Fluor Foundation Scholarships Help Women Pursue Construction Careers

APRIL 27, 2016

Fluor Foundation Scholarships Help Women Pursue Construction Careers




Left to Right: Les Gardner, Director of Development at Greenville Tech Foundation; Dominique Cowan, welding student at GTC; Vicki Dueck, welding student at GTC; Cheryl Wiggins, Greenville Site Community Relations & Foundation Director at Fluor; Diane Ross, Craft Certification Coordinator at Fluor; Michelle McCallum, Development Officer at Greenville Tech Foundation


The Fluor Foundation established the Craft Education Initiative to create a pipeline of skilled craft professionals to meet the company's growing manpower needs.  In Greenville, a strong emphasis is placed on attracting females to these traditionally male-dominated careers.

Two of the initiative's first Greenville recipients received scholarships to complete the Welding program at Greenville Technical College. Dominique Cowan and Vicki Dueck have earned top grades and the respect of their instructors and classmates for their work in this traditionally male field.

Dominique got interested in welding through her Dad, a project director with Fluor Corporation and a friend who works as a welder. A 2005 graduate of Greenville Technical Charter High School, she enrolled at GTC after graduation but wasn't sure what she wanted to study. The next eight years were spent in retail and home care positions. When she returned to GTC a year ago, it wasn't love at first weld as she suffered a few minor burns during her initial attempts. By the second semester, however, she had found her niche, and she's excelled ever since. Recently, she was part of a SkillsUSA Team that earned first place in regional competition. The group hopes to raise funds to compete at the national level.

Vicki enrolled in the program when her daughter left home for college. Always artistic, the Welding program captured her interest right away. At the time, she and a business partner were repurposing used furniture, and she thought the program would help with that. When her partner moved that business to another state, Vicki realized that she wanted to be a full-time welder, and her hope is that she can find an apprenticeship position when she graduates at the end of the summer with certifications in flux core, arc, stainless steel pipe and pipe welding. Welding, she says, will allow her to work anywhere, and she looks forward to traveling to pursue opportunities.

The scholarships are benefitting the students, the college, and soon, will benefit employers. "We are grateful to Fluor Foundation for providing scholarships that are helping women break into some of the excellent positions available in welding and other skilled crafts," said Kelvin Byrd, department head for Industrial Education at GTC. "Dominique and Vicki are excellent students and highly skilled welders. They have set a very high standard for recipients of this important scholarship, and we look forward to the next group of recipients."

"Congratulations to Dominique and Vicki for not only earning their scholarships but working towards graduating from GTC with in-demand welding skills that will serve them well far into the future," said Torrence Robinson, president of the Fluor Foundation.