Pellissippi State to extend work-based learning in information technology, advanced manufacturing

A student works on building a Raspberry Pi computer
Ahadut Mengesha works on his Raspberry Pi at a Pellissippi State summer camp that introduced high school students to physical computing using the Python programming language and a Raspberry Pi single board computer.

Pellissippi State Community College has been so successful with its College to Career Collaboratives in Knox and Blount counties that the state has awarded the college more money to extend those programs. 

Gov. Bill Lee announced Nov. 18 the second round of the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) program, which prioritizes learning opportunities in rural counties and enhances career and technical education statewide. The first round of GIVE funding in 2019 served an estimated 8,000 students, and this second round will serve an estimated 7,500 students. 

Among the 13 projects funded in East Tennessee are Pellissippi State’s Advanced Manufacturing and Information Technology College to Career Collaboratives. The $786,284 GIVE 2.0 grant will expand the Advanced Manufacturing program already underway in Blount County to Knox County, while the $994,164 GIVE 2.0 grant will expand the Information Technology program already underway in Knox County to Blount County. 

“We have experienced great satisfaction as we have helped to inform students to see all the career possibilities in manufacturing and construction,” said Jon Gilbert, Work-Based Learning Director for Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services. “Building relationships with the schools and industry partners and helping to connect all relevant parties strengthens the entire community and the developing workforce.” 

GIVE 1.0 focused on advanced manufacturing and construction career pathways for Blount County. To date, the grant enabled Pellissippi State to 

  • Purchase needed equipment for Blount County, Alcoa City and Maryville City schools, including electrical trainers and precision measurement equipment; 
  • Provide hands-on learning experiences for over 100 students through camps and workshops in welding, electrical, machining, electrical engineering, robotics and construction; 
  • Facilitate tours of local manufacturing plants, providing a first-hand look at what careers in these fields would involve; and 
  • Provide resources for Pellissippi State students to receive National Institute for Metalworking Skills certifications and for Pellissippi State instructors to enhance their skills through externships with Denso.

GIVE 2.0 will expand the advanced manufacturing career pathway into Knox County. Some of the key elements will be:  

  • Providing Advanced Manufacturing interactive career awareness and exploration activities in up to six middle schools; 
  • Providing Certified Production Technician training and camps to support the needs of local employers for skilled employees; 
  • Working with industry partners to develop and facilitate work-based learning opportunities for Knox County students; and 
  • Partnering with high schools to develop manufacturing dual enrollment course opportunities. 

In Knox County, GIVE 1.0 focused on increasing the number of students who enroll in and complete Information Technology-related degrees and certifications in Pellissippi State’s Computer Information Technology programs, which include concentrations in Cybersecurity, Networking, Programming and Systems Administration and Management. A key component included embedding industry recognized credentials into Pellissippi State’s IT associate degrees. 

Jose Nazario and Andy Polnicki work with high school students in Blount County
Pellissippi State Mechanical Engineering Technology Instructor Jose Nazario, left, and MegaLab Director Andy Polnicki, second from left, teach Blount County high school students about manual machining during one of Pellissippi State’s Young Manufacturers Academies.

GIVE 1.0 also engaged high school students with industry partners and faculty in a systematic and significant way. Examples include 

  • Saturday Clubs for middle and high school students, taught by Pellissippi State faculty, on topics such as Introduction to Programming, Internet of Things and Principals of Cybersecurity; 
  • Summer camps including two programming camps (one in coordination with Centro Hispano), an IT Fundamentals and Coding class in partnership with Project GRAD and a two-week Raspberry Pi camp in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley; 
  • A series of virtual “Day in the Life” events with industry partners, highlighting careers within each of Pellissippi State’s Computer Information Technology concentrations; and 
  • Placing 10 high school students in IT-related summer internships with local businesses. 

 GIVE 2.0 will expand the information technology pathway into Knox County. Some of the key elements will be: 

  • Expanding IT career pathway programs, including the development of IT 4+1 plans with partner high schools that allow students to work toward their associate degrees over the course of their high school years, finishing with just one additional year of college after high school;  
  • Implementing a collaborative, meaningful and structured work-based learning continuum that begins in middle school and continues through completion of postsecondary credentials; and  
  • Expanding access to in-demand industry recognized certification testing. 

“We are thrilled to expand our services into Blount County and continue our work making IT career pathways accessible to students from underrepresented populations,” said Rebecca McDonough, Work-Based Learning Director for Business and Computer Technology. “We are thankful to our IT industry partners who have invested in the next generation of local IT workforce through this type of community outreach and look forward to building new relationships in Blount County.” 

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400. 

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Pellissippi State plans outdoor in-person Commencement ceremonies

Eustace in cap and gown with diploma
Eustace Muriithi built on the diploma in electrical engineering he earned in Kenya by graduating from Pellissippi State with a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology in December 2020.

Pellissippi State Community College will celebrate its 2020 and 2021 graduates in a series of smaller, outdoor Commencement ceremonies this May. 

The college has not held an in-person Commencement since December 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Eight separate ceremonies, capped at 85 graduates and two guests per graduate, are planned for Thursday-Saturday, May 13-15. Each ceremony will take place in the Hardin Valley Campus Courtyard, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. 

All Commencement ceremonies will be livestreamed to allow family and friends who cannot attend in person to celebrate with graduates.   

Students who graduated at any point during 2020 are welcome to join ceremonies at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, May 13. 

Those Pellissippi State students graduating in spring 2021 with Associate of Arts, Associate of Fine Arts, Associate of Science or Associate of Science in Teaching degrees – typically those students who transfer to four-year institutions – may choose to participate in ceremonies at 1, 4 or 7 p.m. on Friday, May 14. 

Those Pellissippi State students graduating in spring 2021 with Associate of Applied Science degrees – the two-year career programs to prepare students to enter the workforce – will be celebrated on Saturday, May 15, with Nursing students at 10 a.m., Engineering and Media Technology students at 1 p.m. and Business and Computer Technology students at 4 p.m. 

“It is well understood that students may not be able to attend the ceremony for which they are scheduled due to personal or family obligations,” said Dean of Students Travis Loveday. “In that case, 2021 graduates may attend any ceremony that has openings. 

Registration for all ceremonies opened at 8 a.m. Friday, April 16, on Eventbrite, and registration is not only for those graduating. Faculty, staff and guests should register for the ceremony they plan to attend, as all seats are reserved on a first come, first served basis: 

In the event of inclement weather, ceremonies and graduates will move inside to the Clayton Performing Arts Center. While social distancing guidelines would prevent guests from joining graduates in the CPAC, guests would be able to view a live stream of the ceremonies from the Goins Administration Building. 

For more information about when to check in for the ceremonies, where to enter campus and park, and what graduates and guests will need to do to follow Pellissippi State’s COVID-19 safety protocols, visit www.pstcc.edu/graduation 

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Pellissippi State breaks ground for long-awaited workforce development center in Blount County

Eight officials with shovels in front of a bulldozer
Among the dignitaries celebrating the groundbreaking for the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center are, from left, state Rep. Jerome Moon, donors Steve and Ruth West, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville President Kelli Chaney, state Sen. Art Swann, state Rep. Bob Ramsey and Blount Partnership CEO Bryan Daniels.

Pellissippi State Community College broke ground today on its new Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center, a joint project with Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville. 

The 51,000-square-foot building on the College’s Blount County Campus will help fill the area’s need for highly skilled, college-educated employees. Blount County has experienced $2.8 million in new capital investment and announced 5,500 new jobs since 2011, according to the Blount Partnership. 

Named for longtime Blount County Campus benefactors Ruth and Steve West, the workforce development center will include space for Pellissippi State’s Computer Information Technology, Culinary Arts, Electrical Engineering Technology and Electromechanical Engineering programs while TCAT will have space for its Engineering Technology program, giving that college its first footprint in Blount County. 

Steve and Ruth West in front of artist rendering of new building named for him
Steve and Ruth West stand in front of an artist rendering of the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center that is being built on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

“I was on the Blount County Industrial Board for 20 years, and we brought a lot of diverse companies in and continue to do so,” said Mr. West, longtime owner of West Chevrolet and a former mayor of Maryville. “But it’s not like it was when I was young. A good attitude and willingness to learn, while important, are not enough in today’s economy. We need more specialized training to fill these jobs.” 

The center will help fill that gap, with a unique, integrated approach to workforce development. In addition to Pellissippi State’s partnership with TCAT, the workforce development center also represents a K-12 partnership, offering dual enrollment classes for high school students, focusing on high-demand career skills. Meanwhile, a new corporate training center will give the College’s local industry partners extra space and opportunity to train their employees at Pellissippi State. 

“Our institutional mission at Pellissippi State is to provide a transformative environment that fosters the academic, social, economic and cultural enrichment of individuals and of our community,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “The Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center is going to embody that mission in a tangible way, helping us prepare Blount County students for high-demand careers that will sustain them and their families economically and allow them to stay right here at home instead of leaving in search of well-paying jobs. 

For example, the new building will include a 4,890-square-foot Culinary Institute that will allow the College to expand its Culinary Arts degree program and industry-recognized certification programs, increasing the number of graduates ready to fill in-demand culinary positions at hotels, restaurants, farmsteads, breweries, wineries and resorts across Blount, Knox and surrounding counties.

Dignitaries with shovels in front of bulldozer
Also celebrating the groundbreaking for the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center today are, from left, Blount County Campus Dean Priscilla Duenkel, Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell, Jeff Weida of Arconic Tennessee, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., TCAT President Kelli Chaney, Louisville Mayor Tom Bickers, Don Heinemann of Blount Memorial Hospital, Bob Booker of DENSO and Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor. Not pictured is Alcoa Mayor Clint Abbott.

The workforce development center will also help us serve our industry partners by providing  more space to train their employees and offering individuals the continuing education that helps them move to the next level in their careers,” said Teri Brahams, executive director of Economic and Workforce Development for Pellissippi State. And with the flexible space located right outside our new Culinary Institute, the College can provide the community space to host events and have them catered by our Culinary Arts students. It’s a win for everyone.” 

Construction of the $16.5 million building, which was funded by the state of Tennessee and TCAT in addition to Pellissippi State, is projected to be complete in February 2022.  

The fundraising team with shovels
Among those who have been working hard behind the scenes are fundraising team members Joy Bishop and Sharon Hannum, Chuck Griffin of BarberMcMurry Architects, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., TCAT President Kelli Chaney, fundraising team members Christy Newman, Andy White and Mary Beth West, Raja Jubran of Denark Construction and fundraising team member Teri Brahams, from left.

The Pellissippi State Foundation raised $5.5 million for the workforce development center. In addition to the Wests, the center also received significant financial contributions from donors such as the Economic Development Board of Blount County Government, the City of Maryville and the City of Alcoa; Arconic Foundation; Blackberry Farm Foundation; Blount Memorial HospitalCare Institute GroupClayton Family Foundation; Clayton Homes Inc.; DENSO North America Foundation; and William Ed Harmon.  

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. 

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Pellissippi State’s spring registration starts Wednesday

Four Pellissippi State students pose on campus with masks on
Pellissippi State students have been wearing their masks, practicing social distancing and filling out daily COVID-19 screening questions before coming to campus in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus and stay #PellissippiStrong.

Registration for spring 2021 classes at Pellissippi State Community College opens Wednesday, Oct. 21. 

Spring 2021 will look like fall 2020, with most classes not taking place on campus. In the spring 2021 schedule, students should look at “instruction mode” to see how classes will be conducted: 

  • Asynchronous online: students do the work on their own time; 
  • Synchronous online: students meet with their class at a set time via a platform such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom; 
  • Hybrid: students will be expected to come to campus at some point during the semester, often for hands-on labs or proctored tests, but most work will take place virtually; and 
  • In person: students will report to campus and meet with instructors and classmates in a traditional classroom. 

Students who prefer one of these modes of instruction over others can do a search by instruction mode in the College’s Schedule Planner. 

Current Pellissippi State students are encouraged to schedule an appointment with their assigned academic advisor using the Navigate app prior to registering. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, advising is being conducted virtually and includes access through Microsoft Teams, Zoom, email and phone. 

“It is important to register early for the spring term so that you can be assured to get the classes you need to keep you on track to complete your degree,” said Leigh Anne Touzeau, assistant vice president, Enrollment Services. 

Prospective students have a unique opportunity to learn what it’s like to attend Pellissippi State later this month. The College will host its first drive-thru Pellissippi Preview 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville. Those who want to learn more about Pellissippi State’s academic programs, admissions, financial aid and student support services, all from the safety of their vehicles, are encouraged to reserve their spot at www.pstcc.edu/prsvp. 

“With five campuses and a variety of online and virtual classes, Pellissippi State remains ready to meet students where they are and help them get to where they want to go,” Touzeau said. 

Pellissippi State has staff standing by to assist prospective students with the registration process in its Virtual Walk-in Student Services platform. Prospective students with a camera-enabled computer or smartphone can access Admissions, Advising, Financial Aid, HelpDesk and other student services 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday via Zoom. Prospective students do not need an appointment, but should be aware that, just like walking into an actual waiting room, prospective students will be helped on a first-come, first-served basis.  

Prospective students also can learn more about Pellissippi State through a remote meeting, an in-person appointment or online information sessions. To learn more about these options or to sign up for one, visit www.pstcc.edu/admissions/tour. 

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. 

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Pellissippi State offers four class formats for fall 2020, some courses return to campus

Two Pellissippi State students wearing face masks work on computers while staying socially distanced
Pellissippi State students Heather Stewart, left, and Chelan Branham returned to campus earlier this month to complete coursework in labs wearing face masks while staying socially distanced.

Pellissippi State Community College plans to allow students to return to campus on a limited basis this fall, offering classes in four formats. 

“While our top priority remains providing a safe environment for our students and employeesour goal is to continue to give students the best learning experiences we can, both inside and outside the classroom,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. 

Pellissippi State will build on the convenience it historically has offered students through its five campuses and online courses by introducing new ways of learning this fall. Students will be able to choose classes taught in a variety of ways: 

  • Online: These traditional online courses do not meet on a certain day or at a certain time, but are taught completely through Pellissippi State’s learning management system, Brightspace; 
  • Virtual: These courses are offered online, but they use virtual platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom to offer instruction at the times and days listed in the College’s fall schedule; 
  • Hybrid: These courses offer part online or virtual instruction and part face-to-face instruction in a classroom, with instructors letting students know which days they will meet on campus; and 
  • On-campus: These courses are taught in a traditional classroom, face-to-faceand will be limited primarily to programs that have a strong hands-on component, such as Nursing and Welding. A few general education courses will be offered on campus in the evening with smaller enrollments to allow for social distancing. 

By limiting the number of classes taught in person, we can ensure that our students have the space necessary to practice social distancing while they are on campus,” Wise said. “We know that some students may not feel comfortable returning to campus, however, and that is why we are offering even more options for students to continue their educational journey with us.” 

Pellissippi State’s data from spring 2020 shows that students‘ success rates in general education courses such as English, science, math, and history did not suffer when the college moved its classes online March 23 for the remainder of the semester. This information bolstered the recommendation from Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathy Byrd and the college’s academic deans that Pellissippi State continue to offer virtual and hybrid classes this fall. 

Pellissippi State also recognizes that some students may not be returning to their universities this fall and encourages local students to register for classes that will transfer to their home institutions after the coronavirus pandemic is resolved. Pellissippi State offers 50 pathways that will transfer to four-year universities in addition to its 25 programs that prepare graduates to enter the workforce in two years, all for about $2,100 per semester for a full-time student. 

“We know this fall will not look like ‘business as usual’ for many of us,” Wise said. “We welcome not only those students who choose to stay home for a bit, but also those who have decided this might be the time to learn new skills and pursue a different career moving forward.” 

Registration is going on now. To learn more about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. 

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Pellissippi State expands Culinary Arts program into Blount County with new Culinary Institute

Two Culinary Arts students prepping in the kitchen
Pellissippi State Culinary Arts students prep food for an event on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus in November 2019.

A $250,000 gift from the Blackberry Farm Foundation is paving the way to expand Pellissippi State Community College’s Culinary Arts program into Blount County.

The new Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the college’s Blount County Campus will include a 4,700-square-foot Culinary Institute, including a teaching and demonstration kitchen and a baking center.

The Culinary Institute will support not only Pellissippi State’s students seeking an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts, but also will be located adjacent to the Workforce Development Center’s Corporate Training Center and Lobby so that Culinary Arts students can support the community at events and pre-event functions held on the Blount County Campus.

“Blackberry Farm Foundation is excited to continue to invest in our already successful relationship with Pellissippi State,” said Matt Alexander, Blackberry Farm president, noting Blackberry Farm provides internships for Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts students. “The restaurant and hospitality industries provide so much opportunity for advancement, as well as lifelong careers. We believe it is important for us to expand our impact on the industry and help create pathways to careers in culinary arts.”

“This expansion of Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program into Blount County will not only benefit local college students who want to prepare for a career in Culinary Arts, but also will provide dual enrollment opportunities with local high schools that offer Culinary Arts classes,” added Dean Michael Wolfe.

Currently, Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program is based on the college’s Division Street Campus in Knoxville, with students using the kitchen facilities at the nearby University of Tennessee. The Culinary Institute in the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center marks Pellissippi State’s first on-campus facilities dedicated to Culinary Arts and will allow the program to offer additional concentrations such as baking.

Pellissippi State also is looking at offering a one-year certificate program to prepare students for casual dining careers, in keeping with Gov. Bill Lee’s workforce education priorities.

“With the support of local employers, Pellissippi State will develop pathways to culinary degrees that include significant amounts of work-based learning,” Wolfe said.

An artist rendering of the outside of the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center
This artist rendering, courtesy of BarberMcMurry Architects, shows the new building planned for Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

Construction of the Culinary Institute at the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center is expected to cost $1.9 million, with an additional $525,000 set aside for outfitting the institute with the necessary equipment. Pellissippi State plans to employ new full-time faculty members and a kitchen technician to staff the Culinary Institute.

The Culinary Arts program at Pellissippi State is offered as a cohort, in that students begin and progress through a degree program as a united group. The Culinary Institute on the Blount County Campus will have the capacity to enroll 20 students in the daytime cohort and 20 students in the evening cohort, with full enrollment capped at 80 full-time students progressing through the program concurrently over the two years it takes to complete the Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts.

Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Graduates certify through the National Restaurant Association in food production and sanitation, and graduates of ACF-accredited programs such as Pellissippi State are certified as ACF culinarians upon graduation.

To learn more about Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program, contact Chef Joseph Blauvelt, program coordinator, at jsblauvelt@pstcc.edu or 865.971.5246, or contact Pellissippi State’s Admissions office at admissions@pstcc.edu or 865.694.6400.

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GIVE grants to help Pellissippi State expand information technology, construction and advanced manufacturing training

Instructor standing in Strawberry Plains Cyber Defense lab
Instructor Charles Nelson, standing, tells visitors about Pellissippi State’s new Cyber Defense lab on the college’s Strawberry Plains Campus on Sept. 10, 2019.

Pellissippi State Community College has been awarded two Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) grants, Gov. Bill Lee announced Nov. 7.

The funding, $999,874 for Knox County initiatives and $998,416 for Blount County initiatives, will be used to address workforce needs: information technology careers in Knox County and construction and advanced manufacturing careers in Blount County.

“We are proud to work with the General Assembly to pass the GIVE initiative and expand career and technical education for Tennessee students,” Lee said in a press release last week. “These funds directly support our workforce development efforts in distressed and at-risk counties and are a key component of our strategy to prioritize rural Tennessee.”

Both the GIVE Knox County Career Collaborative and the GIVE Blount County Career Collaborative established by the grants will address:

  • barriers to education/training access, including a lack of understanding and awareness of viable career choices and training options for high-demand fields;
  • insufficient early postsecondary education and training opportunities;
  • insufficient student support services; and
  • misalignment between education and workforce needs.

“With the number of new jobs coming into Blount County specifically, we have to do everything we can as a college to help train the next generation workforce,” said Teri Brahams, executive director of Economic and Workforce Development at Pellissippi State and project manager for the GIVE Blount County Career Collaborative. “Engaging our students from middle school through high school and college is crucial, and helping them understand pathways to college and careers is one way to do that.”

In Knox County, the Career Collaborative will focus on increasing the number of students who enroll in and complete Information Technology-related degrees and certifications in Pellissippi State’s Computer Information Technology programs, which include concentrations in Cybersecurity, Networking, Programming and Systems Administration and Management.

The grant also will be used to boost enrollment in and completion of the Computer Information Technology Technical Support Specialist, IT Network Support Specialist, IT Network Security Specialist, IT Systems Support Specialist, and IT Systems Coordinator options at Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Knoxville (TCAT).

“Training a workforce that is not only skilled in computer technology but, perhaps more importantly, is able to adapt those skills as new technology emerges is vital to all of East Tennessee,” said Business and Computer Technology Dean Michael Wolfe of Pellissippi State, who is serving as project director for the GIVE Knox County Career Collaborative. “This grant will provide the support to help students in Knox County do just that. Working together, the grant partners will immerse students from middle school through college in work-based learning environments, develop innovative pathways that result in industry-recognized credentials and increase the number of potential employees that possess a college degree.”

In Blount County, the Career Collaborative will focus on increasing the number of students who enroll in and complete advanced manufacturing and construction-related degree and certifications in Pellissippi State’s Engineering Technology program, which includes concentrations in Manufacturing, Industrial Maintenance and Civil Engineering, as well as in Pellissippi State’s Electrical Engineering Technology program.

The grant also will be used to boost enrollment in and completion of the Industrial Maintenance/Mechatronics Technology, Pipefitting and Plumbing Technology, Industrial Electricity and HVAC Technician options at TCAT.

Pellissippi State chose to address information technology, construction and advanced manufacturing careers because these local industries are struggling to meet demand.

Tennessee employed 174,346 information technology workers in 2018, a gain of more than 3,797 jobs from the year before, according to a study by the Computer Technology Industry Association. Between 900 and 1,000 openings are projected in information technology in the Knoxville region between 2020 and 2026, according to data from Jobs4TN and the Tennessee School Boards Association District Data Dashboard.

“It is evident that the projected information technology workforce needs in the region are significant, and the enrollment and graduation rates for the related education and training programs are not sufficient to meet the projected needs,” Wolfe said, noting there have been only 26 graduates in the past three years from the four associate degree program concentrations at Pellissippi State that prepare students for positions as customer support specialists, programmers, data/computer systems analysts, cybersecurity analysts and systems engineers.

Meanwhile, the average age of Tennessee construction and manufacturing workers is 56, but only one worker is replaced for every four that retire, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. A Jobs4TN Area Profile projects that manufacturing and construction industries will post 2,650 openings in East Tennessee alone between 2016 and 2026.

“Unfortunately, interest in the pursuit of construction and manufacturing-related occupations has been on a steady decline,” Brahams explained. “Misperceptions about wages, career pathways and the elimination of many vocational programs with the push for students to obtain four-year degrees have compounded the problem. Young people are considering these occupations less frequently, and parents and counselors have become equally reluctant to discuss these career paths. As a result, supply and demand gaps widen.”

Among the major strategies Pellissippi State plans to employ to meet the goals of its GIVE Knox County and GIVE Blount County Career Collaboratives are

  • enhancing and expanding career pathway programs utilizing a stackable credentials approach;
  • developing and implementing a collaborative, meaningful and structured work-based learning continuum that begins in middle school and continues through completion of postsecondary credentials; and
  • expanding access to industry recognized certification preparation and testing.

“Local employers, all three Blount County school systems, the Blount Partnership and Pellissippi State have been working together to address the workforce needs of our community, and this grant will allow us to go to the next level with our efforts,” Brahams said.

In Knox County, Pellissippi State will continue to partner with the Knoxville Chamber, the East Tennessee Local Workforce Development Board, TCAT, Knox County Schools and multiple employers.

“We’ve worked together for years to identify and address regional workforce needs and skills gaps, but this grant brings new focus to expanding career pathways and implementing a structured continuum of work-based learning experiences in Knox County,” Wolfe said.

Click here for more information on the GIVE grants announced by Gov. Lee last week.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.

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Pellissippi Preview shows prospective students what Pellissippi State has to offer

Anyone who has considered taking classes at Pellissippi State Community College has an opportunity next week to check out the school: from the academic programs offered to the financial aid available.

Pellissippi State’s fall open house, now called Pellissippi Preview, will be held 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Oct. 27, at the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

Pellissippi Preview is open to prospective students of all ages.

Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. will kick off the event in the Clayton Performing Arts Center before those who attend are let loose to explore the campus at their leisure for one hour, explained Sarah Davis with Enrollment Services.

Each building on the Hardin Valley Campus will be open for the program showcase, 9:45-10:45 a.m., with maps showing participants where to find out more about the academic programs that interest them and the student services that are available at Pellissippi State.

“We hope they will go to every building and check out as many programs as they want,” Davis said, noting academic programs will be showcased in the buildings where those classes are taught.

Pellissippi Preview will feature two presentations after the program showcase ends: one on transferring from Pellissippi State to four-year colleges and universities and one on financial aid. Each of the presentations will be given twice – once at 10:45 and once at 11:25 – so that prospective students have the opportunity to attend both presentations, if they choose.

“They will get hands-on information about one of the questions we hear the most: ‘Will my Pellissippi State classes transfer?’” Davis said. “They’ll also learn more about scholarship opportunities, including Tennessee Promise for high school seniors and Tennessee Reconnect for adult learners.”

Throughout the day, participants can snag some refreshments in the college’s cafeteria or mug for the camera with fun props in a photo booth. All those who attend Pellissippi Preview will be entered in a drawing for two $250 scholarships from the Pellissippi State Foundation to attend Pellissippi State; winners will be contacted at a later date.

“This is a fun way to get on campus and see everything we have to offer – not just our academic programs, but our services as well, from Advising to Financial Aid to Student Life,” Davis said.

To RSVP for Pellissippi Preview or see the full agenda, visit www.pstcc.edu/prsvp.

To request accommodations for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State, MTSU promote smoother transfer paths for students

Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr., right, with Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee.

Pellissippi State Community College and Middle Tennessee State University are promoting new dual admission transfer pathways for students.

Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee signed an agreement Thursday, July 20, that would make transferring credits from Pellissippi State to MTSU seamless for students. This agreement allows students to earn an associate degree from Pellissippi State and then seamlessly complete a bachelor’s degree from MTSU in a related field, without losing credits in the transition.

The dual admission pathway applies to students who earn Associate of Arts, Associate of Science or Associate of Science in Teaching degrees at Pellissippi State. Students can enter these degree programs with the intent to transfer to MTSU, and then are admitted to both institutions simultaneously. When they complete their degree from Pellissippi State, eligible students are guaranteed acceptance to MTSU in Murfreesboro.

“Strong relationships with great universities like MTSU are critically important to our students,” Wise said. “Partnerships like this create clear pathways for students to earn degrees at Pellissippi State and then at MTSU so those students can enter the workforce in meaningful ways.”

“We are excited to initiate a partnership between Pellissippi State and MTSU that builds on what we have in common, particularly in how we prepare students for the workforce in Tennessee,” McPhee said. “MTSU and Pellissippi State have unique technical programs that will produce the skilled workforce the state needs as part of the Drive to 55.”

Drive to 55 is a state initiative that calls for 55 percent of adult Tennesseans to receive a post-secondary credential by 2025.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. For more information about MTSU, visit www.mtsu.edu or call 615-898-2300.

Female students earn engineering technology degrees through ‘Women in STEM’ grant

Makayla Edwards
Makayla Edwards
Tara Walker
Tara Walker

When Tara Walker and Makayla Edwards cross the stage at Pellissippi State Community College’s commencement ceremony on May 5, they will have a special grant, funded by NASA, to thank.

Walker and Edwards are two of 14 female Engineering Technology students at Pellissippi State to have earned scholarships funded through the Tennessee Community College Space Grant Consortium, which is part of the NSPIRES (NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System) program. The grant funds are earmarked for women and other underserved populations in STEM programs.

“I have absolutely loved the time I have spent at Pellissippi,” Walker said. “The teachers I’ve had make me want to come to class every day because they are so enthusiastic about their jobs. I do not believe, as a whole, any school has better teachers than Pellissippi. They are truly here because they want to see us learn and help us in any way they can.”

“I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without Pellissippi State and my professors,” Edwards said. “Pellissippi introduced me to 3D printing, and that helped me start my own business.”

Edwards started AMTec Fishing (an abbreviation of Additive Manufacturing Technologies Fishing) at the end of 2016. She designs and 3D prints fishing lures, then has them mass manufactured. Edwards intends to transfer to Austin Peay State University this fall, where she will study mechanical engineering.

Walker will transfer to Tennessee Technological University, where she will study chemical engineering.

“I like the engineering field because I feel like it gives me the opportunity to apply the knowledge I have gained in math and science while in college in a practical way. Chemical engineering is a fairly broad field, and there are a lot of different directions I could go with it. I would really like to work on the environmental side of chemical engineering in waste water treatment,” she said.

Walker, who graduated from Hardin Valley Academy in 2013, was not always interested in STEM fields.

“When I was in high school, I wasn’t always a very good student. But in my senior year, something clicked and I realized I needed to do well to be successful. That success mindset has continued here at Pellissippi State,” she said. “I first enrolled in an education program, but I realized it takes a very special person to be an educator and that wasn’t me.”

Walker first came to Pellissippi State as part of the tnAchieves scholarship, the precursor to Tennessee Promise — as did Edwards.

“The tnAchieves scholarship was one of my biggest reasons for originally attending Pellissippi,” Walker said. “I wasn’t sure if I would do well in college because of my not-so-stellar academic performance in high school, so I didn’t want to go to a huge university.”

 “The NASA grant brought a lot of the female engineering technology students together,” Edwards said. “It’s nice to know you’re not alone when you’re studying in a traditionally male-dominated field. It also introduced me to the community; I was able to go to local middle schools and speak to students about STEM.”

The NASA grant funds more than just scholarships for the students who earn it. Pellissippi State students have traveled to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama and to the Society of Women Engineers conference.

“At the SWE conference, I was able to speak to companies who wanted to hire female engineers,” Walker said. “Those contacts and the SWE organization may help me find companies hiring engineers when I graduate. Plus, it was amazing to see all of the accomplishments women in engineering are making.”

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.