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Carissa Love

TSTC student wins national welding competition

Manufacturing rising starA league of her own

A clamorous round of applause and cheers broke out at the American Welding Society’s 2009 Professional Welders Competition in Chicago when an unlikely welder stepped forward to receive the first prize $2,500 check.

Carissa Love, a petite 19-year-old with long blond hair, took to the stage to accept her award with an unmistakably astonished expression. Winning the competition meant she had beat out more than 138 other professional welders from all over the U.S., including one of her TSTC welding instructors. All smiles, Love stood on the stage with the large award check as the AWS President Victor Matthews addressed the still clapping crowd.

“You’ve heard it said that women make better welders than men, and I believe with TIG welding that’s true, but she has taken it to the next level,” Matthews said.

Pursuing the next level is how Love ended up at the AWS competition, her choice to begin a welding career began in high school. She had taken classes and found it came naturally to her. When the time came to choose a college, instead of staying close to home in Billings, MT, she researched to find the best college in the nation and decided on TSTC.

“This was the best school for welding I found ... It’s been really good and I’ve learned a lot,” Love said. “I wouldn’t change it.”

Now in her fifth semester, her instructors know her as a serious-minded student who constantly self-analyzes her work, not because she is in competition with males in her field, but to constantly improve her technique. Her career plan to be a welding inspector after only five years in the field is an indication of the high goals she’s set for herself. Instructor Ryan Rummel said it’s her determination that has made her the welder she is today.

“She’s been a good student,” Rummel said. “She works hard, shows up on time and does what she needs to do. She’s got the drive to be a good welder.”

Her hard work and welding critiques paid off when she competed in Chicago. In the professional competition, her instincts and skills were all she could rely on in the five-minute welding round. Contestants received a pre-tacked joint and a designated booth, and had to quickly complete a vertical fillet weld.

“You had to guess the temperature and just weld,” Love said. “You’ve only got five minutes to do it, so I was focused on getting the job done as fast as I could.”

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