Liisa Pine Schoonmaker is a 24-year AWS member. Since 2006, she has served on her Section’s Executive Board under multiple roles including chair, section officer, and student chapter advisor for Dist. 22, San Francisco Section.
She is a member of the executive board of the Community and Youth Outreach Inc., which provides mentoring, case management, and support to high-risk youth and adults in the San Francisco Bay area. She is also a welding program consultant at The Crucible, a nonprofit arts facility in Oakland, Calif., that fosters early exposure to welding and preapprenticeship opportunities.
Additionally, Schoonmaker is both the department chair and an adjunct welding instructor at Laney College in Oakland, Calif.
“I teach and make decisions that affect the entire department, yet I still have the flexibility to consider solutions that require more time and attention to implement,” she said.
Schoonmaker began teaching welding 14 years ago. Although she describes it as a “tremendous investment,” she takes great joy and pride in her profession.
Schoonmaker is also fueled by the students themselves. When asked to list the most rewarding aspect of teaching welding, she said, “Challenging them to a level higher than what they tend to expect from the class, and from themselves.”
However, she finds that teaching can be frustrating at times due to common misconceptions about the welding field.
“The most challenging aspect of teaching welding to college students is the pervasive social misunderstanding that welding is not a college-level subject, and that skills can be developed without serious commitment,” Schoonmaker affirmed.
She describes welding as a highly technological field and looks forward to growing the welding program at Laney College to meet the ever-evolving needs of the welding industry.
“Welding education is changing rapidly, and I want the department to lead the way toward an up-to-date workforce,” said Schoonmaker. “Reaching both students and industry takes a department that is really nimble and open minded, and it can feel futuristic. At the end of the day, however, everyone still wants the same thing: Great workers, great tools, fascinating projects, and great jobs. Welding is still bringing all of these things together.”
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