Notch Mechanical Hosts 17th Annual Notch Pipe Welding Challenge

Winners circle

(l-r) Kristin Monfette, Notch’s craft director; Lenin Diaz, Top Notch Welder 2015 winner; Amanda Mucha, instructor, Mike Douville, instructor; Steven Neveu, Notch president

Chicopee, MA – Students from nine vocational high schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut competed recently in “Bend Off,” the final phase of the 17th Annual Notch Pipe Welding Challenge, a craft skills competition held at the headquarters of Notch Mechanical Constructors in Chicopee.

“It’s exciting to see so many talented welders being developed in our vocational high school programs,” said Douglas Neveu, VP of operations of Notch Mechanical Constructors and himself an ASME qualified welder. “The 2015 Weld Challenge was intense with 104 competitors. While there were only 12 names on the semifinalist list, it was not from a lack of good welders. Rather it reflects an increasing level of quality being achieved by the competitors.”

Full circle student-teacher

(l-r) Ben Weingarden, instructor at Howell Cheney, Notch president Steven Neveu; Jesse Edwards, an instructor at Franklin County Tech; and Chicopee Comprehensive H.S. teacher Amanda Mucha

As part of the Weld Challenge event, Neveu spoke to students about how past and future experiences can unwittingly provide benefits for their careers. Not knowing what the future holds, he advised students on never missing an opportunity to learn something new every day.

The top three finishers were:

  • First Place “Top Notch Welder”: Lenin Diaz, Chicopee Comprehensive High. Welding teachers: Mike Douville and Amanda Mucha.
  • Second Place: Spenser Tanner, McCann Technical High. Welding teacher: John Kline.
  • Third Place: Walter Pielai, Franklin County Technical High. Welding teacher: Jesse Edwards.


Mayor with Notch Team

Notch volunteers and Chicopee Comprehensive H.S. winning team being congratulated by Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos( 5th from left)

The 12 semifinalists were all diligent welders. Each had his weld samples pass both face and root tests. From the 12, only seven passed both visual and bend test requirements to earn the 1G ASME certification. Neveu noted that the degree of difference between the students’ weld quality was very tight and the judges stepped out of the room to rank each competitor’s work on criteria beyond the ASME standards.

Special guest Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos gave the students words of encouragement and special congratulations to the winning welder from Chicopee Comp. He also congratulated the winning instructors, including Amanda Mucha, who has come full circle. She was a participant in the competition when it first started, then joined Notch as an apprentice and earned her journeyman pipefitter license, and now guides her students to victory.

Mucha is not the only teacher who was once a Weld Challenge competitor. Welding teachers Jessie Edwards from Franklin County Technical School and Ben Weingarden from Howell Cheney Technical High School both participated in the Challenge when they were students.

This year’s participating schools included:

Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, Marlborough; Chicopee Comprehensive High School, Chicopee; Franklin County Technical School, Turners Falls; Gateway Regional High School, Huntington; McCann Technical School, North Adams; Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School, Rochester; Shawsheen Valley Technical High School, Billerica;

Taconic High School, Pittsfield; and Howell Cheney Technical High School, Manchester, Conn.

Several generous sponsors provided a variety of “tools of the trade” to the winning school and the top three students participating in this competition. Additionally, door prizes were given to all students in attendance.

Notch Mechanical Constructors, one of New England’s top mechanical piping contractors, has sponsored this competition for welding students from around New England for 17 straight years. This competitive learning experience outside the traditional classroom setting is enlightening, refreshing and invigorating for everyone involved.

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

“Notch volunteers and Chicopee Comprehensive H.S. winning team being congratulated by Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos( 5th from left)