'Very empowering' - Chattanooga veteran helps other women learn the welding trade

A Chattanooga woman co-owns a welding shop. She's working to recruit other women into the industry. (Image: WTVC)

A Chattanooga veteran is making it her mission to get other women interested in welding.

"It's very empowering to do this," Chanda Maldonado said.

Chanda co-owns Chambers Welding & Fabrication on Spears Avenue.

She tends to stick out as a minority boss in a male dominated industry.

"The thing that I thought was missing the most was women being in the profession," Maldonado said. "When you look around you see a lot of guys but you don't see girls."

She's working to change that by offering welding classes geared toward women.

"I want girls to say I want to weld and everyone be OK with it," Maldonado said. "Is it easy? No. Is it fun? Yes."

Brent Chambers owns the business with Chanda. He's been a welder for years. Chanda's background is in human resources.

Brent is helping her learn the trade.

"When you pull the trigger and touch it to the metal you create a circuit and it creates a molten pool of metal, that's called welding," Chambers said.

Like Chanda, Brent is passionate about the business and wants to recruit others to learn this trade.

"The trades don't have as many people in them," Chambers said. "There's a shortage of people to do the trades whether it be pipe fitting, iron working, boiler makers and things of that nature."

Chanda plans to teach her 10-year-old daughter Layah the basics of welding, and show her that she can also spark new life into a traditionally male-dominated field.

"It is extremely exciting to flip that hood for the light to go out and just to see a spark is amazing," Maldonado said.

They also plan to offer a summer class for high school students. Click here for more information.

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