Lakyn Steward welding

Welding is non-traditional outlet for Edmond high schooler

I'm not the first woman in welding; but as each woman chooses this path, they are opening doors for women everywhere.

Welding is a non-traditional career path for women, but that didn’t stop one Edmond high schooler from pursuing it as a form of art.

Lakyn Steward, 17, is a first-year Welding Program student at the Francis Tuttle Portland Campus from Edmond Santa Fe High School. She has always enjoyed art, and painting is how she has been exploring her creative side so far. Welding, though, has provided her with a new outlet.

Steward is also one of five women currently in the Francis Tuttle Welding program. Though women are not common in the field, Steward sees it as a potential career path for herself.

“Welding gives me opportunities straight out of high school,” she said.


Lakyn Steward welding

Her grandfather and uncle are both welders, so the process was familiar. Steward said she likes working with her hands and watching the process of something being put together.

At the end of the fall semester, Eden Rivera, welding supervisor at Mercer Valve, demonstrated what she does in the industry to Francis Tuttle’s welding students. She showed them how to use a rotating positioner to weld a flange on a piece of pipe and then let some of the students try it out.

She also answered questions about the welding industry to give students like Steward some firsthand insight. Nationwide, only six percent of welders are women.

“It is important to see women everywhere, not just in welding,” Rivera said. “I’m not the first woman in welding, but as each woman chooses this path they are opening doors for women everywhere.”

Steward said while welding has been tough to master, she finds it calming once she settles into a groove. 

“I was surprised at how difficult welding can be. It is important to stay consistent,” she said. “My instructors are very encouraging and have given me the confidence to get over my initial fears.”

As an aspiring artist, Steward sees an opportunity to use welding in sculpture art. She is inspired by the work of previous Francis Tuttle students, including a cat sculpture project that was recently completed.

“Oklahoma City has a great art district, Steward said. “I want to make something that can be frozen in time, like some of the other art I have seen.”

by Adam Troxtell - January 24, 2024