Masonry students win at national competition

Tuesday November 24, 2015
Two Northeast Wisconsin apprentices won top honors at the 2015 National Apprentice Competition in Bowie, Md. Kurt Kazik of Kaukauna took third place in Cement, and Matt Burt of Appleton took third in Stone.
Kurt Kazik took third in national competitionThe apprentices both work at Miron Construction and study Masonry at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. They were among 82 third year apprentices from across the United States and Canada who overcame the competition at local, state, and regional levels in order to qualify to compete for best of class in eight categories at nationals. Each event had two parts: a written test, and a five-hour hands-on project.
Kazik was given a 10 ft. by 10 ft. area in which to pour a slab with curbs, a wheelchair ramp with curb cutout, and two cement finishes. Despite the five-hour time limit, he felt “very confident in my skills and abilities” going in, he said. “I work with excellent journeymen at Miron; they taught me a lot. Also [NWTC instructor] Mr. Zellner was a big influence.”

For the stone-setting event, Burt had to build a 2 ft. by 2 ft. by 2 ft. corner, set stone sills, mount two stone panels on a wall and set three stone pavers. “I had no idea what I was getting into,” he said. “I was kind of confident, but I had no experience. I never expected to get third. I was so happy.”
Matt Burt works on cutting a stoneBut his favorite part of the competition was the tour of Washington, D.C., where the architecture features mainly stone rather than brick or siding. “There was masonry everywhere. They have six-foot long granite stone curbs. I was taking pictures of the sidewalks. By the US Bank, there’s a sidewalk made of white marble. You could just feel the weight of the monuments, especially the Lincoln Memorial. It was awesome. Pictures just can’t do it justice.”
As apprentices, Kazik and Burt divide their time between on-the-job training (for which they earn a paycheck) and classroom instruction. Kazik said the class time “gives me time to dissect my books, learn more about mixes and concrete, more about the process rather than just the hands-on.”
Kazik said he would strongly recommend that other students enter competitions in their fields.
“You never know how good you are until you put your skills to the test,” Kazik said. “Competition is a great way to show where you are with your skills.