Ian Morrell, Building & Property Trades Technician 2019 Graduate
Plumber’s Assistant, Phillips Plumbing & Mechanical
Studying at a community college, I wondered if I’d enjoy working in the trades.
I earned a Certificate of Completion in Criminal Justice, but recognized that conventional schooling isn’t for me. I’m happier when I’m working.
I come from a family that includes trades workers.
My oldest uncle—my father’s brother—is in the sheet metal business. My grandfather has been a Tin Knocker, specializing in roofs. When my mom saw advertisements for MTTI, we visited the school. Seeing the Building Trades shop and meeting the Instructors, I knew this was the right program for me. Once in the program, I enjoyed everything about it and learned a lot.
Pat and Don did a great job in explaining what we were doing.
Before we started to build the house module, we drew up blueprints so we understood what was going to work—and how it would work. We also thought about what we could do to fix any problems we might encounter.
Pat and Don were very patient when you had questions.
If you didn’t understand something, they would go step-by-step—explaining what to do first and what would happen after that. In the plumbing unit, they explained how water travels through pipes, where it would go, which tubes it would go through, where a shut-off was closed and what that shut-off valve would stop.
Pat and Don encouraged teamwork.
They were accepting of everyone and encouraged everyone to work well with one another. The module we built came out fantastic!
There were good people in my class, some of whom have become friends.
The people in my class were resilient—no matter how big or small a problem we encountered, they wouldn’t give up until it was fixed. I think a lot of my classmates are going to do really well in the workforce.
During the program, I discovered I especially liked plumbing.
I volunteered to be the crew leader for the plumbing installation in the house module we built. I began contacting plumbing companies for an internship. Erin in Career Services contacted Phillips Plumbing and Mechanical; I interviewed with the owner, John Phillips. We decided to give the internship a chance.
Every day of Internship, I showed up 20-30 minutes early, in uniform and ready to work.
I was sent out with the Master Plumber. My boss’s wife, Linda, who manages the day-to-day operations, told me I have a lot to learn, but that she could see I have a yearning to learn. They value that I am willing to learn what I need to do to get the job done well. During my third week of internship, Linda told me the company was hiring me.
Everyone is going to need plumbers—spring, summer fall and winter.
Once I am licensed in plumbing, I will always have a job. Plumbing seems to me to be to be the safest of the trades, compared with electrical and carpentry, which have more risk. Plumbing is not simple or easy—but more straightforward to understand. Certain aspects are more mechanical. It can be as simple as ‘some parts are loose—apply pipe dough and thread seal tape to tighten it’. Or it can be more involved. During my second week of internship, I worked about 12 hours on a job re-piping a steam heat exchanger. Another job took about 14 hours, running an entire PVC system to another part of the basement.
Plumbing is a thinking person’s job.
It requires taking good measurements and conceptualizing where parts will go. When we arrive on-site, and see the problem, we are thinking: ‘how are we going to fix it?' I’m learning from good people—Master Plumbers and Apprentices with more experience than I have. I am working towards my Journeyman’s License in RI and MA. I’ll do additional education starting in the fall. I want to be successful.
Having learned to be focused and patient at MTTI helps me now on the job.
I’ve learned it’s more important not to rush the job—but to do it right. I am working to become very efficient. One way to get things done in a timely manner is to be organized. I clean out the back of the truck for the person I am working with—they often don’t have time. I make sure all the parts and pieces they’ll need are organized in bins. By reading what is written on the bins I can quickly get what they need—and make the job go faster.
Working with the Master Plumber, I am getting a larger view of the work.
I’m building experience so that I can think back on what we did to fix something in the past—maybe this new job will be similar. Watching people I work with—seeing them go through the steps to figure out what isn’t working and then fixing it—is really teaching me the trade.
I thank my family for teaching me that hard work will, in the long run, be worth it.
Every job will have a challenging moment, or occasionally a tough day. I’ve seen my parents have problems at work—but I’ve also seen them face those problems to find solutions. They’ve taught me resilience—how to stay with it and work through problems. If you know your career is the right one for you, you'll go back the next day and say, ‘I like what I do’.
Seven plus months after the start of the Building Trades program, I have a career!
Now I have an actual career—something I can be proud of. MTTI is a fantastic school to learn the trade you are interested in—and in a short amount of time. By the time you leave, you will feel excited about, and proud of, what you have accomplished.
In my opinion, Phillips is the best plumbing company you can find in Rhode Island.
They value quality of service and getting the job done right. They have seven plumbers working for them—always making sure the customer is happy by clearly communicating to each one what they have done to fix the issue.
Some people aren’t as great at conventional schooling; it wasn’t good for me.
The program curriculum at the community college interested me, but sitting at a desk and writing all day wasn’t appealing. I wanted to be out there, doing jobs with my hands. If your experience in high school or college has been similar to mine—or if you are not happy in the career you have, why do it? To enjoy life, you need to be happy with the work you do.
You can go to the schools that teach trades skills, and learn a trade that really benefits society.
You’ll be proud of what you do. I’ve really enjoyed my time at MTTI—and now really enjoy working for Phillips. If you want to learn hands-on any of the trades, MTTI is the place to go.
Photos were taken in the Building & Property Trades Technician Shop at MTTI & during Graduation at the Riviera Restaurant in East Providence.