GFC MSU grad put finishing touches on new T-rex sculpture
When Anderson Steel purchased its G7 FastCut plasma cutter, one of the test patterns was for a 30-inch-long, 18-inch-tall t-rex.
By Erin Granger
Great Falls College MSU news service
GREAT FALLS – After a long day of work on Monday, Daniel Martin finished his final welds and stepped back to admire the finished product.
Towering above him was the 15-foot-tall, 20-foot-long, 3,500-pound tyrannosaurus rex sculpture that was recently installed on the River's Edge Trail.
"I thought it was really cool," Martin said of the sculpture. "Montana is a good place to find fossils. I thought it was pretty fitting for Montana, and it's just a neat place where they put it. It just sits right behind the flag."
The new sculpture was designed and fabricated by Anderson Steel. All the material was donated by Pacific Steel and Recycling.
The dinosaur was constructed in two pieces, as the full t-rex would have been too tall to fit in the shop at Anderson Steel. On Monday, the pieces were welded together when the sculpture was installed in Warden Park.
"The dinosaur came in two pieces, so you had a bottom half and a top half," said Martin, who works as a fabricator at Anderson Steel. "Basically all the welding was down the spine of it and between the hips. That was all done on site."
For Martin, working on the giant dinosaur wasn't too different from any day at work.
"I like it when I get to weld," he said. "I enjoy it a lot."
Martin, 22, found his way to welding about two years ago.
A couple years out of high school, Martin was living in South Dakota, working four jobs to make ends meet. Martin decided he wanted a career, rather than random jobs. He followed his brother, who works as a welder, to Great Falls.
His brother graduated from the welding program at Great Falls College MSU, and Martin decided to follow in his footsteps.
"When I was in the welding course, I was very determined," Martin said. "I was determined to get as far as I could with it."
Completing his welding certificate wasn't easy.
"I worked a full-time job when I was in college," Martin said. "I was dead tired all the time."
However, Martin pushed himself, and was pushed by the welding faculty at GFC MSU. Instructor Monte Cobb had a particular influence on him.
"He wanted to see good work from me every single time," Martin said. "He wasn't going to take anything less and he knew I wasn't going to take anything less...I'd stay after class every day and just practice."
That work ethic paid off. It was what Anderson Steel noticed about Martin and why they offered him a job when he graduated in 2016.
"We brought him on because of his work ethic and his willingness to do everything," said Bob Reiman, vice president of operations at Anderson Steel. "He's been a great asset."
Martin continued to push himself once he was hired at Anderson Steel. He's worked to improve his skills as a fabricator through on-the-job training and has taken advantage of every opportunity that has come his way.
Most of the work Martin does is in the shop at Anderson Steel. The steel beams he welds are shipped to construction projects across the country.
"I feel like it's very fulfilling," Martin said of welding. "A lot of the jobs we build are for schools, hospitals and libraries. They're public facilities; people use them every day. I feel like you can take something away from knowing that."
Recently, Martin got the chance to do some on-site welding at a hospital Anderson Steel was working on in Kalispell. Before going to Kalispell, Martin took a test to become certified in shield metal arc welding, more commonly known as stick welding.
Anderson Steel doesn't use a much stick welding. However, it's commonly used in on-site welding, Reiman explained.
"He (Martin) learned that through Great Falls College MSU," Reiman said. "Daniel is one of our best welders when it comes to stick."
Martin was again able to put his stick welding skills to use on the t-rex because the two parts of the dinosaur needed to be welded on site.
"Of course this is a highly profiled piece and we wanted it to look good," Reiman said.
That's why Martin was selected to put the finishing touches on the giant dinosaur.
Martin is proud of the River's Edge Trail's latest sculpture, as is everyone at Anderson Steel.
"Where it ended up is just great because it can be seen from a long distance," said Susan Humble, president and CEO at Anderson Steel.
The original idea for the t-rex sculpture started as a gift for Humble's grandson. When Anderson Steel purchased its G7 FastCut plasma cutter, one of the test patterns was for a 30-inch-long, 18-inch-tall t-rex.
"My grandson is just nuts about dinosaurs and he just knows so much about them," Humble said.
Anderson Steel made the first t-rex sculpture for Humble's grandson, which he loved. Then came the idea of making a larger sculpture to go by the Anderson Steel sign. That idea morphed into donating the sculpture to the River's Edge Trail.
"We thought it would be neat to have it be a focal point for the city not just our business," Reiman said.
The final donation is worth about $15,000 including the materials donated by Pacific Steel and Recycling and the labor donated by Anderson Steel.
"It's so exciting to see our local businesses enhancing our community with their art donations," said Kelley Aline, River's Edge Trail Foundation board member. "The t-rex is a very generous donation and an incredible addition to the River's Edge Trail."
To learn more about the Welding Technology and Fabrication program at Great Falls College MSU, contact admissions at 406-268-3700 or visit gfcmsu.edu and click on "become a student."
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