Women in Welding, : “I aim to always learn and grow as a welder and educator”
What made you choose welding as a career, which is a highly male dominated segment?
My introduction to Welding and Construction happened by chance. Somewhere during 2014, I found a flyer advertising the Local 28 Sheetmetal Union. I had never welded or worked with metal before, but I was aware that I will enjoy this nature of work, especially when it is a challenging task. Thus, I thought it would be a great and a good fit.
Could you brief us on your journey so far into welding?
I first learned welding, fabrication and installation of steel structures, while working for Brett Fence and Contracting Corporation of Franklin Square NY from 2015 to 2017. During 2016, I attended a Formal 3 month program at CUNY Brooklyn City Tech where I learned the further techniques in SMAW, GMAW and GTAW. After much practice, I appeared for Structural Welding exam, earning my AWS (American Welding Society) Welder Certification in D1.1 Unlimited Thickness in 3G and 4G. Thereafter, I completed the 6G schedule 120 pipe test, and was accepted into Local 5 Boilermaker Union, where I worked during 2017.
Could you quickly take us through your qualification background?
I am an AWS Certified Welder 3G and 4G Unlimited Thickness in SMAW Process. I am proficient in SMAW, GMAW, GTAW and FCAW. I have received my F60 (Fireguard for Torch Operations), G60 (Torch use of flammable gases) and OSHA 10 safety training to work on construction sites. I have 2 years of teaching experience into SMAW, GMAW and GTAW to women.
How much of total experience do you hold?
I have 4 years of Professional Welding and Fabrication experience, and 2 years of teaching.
I would say my strongest processes are SMAW and GMAW, but I continue to learn as much as possible.
Could you please share your experience of some of the mega project you worked upon?
One of the memorable project was welding the steam headers and ACC units for HRSG Boilers for PSEG at Port of Coeymans, NY during 2017.
Your current project?
Currently, I am working on small to medium scale art projects to sell at a few upcoming local festivals.
When on site, what are the key points you follow during welding for any project? Any suggestions.
One key component to be successful in Welding is preparation. Cleaning the metal, being sure to have all your tools organized and ready, properly fine tuning in the machine to the proper heat and electrode setting for the work, and of course to use proper PPE in order to work safely.
Please share some of the interesting anecdotes during your career?
I still remember the period while working on the repair and installation of steel handrails for FEDEX Company along with the owner of my company. Over the 2 days, I was amazed to receive waves and thumbs up even from the truck drivers as they passed us back and forth. During the last day, my boss told me that even the female drivers stopped to ask and confirm that I was indeed a female welding. All were impressed and glad to see a woman welding. Hearing that, made me feel very happy and proud.
What is your say on health and safety in welding? How do you consider the same when on job?
Health and Safety is extremely important while welding, fabricating and working in either a shop setting or out in the field. I have worked in both shop and field settings. It is vital to wear all necessary PPE to protect your hearing, eyes, lungs and overall health. If these steps are taken, you can avoid injury throughout your career.
What kind of challenges do you come across and how do you manage to cope up with the same?
In Welding, Fabrication and Construction, you must always be able to solve challenges and creatively come up with solutions. I find that if I am having an issue that may be frustrating or I am being challenged, taking a short break and returning to the problem with a fresh mind is helpful. Fortunately, metal can bend and be manipulated and I find that if there is a will, there is a way. When following blueprints or engineering drawings, it is helpful to refer it, if necessary.
Have you anytime faced gender discrimination on site, as the stream is male dominated?
When I go to work in the morning, I only think about doing the best that I can on the given project I have and to work well with my peers to complete that task. Of course, I have worked with people that have varying negative and positive opinions on Women working in Welding and Construction, but that has never bothered me. Over the years, half of my best teachers and mentors have been men. The best thing to do as a woman is to stay focused, work hard and always be professional.
What are your future plans?
My future plan is to continue growing The Welding Workshop, where I teach girls and women to fabricate and weld. I aim to always learn and grow as a welder and educator. One personal goal is to gather funds to produce a figurative sculpture project that has been in gestation for quite a few years.
Closing message, especially to the female.
Whatever it is that interests you, pursue it to the fullest capacity. If it is welding or anything else, do not let anyone ever change your mind or make you believe you cannot do it. You must realize who you are, what you want, set goals and take steps to walk in the direction of your vision. It usually doesn’t happen overnight, be patient with the process and yourself. When you accept failure as your best friend and teacher, success is right around the corner. Good luck!