“I love being part of something greater than me; getting to take a student with no knowledge of the trade and mold them into a craftsman; seeing the students get excited about the subject and follow their passion; seeing the students win a contest that they have spent countless hours preparing for; seeing the excitement students have when they get the job offer they worked so hard for; seeing former students go into business for themselves; having students beat me in a welding contest… and breaking through to a troubled student and seeing them turn their life in a positive direction. My hope is that I am as positive an inspiration to them as they are to me.”

Brent Trankler is a model of lifelong learning. An army veteran, Trankler earned two bachelor’s degrees—one in industrial technology and another in industrial education—and two master’s degrees, in industrial education and administration. Beyond these degrees, Trankler is a National Occupational Competency Testing Institute Welding Technology Subject Matter Expert, through which he helps revise and update certification tests for teachers and students beyond his own classroom.

A teacher at Sikeston Career and Technology Center in Sikeston, Missouri since 2010, Trankler teaches a curriculum aligned with the American Welding Society’s national skill standards. His program offers transferable college credit at several technical schools, including at Northeastern Arkansas College, where Trankler serves on the curriculum review committee. Trankler also supports other local welding teachers by serving on their advisory committees and helping test their programs to ensure alignment with industry standards. “My focus for welding technology isn’t solely on my students, but the success of all students,” Trankler said.

Trankler boosts his students’ confidence and pushes their limits by taking on large projects and allowing them to experiment, problem-solve and learn from mistakes. His students practice reading industrial prints, designing products and determining material needs before exploring a variety of ways to make their products and which welding procedures to use. Each year, Trankler’s class volunteers to help approximately 250 Boy Scouts earn their welding and metal works badges.

Upon graduation, 95 percent of Trankler’s students pursue postsecondary education or receive job offers from businesses like Manac—the largest manufacturer of custom-built and specialty semitrailer trucks in North America—or with local ironworkers, boilermakers and pipeliners unions.

Trankler was a finalist for the 2018 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.

“I think of welding technology as academics in motion. My course includes hands-on lab activities with over $350,000 worth of equipment that brings science, technology, engineering and math into focus… Reputation, rigor and results build programs that attract serious students.”