Success Story: Mechanical Engineering Student Competes on ‘Forged in Fire’

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Still in school, Chuy Talavera already is running his own business

By: Pima Staff

Mechanical Engineering student Chuy Talavera is the first Pima Community College student to compete in the HISTORY® program “Forged in Fire.” Talavera was a contestant on Season 7, Episode 28, called “Samurai Showdown,” which aired in April.

“I had an absolute blast and so much fun,” said Talavera, a 2017 Walden Grove High School graduate. “I would do it again in a heartbeat!”

Talavera was eliminated in the second round of the three-round episode in which he went up against three other bladesmiths. In the first round, contestants were given three hours to forge a canister Damascus tanto knife. During the second round, they had two hours to finish the knife with a handle and make it a fully functional weapon. Contestants who are eliminated surrender their blade to the judges and leave the forge.

Though he is a Pima student planning to transfer to the University of Arizona in spring 2021, Talavera already is running his own business. Earlier this year, he opened Yeti Forge to make and sell forges, the specialized furnace that blacksmiths need to heat and shape metals.

“When I first started bladesmithing, I decided to build my own forge,” said Talavera, who is minoring in Physics. “Over the last two years I’ve redesigned and rebuilt my forge multiple times and because of my passion for bladesmithing, I eventually decided to start my own company.”

Talavera said he already was familiar with “Forged in Fire” when he applied to be a contestant. He also had taken a class taught by Pima’s first “Forged in Fire” competitor, Rich Greenwood. Greenwood, who no longer teaches at the College, competed in two episodes, including the series’ premiere in 2015.

The “Samurai Showdown” episode aired April 15, while Arizona was under its stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so Talavera said he wasn’t able to gather with his family to watch.

The pandemic also challenged Talavera’s learning experience when Pima stopped in-person classes and services in late March, transitioning to online classes.

“So far, online classes have been an interesting challenge, but I find taking one day at a time has made it easier,” he said, adding that he believes his education will help lead to the success of his business.

“To me, Pima means equal opportunity for learning and access to a wide range of knowledge,” Talavera said.

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