January 24, 2023
By Blake Marchand
The 2022 IDEAL Nationals were held this past November in Tampa, Florida. This article is a discussion with David Collier, who discusses his first expierence with the IDEAL Nationals as a fourth year apprentice.
David is from B.C. and works out of Alberta. At the time of the competition, David was finishing his last leg of schooling for his apprenticeship. He finished in December and is currently working for a company called Global Tech.
“They do a little bit of everything,” David said of Global Tech, “so it’s really nice. Security, fire alarm, main power, a lot of pipe bending, so it’s been good experience working for them.”
David along with his foreman, Todd Fraser, both made it down to the event for the first time, “I’ve been working under him for 3 or 4 years, he’s taught me a lot. He’s a smart guy.”
“We practiced a lot while we were working, so I feel like that helped us,” David noted.
The trip down to Tampa was a bit of a journey for them due to the weather. Their first flight out of Edmonton had to make an emergency landing in Winnipeg because of fog in Toronto.
“We ended up landing safe. They tried to get us another flight into Toronto that night but the weather was too bad.”
They had to stay the night in Winnipeg after a 10-hour wait in the airport. Then they had to fly back to Calgary and get a direct flight from Calgary to Orlando where they had to rent a car to drive to Tampa.
“So, it was a pretty crazy two days of travel, but it was okay.”
What was the overall 2022 IDEAL Nationals experience like for you?
“It was an absolutely amazing experience! I met a lot of great people there. It was a lot of fun. It may be a little cliché, but it shows that hard work can pay off. Especially if you place, but it was my first year, so I had a bunch of nerves. I’m definitely going to try and go back because the experience was so great.”
David found out about the event from his foreman, Todd, who also made it down to the event.
“We were working out of town, and we actually built the qualifier (board), we had a townhouse there and we practiced and practiced in the garage, and it was a good time.”
What is your favourite highlight from the IDEAL Nationals competition?
“My favourite part of the event was finding out that I made it into round three.”
After each round all the apprentices that competed lined up at centre stage as Ideal Nationals host, Chip Wade called out the winners that would advance to the next stage of the competition. David was the last name called, so the suspense had been built. He was the first Canadian apprentice to make that far in the event.
“I remember standing there, and Chip announced me as the last one, so I was kind of on my toes and he dragged it out a little bit before he announced my name. It was an amazing feeling.”
When it comes to the competition, is there anything you would do different after being able to experience it?
“I was definitely giving it my all,” he said of his work in each round, “one thing that I would probably do, going back the next time, the nerves were so high, and it didn’t really click in my head that time wasn’t that big of a factor, it was just about the completion. So, I was just giving it my all and I did finish every round with a bunch of time left. If I went again, I would go back and just make sure all my work is perfect.”
Were there any unique challenges to the IDEAL Nationals competition?
“Like I said, with the company I work for, we do a little bit of everything. We don’t really do residential, but I started in residential back in B.C. A lot of the competitions they weren’t really out of my reach, I’ve done a lot of that stuff before. But the torque screwdriver, that was something new that I kind of had to learn on the fly.”
One aspect of the competition required apprentices to torque the breakers they installed into a residential panel.
“I did figure it out though, so it worked out.”
“I would consider myself lucky, because I’ve done a little bit of everything.”
Did you change your approach at all after the first round?
“I didn’t really change my approach too much, it was kind of just, look at the plan and then I wanted to attack the things that would take the longest first – that I thought would take the longest, at least. So, that’s how I went about each and every single one. And like I said, I’m lucky that I had done all the kinds of work that showed up in the competition.”
What was the group competition like?
After the semi-finals, the competitors that didn’t make it through to the final were paired up, one professional to one apprentice, although none of the competitors were aware of that aspect of the event.
“Working with Oscar, that was really cool. He was a really good guy. I thought we worked well together. It was kind of crazy because we’re working on the fly, we’re trying to get things done so fast. But we did have some pretty good communication. If I had a question, I’d ask him and he seemed like a pretty knowledgeable guy, so it was a lot of fun working with him.”
“It was really unexpected,” he said of the surprise group competition. “Unfortunately, we didn’t make it but I feel like we did pretty good.”
Are you happy with how the competition went for you?
“I’m fairly happy,” he said of how performed at the competition. “Like I said it was my first year going, there would be a few things I would change up. But for my first year making it into the semi-finals, I’m quite proud of myself.”
Thinking about the prize money being handed out, David said, “I’d definitely put a down payment on a house, but I’d also buy a really fast street bike.”
What do you see as the value of this type of event to the industry, generally?
“It made me feel like it’s not just a trade. It makes you feel as though you can accomplish more. It’s a great atmosphere, and being televised, it was absolutely insane. It made me proud to be an electrician, that’s for sure.”
“The amount of cameras there, I was so nervous the first time going in. It was an incredible experience. The first round was the hardest but after that it got a little bit easier.”
What are your plans once you finish your apprenticeship?
“If opportunity presents itself – I don’t currently have a girlfriend and my family doesn’t live in Alberta, so it would be nice to get some work that’s long days, lots of overtime is kind of what I’m looking for, so we’ll see what happens.”
What do you want to do down the road in your career?
“Electrical wise, the type of work I want to do… I really like bending pipe, I’d like to learn more about the industrial side of things because I haven’t really done that too much. We’re going into PLCs right now in school, it’s a pretty interesting topic. So, I’d like to get a bit of industrial under my belt, because I have the residential, I have the commercial, so that would be nice.”
“I do have a bit of a plan to start up my own thing (contracting business), I have a good friend that is at the same point as me, we’re thinking about maybe trying to start something together. I know it’s tough owning a business but I’m ready for the challenge.”
“They always say the Canadians are really, really kind, I found being in the states and going down to Tampa, we would just hangout by the water and there were so many friendly people that would stop to talk to us, and say hi, we met so many cool people competing, and it was just a really cool atmosphere.”
The palm trees and heat was a nice escape from November in Alberta.