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The first female underwater welder in the country tells Nadia Badarudin her love for trying new things and testing her limits

NUR Izzati Athirah Mohammad Yusoff is only 21 years old but she has already set a record in a career field usually dominated by men.

An “iron” woman, Nur Izzati is the first female underwater welder in the country.

According to Interesting Engineering website, underwater welding is among the world’s most dangerous jobs as it involves working in a deep and risky environment with minimal visibility.

Among these underwater welders’ responsibilities are repairing ships, dams, pipelines, offshore drilling rigs, locks and sub-sea habitats.

The jobs may seem too tough for a woman to handle but the petite Nur Izzati has proven she is up to it. In fact, she has found her forte in this male-dominated field.

Her story and striking personality have won her a slot in I AM WOMAN, an original series (aired on video-on-demand service portal Viu) celebrating real life, modern-day Malaysian heroines in fields commonly pursued by men.


Nur Izzati is the first female underwater welder in Malaysia. Photo by Weldzone Training Centre Sdn Bhd.

FROM SOLDIER TO WELDER

Nur Izzati, or fondly known as Athirah in her family, is the second of four siblings. She was raised in Kampung Kuala Sungai Rambutan, Rantau Panjang in Selama district, Perak.

When she was small, she never liked playing with dolls.

“I was a bit rough and boyish. Instead of playing with dolls, I would play what the other boys in my village played.

“When I was in primary school, my ambition was to be a soldier,” says the former student of SK Banggol Jas and SMK Sungai Bayor, Rantau Panjang.

Nur Izzati’s dream to make a career in underwater welding started when she was a student at Kolej Vokasional Taiping in Kamunting, Taiping, Perak. She was the only female student who studied welding there in 2013.

“Since small, I love to try new things and do things that test my limits. It’s just my nature.

“I had no idea about welding when I signed up for the course. I simply I wanted to try something new,” she says.

“When I was in my final year, I still wasn’t sure what I want to do after college. But that changed after I visited Weldzone Training Centre during a field trip.”

Located in Seri Manjung, Perak, Weldzone Training Centre offers courses in commercial diving as well as underwater welding and underwater cutting, among others.

“I was so impressed with a demonstration on underwater welding. I was fascinated with the concept and sophistication of welding under the sea.”

She completed her underwater welding course at the centre a year ago. Apart from being an underwater welder, she is an assistant instructor at the centre, where all her students are males.


Nur Izzati at one of her training sessions at Weldzone Training Centre in Seri Manjung, Perak. Photo by Weldzone Training Centre Sdn Bhd.

MENTAL, PHYSICAL STRENGTH

Nur Izzati’s latest underwater welding job was installing jellyfish netting in Teluk Rubiah in Manjung, Perak.

“Besides skills, underwater welding requires one to be mentally and physically strong because the job is very tough and risky. While getting the job done, you’re required to be alert to your surroundings and safety.

“But the toughness actually motivates me to improve myself. It has taught me that I can do anything if I believe I can. Gender is not an issue,” she says.

“And being able to see and appreciate the beautiful ocean and nature make me love my job more,” she adds.

Has she ever thought of quitting?

“Yes, there were times when I felt like quitting especially when the welding job did not turn out well.

“But the key is being able to adapt quickly. I wasn’t given special treatment by my instructors and course mates just because of my gender. The fair treatment helped me to adapt.

“I’m also lucky to have parents who are very supportive and understanding. They always inspire me to excel in what I do,” she says, adding that she dreams of doing underwater welding jobs abroad someday.

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