Training & Education

Top competitors

By Colin Linneweber

Indiana sheet metal apprentices showcase their skills

June 2016 - Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 20 hosted nearly three dozen sheet metal apprentices over two days in early April for the ninth annual Indiana Apprenticeship Competition in Indianapolis.

Students from Indiana age 18 and up who are enrolled in a five-year union apprenticeship program displayed their skills in one of five categories: architectural; service; industrial/welding; testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB); or heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). Students were supplied with a blueprint and materials and given five hours to complete a project designed for their specific field.

Jacob Pauwels of South Bend won the architectural division for the third consecutive year. Zach Smith of Indianapolis took the service division. Tony Coen of Gary captured the industrial/welding division for the second time. Will Gillespie of Indianapolis triumphed in the TAB division and Mark Ballard of Evansville accepted top honors in the HVAC division. These five, along with 10 second- and third-place finishers had their achievements celebrated during an April 9 ceremony.


Tim Myres is a Local No. 20 training coordinator whose program earned the Training Excellence Award during Top Notch’s seventh annual Standards of Excellence Awards program luncheon May 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Myres says he is extremely impressed with the work of all of the apprentices involved in the advanced career-training program. In particular, Myres mentioned how close the competition was in the industrial/welding division. Cohen defeated Nick Marshall of Terre Haute by only a few points.

“All of these students are at the top of their field,” says Myres, noting that 10,000 apprentices are registered at more than 150 other training facilities across the United States and Canada. “The industrial competition was just like being out in the field. The project’s specifications were very tight. The students had to read, measure, form and weld in a short amount of time.”

Angle iron and black mild steel were used in the competition and students used oxygen acetylene torches to cut those raw materials to size.


“It was really incredible what they (the apprentices) were able to do with an oxygen acetylene torch. It was such a perfect cut, you’d think it was cut using a power shear.”

Despite the intensity of the contest, Myres appreciated the sportsmanship displayed by the apprentices.

“These students are very, very competitive,” says Myres. “They are the best apprentices in the state of Indiana and competed against each other fiercely to prove that they are the best of the best. But when the competition was over, they talked with each other about the projects and learned from each other.”

With this year’s competition completed, Myres is focused on projects for future semesters. One venture  will be to work with his apprentices to create a metal canopy for the training center in Indianapolis.


“We are in the midst of creating drawings for a stainless steel canopy,” says Myres. The program’s apprentices include veterans, single mothers and students from legacy sheet metal working families. “We’ll fabricate it and then install it on the building. The project should be done by the end of the year.”

Tim Myres claims his students are “the best apprentices in the state of Indiana,” and by learning through a top-flight program, they will have the opportunity to hone their  ample skills even further. FFJ


  • Sheet Metal Workers Local 20
    phone: 317/549-6013

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