I was born/grew up in: Hagersville, Ontario, Canada
I now live in: Hagersville, Ontario, Canada
I completed my training/education at: Mohawk College and Conestoga College
Describe what you do at work.
My day always starts with reading and analyzing the blue print for the job I will be working on. This also includes selecting the appropriate tools and methods for completing the assembly described on the print. This task usually involves creating a layout on I-beams or hollowed bodied steel with soapstone. The soapstone lines show where the different connecting plates, bent plates or other beams and tubes may be located. These assemblies can sometimes be just a simple beam or a series of beams that create a complex truss or frame. I do this with the use of various squaring tools such as the combination square, a level, or 2 foot square. This process can then involve tacking the steel parts on the assembly with a welder, torch cutting with an acetylene torch, drilling holes with a magnetic drill and sometimes, major problem solving.
When it comes to problem solving on bigger projects I am usually with a coworker to create a jig or fixture to make the process of building easier. This is simply a process of creating guiding tools for the parts to rest on. This makes the measurements and angles of the project accurate and helps the pieces become square. I also occasionally have to use heat and hydraulic jacks to manipulate the pieces of steel in the direction they need to go. Finally, sometimes I get the pleasure of welding my completed assemblies; if I get lucky. These assemblies can be part of high rises, bridges, factories, malls, museums. You name it, we can build it out steel.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
Without structural steel metal fabricators and welders buildings would not be what they are today. We make the buildings you live, work, and play in, the bridges you drive over and the museums and structures you observe history in.
What motivates you in your career?
I get excited when I am assigned to a new project that I have not done before because it means that I will be learning new skills and gaining knowledge in my trade. I enjoy the physical aspect of my job, and that I get to use my hands everyday, and sometimes my creative ability. I also enjoy when I get to teach new coworkers, and when they get excited about a job as much as I am.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
I had absolutely no interest of pursuing a trade when I was in high school. I wanted to go to university to study art and play varsity fastball. I accomplished this goal at McMaster University and loved every minute of it. While in Art School at McMaster I was introduced to the welding shop for the process of making metal sculptures. I instantly fell in love with the procedure of building with welded steel. After receiving a degree in Studio Art and Art History I had originally wanted to pursue my Masters in Art and from there teach at a College or University. However, things did not go as planned and my first attempt at applying to graduate school was not successful. Feeling defeated I felt I needed to do something with my skills and learn how to be more prosperous with my metal sculptures. This is when I decided to take an introductory course at Mohawk College for welding and metal fabrication. This gave me my level one for an apprenticeship. I originally had not intended for this to be my career. But once I started fitting and welding assemblies I found it extremely rewarding and want to continue to constantly learn this process.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I enjoy running, going on hikes and playing fastball. I also stay active in my arts community by being on the Board of Directors at Hamilton Artists Inc. and helping out with events. I relax by travelling and watching Netflix with my boyfriend, and I hope to start making artwork again soon.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Do not be discouraged when you are given repetitive tasks. You can only become better, stronger and quicker with practice. Also do not be upset if you make a mistake. Mistakes are what you learn from. The best metal fabricators have made the biggest mistakes and it only makes them better.
Lets Talk Science is grateful to Skills Canada Ontario for connecting us with this individual.