August 11, 2018 Richard Rezler
A three-week break in the academic calendar doesn’t mean Washtenaw Community College won’t still be bustling with thousands of students this week.
For the 29th consecutive summer, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry (UA) will hold its week-long Instructor Training Program in classrooms and laboratories across campus.
Record student attendance of 2,000 UA members and an additional 400 faculty and industry representatives are expected for the Instructor Training Program, which runs Saturday, Aug. 11 through Friday, Aug. 17. Last week, more than 250 staff attended a pre-conference seminar for office professionals, assuring this will be the largest event the college has ever hosted for the UA.
“I want to applaud the UA for its commitment to training and education and for developing the next generation of leaders in the skilled trades,” said WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca. “This Instructor Training Program is renowned because, at the heart of it, the UA has made a commitment to a lifetime of learning; one we share here at the college.”
The program has steadily grown since drawing 1,200 people to WCC in 1990, the year the UA transitioned its training program to Ann Arbor from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. As attendance has increased, so has the event’s impact on the Washtenaw County economy. Last year, the Washtenaw County Convention and Visitors Bureau commissioned a study that estimated WCC’s partnership with UA results in an $8 million economic boost to the area.
“We are proud to be back on campus and in the community this week as we celebrate our 65th Instructor Training Program,” said UA Director of Education and Training Chris Haslinger. “To see how our program has grown since its inception is truly amazing. Since moving our program here in 1990, we are proud to have had Washtenaw Community College with us as partners in growing our educational programs.”
More than 120 classes are offered during the instructor training, including at least 20 new ones annually. The UA is continually developing courses to keep up with the latest technology available in all of the union’s skilled trades — plumbers, pipefitters, sprinkler fitters, service technicians and welders. Instructors train in the latest technology and teaching methodology, which they will share with the more than 349,000 local members across the United States and Canada.
The community is invited to participate in a number of events during UA Week, including:
- The annual UA Block Party, from 6-10 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 13. Main Street, between William and Huron Streets. Sponsored by Destination Ann Arbor, downtown restaurants will offer dining on the sidewalks and in the streets. Music is provided by The Milwaukee Tool Shed Band.
- UA Plumbers & Pipe Fitters 5K and Pub Crawl, 6:45 on Monday, Aug. 13. Held in downtown Ann Arbor. Proceeds benefit the Semper Fi Fund. Registration and more information available at uapprun5k.com.
- Industry Day, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 15. An exclusive event for industry stakeholders held on the grounds and parking lots around the Occupational Education Building on the WCC campus as well as throughout the campus. Check out the latest technology from various vendors, watch UA apprentices compete for national titles and tour the UA’s state-of-the-art training trailers.
While this is the week UA is most evident on campus and in the community, the instructor training program is only a portion of a year-round partnership with WCC. In 2003, the UA established a permanent presence with the opening of the 15,500-square-foot Great Lakes Regional Training Center, which hosts year-round courses and serves as the hub of the union’s distance learning operation. The building underwent extensive renovations in 2014.
The college offers UA University @ WCC, a specialized learning opportunity that allows UA members to build upon their trade-related experience and apprenticeships while pursuing certificates and associate degree programs specifically designed for the union. Over 40 UA members from around the country will receive a WCC associate degree in a special ceremony at the end of this year’s training event.
UA is the third international trade union to hold its instructor training program at WCC this summer. The Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association (OPCMIA) brought nearly 100 instructors to its training on June 25-29. The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union (Ironworkers) returned to campus for the ninth consecutive year, bringing 825 people from across North America to campus on July 16-20.