Tulsa Tech Helps to Break Cycle of Incarceration

News From Tulsa Tech By DR. STEVE TIGER

WELDING TECHNIQUES: From left, Tulsa Tech welding instructor Matthew Shannon stands with welding students Shawn Shinskie, Brett Huskins, Stephen Grey, Deken Oldham and Jeff Poston, who used welding techniques to fabricate their “Chevellephant.”

Courtesy Tulsa Tech

Recently, Tulsa Tech provided training to students from the Tulsa Reentry One-Stop, whose mission is breaking the cycle of incarceration by assisting men and women returning to the workplace and the community. This effort includes providing development of career pathways in high-demand occupations, services that enable participants to advance toward employment, and support services that help facilitate successful reintegration into society.

Training programs have been developed and conducted in machining, welding, core construction, forklift operation, certified production technician, food service management and hospitality.

According to Matthew Shannon, welding instructor at Tulsa Tech, his students continue to be a great example of the program’s success.

“Many of the students are unable to read a tape measure at the beginning,” Shannon says. “After students complete the course, they currently have a 90 percent success rate for achieving American Welding Society () certification and 100 percent for students passing the visual welding test.”

The Tulsa Tech welding program, developed for the Tulsa Reentry One-Stop, lasted 10 weeks, with selected candidates attending four days a week. Course curriculum included shop math, weld symbols, blueprint reading, safety, ergonomics, welding, and weld repair. Several students have described the coursework as similar to drinking from a fire hose, but Shannon’s unique projects, industry knowledge, and unlimited support are always available to help them to succeed.

Deken Oldham, a student from Shawnee, feels privileged to have spent time in Shannon’s classroom.

“When it comes to our instructor (Shannon), I don’t know where to begin,” Oldham says. “He is amazing, both compassionate and passionate. I feel very fortunate to have been one of his students.”

Shannon’s latest project, the “Chevellephant,” utilized welding techniques to produce an artistic rendering of a life-size elephant. The students used math to scale down the dimensions of an elephant, which included calculating circumference, diameter, height and length, all from photos. A fabrication drawing was then created, followed by the process of laying out the footprint and constructing the base, a critical step for such a large sculpture.

Welding student Shawn Shinskie had never been in a shop before attending the program but now finds that it is one of her favorite places to be.

“The program has exceeded all of my expectations,” says Shinskie. “The combination of getting to learn welding while creating art has been fantastic. I really enjoy working in the shop.”

The “Chevellephant” project was named in part after some of the materials students used to construct the large pachyderm: parts such as car fenders, square tubing, discarded shelves, along with a few pieces of scrap sheet material.

Oldham believes his instructor’s artistic projects and his ability to motivate individuals and assist them in gaining confidence are what make their classroom environment so unique.

“This elephant project is a great example,” Oldham says. “When (Shannon) first explained it to us, everyone was kind of like, ‘what?’ But the next thing you know, he turns on the motivation, followed by his expectation, and before you know it, we are the team that just completed a huge, fantastic project.”

Like all Tulsa Tech students, the Tulsa Reentry One-Stop participants have made their own path toward a rewarding career opportunity, with each student learning a skill they enjoy, a successful path that will serve them and our community.

If you are currently looking for exciting classes for high school and adult students, quality customized corporate training, or determined to begin a new career, Tulsa Tech invites you to visit today. For more information, please call 918-828-5000 or visit us online at tulsatech.edu.

Updated 04-05-2017

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