2012 Chattooga High School graduate Luke Blackwell has been racking up the accolades in welding since leaving the classroom of Welding Instructor, Jeff Owings. Blackwell learned much from his four years in the CHS CTAE pathway and has taken his welding skills to the next level. After graduation, Blackwell saw a good opportunity in joining the Local 43 Union out of Chattanooga. Local 43 is considered to be among the best construction industry apprenticeship programs in the world. Blackwell works full time as a welding apprentice and has honed his skills into an art form.
In January Blackwell competed in the Local 43 Apprentices In-House Apprenticeship Contest. Blackwell won the contest and moved on to the Tennessee State Apprenticeship Contest to represent Local 43 in welding.
The Tennessee State Apprenticeship contest in welding featured an event where each participant is given a set of complex blueprints. Contestants must read the blueprints, measure and cut pieces and then weld them into the correct angles and sizes. This event focuses on precision of measurements, angles, and the overall quality of the welds. Held in Memphis, TN, the contest hosted some of the best welder apprentices in the state. Once again, Blackwell came out on top and won the 1st Place Prize.
Luke Blackwell credits Owings and the CHS welding program with laying the foundation and skills for his success. “He ran with a good opportunity,” said Jeff Owings. Now in his 23rd year of teaching at Chattooga, Owings has seen the vocational program evolve into the CTAE pathways which sends its graduates directly into the work place with all the skills required to earn a significant living and build a career.
Blackwell moved on to a competition in New Orleans with 11 other states. The competition was held June 6th-8th. Blackwell placed 4th in welding in the competition.