WPC scholarship winner gains knowledge to share back home

WPC scholarship winner gains knowledge to share back home

By Mike Flenniken

World Plumbing Council (WPC) scholarship winner, Sudip Das, a plumbing engineer and trainer from Kolkata, India, recently completed a three-week educational trip to the US to learn more about teaching methods that he can use in his home country.

MikeFlennikenWPCDas, a manager in planning and project coordination, is involved in a number of prestigious residential and commercial projects in eastern India, ranging from hospitality to healthcare. Das also teaches at various colleges, trains competitors and serves as a judge for WorldSkills and the Indian Plumbing Professionals League.

“This really meant a lot to me,” Das says of winning the 2018 WPC United Association Instructor Training Programme Scholarship. “When there is one scholarship [in my category] per year, it has a huge impact on anybody’s life.”

WPC Deputy Chairman Thomas Bigley, the Director of Plumbing Services for the UA and an IAPMO Board of Directors member, accompanied Das on much of the trip.

Das arrived in Chicago on 6 August, and while there he toured the 1 191-foot-high (363m) Vista Tower, the city’s third-tallest building. He was given a demonstration of the installation of cast-iron pipe joined by lead and oakum and the soldering of copper pipes, in addition to other American plumbing practices. He toured the Plumbers Local 130 training facility with Business Manager James Coyne and Pipefitters Local 597 with Training Coordinator Monty Kimes.

While in Chicago, Das met with IAPMO Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President David Viola, who gave him ASSE books and Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) books.

Das spent the next week in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he completed two 20-hour classes at Washtenaw Community College that are part of the UA’s Instructor Training Program: Methods in Teaching Water Supply Systems and Methods in Teaching Drainage Systems.

From Michigan it was on to Buffalo, New York, where Das and Bigley toured the John W Danforth Mechanical Co’s fabrication shops. Das got a first-hand look at how American contractors bid, design, fabricate, then ship piping systems to their customers’ job sites.

Das then flew to New York City, where he stayed in Times Square for three nights. He toured the UA Plumbers Local 1 training center and the city’s water filtration plant, as well as a 40-storey construction site. On his final day he visited the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Centre memorial at ground zero.

Bigley and Das reconnected in Pittsburgh for a tour of the Plumbers Union Local 27 training centre, followed by a weekend kayaking, riding quads and enjoying the Pennsylvania mountains.

They parted company in Pittsburgh, with Das flying onto Philadelphia for a tour of the Plumbers Local 690 training centre and several construction sites, as well as a visit to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Das drove from Philadelphia to Annapolis, Maryland, to visit UA headquarters with Assistant to the Director of Training Ray Boyd. From there he was picked up by Plumbers Local 5 Business Agent Lou Spence who took him to Local 5 contractor Bowers Mechanical fab shop. He toured Bowers’ CAD and BIM departments, as well as the fabrication shop. Das toured a few more shops and construction sites, as well as Plumbers Local 5’s training centre. While in Washington, DC, Das also visited a number of museums and monuments before departing for home on 30 August.

Das says the training he received on his visit, along with the tours of training centres and job sites, will have a number of positive impacts on his career and the people of India.

“I shall try to figure out how to adopt, as far as possible, the methods of teaching using the current infrastructure, framework and facilities available in my country,” he says. “Also, I shall try to improve the working methodology back home after seeing the jobsites in the USA.”

Bigley said that while he was a little apprehensive at first about a potential language barrier between Das and him, they communicated very well.

“We had a lot in common, not only in the plumbing industry, but also when it came to our hobbies,” he says. “I couldn’t be more thankful to all the UA locals who helped coordinate all the different places to visit in their respective cities. Without their help and commitment to the scholarship recipients, it would be very difficult to visit all the different locations. I hope he enjoyed his visit as much as we enjoyed sharing our customs and culture.”

Das said his long-term career goals include educating as many plumbers as possible, in addition to improving his nation’s health and sanitation through access to improved plumbing and safe sanitation.

“There are many people in my country, and around the world, without access to proper sanitation and safe potable water,” he says. “I hope to work for them and give them better living conditions.”

Das was highly appreciative of the hospitality he encountered throughout his trip.

“The warm welcome I received, from the ITP to local training centres, from job sites to the contractors’ offices and shops, was simply unforgettable,” he says.


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