The Operations Challenge was held in early June 2018 during the NEWEA Spring Meeting in scenic Newport Rhode Island. There were three teams participating in the competition: Connecticut Franken Foggers (Jason Nenninger-Captain, Christopher Findley, Dan Sullivan, Dan Wolff); Maine – Force Maine (Alex Buechner-Captain, Riley Cobb, Nate Melanson, Shelby Carver); Defending champions Rhode Island Ocean State Alliance (Eddie Davies-Captain, Pete Rojas, Kim Sanbach, Ryan Patnode)
All teams did an outstanding job preparing for competition and with only three teams competing this year all will be making the trip to WEFTEC in New Orleans to represent NEWEA at the operations challenge national competition this October. We are hopeful to increase the number of teams next year to include all six New England states and to make the event a true competition, so I am calling out Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont to start forming teams. It is easy to get started, extremely interesting and fun, and pays tremendous dividends so contact me email@example.com or your respective association state director soon to get the ball rolling for 2019.
As far as the competition this year, the events ended up getting shuffled around a bit to allow for the ops challenge committee members to volunteer at the golf tournament which is put on annually to raise funds to send the teams to WEFTEC. In usual fashion, all teams and judges supported and adapted to the competition changes seamlessly. The first day of competition was comprised of equipment set-up, Questions & Answer session, and the process control event. Afterwards, we broke to attend the golf tournament. The second day was much busier but went off flawlessly thanks to all teams, event coordinators, and judges allowing for things to finish up and equipment broken down all before lunch ended. One of the greatest attributes of the challenge is the tremendous amount of comradery amongst competitors. It showed again this year as all three teams helped setup and take down all of the events, making things easier on all the other volunteers tasked with managing these events and their respective equipment. I know it may not sound like much but spend a few hours assembling and disassembling the safety platform jigsaw puzzle and you will have a greater appreciation for these efforts. On that note, the teams, event coordinators, judges, sponsors, and NEWEA staff all worked tirelessly leading up to and during the competition to make this event successful, and they should be commended for their efforts.
Like all competitions someone needs to ultimately win and this year it was a repeat as Rhode Island Ocean State Alliance took home first place overall for the second year in a row. Connecticut in just their second year of competing came in a close second and Maine took home the third-place trophy. All three teams did amazing and competed hard, despite the fact that they knew they had already qualified for the national competition. Although most team members are relatively new to ops challenge, they competed at the national level last year and know what it takes to compete with the big dogs. They will surely do great representing some of New England’s finest operators. All in all, the competition went very well thanks to the efforts of all involved and I am already looking forward to next year’s event.