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Nestled within the labyrinthine recesses of Provo High School, concealed behind an unassuming gray door, one can find an expansive welding workshop. Auto-darkening welding helmets, protective equipment, gloves, and safety glasses adjoin the classroom walls. Maroon welding screens cover workbenches, and the students forging behind them, sparks illuminating their silhouettes as they work.
Behind one screen is Provo High Sophomore Emma Martin, who is crafting her own narrative– one built by hand rather than bought. As the torchlight faded from Utah Valley’s CTE Welding Expo this summer, Emma stood tall, taking home gold in Art and Fabrication.
The Utah Valley Weld Expo is the prominent statewide welding expo for students, where competitors test their metal’s mettle in drift trike races, dirt drag races, sled pulls, and art and fabrication.
After her win, We spoke with Emma about her path as a burgeoning welder, learning more about her aspirations and goals, and learned a surprising fact about her family’s history from the prolific Welding and Metals teacher, Kaleb Money. Read her interview below to learn more.
Q: What got you interested in Welding?
A: My older brother (the second oldest of six) was the first in my family to join the welding program. He built a mini-bike and a trike. Then, he took a Volkswagen PowerWheels and transformed it into a cart. He’s kept all of his projects.
After he did so well, my mom suggested that we should give welding a go. I joined last year.
(Sidenote: As it turns out, Emma’s father later took Welding courses from Kaleb Money at Utah Valley University– most of the Martin family can weld and weld as a family because of Kaleb Money. Talk about impact.)
Q: What did you compete in at the Expo? What was the competition like, and what was your thought process heading into the contest?
A: Every year, I build a Nativity Scene for my mom– so I thought, “Why not weld the scene this year?”
So, I designed the Nativity scene in Torchmate (a computer aid design software for welding projects). I had to size and organize shapes while thinking about their dimensions– I started with a base plate, designing holes in the plate. Then, I created objects and figures with little tabs at the bottom to snap them into the holes in the baseplate.
Then I cut them out using our plasma cutter after I scrubbed the slag off the back with a wire wheel– and that’s pretty much it.
I’ve got an idea for another 3D art piece for this year’s competition– a flower with lots of layers.
Q: What sets Metalwork and Welding apart from your other day-to-day classes?
A: It’s not about final tests; we have safety tests and pass-off welds, but we look forward to a CTE certification. We’re mastering welding.
Q: Would you recommend welding to other students?
A: Yeah, it’s new to me and interesting. At first, I was scared; it’s fire and metal and–(she laughs)– but there’s a lot of safety precautions with everything, but it’s fun to dive in and try it out. Definitely.