After winning four rounds of competition, local pipefitter Joshua Carroll became the only apprentice from United Association (UA) of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Service Technicians Local Union 72 to make it to the international level this year.
In fact, it’s his understanding that only two other Local 72 apprentices — a plumber and a pipefitter — have ever made it to the International Apprentice Contest, held in August at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“I didn’t win, and the officials don’t tell you the ranking, so the general approach is everyone who doesn’t win is second (place),” said Carroll, a 2006 graduate of Kennesaw Mountain High School. “I am proud of my showing. There were some things at the competition that I had never seen before, and I was able to complete all of the tasks set before me while maintaining professional standards and meeting all required specifications. It was an honor to be able to represent my local and my district. I feel that I did not disappoint anyone that was rooting for me.”
Carroll competed against five pipefitters from Washington, Nebraska, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Canada in a contest that was “challenging yet familiar at the same time.”
“The longer the competition went, the more it felt like just another day at work,” he said.
To get to the five-day event in Ann Arbor, Carroll had to take a written exam to determine the Top 4 apprentices from Local 72, then he had to win three rounds of competition: a one-day local contest, a two-day state contest in Augusta and a three-day district competition in New Orleans.
“You can only compete if you are an apprentice, and this year was my last chance because COVID shut down the competition for the past two years,” he said. “I wanted to see how I stacked up against my fellow apprentices and just kept riding the wave of wins. I did take time to get extra coaching from senior pipefitters at (Georgia Trade School (GTS)) and the journeyman I have been working beside for the past two years.”
For making it to the highest level, Carroll received hand tools, a white-gold UA ring, an iPad, a personalized hard hat and “a healthy paycheck to compensate me for my time,” he said. His work clothing for the competition also was provided.
Besides the international recognition, Carroll also was named Apprentice of the Year recently by the Mechanical Trades Institute-Joint Apprenticeship and Training Trust in Atlanta. Every year, the school selects one person from each trade — service technician, plumber, welder and pipefitter — to win the top apprentice award.
As good as Carroll is at pipefitting, that wasn’t the career he pursued after high school. He was a four-year letterman on Jacksonville State University’s football team and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in industrial technology management.
After four years in his field, Carroll decided he wanted to be a pipefitter with a welding certification. He enrolled in a six-month course at GTS and earned his certification at night while working full time as a team lead at Owens and Minor in Kennesaw.
“I have family that was already in the trade, and I’ve always loved the idea of being able to weld,” he said.
He began his welding career at Trinity Rail in Cartersville, where he worked for two years before becoming an apprentice for Mechanical Services Inc. in 2020.
Carroll lives in Acworth with his high school sweetheart, Sarah, whom he married in 2011, and their three kids, Mackenzie, Declan and Joshua.
– By Donna Harris