Meet Former Physician & Current Welding Student Amy Kvidera
Amy Kvidera is embracing her post-medical career time while earning her Welding Fabrication Technician technical diploma at Lakeshore Technical College.
Q: How can a simple mother-daughter trip to Door County lead to a family practice physician taking up welding?
A: When the trip involves a watercolor class the physician daughter had no interest in attending but did so to spend time with her mother.
Amy Kvidera had been practicing medicine for over 15 years before that Door County trip in 2016. She didn’t have much interest in art at the time, though quickly discovered a surprising love for painting with watercolors as she and her mother painted together. After moving to Manitowoc a year later, Amy found she could join a watercolor group at the Manitowoc Senior Center. She also connected with a community of local artists who provided her opportunities to explore other art forms.
It was through her art community that Amy learned about Lakeshore Technical College’s annual Welding for Women class, which caught her interest, but the class was full by the time she got around to registering.
Not long after missing out on that class Amy looked into taking welding classes through Lakeshore Technical College. In fall 2021, Amy decided to register for one class to learn, in her words, “just enough” to begin welding the metal sculptures she was dreaming about. She took a class at the college’s Learning Center in Manitowoc. She enjoyed the virtual welding simulation program being used for instruction for the first time at the Manitowoc and Sheboygan Learning Centers.
“The virtual learning was so realistic,” says Amy. “The things you see and hear are just like real welding.”
As part of the coursework, welding students at the Learning Centers took a field trip to the welding lab on Lakeshore’s Cleveland campus. Amy says she and her classmates were excited for the chance to put their knowledge and skills into live action and see some real sparks fly.
Amy was also excited that fall to learn about the Make Some Sparks welding competition. It’s held during Lakeshore’s annual welding career exploration event and sponsored by Lakeshore and the American Welding Society Lakeshore Section. Being so new to welding didn’t frighten Amy away from competing. Thanks to meeting Lakeshore’s Welding Program Coordinator/Instructor Dave Saunders during her campus visit to the welding lab, she was able to practice a few times for the event in the welding lab.
Though Amy didn’t win the competition, she was pleased with the quality of her welding. “I didn’t think mine was the worst, and I was really looking forward to improving.”
One class was all it took for Amy to fall in love with welding as another art form. “I like being able to fuse metal using molten metal and electricity. Doing this in order to build or create things is great!” Amy says.
One class was also all it took for her to figure out it was going to take more to develop the skills needed to create the metal sculptures she envisions creating.
Amy completed a total of four classes in fall 2021, earning her four college credits and putting her well on her way toward an Introduction to Industrial Welding certificate. With guidance from Ann Branam, a General Advisor at our Manitowoc Learning Center, and Alison Driscoll, our Program Counselor who worked with welding students at the time, Amy enrolled in the certificate program in January 2022.
Amy has been happily welding almost non-stop throughout 2022. “We love having Amy in the lab and can see how driven she is to improve her welding skills, though sometimes we joke around with her and remind her to go home and visit her husband,” says Dave.
By the end of 2022, Amy expects to have completed her Introduction to Industrial Welding certificate and Welding-Industrial technical diploma. If things go according to her plan, she says she expects to complete coursework for her Welding Fabrication Technician technical diploma in spring 2023.
With careers in biological research and family practice medicine behind her, Amy is looking ahead toward a future that involves welding. She enjoys “controlling lightning to join metal,” which she says is how someone once described welding for her. She has friends who have offered space and equipment for her to practice her craft. Her husband, Doug, is looking into how to safely set up space in their garage.
Amy is also considering getting a welding job to gain experience and further develop her skills. “Getting a job would also help me earn some money to fund my interest in creating metal sculptures I could sell,” says Amy.
So, if in the future you find yourself at a craft fair or other venue where metal art is sold, don’t be surprised if you see some beautiful pieces being offered by Amy, perhaps even under the label “Welding Doctor of Art.”
For information about Lakeshore Technical College’s welding programs, visit gotoltc.edu/programs-and-courses/degree-programs.