One of the core values of the Carmen Electrode brand is empowering women. We strive to raise each other up, guide and support one another, learn and grow together, and encourage each other to take chances and step out of our comfort zones.
Through social media, we’ve been able to connect with thousands of women who exemplify these admirable characteristics. And we were lucky enough to meet with one of those women who we believe completely embodies this aspect of Carmen Electrode.
Samantha Farr, the creator of the non-profit organization Women Who Weld, sat down with Arc-Zone’s Joanie Butler to discuss welding training, supporting women in the industry, and how Samantha went from urban planning to welding instructor.
Over six years ago, Samantha pursued a Master’s degree at the University of Michigan. Although her studies were in urban planning, she knew she wanted to do something with welding but wasn’t sure how and when it would happen. As luck would have it, her courses included completing hours in the fabrication lab. “Within the first month at school getting my Master’s, I saw the fabrication lab and said, ‘This is my opportunity, I can take a welding workshop.’”
Unfortunately for Samantha, welding wouldn’t count toward her course credits but that wouldn’t stop her. With approval, Samantha created an independent study and was able to weld every Wednesday for two hours with welding instructor Mick Kennedy. “Immediately after striking my first arc, I said, ‘I have to get really good at this so I can teach other women because [they] should have this experience.’”
Women Who Weld
After refining her welding skills, Samantha created Women Who Weld, a nonprofit organization offering free and low-cost welding courses to underemployed and unemployed women. “Typically you start a nonprofit when you have a ton of funding to do so, and I had zero but I knew that I wanted to have a program that was free of charge for unemployed and underemployed women. I really wanted to make an impact on the industry … and help transform their lives.”
Samantha definitely made an impact on the industry, so much so that she’s taken her courses on the road. Samantha, along with her husband Corey, travel coast to coast teaching women of all ages the basics of welding.
In order to keep her program free, Samantha relies on grants and donations, as well as low-cost courses. One of her biggest challenges is funding but no matter how difficult it may get she says she’ll stick “with Women Who Weld because it’s always on that worst day where you get the call that says, ‘I just got that promotion!’ and also the strong, awesome community of welders where everyone is so supportive.”
Where Samantha finds most of the support in the welding community is online, specifically Instagram. “When I first started the Women Who Weld Instagram account, I wondered what was out there and I had no idea how strong the welding Instagram community was. I’m amazed to find accounts like Carmen Electrode that showcase the women out there in the industry. To be able to see that and know we’re not alone. I have friends now, female welders from all over the country that I’ve been able to connect with because of Instagram.”
The online community is not only a great place to network and meet new people but it’s one of the places Samantha turns to for learning new techniques. “I watch Welding Tips and Tricks and other various YouTube videos. I also read a ton of books … [it] helps round out my skill set. I’m constantly learning. I wanna be an expert but it takes time. Until I’m an expert, I’ll ask for help and will continue asking for help because I like asking questions and collaborating with other people.”
The one person she enjoys collaborating with the most is her husband, Corey. “[He] is the managing partner at Women Who Weld. I taught him to weld a few years ago. He struck an arc and said, ‘This is awesome, I see why you’ve dedicated your life to this.’ We learn together and teach each other things. It’s a constant learning experience.”
To learn more about Samantha and her organization, visit www.WomenWhoWeld.org or check out @women.who.weld on Instagram.