Pellissippi State manufactures critical personal protective equipment amid coronavirus pandemic

3D printers at MegaLab
3D printers at Pellissippi State’s MegaLab on its Strawberry Plains Campus are working around the clock to manufacture personal protective equipment for health care professionals.

Pellissippi State Community College is one of several Tennessee colleges using 3D printers to manufacture personal protective equipment that will help health care professionals caring for coronavirus patients. 

The project, announced Monday, March 23, by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, has been underway since Saturday, March 21. By Monday afternoon, the colleges had cranked out more than 1,500 pieces of equipment including 838 headbands like the ones Pellissippi State is producing to attach to face shields. 

Health care professionals wear plastic face shields over their masks as further protection from infectious diseases while working with patients. 

Headbands made by 3D printers
Pellissippi State shipped 239 headbands, shown here, to Austin Peay State University on Tuesday, where they will be attached to transparent plastic face shields that health care professionals wear over their face masks.

“We are pleased to be a part of supporting efforts to combat this virus in our community and across the state,” said Teri Brahams, executive director for economic and workforce development for Pellissippi State. “Our ability to assist in this project is evidence of our efforts to always be on the cutting edge of technology taught in our classrooms and through Business and Community Services. This also is a perfect utilization of campus resources that would otherwise lie dormant during this period.” 

While Pellissippi State has closed its five campuses in Knox and Blount counties amid Knox County’s Safer at Home Order issued Monday, essential personnel continue to report to the MegaLab at Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus to keep the 3D printers working around the clock. The MegaLab, its entrance and its nearby restrooms are on a daily cleaning schedule to ensure the space remains disinfected while essential personnel are working there. 

Andy Polnicki and Todd Evans wearing headbands
MegaLab Director Andy Polnicki, left, and Workforce Solutions Director Todd Evans, right, test the headbands being manufactured on 3D printers on the Strawberry Plains Campus. These headbands will be attached to plastic face shields to protect health care workers tending to patients with infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

Pellissippi State MegaLab Director Andy Polnicki has been hard at work preparing the first shipment of 239 headbands to send to Austin Peay State University, the college that developed the prototype. Austin Peay employees will attach the headbands to transparent plastic face shields for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, which will distribute them to health care facilities and professionals who are facing shortages of equipment. 

This is one of the projects the governor is spearheading to find new and innovative ways to serve Tennesseans during the COVID-19 crisis. To keep up with the latest news about coronavirus response at Pellissippi State, visit our website at www.pstcc.edu/coronavirus. 

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Pellissippi State announces first positive case of COVID-19

A student at Pellissippi State Community College has self-reported a positive test for COVID-19 today. The student has not been on campus for the past two weeks and has been under self-quarantine throughout that time. All relevant parties have been notified, and all facilities have been cleaned and disinfected. 

Pellissippi State officials announced yesterday that the college is moving all of its classes and student services online for the remainder of the spring semester. Updates are being posted daily to the college’s website and social media accounts. 

Pellissippi State moves online for rest of semester, postpones commencement

Pellissippi State sign at entrance to Hardin Valley Campus
Pellissippi State is moving its classes and student services online for the remainder of the spring semester.

President L. Anthony Wise Jr. announced Thursday that it is in the best interest of Pellissippi State Community College faculty, staff and students to move classes and student services online for the remainder of the spring semester, with very few exceptions. 

This serious decision was made after the White House and the Centers for Disease Control revised their guidance that social gatherings should be limited to 10 or fewer people, a challenge for any institution. 

To that end, all college events through May 11 have been canceled, effective immediately. Spring commencement and the Nursing pinning ceremony, originally planned for May 10, will be postponed until a later date, but will be held in person when it is safe to do so. 

We know this is not the semester you imagined. It is not the semester we imagined. But we will get through this together,” Wise said in an email to faculty, staff and students. “We have a dedicated group of employees working every day to ensure we cover all our bases so we can finish the semester Pellissippi Strong. This includes everything from offering advising and tutoring online or by phone to making sure our work-study students and part-time employees get paid, even if their jobs change to duties they can do remotely. 

Although classes are moving to an online format for the rest of the semester, at least one computer lab on each campus will continue to operate its normal hours. However, there will be a reservation system put in place after the college’s extended spring break ends March 29 to ensure that there are no more than 10 people in a lab at one time. The same is true for classes that need to hold labs on campus to complete the semester. Instructors may meet with nine or fewer students in a lab while practicing social distancing measures of leaving at least 6 feet between individuals. 

As Pellissippi State transitions to an online learning environment, students can submit questions and concerns about technology, coursework, and support services to our new PantherHelp team at this link. Pellissippi State will continue to update its website – www.pstcc.edu/coronavirus – with frequently asked questions, as well as new pages of resources for faculty, staff and students.  The college also will communicate with faculty, staff and students via their Pellissippi State email and Pellissippi State’s social media accounts. 

Meanwhile, Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services has suspended all non-credit classes until further notice as well and is working with those instructors to discuss rescheduling options. Those with questions about non-credit classes should call 865.539.7167 or email bcs@pstcc.edu. 

“Although these are challenging circumstances, I look forward to the day when we can gather in community on campus once again,” Wise said. 

View Wise’s video message to faculty, staff and students today at www.pstcc.edu 

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Pellissippi State hosts Family Visit Night for Latinx community at Division Street Campus

Three students from Venezuela
Pellissippi State students Kelvin Gonzalez, Alejandra Alvarez and Gabriel Gonzalez, from left, are among the Latinx students who have been sharing their experiences with prospective Latinx students and their families during Pellissippi State’s Latinx Family Visit Nights this semester. All three students photographed here are originally from Venezuela.

Latinx families in the Knoxville area are invited to Pellissippi State Community College this Thursday for the school’s second Latinx Family Visit Night.

“We are specifically inviting prospective Latinx students, but we would love for them to bring their families and friends to learn more about enrolling in Pellissippi State and the resources we have to offer,” said Enrollment Services Coordinator Selena Kimber.

The Family Visit Night, the second offered this semester, will be held 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, on the college’s Division Street Campus, 3435 Division Street. Refreshments will be served.

The event is free, and there is no need to RSVP.

Latinx Family Visit Night will give prospective Latinx students and their families an opportunity to talk to Pellissippi State faculty, staff and students. Admissions, financial aid and scholarships are among the topics that will be addressed, as well as Dual Enrollment options for high school students who want to get a head start on college.

Drema Bowers, director of Student Care and Advocacy, also will be on hand to talk about the ways Pellissippi State can help students who have experience nonacademic barriers to success such as food insecurity, housing and transportation.

A panel of Latinx Pellissippi State students will share their experiences at the college as well.

“Everyone here has been a blessing,” said Pellissippi State student Kelvin Gonzalez, who just arrived in the United States two years ago from his native Venezuela. “Everyone has helped me out. I have felt very welcome here, which is very important when you’re an immigrant.”

Alejandra Alvarez, who has been in the United States for five years, agreed.

“I have really enjoyed Pellissippi State,” she said at the college’s first Latinx Family Visit Night in February. “The faculty and staff have been so welcoming and friendly.”

While Enrollment Services has intentionally reached out to Latinx high school students and their families for this event, the Family Visit Night is open to all interested Latinx families, as Pellissippi State has a robust community of students who are older than the traditional college age of 18-24.

For more information, contact Pellissippi State at 865.694.6400. To request accommodations for a disability for any Pellissippi State event, call 865.539.7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State Foundation raises more than $14 million for new buildings, student support

Student speaker Destin Hickman stands with L. Anthony Wise Jr. and second student speaker Jon Collins
Students Benjamin Bridges (left) and Angela Dixon (right) pose with L. Anthony Wise Jr. after the Campaign for Pellissippi State Celebration at the Hardin Valley Campus on March 6.

The Pellissippi State Foundation has wrapped up its campaign to raise money for Pellissippi State Community College’s two new buildings and other initiatives, exceeding its $10 million goal by more than $4 million.

The Campaign for Pellissippi State, a four-year project spearheaded by 60 volunteers, will support the college’s largest expansion in its 45-year history. Some $8.8 million of the funds raised are earmarked to help build the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus in Knox County, the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the college’s Blount County Campus and other capital projects.

Meanwhile, $1.6 million was raised for student support, including 10 new scholarships and 13 new endowments, and $3.7 million in grants were secured to support the college’s academic efforts and workforce development initiatives.

“We could not have met our lofty $10 million goal, let alone exceeded it, without the help of our volunteers and our donors,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., noting that 571 of the Campaign’s 1,547 donors were new donors to Pellissippi State. “This support is going to help not only our current Pellissippi State students, but generations of students to come.”

The practical impacts of the Campaign are far-reaching, from eliminating waiting lists for required science labs to expanding several academic and career programs including Audio Production Engineering at the Magnolia Avenue Campus, Culinary Arts at the Blount County Campus, Early Childhood and Teacher Education at the Hardin Valley Campus and Welding at the Strawberry Plains Campus.

Student speaker Destin Hickman poses with L. Anthony Wise Jr. and second student speaker Jon Collins
Students Destin Hickman (left) and Jon Collins (right) pose with L. Anthony Wise Jr. after the Campaign for Pellissippi State Celebration at the Blount County Campus on March 6.

Meanwhile, the college’s Student Opportunity Fund was bolstered to provide a financial safety net for students at risk of dropping out due to an emergency situation, and the Hardin Valley Garden and Pellissippi Pantry will grow to address the increasing number of local students experiencing food insecurity.

“Pellissippi State is charged with a most important mission – preparing the next generation workforce for our community,” said Campaign Chair Tom Ballard. “The funds that we raised will provide modern facilities and enhanced programs to ensure that current and future students have a solid foundation for success.”

Pellissippi State Foundation extends a special thanks to Campaign Leaders who donated $500,000 or more: Arconic Foundation; the Economic Development Board of Blount County, City of Alcoa and City of Maryville; Pilot Company; and Ruth and Steve West.

Pellissippi State employees and retirees also gave more than $500,000 combined to the Campaign, the Foundation noted.

A campaign impact video is available HERE. To learn more about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.

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Join Pellissippi State for Women’s History Month events

Jennifer Brickey at lectern, giving faculty lecture
Pellissippi State Associate Professor Jennifer Brickey gives a previous lecture to a packed house in the Goins Building Auditorium. Brickey is among the female faculty on Pellissippi State’s Fierce Women Steering Committee and is giving a Women’s History Month lecture on March 12.

Pellissippi State Community College is celebrating Women’s History Month throughout March with lectures, films and readings with a focus on “fierce” women.

All are free and open to the public.

“Women’s History Month is an opportunity to highlight and reflect on the contributions of women every day,” said Professor Toni McDaniel, interim dean of Liberal Arts and chair of the Fierce Women Steering Committee. “March was designated as Women’s History Month by Congress in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, when Women’s Studies were first introduced at Pellissippi State, the college had a big celebration during the whole month. We think it is time to reinvigorate this celebration for a new generation of women in a new century.”

The committee, comprised of 11 female faculty, has planned more than 20 events spread over Pellissippi State’s five campuses in Knox and Blount counties. Next week alone the community can check out these lectures:

  • Tuesday, March 10
    Associate Professor Teresa Lopez: “Short, Brown and Female: Overcoming Student Perceptions and Imposter Syndrome,” 12-2 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road
  • Thursday, March 12
    Associate Professor Jennifer Brickey: “Why We March: Art of Protest and Resistance,” 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus

For a complete calendar of Pellissippi State’s Women’s History Month events, visit www.pstcc.edu/events/womens-history. To request accommodations for a disability for any Pellissippi State event, call 865.539.7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State Media Technologies program to host Digital Storytelling Forum April 24

Female students operating cameras
Pellissippi State’s Media Technologies program will host a Digital Storytelling Forum on April 24.

Pellissippi State Community College’s Media Technologies program will host “The Art, Science & Impact of Digital Storytelling” on Friday, April 24, on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The half-day event is designed as a continuing education forum for professionals, faculty, students and alumni in East Tennessee’s digital, creative and strategic communication communities.

“We’re excited to welcome East Tennessee’s creative and strategic communications community to join us for learning, sharing and networking opportunities, as we interact with Pellissippi State’s Media Technology students who represent such an important segment of our industry’s workforce pipeline,” said Mary Beth West, volunteer chair of Pellissippi State’s Media Technologies development campaign.

Presented by sponsors The Hive and Discovery Inc., this Digital Storytelling forum will bring together thought leaders in digital production, creative services and brand storytelling to discuss industry trends and workforce opportunities as greater Knoxville continues to evolve as a nationally and internationally recognized center of digital content development for major broadcasting and consumer platforms.

All proceeds will benefit Pellissippi State’s Media Technologies program, which offers concentrations in Audio Production Engineering, Design for Web and Print, Photography, Video Production Technology and Web Technology.

A full slate of session and keynote speakers will be announced soon. Planned break-out sessions during the forum will include topics such as:

  • Igniting the Power of Social Listening
  • Crafting Digital Messages that Motivate Audiences to Action
  • Building Greater Knoxville’s National Reputation as a Creative Community
  • User-Experience Trends in Digital Development
  • Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, Bias and What it All Means for Clients and Consumers
  • Employer Panel – Hiring Needs & Priorities for 2020-21

Registration can be accessed at www.pstcc.edu/bcs, with fee options including:

  • $55 for early bird registration by March 31
  • $25 for professionals to sponsor attendance for one Pellissippi State student
  • $25 for students
  • $75 to register between April 1 and April 20
  • $95 to register after April 20 or on site the day of the forum

The event will be held in the Goins Administration Building, but will include a student showcase and networking reception in the college’s Bagwell Center for Media and Art, which opened on the Hardin Valley Campus in September 2007. The building is named in honor of Ross Bagwell Sr., a pioneer in the cable television production industry, and his family.

“Pellissippi State’s Bagwell Center for Media and Art includes impressive facilities and technical capabilities for students to gain hands-on, experiential learning,” West said. “This event will be a fantastic opportunity for industry employers and hiring managers to tour the school and meet with students from the next graduating class.”

The Pellissippi State Foundation is welcoming more corporate sponsors until March 20. Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities during the event should contact Executive Director Aneisa Rolen at 865.694.6525 or alrolen@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State aviation training aims to close gap for women and minority pilots

Brandon Hardin
Captain Brandon Hardin is a Knoxville native and commercial pilot who wants to see more African American representation in aviation.

Knoxville native Brandon Hardin fell in love with the idea of flying when he saw an airplane fly over his house as a child.

Hardin’s dream of becoming a pilot didn’t waiver throughout his years in high school, and he went on to pursue a degree in Aerospace at Middle Tennessee State University before flying with the U.S. National Guard.

These days Captain Hardin is a commercial pilot who loves being able to see the world and the adventure that comes with the job.

Now students like Hardin don’t have to wait until college to learn about the aviation industry. Pellissippi State Community College has partnered with Tuskegee NEXT to offer introductory aviation training to teens and young adults in an effort to close the gap for women and minority pilots.

The program, which started last fall at Pellissippi State, could not come at a better time for the aviation industry. The 2019 Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook, a respected industry forecast of personnel demand, projects that 804,000 new civil aviation pilots, 769,000 new maintenance technicians and 914,000 new cabin crew will be needed to fly and maintain the world fleet over the next 20 years.

“Every single airline is hiring,” Hardin said. “There is a huge need for pilots right now, and they need the next generation of kids to be ready to take the seat in the cockpit.”

Of all the professional pilots and flight engineers in the United States, however, only 7.5% are women, 2.6% are black, 3.4% are Asian and 2.2% are Hispanic or Latino, according to 2019 numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We need more African American representation in aviation,” Hardin said. “We represent less than 3% of the commercial pilot workforce, and that’s not enough.”

One possible cause of the lack of diverse representation among pilots is how much it costs to get started. Students could easily invest $60,000 to $70,000 in their training, from attending flight school or a college aviation program to paying for flying hours and Federal Aviation Administration certification exams.

Aviation students in flight simulator at Cirrus in fall 2019
Students in Pellissippi State’s first Introduction to Aviation class check out a flight simulator at Cirrus Aircraft in Alcoa during the fall 2019 semester.

Pellissippi State has partnered with the nonprofit Tuskegee NEXT to help remove some of those obstacles. Students ages 16-20 can apply to take a 15-week Introduction to Aviation class at Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus this fall.

Students who participate in the Introduction to Aviation class at Pellissippi State will learn what they need to know to sit for the Federal Aviation Administration basic knowledge written exam.

“The Tuskegee Airmen are such iconic figures in the field of aviation for individuals like myself,” Hardin said of the United States’ first black military airmen. “They led the way, and the obstacles they had to surmount are huge compared to what myself and my peers have had to go through. They paved the way for me, and I want to help pave the way for the next generation.”

While the Introduction to Aviation class at Pellissippi State does have a cost, full scholarships are available to those with financial need in keeping with Tuskegee NEXT’s mission of providing flight training and educational assistance for underrepresented minorities and at-risk youth.

“Tuskegee NEXT and Pellissippi State back me up in supporting that goal of inspiring and providing resources for the next generation of aviators,” Hardin said. “We want it to be normal to see an African American pilot in the cockpit.”

Those who successfully complete the Introduction to Aviation course at Pellissippi State and pass the FAA written exam will be eligible to apply to the Tuskegee NEXT Summer Flight Program in Chicago, which will run from mid-June to mid-August 2021.

The summer program completely immerses students in both flight training and life skill development. The skills learned during the program can help change lives and transform communities.

“I think aspiring pilots should take advantage of the unique opportunities Pellissippi State and Tuskegee NEXT are offering,” Hardin said. “There are going to be hurdles, but there are going to be people like me who are going to help and mentor students past those obstacles.

“The one thing students should know is that they want to get there,” he added. “When you get to the endpoint and become a pilot, you’re going to be able to take care of yourself and take care of your family. If you are willing to focus and commit yourself to a career in aviation, the rewards are amazing.”

Students can apply now for the Fall 2020 Introduction to Aviation class at Pellissippi State. Applications are due May 7.

Fall 2020 Introduction to Aviation Class

  • When: Tuesdays, August 25 – December 15, 2020, 6-8 p.m.
  • Where: Pellissippi State Community College Magnolia Avenue Campus
  • Who is eligible to apply: Students ages 16-20 and at least a sophomore in high school – must hold a minimum grade point average of 2.75 and have no criminal record

Students can learn more and apply at www.pstcc.edu/bcs/aviation or call Business and Community Services at 865.539.7167.

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Pellissippi State hosts first Family Visit Night for Latinx community

Pellissippi State sign at entrance to Hardin Valley CampusLatinx families in the Knoxville area are invited to Pellissippi State Community College next week for the school’s first Latinx Family Visit Night.

“We are specifically inviting prospective Latinx students, but we would love for them to bring their families and friends to learn more about enrolling in Pellissippi State and the resources we have to offer,” said Enrollment Services Coordinator Selena Kimber.

The first Family Visit Night will be held 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Refreshments will be served, and a Spanish translator will be on hand to help those family members who may not be fluent in English.

The event will give prospective Latinx students and their families an opportunity to talk to Pellissippi State faculty, staff and students. Admissions, financial aid and scholarships are among the topics that will be addressed while a panel of Latinx Pellissippi State students will share their experiences at the college.

“Everyone here has been a blessing,” said Pellissippi State student Kelvin Gonzalez, who just arrived in the United States two years ago from his native Venezuela. “Everyone has helped me out. I have felt very welcome here, which is very important when you’re an immigrant.”

Pellissippi State staff also will explain the college’s Dual Enrollment options for high school students who want to get a head start on college, Kimber added.

While Enrollment Services has intentionally reached out to Latinx high school students and their families for this event, the Family Visit Night is open to all interested Latinx families, as Pellissippi State has a robust community of nontraditional students who are older than the traditional college age of 18-24.

The event is free, and there is no need to RSVP. For more information, contact Pellissippi State at 865.694.6400.

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Pellissippi State generates $258 million annual economic impact

Pellissippi State sign at entrance to Hardin Valley Campus
As the largest community college in Tennessee, Pellissippi State has pumped $1.3 billion into the local economy over the past five years.

Pellissippi State Community College has pumped an average of $258 million per year into the local economy over the past five years.

That’s about $1.3 billion in economic impact – the value of business volume, jobs and individual income created in Knox and Blount counties – that is directly tied to Pellissippi State, the largest community college in Tennessee with 10,694 students.

“Our mission is to provide a transformative environment for not only our students, but for the community,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “This annual economic impact study shows that the good work we’re doing here goes beyond our five campuses as our faculty, staff, students and alumni contribute to our local economy.”

A majority of Pellissippi State’s annual economic impact — $1 billion over five years or $203 million per year — can be attributed to the infusion of new non-local revenues such as state appropriations, grants, contracts and federal student financial aid, according to educational consultant Fred H. Martin, who conducted the study for Pellissippi State.

“Every single dollar of local revenue that comes into Pellissippi State generates an estimated annual return on investment of at least $5.32, comprised of $2.91 in local business volume, plus at least $2.41 in individual income,” he said.

There are significant individual economic benefits for students who complete associate degrees as well.

A 2018 report by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) found that the average associate degree graduate in the U.S. earns roughly $6,600 per year more than someone with a high school diploma. That amounts to about $264,000 in increased lifetime earnings potential for associate degree graduates compared with high school graduates.

Meanwhile, a University of Tennessee study found that those earning associate degrees were much more likely to stay and work in Tennessee than other degree-earners. In fact, after one year, 73.3% of associate degree earners were working in Tennessee, compared with 62.4% of bachelor’s degree earners and 40% of doctoral degree earners.

“Assuming the majority of Pellissippi State’s graduates remain in the area, the economic impact of each succeeding graduating class over their earnings lifetime has been and will continue to be an enormous contributor to local economic activity,” Martin said.

Over the five-year period, Pellissippi State’s expenditures created and sustained an estimated 43,496 jobs. The college itself employed 2,886 full-time-equivalent employees from 2014-2019.

“The results of this economic and social impact study clearly demonstrate that Pellissippi State continues to be a major contributor to the economic bases of Knox and Blount counties,” Wise said. “In December 2019, we graduated our largest fall semester class yet, with 580 students completing their degrees. As Pellissippi State continues to grow, our economic and social impact on the Knoxville metropolitan area will increase similarly.”

The complete 32nd annual analysis of Pellissippi State’s economic impact in Knox and Blount counties can be accessed at www.pstcc.edu/ieap/_files/pdf/2014-19-economic-impact.pdf.

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