Dreaming big and helping students gain the skills needed to get there is at the heart of Tulsa Tech’s mission. Each school year we see new faces walking through our doors, ready to learn a skill to set them up for a lifetime of success. Our alumni are no different, but for Tarell Nunley his success is truly taking him out of this world.
“I have always looked to the sky and wondered what is out there,” Nunley said. “Knowing I am working on that path is a great reward.”
Nunley is a graduate of the Aviation Maintenance program on the Riverside Campus. After years of working with local aircraft companies, he is now part of a groundbreaking company, Infinite Composites Technologies (ICT).
“When I got hired, my operations and technical experience with the engineer documents fit their needs,” Nunley commented. “As the facility manager, it was my job to get everything up to aerospace standards.”
The small shop tucked away in an industrial court in south Tulsa looks ordinary from the outside. However, on the inside it is anything but ordinary. The company is one of only approximately 350 small businesses nationwide to get a large NASA grant, and only the tenth company in Oklahoma’s history to secure the award.
“We are trying to develop a first all-composite cryogenic pressure vessel,” Nunley boasted. “NASA gave us a contract to send up some materials to test the effects of galactic cosmic rays.”
The study means bottles made right here in Tulsa will travel to the International Space Station for testing. Nunley and the team at ICT want to see how the harsh environment in space impacts their product. With fewer than a dozen employees, it’s an all hands on deck operation, and Nunley says it was his Tulsa Tech training that helped set him on this path.
“The biggest thing I liked about Tulsa Tech was that it was all hands-on,” Nunley said. “When I compare Tulsa Tech to other schools with the same program, it is night and day. Not only can you build an engine, you can test it at Tech.”
The 2018 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows jobs in aviation maintenance are growing. That means over the next decade graduates will be able to fill thousands of new jobs. The same report also states that employers want candidates with the technical training and certificates that students earn while attending Tulsa Tech. Nunley tells a story of knowing everything he had worked for was worth it.
“My FAA certification test to get my A&P license was easy,” Nunley said. “The way the program is set up, I just aced it. Passing that test right before I walked for graduation was the moment I realized that Tulsa Tech was the best decision I have ever made.”
Nunley says he is not done striving to be better, he is now working on getting a doctorate in chemistry and says one day he hopes to join the supplies he helped to build and explore the vast reaches of space.