By Jul DeGeus
We’ve all had that one teacher. You know, the one that was so cool that we didn’t really consider them a teacher. I mean, yeah, we were learning from them, and all, but it didn’t feel like it was their “job” to teach us; they did it because they sincerely wanted to see us succeed. They wanted us to be who we wanted to be and would give us every tool they had at their disposal to help us to get there. We’ll never be able to thank that person properly, but in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day on May 9th, we’d like to thank some of our instructors who are making a difference in all that they do:
“At AIM Houston, Mr. Michael Riccardelli has been instrumental with providing his skills and expertise to our students. He has especially been an important influence on our A&P Skill Competition Team, the Houston Hawks, who recently placed first at the PAMA Olympics and 2nd at the Aerospace Maintenance Competition in Orlando. His hard work and dedication to our students at AIM Houston is imperative in the success of our Skills Team and all our graduates. AIM Houston would like to thank Mr. Riccardelli and all the AIM Houston faculty for the hard work they do every day. Every one of you is truly appreciated.”
– Aaron Armendariz, Campus Executive Director, AIM Houston
“Mr. Robert McRight was selected as AIM Orlando’s Instructor of the Year 2017 due to his professionalism, dedication and attention-to-detail; He raises the bar for excellence. His unselfish example exhibits him as a team player, which is always evident in his willingness to go above and beyond what is expected. The students that Mr. McRight taught consistently rated his professional and caring teaching style among the best they had received. The manner in which he conducts himself reflects total dedication to the mission of the school. He is most deserving of a job “well-done” recognition!”
-Jerry Moore, Campus Executive Director, AIM Orlando
AIM Kansas City
“Mr. Decker has been an instructor at AIM Kansas City for just over a year. In that short amount of time, he has had a great impact on the students. Mr. Decker once sat right where our students sat, as he is a graduate of AIM Kansas City. Mr. Decker creates a class environment that leads students into additional exploration of advanced subject matter above and beyond the standard curriculum. He won instructor of the year at AIM Kansas in his first year, and is always looking at ways to improve the campus. Keep up the great work Mr. Decker!”
-Adrian Rothrock, Campus Executive Director, AIM Kansas City
“Tom Oriole is the resident “helicopter guy” and one of our finest instructors at AIM Atlanta. Having received his A&P license in 1972, Tom has worked all over the world including Nuevo Leon, Mexico and Jiangxi Province, China. Tom joined the faculty at AIM Atlanta in September of 2012 and quickly became an invaluable asset to the school. Whether introducing new students to Aerodynamic Fundamentals in block 1 or showing a student in block 5 how to calculate sheet metal bend allowance, Tom exhibits the skill, patience, and natural ability to excel as an instructor. Tom has the respect of the students, the faculty and staff and we’re proud to acknowledge him on Teacher Appreciation Day.”
-Ben Sitton, Campus Executive Director, AIM Atlanta
“Mike Morgan was selected as the AIM Indianapolis instructor of the year for many reasons. Mike has been instrumental in developing new training aids, such as the JT – 8 engine with functional thrust reverse and the Cabin-Atmosphere mock-up improvements. Mike works on projects outside the bounds of normal class hours and is always successful in getting students involved with the extra projects. Mike is an excellent instructor in the classroom and while students claim they are joking about switching shifts to ensure they have class with him, I think they are only half joking. Mike is a mentor and role model for his students and co-workers. We are proud to have Mike on staff at AIM Indy.”
-Andy Duncan, Campus Executive Director, AIM Indianapolis
“James Heaver has worked on 8 different aircraft fleet types, for 3 different Airlines and has been an instructor for the past 12 years. James has held many position in the aviation field, such as Airline General Maintenance Manual Instructor, Engine Run & Taxi Instructor and FAA FAR Part 147 Director of Education, which make him a well-rounded educator for our campus. In April of 2017, we honored James by choosing him as AIM Manassas’ “Instructor of the Year.” Thank you for all that you do!”
– Marion Dobbins, Campus Executive Director, AIM Manassas
By Diana Hammond & Jul DeGeus
Aviation Institute of Maintenance Welding program at AIM Atlanta.
In honor of April being National Welding Month, we sat down with AIM Atlanta welding instructors, Shane Graham, David Coetzee, Carlos Murphy and Roger Anderson, to get their feedback on what sets the welding field apart from other trades:
What led you to want to study and work in the welding field?
Shane: Form the first arc I ever stuck when I was kid on the farm, I guess you could say I fell in love with welding. It got in my blood. There’s nothing compared to the instant gratification of lifting your hood to see that perfect bead you’ve been working on all day, all week or even years. To know you’re one of the few that can call yourself a welder is a great felling and it comes with a certain amount of respect.
David: My father told me when I was very young that if I developed skills with my hands, then I would never go hungry. This led me to pursue fabrication and machining skills. I also enjoyed be
ing able to create things and having the abilities to take most projects from start to finish.
Carlos: I liked that I could start my own business and that the money was good for an advanced welder.
Roger: I was inspired by multiple family and friends who worked in the steel manufacturing industry.
What’s the most fascinating thing about welding to you?
Shane: I weld because I love testing myself and pushing my skills every day. There are so many metals to weld: Titanium, nickel, hastelloy, cobalt, carbon, aluminum, stainless, etc. Nothing beats being able to start with plate steel or tubing, and by the time you’re done, you’ve made something like a boiler or a crane or a backhoe. The options are endless as to what you can make.
David: The joining of metals at the molecular level is very fascinating and with technology rapidly advancing, the options are almost limitless. The only limiting factor is your imagination. Welding can be done in space, on land, or underwater. There is such a vast array of specialized welding careers in the industry- it would take more than 10 lifetimes to experience them all.
Carlos: There’ such satisfaction and pride for me when I see the masses of people using the products that I made by welding. To see that soldiers and marines drive the armored vehicles that I welded for them to stay safe.
Roger: I love the security in the sense that after retaining the knowledge of welding and fabrication, it’s very easy to make extra funds or start a small business with very little overhead.
Welding students, Jude and Warren, with instructors Mr. Coetzee and Mr. Cash, at graduation.
What advice would you give someone interested in the welding?
Shane: Welding opens up the door to a lot of adventure’s and opportunities; it challenges you daily. It’s a skill that can take you around the world. If you can dream it you can build it. A welder’s job is not one that is set in stone. There are thousands of different roles in thousands of different industries working with thousands of different products. One can accomplish great things as a welder. 35 years in the field has given me the opportunity to own my own company, with 100+ full time employees, and build multimillion dollar projects. I’ve made a lot of money and I received the National leadership award from Congress. Looking back over my life, I would do it all again, with no regrets.
David: Pay attention to details, ask questions, specialize and do what you love and have a passion for; the money will come to you.
Carlos: Welding is a great source of income. It’s fun and you will meet great people in this business.
Roger: The person interested in a welding career should not be afraid of minor burns, cuts, dust, dirt, smoke, fumes, or hard work.
What inspired you to teach this subject rather than work in the field?
Shane: I’ve already made a lot of money in my life, traveled the country. In this chapter of my life, I wanted to give back and slow down a bit, as am older now.
David: I saw a demand for skilled and knowledgeable welders. I felt compelled to help pass on trade skills and techniques, so I turned my attention from working in the field to being an instructor.
Carlos: I wanted to share the science of welding. I wanted to improve and refine the economy by teaching students the proper knowledge and information for the workforce.
Roger: I have worked with so many knowledgeable men and women with copious amounts of experience. They passed that information down to me, so I feel obliged to pay it forward!
Do you have a teaching moment at AIM that you want to share?
David: I have had a number of good moments in my short time here at AIM, but one stands out to me most: A graduating student introduced me to his parents and said, “[I] was the best instructor [he] had ever had.” He said, “[I] was more than just a welding instructor, [I] was like a life coach to him,” and that felt good.
Carlos: I teach the do’s and don’ts of interviewing to my students. I show students how to speak to a recruiter. I also teach students to take pride in their work, improve their resume, and land a welding job.
Roger: Everyday working with students who are new to the process is a fun moment.