Scroll Work Wins Student Competition
Lauren Quinn doesn't fit the mold – either academically or vocationally.
"One side of her brain is engineering, math, honor society and organized, and the other side is enormously creative. You seldom get a student who has that blend of engineering and artistry," says Neil Mansfield, lead instructor for the Metalworking program at Assabet Valley Vocational Technical High School, Marlboro, Mass.
Lauren and her partner Chris Gannon were one of three team winners in ESAB's 2014 "A Cut Above" student contest. Their creation, the "Heart and Scroll" gate featured metal heated Victor® oxy-acetylene equipment, cut with a Victor Thermal Dynamics® plasma cutter and welded with a Tweco® Fabricator® 3-in-1 welder.
Like all students entering the Metalworking program, Lauren first learned to gas weld and braze.
"Working with the torch felt natural to me, and those skills enabled me to create things like this gate," she says.
In fact, the tons (literally) of metal art decorating in the Metalworking classroom are what first attracted Lauren to the program. "I've played the flute in band for eight years, but working with metal gave me a different way to express myself artistically. You don't really get a chance to be as creative as you want, to express yourself in academics."
Once in the class, Lauren says that the instructors acted as fatherly role models and made her feel comfortable learning. Part of that learning process involved failing, learning to be comfortable with failing, and then having the courage to become better and succeed.
The Heart and Scroll gate certainly demonstrates success, and Lauren and Chris each won $500 cash for their efforts, and the school won a welding and cutting package valued at $4,000.
"I would tell anyone thinking of taking a metalworking class that it's not as dangerous as it looks, and it's a real opportunity to learn how to work with your hands. I became a different person and more of a leader as a part of this program because I had to work with people and materials."
Now a senior, Lauren plans to become a metallurgical engineer and has applied to Ferris State University in Michigan, a school nationally known for its welding and engineering programs.