Students Get Hands-on Experience in the Plumbing Trade at Bender in New Haven

CT Style

At Bender in New Haven, students from Eli Whitney Technical High School are stepping out of the classroom and into a real-world environment.

“At Benders we do a lot of different things here,” explained Joe Bracale, the department head of the school’s plumbing and heating department. “I show them first of all the different materials that are available, so they can see these things, sometimes we actually get inside, underneath the sinks and see how they get installed.”

In addition to his job at Eli Whitney, Bracale also works as an assistant manager at Bender.

“When you go through a trade school, you do have a curriculum of a regular high school, but they cut out half of that time and they give you shop time,” Bracale explained.

Bracale says pairing the traditional curriculum with real world experience is priceless.

“It gives them a leg up when they get out of high school,” he said. “Plus I feel as though it also gives them an opportunity to see if this is something they really want to do.”

At Eli Whitney Technical High School, students can learn skills in trades like construction, carpentry, and plumbing. 

 “In class we learn how to, you know, work with boilers and stuff, and how to put pipe in working bathrooms, rough ins, stuff like that,” said junior Jon’aja Beamon.

With many high school students opting to head to a four-year college after graduation, less are pursuing jobs in the trade industries.

“There’s a widening gap in the average age of trade professionals,” said Max Bender of Bender. “The average plumber and HVAC mechanic is in their 60s.”

As baby boomers retire, trade jobs are in high demand, plus those who attend trade schools usually pay off their student debts one to three years sooner than those with liberal arts degrees.

On visits to Bender, Bracale says it’s important to show students there are more opportunities in the trades than just working with your hands.

“You can be a sales person, you can be an instructor like myself, you can go into business,” Bracale explained.

“Fundamentally, we work as much as possible with trade schools and any young professionals to help them get them educated, fired up and passionate and excited on the plumbing and heating industry,” Max added.

Bender will be holding a ribbon cutting on June 14 at 2pm to celebrate the Grand Opening of their New Haven showroom. To learn more visit

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