FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — When the pandemic hit many were stuck at home and were looking for something to do. In Fort Wayne, many are turning to welding as a way to try something creative and also learn a new skill.
Welding is a process where metal are fused together using high heat. Over the years the industry has changed and now there’s a national shortage. However, Metal Supermarkets Fort Wayne has seen a surge of people looking to weld for fun who are taking classes.
“It’s just creating,” said President of Metal Supermarkets Fort Wayne Teresa Starnes. “It’s just being able to do something on your own. Being able to make your own furniture. People are actually starting to pull back in especially because of the pandemic they are looking to do things around the house. I don’t know something seems to be sparking something with them.”
Metal Supermarkets has been in business for 20 years. The business is the largest small-quantity metal supplier in the area offering pieces cut to size. Over those years Starnes has seen the industry change.
“Over the last couple of years we’ve seen a surge in 30 to 40 year old’s looking that are going out to learn how to weld for fun,” Starnes said. “We get ladies with high heel shoes, we have people who have never welding and there are employers looking for employees.”
The Fort Wayne Community Schools Career Academy is also seeing changes with more students go into welding.
“I have all kinds of students going into welding for all different reasons,” said Career Academy Welding Instructor Clay Provine. “The welding field is so diverse that there’s a little bit for everybody. So students want to weld under a microscope like really fine medical stuff other students just want to go bang on stuff.”
Another change for instructor Clay Provine was the competition students participated in. Unlike in past years, the competition was held virtually. While on Zoom students performed welding tasks with materials donated by Metal Supermarkets. The group then sent in their work and are still waiting to hear back with the results.
Provine’s advice to those interested in welding, is to try it.
“If a high school student wants to start welding, talk to a guidance counselor and get in my program,” Provine said. “For adults, join a club. Try it. It might become a cool hobby and even a career so why not try.”
To learn more about welding click here.