Law change allows Biddeford teenager to get welding job

    17-year-old Sam Roy started working at Deepwater Buoyancy in Biddeford right after the new year. (WGME)

    BIDDEFORD (WGME) -- The newest employee at a manufacturing company in Biddeford stands out for a few reasons.

    There’s his skill, his age and the law that had to change to make this job possible.

    17-year-old Sam Roy started working at Deepwater Buoyancy in Biddeford right after the new year.

    He's an apprentice welder, and plant manager Matt Henry says, an excellent welder for his age.

    "He's not your typical 17-year-old," Henry said. "He's well-spoken, driven."

    “From when I was born I liked to work with Legos, I like building stuff,” said Roy.

    So he started taking welding classes at the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology.

    "All of our students progress, but he tended to be on the advanced track," said Paulette Bonneau, Director of the Center of Technology.

    Bonneau says Roy is the first student to get his welding certification in one year instead of two, but when they went to set up an apprenticeship at Deepwater Buoyancy, they learned a state law restricted hazardous occupations for minors. It meant Roy couldn't work as a welder, until he turned 18.

    Independent State Representative Martin Grohman stepped in to help.

    "He can weld at the most advanced level in the world. We gotta figure this out. I was really glad that we did," Grohman said.

    Working with Republican Senator Amy Volk and Democratic Representative Ryan Fecteau, a new law passed over the summer, allowing minors to work as welders, as long as they're still in school.

    “I think this is a good example of nonpartisan work being done in the legislature to solve a big issue,” Fecteau said.

    Now, Roy is welding parts for massive flotation devices for deep-sea research.

    He works at the company five hours a day. Roy takes classes at Biddeford High School in the afternoon. He plans to attend Eastern Maine Community College in the fall to continue his welding education.

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