When Diane Ward enrolled in an industrial arts course at High Point High School in Beltsville, she was promptly shuttled off to class.
There was only one problem: The class turned out to be homemaking.
But Ward was determined, and finally, with encouragement from a former boyfriend and from and industrial arts teacher, Ward got her taste of booming metal lathes, clanging hammers and the hum of wood dirlls.
That was three years ago, when girls automatically were enrooled in homemaking classes, not industrial arts. This year, Ward, 18, now a freshman at the Univaersity of Maryland, was named Maryland Industrial Arts Student of the Year.
"A lot of guys think it is super having a girl in shop class," Ward said. "They like the idea of a girl sitting down with them and working with machines . . . but I still get the usual comments that I won't be able to teach because I will be a distraction to the guys in the class."
Ward decided to entoll in industrial arts after taking five years of homemaking classes. As a sophomore in high shcool, she thought industrial arts would be an adventure.
But she probably would have wound up in another homemaking class if an industrial arts teacher ana a former boyfriend had not invited her to join them in a six-week, minicourse in drafting, electronics, woodworking, graphic arts, metal shop and power technology.
Although Ward plans a teaching career in industrial arts, she admits that the roar of some of the large shop machines still " frighten her to death." Even her fer is a good thing, she says, since it constantly reminds her of the danger of the machines if they are not handled properly.
Ward, who is 5 feet, 4 inches, said it has noat been much of a struggle to fit into industrial arts classes, and sometimes she gets special help: "Men are always willing to lift something heavy or untighten a bolt for me."
One problem she has tried to overcome concerns her friendships with other women. She said she joined a sorority at the university because her industrial arts work "made me lose contact with women. For a while I kept having to deal with jealour girlfriends because I was popular with the boys in happy with the industrial arts parograms at the university.
"I am hoping to combine industrial arts with special education."
As she has progressed in her industrial arts work, she has become more confident of her abilities. She said she has gained better coordination of her hands, which has raised her above the level of a tinkerer.
For example, she said, she has builta a table grinder from a washing machine engine and has tooled a chess board and a piece of furniture from a piece of wood.
"I also fixed a lawn mower that wasn't working. I cleaned out the carburetor, added a new spark plug and now it works!"
Ward is quick to make clear that her status as an industrial arts student does not interfere whith her status as a woman.
"I am a girl and I am proud of it," she said. "It is not easy to judge someone like me. I like both worlds and it has been easy for me to fit into each one."