Notch’s 18th Annual Pipe Welding Challenge Final

Vocational Students Compete in Weld “Bend Off”

Notch Mechanical Constructors hosts 18th Annual Notch Pipe Welding Challenge

CHICOPEE, MA – Nearly 100 students from 12 vocational high schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut competed in the 18th Annual Notch Pipe Welding Challenge event held on May 25, 2016 at Notch Mechanical Constructors in Chicopee, MA.

Since 1999, Notch has organized and sponsored the weld challenge, New England’s premier competition for high school welding students. Each year, competitors spend several months learning and practicing welding techniques in a vocational classroom setting. Between March and April, participants in the competition perform a 6″ open-root pipe weld using the Shielded Metal Arc Welding process, also known as SMAW or “stick” welding. The completed weld coupons are judged in May by certified weld inspectors in accordance with ASME Section IX requirements.

This year, from the field of 98 competitors, 11 students passed the visual inspection phase and advanced to the Bend Off where cross-sections of each student’s welded pipe were physically bent to test the strength and reveal any hidden defects in their welds. Eight student welders passed the bend test and achieved the ASME 1G qualification level.

Finally, from the field of eight, the top four finishers were selected based on the overall quality of their root and face welds. Each of the top finishers was a student at Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Upton, MA. These were the top four finishers:

First Place: Marc Paledeau

Second Place: Todd Mahoney

Third Place: Ethan Goulet

Fourth Place: Kevin Konieczny

As the first place finisher, Marc Paledeau was named “Top Notch Welder” and awarded $500 cash, a prize pack of welding tools and supplies, a Bend Off Medallion and a first place trophy. His school received a $500 certificate for professional supplies to use in their welding program.

“For 18 straight years, Notch Mechanical Constructors, New England’s industrial mechanical piping contractor, has sponsored the Weld Challenge Bend Off as a competitive learning experience outside the traditional classroom setting,” said Steven Neveu, PE, President of Notch Mechanical Constructors. “It’s exciting to see so many talented welders being developed in our vocational high school programs and especially exciting for Blackstone Valley, whose welding students swept the top four places.”

This year’s participating schools included:

  • Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, Marlborough, MA
  • Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School, Upton MA
  • Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School, Taunton, MA
  • Chicopee Comprehensive High School, Chicopee, MA
  • Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School, Fall River, MA
  • Franklin County Technical School, Turners Falls, MA
  • Gateway Regional High School, Huntington, MA
  • Howell Cheney Technical High School, Manchester, CT
  • McCann Technical School, North Adams, MA
  • Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School, Rochester, MA
  • Shawsheen Valley Technical High School, Billerica, MA
  • Taconic High School, Pittsfield, MA

Neveu said that Notch 1G certification, awarded to the top eight finishers, is a great credential for young people as they go into the job market. “Given the high demand for code welders and candidates for welding apprenticeships,” said Neveu, “these welders can offer a potential employer something extra: a tangible achievement. It shows they have taken and passed a challenging welding test.” Neveu pointed out that about 20 percent of the current craft team at Notch participated in the Bend Off as high school students, and many other Bend Off participants have gone on to work for top piping and mechanical companies.

The Bend Off event featured a short program of guest speakers including welding industry professionals, welding teachers and community leaders. Students learned about career paths in the trades, discovering where their own passions and talents lie, and the importance of working for an organization that is committed to training, which is crucial for continued advancement in the trades. Mayor Kos congratulated the Chicopee Comp welding students on winning this years competition. He also congratulated teacher Amanda Mucha who was winner of the challenge as a student when the program first started and who now guided her students to victory!

Several generous *sponsors provided a variety of “tools of the trade” to the top four finishers and the winning school. Additionally, door prizes were given to all students who attended the Bend Off.

                Congratulations to this year’s hardworking students and their teachers.

A family-owned business since 1972, Notch Mechanical Constructors specializes in the installation of piping systems for industrial and institutional facilities. From our offices in Chicopee and Hudson, Massachusetts, we serve customers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Southern New Hampshire, Southern Vermont, and Eastern New York.

*This years sponsors were: Notch Mechanical Constructors, ABC Massachusetts, Airgas, Inc., B.E. Crowley Pipe & Supply, Bill Baxter, Cap & Hitch of New England, Chicopee Tire & Auto Service, City Machine, Collins Pipe & Supply Co. Inc., Colony Tools, F.W. Webb, Independent Pipe & Supply Co., Gould Construction Institute, Hadley Printing Ivey Industries Inc., Mackey Mechanical Services, Maine Oxy, Marcotte Ford, ITW Welding, NEFCO, NES, Oliver Dean, Peterson Steel Corp, PV Sullivan Supply Co., RJ Holl Art Directions, Sullivan Metals Co. Swiss Uniforms, Giombetti Assoc. Tierney & Dalton, T.P. Daley Insurance, International Valve & Instrument.