Teen welders following their passions at Mid-Coast School of Technology

A trade program in Rockland is growing
Mikayla Tolman, 17, is one of five female students in the welding program at Mid-Coast School...
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 5:11 PM EDT
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ROCKLAND, Maine (WABI) - A trade program in Rockland is growing.

The welding and fabrication program at Mid-Coast School of Technology would typically only see a handful of female students. This year there are five.

“More women would definitely be great in the welding industry,” said Micheala Smith, a sophomore at Oceanside High School.

“It’s definitely a man dominated trade, but I think more women should do it.” said Madilyn Simmons, a 10th grader at Medomak Valley High School.

“Our teacher, Mr. B, said women are more precise with stuff when it comes to welding. I think not only that, it’s really important for representation for us,” said Hailey Jones, a Junior at Camden Hills Senior High School.

A group of welding students gathering during a class at Mid-Coast Technology School Wednesday....
A group of welding students gathering during a class at Mid-Coast Technology School Wednesday. There are just five female students in this years' program.(WABI)

“Here is don’t really matter if you’re a female or male, we just all work together like one big ole’ group,” said Amber Halligan, a Senior at Medomak Valley High School.

At Mid-Coast School of Technology in Rockland, it’s all about working with your hands.

They help prepare students for career placement and academic success through 18 programs in-house.

“Everyone is in desperate need of welders so that program has just grown and grown and grown,” explained Robert Deetjen, Director of Mid-Coast School of Technology. “It’s actually probably our most competitive program we have here.”

Five females are trying their hand in welding right now at the school.

Including Mikayla Tolman. The 17-year-old is a senior at Camden Hills Regional High School.

“When I noticed that you could make a bunch of cool things and make some money with it, I thought it was really neat,” said Tolman.

Mikayla has made everything from rings to a logging truck sculpture.

She says the trade has really helped her in school, and has been a stress reliever of sorts during a hectic year.

“l had the worst anxiety ever,” Tolman said. “I didn’t even want to come to school but once I came here and realized what I could do, and I could venture out then, it kids of feels like I can do a lot.”

Her works of art are gaining traction with friends and family, too. She finds inspiration online, makes the item, and often times sells it to loved ones.

Mikayla says she hopes to attend Eastern Maine Community College for welding in the future and she’s not alone.

Instructors here says it is easier for women to get in and be accepted.

And, having five women in the class is definitely a step in the right direction.

“Really, what we try to inform students is that it doesn’t matter when you walk into one of our shops, if you can weld, you can weld. In this career field you can do really well financially but also have a lot of different pathways you can take and really make that decision on their own,” said Deetjen.

“It’s a good trend to start having so I’m hoping it’s going to keep going in that direction and stay there,” said John Brungardt, welding instructor at the school.

Regardless of whether these students choose welding as a career path, they’ll at least have a certain set of skills they can take with them.

Learn more about the school here.

A small portion of the sculptures coming out of the Welding program in our entry display. 💥 . . . #midcoasttech...

Posted by Mid-Coast School of Technology on Friday, March 26, 2021

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