When Brie Jenkins was growing up wither five sisters and three brothers on a farm in Pittsburg, Mo., she spent a lot of time with her father and grandfather who ran a custom structural steel company in town.
It was there that Brie, a student at OTC, learned about the world of welding.
“I was always around that,” the second-year student said. “But my dad really wouldnt let me watch him work since the light from the torch can hurt your eyes.”
And today, that exposure to the craft when she was a child is paying off for Brie as she works toward earning degrees in welding technology along with drafting and design at OTC.
“When I came to OTC, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do something with my hands,” she said.
So, she remembered her days spent with the father and grandfather and enrolled in the welding program.
In a program dominated by male students, Brie’s instructors say she is a natural at welding and learned the techniques quickly.
She said she took the classes in order to find work to pay for school.
“I knew it would get me a job pretty quick. I like drawing things like buildings,” she said.
Her work was so good that she was hired part-time in May 2012 by Paul Mueller Company as a machine shop welder.
Recently, Brie wowed a lot of experienced welders by finishing second in the American Welding Societys Oktoberfest held in Springfield. Her showing was the subject of an entire page in the Mueller weekly employee newsletter.
She was urged to take part in the contest by her OTC classmates who knew she was good enough to hold her own against the others.
Brie specializes in stainless steel TIG welding, which is almost like soldering.
“”ts more details and more like artwork,” she said.
While she is graduating with two degrees, Brie continues to have a love for the farm and horses, which she likes to train.
“I know I’ll have the degrees, but I want to own my own land and cattle,” she said.
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