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She herself is partial to “stick welding,” which she describes as “sparky, loud and smoky.” At the end of the process, it’s as if “you get to uncover a little treasure,” she said. The result has a rainbow-like ripple pattern.
It’s also been encouraging to be a part of a three-person team from the school that took first place in one of the categories at the SkillsUSA Minnesota State Conference in March. Now, the team is headed to a national competition in Kansas City, Mo., in June.
Lindberg and her teammates created a metal cart that’s ideal for custodial departments. “You can always use another cart, like another pair of shoes,” said Lindberg.
Another STEP senior, Heidi Ashmun, says that welding taps her artistic side. It’s something that comes in handy for sculpture and she’s making all kinds of things on the side, like a trellis for climbing roses, for her mom.
In the future, “I want to be making things, ” anything from building foundations to workout machines, she said.
Ashmun has also found that welding can be a good way to decompress. “If things aren’t going well, I can focus on what’s in front of me. It puts me in a lot better mood. It’s something that I look forward to every day. I’m excited to get up and go to school,” she said.
Having other girls in the program breaks the stereotype and it “makes you feel like you’re not alone. It’s empowering, ” Ashmun said.
Gabrielle Dobson, also a senior, took a welding class this past fall simply to fill a hole in her schedule.
She wound up enjoying it so much that she switched her focus from the automotive track to welding. Now, she says that no day is complete without a little welding time. “If you go days without welding, you think, ‘why do I feel so empty? It’s because I need to go weld.’ Once you get the hang of it, you can quickly produce good welds. It feels good, like an inner pride,” she said.
The whole group in the STEP welding program, boys and girls, jibes well together, Dobson said. “We’re all taken seriously. There are no different groups. We’re all just welders.”
Anna Pratt is a Minneapolis freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.