UT-Battelle donates $150,000 to Pellissippi State to support new center for math and science

ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. with a ceremonial check for $150,000
ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia, left, presents Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. with a UT-Battelle donation to the college’s new center for math and science in December 2018.

UT-Battelle LLC, which manages and operates Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, has pledged $150,000 to support Pellissippi State Community College’s new center for math and science on its Hardin Valley Campus.

“I would say – if I were to look at my own life experience, career experience – that education in STEM opens you up for an adventure of a lifetime,” ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia told Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. when Wise visited ORNL to receive the donation. “I think the opportunity for community colleges generally, but particularly for Pellissippi State, is to prepare your students not just for the jobs that are available today but, in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to prepare students for the rapidly changing job opportunities and the job market of tomorrow.”

As the largest DOE multiprogram open science laboratory, ORNL’s mission is to deliver scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs that accelerate the development and deployment of solutions in clean energy and global security while creating economic opportunities for the nation. Signature strengths in neutron scattering, high-performance computing, advanced materials, and nuclear science and engineering are the foundation for the lab’s broad research and development portfolio.

“Pellissippi State is fortunate to have a world-class national laboratory in our backyard,” Wise said. “Our student interns and alumni can be found in all corners of the organization. ORNL serves as an advocate for the technical skills and value of community college graduates, and Pellissippi State looks forward to continuing to build on our relationship with ORNL that has existed since the early days of State Technical Institute.”

ORNL partners with Pellissippi State by providing internships to students in a variety of fields. Meanwhile, ORNL operates DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility not far from Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, allowing Pellissippi State students a unique opportunity to see advanced manufacturing and materials science at work – as well as the practical application of the research that is happening at ORNL.

“Sometimes it seems like it’s a long way from the community college to ORNL, but in a lot of ways, it’s really not, because we hope we can provide foundational learning experiences that may eventually support the work you do as well,” Wise told Zacharia.

Zacharia agreed, noting that a large number of ORNL employees got their starts at Pellissippi State.

“I joined the laboratory in the welding group and ended up leading the world’s premier computing facility – and only because when opportunities were presented to me, rather than asking myself, ‘Should I do it?’ I just said, ‘Why not?’” Zacharia said in response to Wise’s request for his advice for STEM students. “Someday I’d like to see a student who started out at Pellissippi State Community College be the director of this laboratory.”

Pellissippi State will break ground on the new center for math and science at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 15, on its Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The 82,000-square-foot building will include 18 classrooms, six computer labs and nine science labs, as well as a teacher education center.

Pellissippi State expects to open the $27 million building for classes in fall 2021.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s two new buildings and the campaign to build them, visit www.pstcc.edu/campaignforpellissippistate. For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

For more information about ORNL, visit  www.ornl.gov. To read the conversation between Zacharia and Wise in its entirety, visit https://sites.pstcc.edu/connections/2019/04/29/conversation.