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Program Celebrates 25th Year
Four NIH Apprentices Celebrate Graduation

By Nancy Ludewig

Four employees from the 2003 graduating class of the NIH Apprenticeship Program recently received recognition for successfully completing 4 years of academics and on-the-job training.

Graduates James Kowal, Michael Morris, Bernard Robinson and Larry Wongus accepted certificates from the Department of Labor Bureau of Apprenticeship Training, the State of Maryland and NIH.

Before entering the apprenticeship program, Kowal was an NIH police officer assigned to the canine section. He quickly learned the refrigeration trade, and now is part of a two-man team doing emergency repair work on cold rooms, freezers, chillers and kitchen and other equipment.

Morris was a biological laboratory technician before entering the program. Doing well in school and on-the-job, he proved to be an asset to the sheet metal shop.

Beginning as a stay-in-school employee in the NIH north maintenance section, Robinson entered the program in 1987. Because he worked so well with others, a number of building engineers frequently requested him to work with them on special assignments. He accepted each assignment as a challenge and learning experience.

Wongus spent 21 years at Johns Hopkins University before enrolling in the apprenticeship program, where he worked mostly with refrigeration systems for the National Institute on Aging. A short time after he joined the Clinical Center's maintenance team, several things about Wongus became apparent — his professionalism and outstanding customer service skills. Tenacity and hard work made him one of the better operators of the Building Automation System, which is used to monitor the facility's physical plant equipment and systems. His knowledge of building systems and related equipment earned him the title "Old Man" — not because he was the oldest apprentice, but because he brought with him experiences and skills that were an asset to the team.

The apprenticeship program has graduated over 100 apprentices since its establishment in 1978. It is the only training program at NIH geared to the trades and throughout its history has been unmatched at NIH for its minority recruitment.

For information about the program, call Ron Poole, (301) 402-1082.

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