Pellissippi State names Curt Maxey its distinguished alumnus of the year

Portrait of Curt Maxey
Curt Maxey, Class of 1979, is Pellissippi State’s distinguished alumnus of the year.

Pellissippi State Community College has recognized Curt Maxey of Curt Maxey Technologies as its Distinguished Alumni Award winner for 2020. 

The award, sponsored this year by FirstBank, is given to an individual in recognition of significant professional achievement, service to the community and support of the college and the Pellissippi State Foundation. 

FirstBank also is the presenting sponsor for the college’s 2020 Alumni Program. 

“We’re happy to be partnering with Pellissippi State to support the great work this school is doing in our community,” said FirstBank Knoxville Market President Brent Ball, who announced the award in a video. “As a longtime resident of East Tennessee, I know how important Pellissippi State is to residents of this area, and we’re proud to contribute to their alumni and students’ success.” 

Maxey, who retired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2015, was the first in his family to go to college. Maxey worked his way through school, first as a janitor for restaurants and later as an electronics technician, graduating with his Associate of Engineering Technology in 1979. 

“When I stepped onto Pellissippi State’s ‘State Tech’ campus on Liberty Street in 1976, I was a fun-loving young man fresh out of high school with a life-long passion for science, but little sense of academic direction,” Maxey said. “I could not have foreseen what that education would enable me to achieve as I worked with industry, joined a National Laboratory, completed my engineering degree and worked on programs of international significance. 

“At this stage of my life and career, I am pleased to be a very ordinary man who has been privileged to make some extraordinary contributions,” he added. “There is no question that I am where I am in 2020 because Pellissippi State was where it was in 1976.” 

Maxey started his career at Philips Consumer Electronics, where he met his wife, Helene, before moving on to ORNL while finishing his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. As a longtime research and development staff engineer, Maxey was awarded 15 patents and earned multiple awards of national and international significance, including three R&D100 awards, DOE’s Outstanding Mentor Award, ORNL’s Inventor of The Year and multiple technology transfer awards. Maxey also served as the lead technical consultant for the West Tennessee Solar Farm near Memphis. 

Since his retirement, Maxey has started a consulting business, where he works with clients in the chemical processing, nuclear power, automotive, advanced materials and textiles industries.  

Curt and Helene Maxey with scholarship recipient Tabitha Wyrick
2020 Distinguished Alumni Award winner Curt Maxey, right, and his wife, Helene, left, visit with Curt and Helene Maxey Scholarship recipient Tabitha Wyrick at the 2019 Donor and Scholars reception at Pellissippi State.

Despite his lengthy list of professional accolades, Maxey insists that his greatest achievement of his career was the opportunity to mentor students. 

I have 15 patents, but would be hard pressed to name three; by contrast, I can tell you the name of every student I trained and, for most, I can to this day tell you where they are geographically and within their careers,” Maxey said. 

Recognizing the important role Pellissippi State has played in their lives, Mr. and Mrs. Maxey set up a scholarship at Pellissippi State in 2018 to help others realize their dreams as well. The Curt and Helene Maxey Scholarship recognizes that, regardless of grade point average, there are many students who will go on to accomplish great things if they are given encouragement and assistance. 

“The Foundation is pleased to support the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor presented to an alumnus of the college,” said Britney Sink, director of Alumni and Donor Engagement. “Curt Maxey is a perfect example of a Pellissippi State graduate making significant contributions to his profession, community and the lives of others. 

For more information about Pellissippi State Alumni, visit www.pstcc.edu/alumni or call 865.539.7275. 

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FirstBank partners with Pellissippi State to supplement food pantry during coronavirus, pledges $50,000 to build new Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science and $10,000 to celebrate alumni

Officer places grocery bags in open hatch of vehicle
Corporal Richard Brintnall of the Pellissippi State Campus Police loads groceries from the Pellissippi Pantry into a recipient’s car earlier this month.

Employees and friends of FirstBank in Knoxville recently raised $3,000 to help Pellissippi State Community College supplement the food in its Pellissippi Pantry during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Pellissippi Pantry provides access to healthy foods for members of the Pellissippi State family who may be experiencing food insecurity. Every other week, participants may pick up orders that include prepackaged food and fresh organically grown produce from the Hardin Valley Campus Garden. 

With the coronavirus pandemic causing shortages at local grocery stores, FirstBank employees stepped up and helped Pellissippi State supplement the food the college had on hand to distribute to more than 75 Pellissippi Pantry recipients the first week of April. 

“The work of Pellissippi State’s food pantry is vitally important to supporting the student community, and we’re happy to see our FirstBank family rally around a cause that helps people build a better future,” said FirstBank Knoxville Market President Nathan Hunter. 

Pellissippi State set up distribution tents on three of its campuses – Blount County, Hardin Valley and Magnolia Avenue – and announced times during which Pellissippi Pantry recipients could pick up their food. Volunteers from the college placed the boxes and bags of food in each recipient’s vehicle for a contact-less delivery. 

This was just the latest way FirstBank, the third largest bank headquartered in Tennessee, has partnered with Pellissippi State in 2020. 

In MarchHunter presented Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. with a $60,000 donation — $50,000 to help build the new Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus and $10,000 to sponsor Pellissippi State’s annual Alumni and Friends Luncheon, which celebrates accomplishments of past Pellissippi State graduates. 

“We’re happy to be partnering with Pellissippi State to support the great work this school is doing in our community,” Hunter said. “As a longtime resident of East Tennessee, I know how important Pellissippi State is to residents of this area, and we’re proud to contribute to their alumni and students’ success.” 

FirstBank’s $50,000 gift to the Pellissippi State Foundation will help the college complete its new 82,000-square-foot Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the Hardin Valley Campus, which is now under construction and expected to open for classes in fall 2021.  

The new building will help Pellissippi State, the largest community college in Tennessee, meet demands for classrooms and lab spaces that have increased due to Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, last-dollar scholarships that provide two years of tuition-free attendance at a community or technical college in Tennessee. 

FirstBank employees present ceremonial check to Pellissippi State
FirstBank presents Pellissippi State with a donation to help build the new Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science and to sponsor the annual Annual Alumni and Friends. From left are Robert Baird and Nathan Hunter of FirstBank, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Chris Parrott of FirstBank, Pellissippi State Foundation Executive Director Aneisa Rolen and Rusty Harmon of FirstBank.

The Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science will include 18 classrooms, six computer labs and nine science labs, as well as a teacher education center for the college’s Early Childhood Development and Teacher Education programs. An Adjunct Faculty Suite in the building will be named in honor of FirstBank’s generous contribution. 

“Each contribution we receive for the new Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science allows us to offer greater access to required labs in the sciences,” Wise said. “This new building will also include much needed classroom space for mathematics and teacher education as well as spaces for faculty and student collaboration. We appreciate our partners at FirstBank seeing the value of what we’ve proposed here and contributing to that vision.” 

FirstBank also will contribute $10,000 to Pellissippi State’s annual Alumni and Friends Lunch, which was scheduled for April 8 at the Foundry on the Fair Site but has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The winners of the college’s Distinguished Alumni Award and the Peggy Wilson Alumni Volunteer Award, both selected by members of the Alumni Steering Committee, will be honored at the lunch. 

Those award winners have not been announced. 

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

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About FirstBank 

Nashville-based FirstBank, a wholly owned subsidiary of FB Financial Corporation (NYSE: FBK), is the third largest Tennessee-headquartered bank, with 73 full-service bank branches across Tennessee, Kentucky, North Alabama and North Georgia, and a national mortgage business with offices across the Southeast. The bank serves five of the major metropolitan markets in Tennessee and, with approximately $6.2 billion in total assets, has the resources to provide a comprehensive variety of financial services and products. 

For More Information 

Jeanie Rittenberry or Roger Shirley 

FirstBank MP&F Strategic Communications 

jrittenberry@firstbankonline.com 

rshirley@mpf.com 

(615) 313-8328 

(615) 259-4000 

Partnerships help Pellissippi State produce personal protective equipment on 3D printers

Man in orange shirt carrying box
Jesse Smith of ORNL delivers filament to Pellissippi State Community College. ORNL is one of the partners who donated filament to Pellissippi State’s MegaLab for 3D printing personal protective equipment.

Pellissippi State Community College recently 3D-printed 1,700 headbands for face shields health care professionals wear to protect them from infectious diseases such as Covid-19. But Pellissippi State didn’t do it alone. 

Knox County Schools’ Career Magnet Academy, Roane State Community College and Oak Ridge National Laboratory donated rolls of filament for Pellissippi State’s 3D printers. Filaments are thermoplastics that melt rather than burn when heated. Filament is fed into a 3D printer, where it is shaped and molded into a 3D object that solidifies when cooled. 

CMA, a public high school located in the same building as Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus, donated 13 kilograms (about 13 rolls) of filament, which was used to make 400 headbands; Roane State donated kilograms (about 8 rolls) of filament, which was used to make 225 headbands; and ORNL donated about 18 kilograms (about 18 rolls) of filamentwhich was used to make 500 headbands. 

These donations helped Pellissippi State continue making headbands for a project announced by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on March 23. The headbands were 3D-printed in the Pellissippi State’s MegaLab on its Strawberry Plains Campus before being inspected, boxed and shipped to Austin Peay State University, the college that developed the prototype.  

There the headbands were attached to transparent face shields for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to distribute to health care facilities and professionals who were facing shortages of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Cranking out 1,700 headbands was a massive effort to undertake with only MegaLab Director Andy PolnickiTim Wilson and Todd Evans of Business and Community Services, and members of the Pellissippi State Campus Police, all of whom are essential workers allowed to report to campus during the governor’s Safer at Home Order. 

Rolls of filament
ORNL donated 18 kilograms of filament to Pellissippi State Community College to help its MegaLab continue 3D printing headbands for transparent plastic face shields.

We built the printer space in the MegaLab less than six months ago,” Polnicki said. It was intended to support summer camps in 3D printing, to provide a Maker Space for CMA and Pellissippi State students and to offer an Additive Manufacturing class for our Engineering students. I would have never expected the space to become a production area run by our police force and myself. 

Each of the MegaLab’s 3D printers produced more than 140 headbands – likely more printing time than most printers see in a lifetime of use,” Polnicki noted. More than 56 rolls of filament were consumed by the project.  

We are thankful for our employees and for community partners like CMARoane State and ORNL that contributed to this monumental project,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “In times like these, we are reminded how much we can accomplish when we work together for the greater good.” 

Learn more about the headband project at http://tiny.cc/nycpmzFor more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. 

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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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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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Pellissippi State celebrates 45 years of serving the community with 45 Days of Giving

1974 faculty and staff of Pellissippi State in front of Division Street building
Pellissippi State Community College opened for classes at what is now the college’s Division Street Campus on Sept. 23, 1974. The college was named State Technical Institute at Knoxville,and it offered three associate degree programs, all in Engineering Technology.

It’s been 45 years since Pellissippi State Community College opened as State Technical Institute at Knoxville, with 45,000 square feet of floor space, to an inaugural headcount of 45 students.

Now the largest community college in Tennessee, with five campuses and 10,694 students, Pellissippi State is celebrating its 45th anniversary with 45 Days of Giving, a push to finish out Pellissippi State’s campaign to build two new buildings, expand its Media Technologies programs and support students financially.

“There will never be forests in the future if we don’t plant the seeds today,” said Ronni Chandler, a Pellissippi State alumna who serves on the college Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “This campaign is about doing our part to ensure that current and future students have the facilities and resources they need to be prepared to succeed and to lead.”

Pellissippi State launched the campaign Feb. 1, outlining a lofty goal of raising $10 million. So far the Foundation has reached 99% of that goal, and construction of the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus is underway.

The college expects to break ground on the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the Blount County Campus in spring 2020.

“Every part of this campaign — from the new buildings to the Student Opportunity Fund — will benefit our students,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.

For example, the new 82,000-square-foot Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science will help Pellissippi State meet demands for classrooms and lab spaces that have increased due to the Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect scholarships while the new 53,000-square-foot Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center will be used by Pellissippi State and Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville to help fill the area’s need for highly skilled, college-educated employees.

Pellissippi State’s Student Opportunity Fund also will benefit from the campaign. Created in 2018 to help break down the barriers that keep students from staying in school, the Student Opportunity Fund has provided a total of $55,115 in assistance to 153 students since its inception last year.

“Many people believe the cost of an education at Pellissippi State is now paid for by the state,” explained Campaign Chair Tom Ballard, who established the Student Opportunity Fund with his wife Diane and support from Marty Adler-Jasny and Norm and Ann Naylor. “That is true for things like tuition, but it doesn’t pay for incidentals or unexpected expenses for a student whose car breaks down or computer dies. Those are expenses that many of Pellissippi State’s students cannot absorb.”

To complete the campaign before the end of the calendar year, Pellissippi State is celebrating 45 Days of Giving. 45 Days of Giving will continue until Dec. 31 and will include Giving Tuesday on Dec. 3.

During these 45 days, Pellissippi State faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community are encouraged to donate to Pellissippi State at https://giving.pstcc.edu.

Five alumni champions – one for each decade the college has existed – are challenging their fellow alumni to see which decade’s alumni can raise the most for the campaign. Champions include Curt Maxey, Class of 1979; Randy Merritt, Class of 1989; Ronni Chandler, Class of 1994; J. Travis Howerton, Class of 2002; and Candace Viox, Class of 2013.

“After being out of the workforce for 13 years and college for 20 years, I enrolled in the culinary program at Pellissippi State,” said Viox, owner of Water into Wine Bistro and Lounge. “My experience and the many supporters I gained there led to the conception, and ultimately the success, of my restaurant in Farragut.”

Even those donors who didn’t graduate from Pellissippi State are welcome to indicate which decade they want their gift to join. The winning decade will be the theme of the campaign celebration.

To keep up with 45 Days of Giving and the friendly competition between the decades, be sure to follow Pellissippi State, Pellissippi State Foundation and Pellissippi State Alumni and Friends on Facebook. Facebook profile frames to support the campaign are available here.

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

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Private preschool establishes Early Childhood Education scholarships for Pellissippi State students

Pellissippi State folks accepting check from Goddard School representatives
The Goddard School of Knoxville will fund scholarships for Early Childhood Education majors at Pellissippi State. From left are
Natural and Behavioral Sciences Dean Kane Barker; Assistant Professor Lizzie Kelly; Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator J. Hope Denny; Anoula McCarren, co-owner of The Goddard School of Knoxville; Tonya Ray, curriculum director; and Kayla Suter, operations director.

A fundraiser by The Goddard School of Knoxville will provide up to 22 scholarships each year for students majoring in Early Childhood Education at Pellissippi State Community College.

The Goddard Luau, held Aug. 24, raised $3,500, which the private preschool used to establish The Goddard School Scholarship and Program Support. The program will fund $75 scholarships for Early Childhood Education majors at Pellissippi State.

“Here at The Goddard School, we know how important the foundation of learning is, and we want to help give our community high quality early childhood educators,” said Anoula McCarren, co-owner of The Goddard School of Knoxville with her husband, Don. “The Goddard School uses the most current academically endorsed methods to ensure that children have fun while learning the skills they need for long-term success in school and in life.”

The Goddard School presented Pellissippi State with the donation on Oct. 2, the same day the Goddard School Scholarship and Program Support was established through a memorandum of agreement with the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation, a nonprofit that develops financial resources to support the educational, cultural and service goals of the college.

Any future donations from The Goddard School will be deposited in the fund, which will provide student support in the form of scholarships, but also may be used to support Early Childhood Education technology and program needs.

“The Goddard School is an invaluable partner with our Pellissippi State Early Childhood Education program,” said Associate Professor and Program Coordinator J. Hope Denny. “The staff provide support by hosting students in field experiences, serve as representatives on our advisory board, and are strong advocates for this program in general. Their generosity is a crucial support to many of our students who need financial assistance in meeting fieldwork requirements. These scholarships will help our students be successful – not only in their coursework, but also in their careers.”

In order to qualify for one of the scholarships provided from the Goddard School Scholarship and Program Support, students must:

  • Major in Early Childhood Education and enroll for a minimum of 6 hours;
  • Complete a Foundation Scholarship Application;
  • Demonstrate financial need; and
  • Have a grade point average of 2.0 or higher.

Priority will be given to students in need of financial support of required fieldwork for the Early Childhood Education Program, such as the cost of background checks.

Pellissippi State offers both a certificate and an associate degree in Early Childhood Education. Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Early Childhood Education program at Pellissippi State prepares students to deliver programming for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and primary-age children (birth through age 8) and their families.

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

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TBR honors Blount County Economic Development Board for philanthropy

Fred Lawson accepts matted and framed TBR Chancellor's Award
Blount County Economic Development Board Chairman Fred Lawson, center, accepts the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy from Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr. and Regent Danni Varlan on Thursday.

The Blount County Economic Development Board was honored Thursday with the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy.

The board was nominated by Pellissippi State Community College for its early pledge of $1 million on behalf of Blount County and the cities of Alcoa and Maryville to support the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center that will be built on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

“The Economic Development Board was founded as the Blount County Industrial Development Board more than 50 years ago with the vision to attract good jobs so that young people wouldn’t have to leave Blount County,” said Regent Danni Varlan before presenting the award to Economic Development Board Chairman Fred Lawson at Blount Partnership. “With shared space for high school dual enrollment, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Pellissippi State and incumbent worker training, the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center will ensure that students are ready to enter the workforce with great local employers such as Arconic, Blount Memorial Hospital, DENSO and Clayton Homes.”

The $16.5 million Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center is being funded by a public-private partnership: $5.5 million raised by the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation, $5.7 million from TCAT Knoxville capacity expansion funds and $5.3 million from the state.

“This is a different path than most of our projects take,” noted Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “State building projects usually wait on a list for about 18 years. The conversations we’ve had with business and industry leaders and (Blount Partnership CEO and President) Bryan Daniels indicated that, with the job growth in Blount County, we were pretty sure we didn’t have 18 years to wait.”

Varlan agreed.

“Blount County is just rocking it,” she said. “Since 2012, Blount County has added 6,000 new jobs and $2.9 billion in capital investment.”

In addition to receiving the Chancellor’s Award, the Economic Development Board got a sneak peek at plans for the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on Thursday. The plans by BarberMcMurry Architects have not been shared publicly because they will not go to the state building commission for approval until October, Wise explained.

“The principal layout is large open teaching spaces, similar to our MegaLab at the Strawberry Plains Campus, because we wanted to build in flexibility,” Wise said. “When students walk out to train, they get the feeling they are walking out onto the floor at one of our industry partners. That flexibility is important because my guess is that advanced manufacturing won’t be done the same way 10 years from now.”

Varlan praised the flexibility reflected in the plans and connected that flexibility with how higher education has changed over the years.

“It’s very important to us at TBR to make sure our workforce is competitive,” she said. “The whole idea of our community and technical colleges is to be open and nimble. We don’t know what’s coming down the road, but we have to be ready to teach it. Now we ask communities, ‘What do you need?’ The whole point is that our students can get out of school and get a job.”

Blount County Economic Development Board with Chancellor's Award
Several members of the Blount County Economic Development Board were on hand at the Blount Partnership Thursday for the presentation of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy. From left are Bob Booker of DENSO, Monica Gawet of Tennessee Marble, Joe Dawson, Regent Danni Varlan, Blount County Economic Development Board Chairman Fred Lawson, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Greg Wilson of First Tennessee Bank and Matthew Murray of the University of Tennessee.

The 51,000-square-foot Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center will include proposed Pellissippi State programming for Computer Information Technology, Culinary Arts and Engineering Technology concentrations such as Automated Industrial Systems and Industrial Maintenance.

The building also will house a Corporate Training Center that will be available to businesses who want to train their workers off site, for training Business and Community Services provides to local employers and to the community for events.

“It can be divided into three areas for smaller groups, or we can open it up with theatre seating for 234 or round tables for banquets accommodating around 210,” noted Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director for Economic and Workforce Development.

TCAT’s portion of the building is slated to include programming for Industrial Electrical Maintenance, Machine Tool Technology, Pipe Fitting and Welding to start, Wise said, while dual enrollment opportunities with Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County schools will continue to grow.

“We’ve done a lot and had a lot of conversations about this, and one of the things that’s exciting is now it’s time to execute that planning and have something really special here in Blount County,” Wise said. “It’s going to be a great facility to teach in, to learn in and to work in.”

Pellissippi State plans to break ground on the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center this winter and fully occupy the building by fall 2021.

“We wouldn’t be here without the support of the people in this room,” Wise said.

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

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Building Tomorrow’s Success: Regions Foundation first contributor to support both new buildings planned for Pellissippi State

Regions Foundation presents donation to Dr. Wise
Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., left, accepts a $100,000 donation from Rob Stivers, Knoxville Market Executive for Regions Bank, and Marta Self, Executive Director of the Regions Foundation, on Aug. 30, 2019. The gift will be used to build the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus and the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the college’s Blount County Campus.

Two new buildings planned for Pellissippi State Community College got a significant financial boost Friday as the Regions Foundation presented the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation with a $100,000 grant — $50,000 for the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus and $50,000 for the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the college’s Blount County Campus.

This dual investment distinguishes the Regions Foundation as the first contributor to support two areas of The Campaign for Pellissippi State, a $10 million campaign to support designated building, program and student initiatives. The Regions Foundation is a nonprofit initiative of Regions Bank dedicated to supporting community investments that make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

“The Regions Foundation is committed to helping students be in the best position to begin a rewarding career as they graduate,” said Marta Self, Executive Director of the Regions Foundation. “So our focus naturally aligns with the goals of Pellissippi State in establishing these new learning centers. This is a place where the ambition and potential of students will be met with the experience and insights of skilled educators who can guide them on the path to rewarding careers.”

“Education and workforce development are crucial to the continued success of East Tennessee,” added Rob Stivers, Knoxville Market Executive for Regions Bank. “The programs here at Pellissippi State are designed to train and equip students not only for the jobs of today, but also for the jobs of tomorrow. We believe that as more people gain access to tools and training that will help them succeed on the job, we will see more inclusive growth and prosperity throughout our area.”

Regions Foundation’s contribution will establish the Regions Foundation Computer Lab and Math-Science Classroom within the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science and the Regions Foundation Computer Science Classroom within the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center.

Additionally, Regions Bank will be collaborating with Pellissippi State to develop a Regions Bank Capstone Project for Business Students concentrating in Accounting or Management.

“Regions Foundation’s gifts will help Pellissippi State generate career opportunities and economic stability for Knox and Blount County residents through investing in expanded, enhanced and modernized STEM-related and workforce development training programs,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “These donations will impact our students whether they are seeking associate degrees, transfer pathways to four-year universities or professional certificates to help further the careers they’ve already chosen.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., speaks at Pellissippi State
U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., speaks at Pellissippi State on Aug. 30, 2019, about how having a good education is the basis of a good economy.

Congressman Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., joined Regions Foundation, Regions Bank and Pellissippi leaders Friday in addressing the benefits of workforce development and illustrating how effective programs, like those at Pellissippi State, are fueling the East Tennessee economy.

“Pellissippi State Community College is an asset to our region,” Burchett said. “Having good jobs is the foundation for a strong economy, and I appreciate everything Pellissippi State does to advance STEM programs, trade certificates and workforce development in our community. I also want to offer a big thank you to the Regions Foundation for its generous support of these programs.”

Pellissippi State announced Feb. 1 plans to build two new buildings.

The 82,000-square-foot Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the Hardin Valley Campus will help Pellissippi State, the largest community college in Tennessee with 10,894 students, meet demands for classrooms and lab spaces that have increased due to Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, last-dollar scholarships that provide two years of tuition-free attendance at a community or technical college in Tennessee.

The Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science will include 18 classrooms, six computer labs and nine science labs, as well as a teacher education center for the college’s Early Childhood Development and Teacher Education programs.

Pellissippi State broke ground on the center for math and science in May and expects to open the new building for classes in fall 2021.

The new 53,000-square-foot Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the Blount County Campus will be used by Pellissippi State and Tennessee College of Applied Technology to help fill the area’s needs for highly skilled, college-educated employees.

Pellissippi State’s part of the workforce development center is expected to house a Smart Factory MegaLab featuring Industry 4.0 curriculum and offer classes in Computer Information Technology, Culinary Arts, Electrical Engineering Technology and Mechanical Engineering Technology. Meanwhile, TCAT’s part of the new building is expected to include classes in Industrial Electrical Maintenance and Welding, Machine Tool Technology and Pipe Fitting.

In addition to traditional college classes, the workforce development center also will allow Pellissippi State to enhance its partnerships with K-12 schools in Blount County, offering dual enrollment classes for high school students, focusing on high-demand career skills, and to increase its industry partnerships with a new corporate training center that will give local companies extra space and opportunity to train their employees at Pellissippi State.

Pellissippi State expects to break ground on the workforce development center later this year and open to students in fall 2021.

For more information about the Campaign for Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu/campaignforpellissippistate. For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

About Regions Foundation
Regions Foundation is an Alabama nonprofit corporation. It is exempt from Federal income tax as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Regions Foundation is funded primarily through contributions from Regions Bank. It engages in a community grantmaking program focused on priorities including economic and community development; education and workforce readiness; financial wellness; and related initiatives fostering inclusive growth across the communities it serves.

About Regions Financial Corporation

Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $128 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services.  Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest, and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,500 banking offices and 2,000 ATMs. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at www.regions.com.

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DENSO grant to benefit Pellissippi State’s Electrical Engineering Technology students

DENSO presents IndustryReady 2.0 grant on Blount County Campus
An IndustryReady 2.0 grant from DENSO North American Foundation will provide Pellissippi State with the necessary supplies and modules to build three instrumentation and process control training systems, similar to the one shown in the background here, for the college’s Electrical Engineering Technology students. From left are Jack Helmboldt, president of the DENSO North American Foundation; Assistant Professor Kristi Leach; Emilie Denson, section leader for Human Resources at DENSO; instrumentation instructor Lane Whiteside; Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.; and Brian Crawford of DENSO’s North American Talent Acquisition Team.

A $48,125 grant from DENSO North American Foundation – the philanthropic arm of DENSO, the world’s second largest mobility supplier – will help Pellissippi State Community College students become the highly trained workforce this region needs.

The IndustryReady 2.0 grant will provide the college with the necessary supplies and modules to build three instrumentation and process control training systems for Pellissippi State’s Electrical Engineering Technology students.

“Blount County is one of the fastest growing counties in Tennessee in terms of job growth per capita, and employers in the county are adding hundreds of jobs each year, increasing the demand for highly skilled, college-educated employees,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “Pellissippi State is working to fill that need, and support from partners like DENSO helps us to provide the high-tech equipment necessary for talented students to complete their education and fill these jobs.”

The DENSO funding and this new equipment is expected to:

  • Enhance the development of essential skills necessary for Blount and Knox county workers to succeed in today’s workforce;
  • Enhance the college’s capacity to offer training that is closely aligned with industry standards; and
  • Address the high-demand for Engineering Technology, Industrial Maintenance and Automated Industrial Systems workers in the region.

“Investing in tomorrow’s workforce is critical to ensuring we have individuals who are equipped to help DENSO fulfill its vision of creating software and products that enhance safety and reduce environmental impact,” said Jack Helmboldt, president of the DENSO North American Foundation. “Through these grants, we hope to create a generation of innovators who inspire new value for the future of mobility.”

This grant, which DENSO officials presented to Wise on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus, builds on a $25,000 IndustryReady grant awarded to the college last July.

That DENSO funding allowed Pellissippi State to purchase one instrumentation and process control training system (IPCTS) that provides realistic pressure, level and flow training experiences for the college’s Electrical Engineering Technology students with an automation concentration – the very students who often go on to work at DENSO.

Pellissippi State Assistant Professor Curtis Holmes, center, supervises students in the Integrated Robotics class as they use some of the DENSO-funded equipment on the college's Blount County Campus on Aug. 28, 2019.
Pellissippi State Assistant Professor Curtis Holmes, center, supervises Integrated Robotics students as they use some of the DENSO-funded equipment on the college’s Blount County Campus on Aug. 28, 2019.

The college’s two instrumentation classes began using the equipment during the 2019 spring semester.

“Before we had a lot of sensors – to test for levels, pressures, etc. – that worked separately,” explained Assistant Professor Kristi Leach. “This system is tying everything together, and it can connect to our program logic controllers.”

Leach said she had wanted this equipment since she started teaching at Pellissippi State in 2011. The expense was prohibitive until DENSO chipped in.

Funding for grants such as this one is awarded through the Pellissippi State Foundation, which develops resources to support the educational goals of Pellissippi State. The Foundation provides scholarships and emergency loans to students, improves facilities and secures new equipment for the college.

For more information about the Pellissippi State Foundation, visit www.pstcc.edu/foundation or call 865-694-6528. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu  or call 865-694-6400.

DENSO is looking to hire engineering talent across North America, particularly in Tennessee where it recently invested $1 billion as it continues its pursuit to shape and improve future mobility solutions for all. Positions are available in a variety of roles and locations. Those interested in working with new technologies and collaborating with global teams to create safe and efficient vehicles can apply at www.densocareers.com.

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