Apprentice ironworkers test skills at Keokuk competiion

More than 90 apprentice ironworkers came to Keokuk on Thursday as part of the annual district apprentice competition. Photo courtesy of Lee County Economic Development Group.


KEOKUK – More than 90 apprentice ironworkers descended on Keokuk’s Kindustry Park on Thursday as part of an annual district apprenticeship competition.

Apprentices from seven states came to Keokuk to compete in welding, cutting, rigging, rod tying, architectural ornamental, layout instruments, and a 35-foot column climb as well as a written test.

A video of the column is available by clicking on the following link provided by the Lee County Economic Development Group:

The event was hosted by the Ironworkers Local 577

The overall winner of the competition, Jacob Fordice from Kansas City, now goes on to the international competition. Second place went to Justin Byrd from East St. Louis and Steve Weekley from St. Louis received third overall. 

“It was an exciting day,” said Dana Millard with Lee County Economic Development. “It’s great to see the trades being celebrated like this and you can tell these apprentices take the competition seriously.” 

The written test consisted of 100 questions taken directly from the ironworkers training manuals.

The instrument test required competitors to set up an instrument. Establish the height of instrument and figure the elevation of benchmarks above and below the height of instrument.

The burning competition involved correctly laying out and burning a circle and square, making a bevel cut and a straight cut. Contestants were judged on accuracy of layout and cut, as well as quality of cuts.

As part of the welding skills test, apprentices had to complete three passes in all four positions: flat, horizontal, vertical and overhead. The welds were graded based upon quality.

For the knot tying competition, the competitors are required to correctly tie six knots which are chosen at random from the rigging manual the day of the test. They also must correctly reeve two sets of blocks.

For rod tying skill tests, competitors had one minute to tie as many of each different type of tie as they could, including snap tie, snap and a wrap, saddle tie, saddle and a wrap, and the Figure 8 tie.  The scores on each tie were tallied to give an overall score.

In the time-based ornamental test, contestants race against the clock to see who can put together a 2’ x 2’ glazed window.

About Chuck Vandenberg 5236 Articles
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