Leaving a legacy, UBTech’s Taniguchi retiring

By Stephanie Carter

After 40 years of teaching welding, UBTech instructor, Jeff Taniguchi is announcing his retirement at the end of the current school year.

Taniguchi, a Carbon High School graduate, went on to receive a Bachelor of Engineering degree and studied to become a Career Technical Education (CTE) teacher at the College of Eastern Utah (now USU-Eastern).

Upon graduation in 1982 he went to work as a welding instructor for Uintah High School, beginning what would become his educational legacy.

“I didn’t think I would stay in the Uintah Basin,” said Taniguchi. “But after a few years of teaching, Uintah High School was building a new building. I was excited to be part of the plans and build a new (welding) shop. I had to stick around for that.”

Mr. T, or even just T, as he is affectionately known, stuck around at Uintah High for 18 years. In 2000 when UBTech and the Uintah School District transitioned the welding department to technical education, he made the move to the tech college.

The Vernal UBTech campus was built a few years later and Taniguchi found himself helping design yet another brand-new welding shop.

He said highlights of his career include teaching the first female state welding champion, Sara Bingham. He saw another student, Mason Winters, win the International Euro Welding competition in Ireland.

“I’m so proud of all my students,” said Taniguchi as he reminisced. “I have students who had a fifth grade reading level who make over $100,000 a year. Students can be successful in many ways, not just academically. I truly believe everyone needs to learn a trade.”

Taniguchi said he has colleagues and friends working in the private industry sector who make small fortunes but said he “wouldn’t trade his experience teaching these students for the world.”

Part of his fulfillment as an educator comes because of his experience advocating for women in welding.

“I had four welding sculpture state medalists; three who are women. I’m pleased to retire being at the top,” he said.

UBTech Vice President of Instruction, Mark Dockins recently interviewed a young man who went through Taniguchi’s classes as a high school student.

“This young man said he would never have gone to college if it wasn’t for T’s encouragement and counsel,” said Dockins. “The young man is now a manufacturing engineer.”

Jeff Taniguchi has taught thousands of students, said Dockins. “He has been impactful in helping to positively change the lives of his students.”

One of his prior welding students, Taija Jackson, is now the business and trades director at UBTech.

“Jeff is the type of teacher students remember for a lifetime,” said Jackson. “He has a special way of connecting with his students and imparting life wisdom, that has a profound impact. Jeff has touched the lives of thousands of students during his 40-year career and our community is all the better for it.”

“A good teacher has to get to know their students,” Taniguchi shared with educators. “When you make those connections, they’ll become amazing students.”

Taniguchi spends his time outside of the welding shop enjoying the outdoors. He’s had a long history of volunteer work and served on many wildlife boards. He is currently the national leadership representative for Utah for Trout Unlimited.

He looks forward to being able to spend more time as a fishing guide on the Green River. He said he’d also like to take his wife, Sandie and two boys Dawson and Sean to travel and visit Japan.

The public is invited to an open house to honor Jeff Taniguchi on June 9 from 4 – 7 pm at the Vernal UBTech campus, 450 N 2000 W.

Jeff Taniguchi announces retirement after 40 years of teaching welding. The public is invited to an open house to honor Jeff Taniguchi on June 9 from 4 – 7 pm at the Vernal UBTech campus, 450 N 2000 W.

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