Faculty Appreciation Month 2022 at Tulsa Welding School

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May was Faculty Appreciation Month at Tulsa Welding School. During Faculty Appreciation Month, we take some time to celebrate our hardworking instructors, talking about the incredible work they do to make our students’ dreams come true, as well as their personal lives.

This year features some new faculty and some longtime faculty who haven’t been interviewed before. We’ve rounded up their stories below. They all have unique lives and journeys but have one thing in common: a deep passion for training the next generation of skilled trades workers.


Jesse Mackey

Welding Instructor at Tulsa Welding School – Tulsa Campus

A TWS graduate himself, Jesse got his start welding trailers, smokers and fence work. His first real welding job was for a company that built electricity poles. He also worked in oil and gas fabrication shops. He decided to become an instructor at TWS because he wanted to make a positive impact directly on people’s lives.

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Jesse’s favorite part of being an instructor:

“I enjoy hearing all the stories of people’s backgrounds: why they came to school, what they’re here for, where they’ve come from. But I love the result you see at the end. Seeing people’s lives change right before your eyes, having an impact on that. You really can’t put a dollar figure on it.”

Read Jesse’s story.


Chris Fink

Senior Welding Instructor at Tulsa Welding School Jacksonville

A TWS graduate himself, Chris got his start in welding when he was around 16 years old, when he and his father built a custom low rider truck. His welding career includes welding on power plants, steam turbine generator maintenance, and even chill water systems for Google data centers. He joined TWS as an instructor because he was inspired to help students overcome their struggles and shortcomings, pushing them to success and to job opportunities in welding.

Chris’s favorite part of being an instructor at Tulsa Welding School:

“I just like helping the students, giving them a helping hand that maybe no one else might give them. For a lot of kids who come to the school, it’s often a second chance for them. I’d like to be that person to help guide them down the path to being a very successful person.”

Read Chris’ story.


Josh Allred

Welding Instructor at Tulsa Welding School – Tulsa Campus

Josh began his welding career working 200 feet in the air on elevated water towers. He also worked in construction, remodeling houses, and doing a lot of refinery work. After COVID hit and he had the chance to reconsider his career options, he loved the possibility of passing on his skills to someone else. He has been with the Tulsa Welding School family ever since.

Josh’s favorite part of being a welding instructor:

“Seeing the students get excited about learning something new and realizing they have the potential to have a good paying job. I just enjoy watching the students develop—from knowing nothing about welding to being able to be employed as a welder a matter of months later.”

Read Josh’s story.


Matt Vossen

Senior Welding Instructor at Tulsa Welding School – Tulsa Campus

A TWS graduate himself, Matt worked as a welder in pipeline construction and maintenance, fabrication, the sanitary stainless industry, the aerospace industry, shipbuilding and ship repair and on oil fields. It was all rewarding work—but with lots of travel.

Matt became inspired to start teaching after watching welder helpers go through the work and training necessary to become welders. He’s been an instructor at Tulsa Welding School since February of 2020.

Matt’s favorite part of being a welding instructor:

“I really enjoy seeing the progression in the students. In the time I’ve been here, I’ve taught every single phase of the Professional Welder program. Most students don’t know anything about welding in Phase One, but they’re excited. If I have them in the first phase, and then I see them again two or three phases later, seeing their progression is really cool. When I see a student who didn’t have any idea what they were doing now welding pipe, that’s awesome.”

Read Matt’s story.


Christian Burnett

Welding Instructor at Tulsa Welding School Jacksonville

A Tulsa Welding School graduate himself, Chris has had an illustrious welding career: shipyard work, building center consoles for tugboats, working for Baker Hughes in providing valves for nuclear power plants, boiler work for India and robotic welding. He’s worked on parts for GE Aviation, building mission components for jet engines. He’s also done work for SpaceX, NASA and even Air Force One.

When he decided it was time to move on and pass his knowledge down to other people, Chris joined TWS as an instructor. He’s been with the TWS family since last 2021.

Chris’s favorite part of being a welding instructor:

“I guess the discovery! I taught the first phase for a while—Welding Fundamentals—and it’s amazing to see people go from never having even thought about welding to being able to make competent welds within the span of even a week. I mean, that first part of the program is five weeks, but by the end of the first week, most of them are getting it down. It’s pretty amazing.”

Read Christian’s story.


Jimmy Naro

Welding Instructor at Tulsa Welding School Jacksonville

Jimmy was a shipfitter before he started welding. He left the shipyard in 1999 and started welding for a company that did Navy work. He worked on Navy vessels and traveled extensively from 1999 on through 2013 to bases all around the United States. When the opportunity to move states for work came along, he decided to stay put and take on a job that would let him pass his knowledge along to newer welders. Jimmy has been with the TWS family for more than 8 years.

Jimmy’s favorite part of being an instructor:

“I like seeing the students’ faces. They can be struggling, struggling, struggling, and then all of a sudden you see their face light up, the light bulb goes on and they’ve got it! They finally figured it out. That’s what I enjoy most. They really get enjoyment out of that moment. ‘Oh, I’ve got this! I know what I’m doing now!’”

Read Jimmy’s story.


Derrick Jack

Senior Welding Instructor at Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center

After he graduated from welding school in 2008, Derrick did mainly fab shop work, building things like oil field equipment, cell phone towers, drilling platforms and even ships. He made good money and had a fulfilling career, but eventually, he wanted more stability and to be there more for his family. The calling to pass on his knowledge to younger welders came about. Derrick has been with the TWS family for more than 5 years.

Derrick’s favorite part of being an instructor:

“It allows you to change somebody’s life. I look back at what welding has done for me. It took me from obscurity, as far as my career is concerned, and gave me a career to be proud of. I’m doing the same for others that welding did for me by sharing my passion and helping them develop skills to be proud of. As I got older, I realized that I wanted to do something significant that would affect other people’s lives, or just help people. Teaching students who are seeking the knowledge I can share, who want something better for themselves, I feel like teaching is my calling. It’s my positive contribution and duty to the world.”

Read Derrick’s story.

John Jacobs

Welding Instructor at Tulsa Welding School Jacksonville

A graduate of TWS himself, John got his start at Kaman Aerospace, welding aluminum helicopter frames. He later worked for GE aviation, welding jet-engine sub-assemblies. But his dream job was working at SpaceX, building parts on the Crew Dragons spacecraft. He also worked on the propulsion systems for the Starship program.

After accomplishing such a big dream, John decided it was time to pass on his knowledge to newer welders. He’s been with the TWS family for the last 6 months.

John’s favorite part of being a welding instructor:

“I like helping the graduates, or those about to graduate, find jobs by encouraging them to seek out what they’re looking for, discover what they want from their welding careers. I then try to give them a push in that direction. I’ve lived my dream job, and if they have a dream, I try to help them go for it.

Another thing I really like is when a student comes to me because they’re struggling with something. When I’m then able to break it down in a certain way that just clicks with them, that’s a really good feeling. I don’t like seeing students struggle, but when I can help them find a way to get it, that’s really something.”


Michael Lambert

Senior Welding Instructor at Tulsa Welding School – Tulsa Campus

Michael started welding right out of high school, starting as a welder helper before spending a few years working in a fabrication shop. He later worked as a traveling welder, working in several different states and even doing jobs as far as Trinidad, Tobago and the Netherlands.

When his kids got old enough to notice his absence when he was out working, Michael decided it was time to get a job that would allow him to stay put and stay with his family. He’s been with the Tulsa Welding School family since January 31st, 2022.

Michael’s favorite part of teaching:

“I’ve always had a sense of accomplishment when I help somebody learn how to do something they don’t know or to teach them to find a different way, as far as welding goes. The look on a student’s face when everything finally clicks, and they have a breakthrough; they get excited. Giving somebody that feeling of “Finally, I got it!” gives me a sense of accomplishment, it makes me feel pretty good. I missed that.”

Read Michael’s story.


James Macik

Senior Welding Instructor and Pipefitting Instructor at Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center

James started welding when he was 17. His career has taken him all over the United States. He worked on the pipeline in Alaska, the Fort Greely missile defense base and on nuclear power plants. After deciding he’d had enough of being on the road, James decided it was time to pass his knowledge on to newer welders. He’s been with the Tulsa Welding School family for a year and a half.

James’s favorite part of being a teacher:

“Growing up as fast as I did, going to work and all that, I never really got to work with the younger generation. I was just working. So now it’s just like teaching little brothers and sisters how to work. It’s just something I’ve never experienced. You know, the best students are the ones who have problems. You get the guys and gals who know how to weld right away, and they pick it up quick. Those are good, too, you know. But the ones who struggle, the ones who really need help and a hand up, I can actually help change their life for the better, and that’s kind of neat.”

Read James’ story.


Carlos Villarreal

HVAC instructor at Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center

After leaving the Navy, Carlos worked in his family trucking business before working in management for K-Mart and later as a senior chemical operator at K-Mart. Carlos has been in the HVAC field for 15 years. He spent 10 years as an AC service technician. He started teaching HVAC because he was ready to pass on his knowledge. Carlos has been with the TWS family for about 2 and a half years.

Carlos’s favorite part of being an instructor:

“I love passing on information and making sure kids don’t go through some of the stuff I went through! Of course, we all go through life experiences, but if I can prevent kids from going through some things I went through, well, that’s good.”

Read Carlos’ story.


Mark Escamilla

Senior Welding Instructor and Pipefitting Instructor at Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center

With a welding career of about 27 years, Mark has worked in oil fields, shipyards, offshore and at compressor stations. He’s also worked in mom-and-pop fabrication shops. He even ran his own mobile welding rig in the oil fields.

After so many years of working in the oil industry, he decided it was time for something a little steadier and more stable. Mark has been with the Tulsa Welding School family for about 3 and a half years.

Mark’s favorite part of being a teacher:

“Just seeing the plan come together at the end of the day. Whether it’s in the pipe fitting lab seeing one of these drawings come together or in the welding lab when students who have never welded are able to throw down some nice beads. Knowing you’ve helped them accomplish that makes it a pretty good day. Also, there’s always something new going on here with so many students coming through the school from different walks of life. Believe it or not, I’ve learned a lot about myself through these students and I would like to think they’re learning from me as well. So that’s the enjoyment I get from teaching.”

Read Mark’s story.

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