- Associated Press - Sunday, November 15, 2015

RUGBY, N.D. (AP) - It doesn’t bother Melissa Brossart to look around her work station at Rugby Manufacturing and see only men. As a female welder in a male-dominated field, what is most important to Brossart is that she’s found a job she enjoys.

“I really like it,” she told the Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/1ljpt6C ). “I look at putting the parts together as putting a puzzle together, and I love building puzzles.”

She also likes detailed work that requires attention and time.

“Some call it art. Maybe one day, I will be that good,” she said. “I don’t know 100 percent of everything about welding. There’s days where I am still learning.”

She has spoken at a welding event for girls to encourage young women to consider careers that might seem a little out of the ordinary. When Brossart graduated from high school, welding hadn’t been her first career choice.

She graduated from Valley City State University in 2007 with a degree in physical education and a minor in coaching. She taught a year at Petersburg. She returned to her hometown of Rugby after deciding teaching wasn’t for her.

She took a job with Rugby Manufacturing as a painter. The company needed welders and had an opportunity to bring in a trainer from a sister company to conduct short courses in welding for employees and people in the community. Brossart was one of five students in an employee class, of which three were female, but was the only one to go on to take a test to be eligible to work in the field. That was four years ago, and she’s been welding for Rugby Manufacturing ever since.

She is one of 30 welders at the company, which employs 87 workers. She wasn’t the first female welder at the company, which had as many as four women working in the trade there at one time. At the end of October, Brossart was one of two female welders, although two other women employed at the company were looking to move to welding positions.

Brossart said her male co-workers have made her feel welcome, and many have helped her along as she’s learned on the job.

Brossart said it’s not particularly unusual for her to pursue a male-dominated career. She’s always been a tomboy and was her father’s right-hand assistant when shingling or re-siding the house or doing other handyman projects.

“Anytime he needed help, I was the one he called on,” she said.

However, the first time she ever picked up a welder was during the training course.

Her current work largely entails building hoists. She also has worked with galvanneal steel, which requires use of respiratory protection while welding, and at times with carbon steel.

Rugby Manufacturing designs and produces dump bodies, landscape bodies, platforms, hoists and related truck equipment and accessories that are sold around the country. Now a subsidiary of Truck Bodies & Equipment International, Rugby Manufacturing has been in business for 40 years.

When not welding for Rugby Manufacturing, Brossart enjoys spending time with her extended family around Rugby. As mother to a three-year-old daughter and with another child on the way, home life keeps her busy. She enjoys baking and cake decorating, which isn’t such a different skill from welding, she said.

“You have to be steady with your hands,” she said.

Cake decorating is a good creative outlet, but Brossart also has seen some pretty nice artwork created with a welding torch that has her itching to try her hand at it. It’s on her list of things to do someday, and that day might not be so far off.

“There’s actually a project I want to do with horseshoes,” she said.


Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com

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