, properly utilized by a well-trained workforce, contribute to excellence in brick and block construction. In supporting a contest like this, we show our understanding of the importance of technical training."
Through the efforts of the Brick Industry Association and the National Concrete Masonry Association, this year's contest was supported by the donation of brick from Endicott Brick and block from Midwest Block and Brick. Spec Mix donated 300 bags of cement. Their salesmen mixed the cement and "slung the mud" in support of the aspiring masons.
Members of the National Masonry Technical Committee and other sustaining members and sponsors of the contest included Bon Tool Co.; Brick Industry Association, Inc., the national office and southeast region; EZ Grout Corp.; Hanley-Wood LLC; LaFarge NA; Marshalltown Co.; Mason Contractors Association of America; Masonry Institute of Tennessee; National Concrete Masonry Association; and Spec Mix.
Other highlights of the annual conclave 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.
NCMA President Bob Thomas gave the luncheon's keynote presentation. He reminded the student masons and their instructors of the sustainability, energy efficiency and functional resilience of masonry construction. He challenged the contestants to pursue excellence, to visualize the attainment of their goals, and to invest in themselves and their industry.
Masonry competitors were part of over 5,000 students who competed in 94 different career trade, technical and leadership fields. The contestants effectively demonstrated their expertise in the occupational skills required for such trades as advertising, carpentry, electronics, plumbing, precision machining, technical drafting and masonry. During the final evening, the awards ceremony was held at Kemper Arena in front of a crowd of over 15,000.
The SkillsUSA organization represents over 300,000 students and instructors in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands. The event will be held annually in Kansas City, Mo., through 2014.
National Brick Masonry Contest Winners
Post Secondary Competition
First Place: Dylan Ennis, 20, Midland, N.C.; instructor Todd B. Hartsell.
Second Place: Simon Cruz, 27, sponsored by the Arizona Masonry Contractors Association; instructor Moroni Mejia
Third Place: James Jordan, 21, The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, Media, Pa.; instructor Dan Hiltebeitel.
Secondary Competition (High School)
First Place: Jordan Zook, 18, Berks Career & Technical Center East, Oley, Penn.; Christopher Nappi instructor.
Second Place: Drew Mikol Dennis, 17, West Stanly High School, Oakboro, N.C.; Timothy Kidd instructor.
Third Place: Jacob Fulford, 16, Pedro Menendez High School, St. Augustine, Fla.
To learn more about the Masonry Technical Committee, contact Bryan Light at (770) 760-0728. To learn more about SkillsUSA go to www.SkillsUSA.org.