Young welder breaks down barriers

8 years ago

DANFORTH, Maine — Although the field of welding is often dominated by men, that has not stopped East Grand senior Kimberly Stoddard from cutting out her own niche in the field.

Stoddard is one of just two female welders at the Region Two School of Applied Technology in Houlton this year. She has made the 45-mile trek from Danforth to Houlton for the past two years to participate in the course.

While it may have been intimidating at first, Stoddard quickly found she fit right into the program.

“I decided to get into welding because it was something my dad did and a skill that I wanted to learn,” she said. “I liked the thought of being “a woman in a man’s’ class.’”

Stoddard has progressed through the program, mastering the techniques and processes required to become a certified welder. She has put her skills to work for the community, partnering with incoming students from Katahdin to help them build a storage receptacle in the shape of a snowman.

She has also acted as a mentor to many of the new students. Since the new students hadn’t had any training in welding, Stoddard handled the welding duties, relying on the new students to help with design. Their collaboration produced a piece of functional art that encouraged people to donate cans of food to the Katahdin Food Pantry.

Stoddard also chose to demonstrate her welding skill as part of her senior project. Over a two-month period, she designed and built a dinosaur sculpture, making use of all the skills and techniques she picked up during her two years in the program.

She spent a total of 28 hours cutting, bending, and welding before the sculpture was complete.

The dinosaur, which she named “Tino”, is a testament to the effectiveness of Region Two’s program. It’s also a solid reminder that the notion of “man’s work” is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

“I enjoyed having the chance to show up a bunch of boys in a class that was nontraditional for myself,” she said.