Department Head, CNC and Welding Technology
Associate Degree in Welding, 2003
Paul Phelps entered the Marine Corps out of high school and four years later was working in the fabrication/metalworking industry when he received a career postcard from Tri-County about academic program offerings.
“I was interested in expanding my skills so I enrolled in the welding program while maintaining a full-time job,” said Paul.
“Although teaching was never my career plan,” says Paul, “I really took to Tri-County while I was a student, and I thought if I had the opportunity, I could see myself teaching one day.” A year after graduating, former Department Head, the late Bob Humphreys, asked Paul if he was interested in teaching part time. He began teaching evening classes and a couple of years later he was hired full time—as Bob’s replacement.
“I wanted to give back to Tri-County,” said Paul. “As an instructor, I enjoy helping to change the lives of students in a program that helped me in so many ways.” He says he has the best of both worlds—“I am knee deep in what I love and I can help to change students’ lives by teaching them the welding skills that employers are looking for.”
He says, “I continue to stay connected with business and industry partners so I will know their employment needs. Staying current with our curriculum is key. Bringing employer-defined skills to this program is critical to our students being successful in the workplace.”
In 2014 Paul’s talent for teaching and his gift for building collaborative partnerships with area industries earned him the esteemed A. Wade Martin Innovator of the Year award. He also was honored for his dedication to his profession in 2010 with the highest award presented to the faculty, the Presidential Medallion for Instructional Excellence.
Paul is a 14-year Certified Welding Inspector/Certified Welding Educator (CWI/CWE) through the American Welding Society.