TBR honors Richard B. Ray, Blount Memorial Hospital for support of higher education 

Richard Ray at lectern, accepting Regents' Award on Aug. 17, 2021
Richard B. Ray of Knoxville, a co-founder of tnAchieves, accepts the Regents’ Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at Pellissippi State on Aug. 17.

Richard B. Ray of Knoxville, a co-founder of tnAchieves, and Blount Memorial Hospital were honored this month by the Tennessee Board of Regents for their longstanding support of education. Both were nominated by Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr. 

Ray received the 2021 Regents’ Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at a Ribbon Cutting Celebration for Pellissippi State’s Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on Aug. 17, while Blount Memorial’s chief executive officer Don Heinemann and board vice chair David Pesterfield accepted the 2021 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at a Blount Partnership event Aug. 25. 

Established in 2001, these awards honor individuals, companies and organizations who go “above and beyond” to donate their resources, finances, and personal time to TBR’s 40 community and technical colleges. 

Wise nominated Ray, co-founder and chief financial officer of 21st Mortgage Corporation, for his commitment to tnAchieves, the college scholarship and mentorship program that pairs volunteer mentors with incoming college students who receive the Tennessee Promise scholarship.  

Not only did Ray found KnoxAchieves, the precursor to tnAchieves, with fellow Knoxville businessmen Randy Boyd, Bill Haslam, Mike Ragsdale and Tim Williams in 2009, but Ray is one of only four tnAchieves volunteers across the state who has served as a mentor every single year. Over the past 12 years, Ray has mentored over 60 students. He drives from his home in west Knoxville to the Carter community in east Knox County to meet with his mentees, and he volunteers every year to teach budgeting at tnAchieves’ Summer Bridge Program at Pellissippi State, which helps incoming students start on a more college-ready level, both academically and socially. 

“Rich Ray was the first in his family to graduate from college,” Wise writes in nominating Ray for the award. “Growing up in east Knoxville, Rich worked his way through the University of Tennessee. He remembers the challenges of working to pay tuition and navigating higher education without a mentor to guide him. Rich says, ‘If you are the first in family to ever go beyond high school, you need someone to tell you it is possible, that you can do it.’” 

Ray and his wife, Jane, also have supported Pellissippi State since 2017, with gifts to the Student Opportunity Fund, which helps the Pellissippi State Foundation assist students in crisis, and to support the expansion of the Strawberry Plains Campus library. The couple also has committed a planned gift to Pellissippi State to continue their support of community college students into the future. 

“Jane and I have been fortunate to contribute to wonderful organizations, but we do focus on education,” Ray said when accepting the award from Regent Danni B. Varlan on Aug. 17. “We firmly believe that to have a better quality of life for our kids in Tennessee, they must be better educated. That begins with K-3 and continues all the way through getting their degrees either at a university or a community college or developing a trade at TCAT, so thank you for this recognition. I appreciate it.” 

Blount Memorial Hospital chief executive officer Don Heinemann, second from left, and hospital board vice chair David Pesterfield, third from left, accept the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Philanthropy on Aug. 25, 2021
Blount Memorial Hospital chief executive officer Don Heinemann, second from left, and hospital board vice chair David Pesterfield, third from left, accept the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy on Aug. 25, from Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., left, and Regent Danni B. Varlan.

Wise nominated Blount Memorial Hospital for the Chancellor’s Award for its longstanding support of Pellissippi State students. In 2001 the hospital established the Blount Memorial Nursing Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a Nursing student from Blount County. The hospital later funded the Nursing simulation lab at the college’s Blount County Campus, helping establish the college’s Nursing program in 2010. More recently Blount Memorial pledged $100,000 to help build the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the Blount County Campus, which is now underway and is scheduled for completion in 2022. 

While Blount Memorial sponsors clinical rotations for Pellissippi State’s Nursing students, last year Pellissippi State helped the hospital train 61 of its medical-surgical nurses in COVID-19 patient care, allowing the hospital to use the Nursing simulation lab on the Blount County Campus to practice scenarios based on actual COVID-19 cases. These COVID-19 trainings were just the beginning of what Pellissippi State and Blount Memorial envision being a year-round partnership, including the possibility of launching a nurse residency program. 

Blount Memorial’s support of Blount County and its people, however, dates to its founding in 1947, when local physicians and philanthropists partnered with ALCOA Inc. to realize the dream of a community hospital. 

“Blount Memorial Hospital is committed to care for the health and well-being of any individual who needs assistance, regardless of their ability to pay,” Wise writes in nominating Blount Memorial for the award. “This ethos permeates the organizational culture, from the greeter at the welcome desk to the most skilled surgeon. As healthcare challenges increase, so does Blount Memorial’s commitment to care for all who need assistance: every child, every senior, every hurting or sick individual, regardless of circumstance.” 

 “It’s truly an honor for Blount Memorial to receive the Chancellor’s Award,” said Heinemann, the hospital’s CEO. “Our work with Pellissippi State is something we’ve cherished over the years, and we’re committed to continuing our efforts to support Pellissippi State students who are planning careers in health care. As we saw just in the last year, our collaboration with Pellissippi State helped us ensure our team was prepared to handle the influx of COVID-19 cases in our community. In a pandemic – or any other time – that’s a win-win for us.” 

Fall classes are now underway at Pellissippi State. For more information about the college or the Foundation, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. 

To apply to be a tnAchieves mentor for the Class of 2022, a commitment of about one hour per month, visit www.tnachieves.org/mentors 

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Pellissippi State’s new Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science opens ahead of fall semester

Ribbon cutting for Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science, outside the lobby doors
Pellissippi State Community College Student Government Association President Caitlandt Southall, center with ceremonial scissors, cuts the ribbon for the new Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus on Tuesday, Aug. 17. Joining her on the front row, from left, are Tennessee Higher Education Commission Executive Director Emily House, Regent Danni B. Varlan, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings, former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Crissy Haslam and Meg Counts of Pilot Company.

Pellissippi State Community College students in math, science and teacher education courses will return to classes next week in a state-of-the-art new building. 

Denark Construction completed the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus this summer, and a Ribbon Cutting Celebration was held Tuesday, Aug. 17, to celebrate.  

“We made a strategic decision that if we’re going to teach science, mathematics and teacher education, as well as have the ability to offer new programs like Water Quality Technology, we had to make this investment,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “We are really grateful for our partnership with BarberMcMurry Architects in thinking about what this space might look like, not only for teaching and learning inside the classroom, but for the kind of collaboration that is necessary outside the classroom for our students to be successful in working with each other and with their faculty and staff.” 

The new 82,000-square-foot building has been under construction since May 2019. It includes 18 classrooms, six computer labs, nine science labs and a teacher education center for the college’s Early Childhood Education and Teacher Education programs. 

“As I walked around inside the Haslam Center, I was impressed with the meaningful use of space and the attention to detail to better serve our students,” said Pellissippi State alumnus Carlos Gonzalez, who is finishing his bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a certificate in teaching at Maryville College. “For example, the Teacher Education Center and the state-of-the-art equipment in the labs — having these resources will keep students competitive in today’s society.” 

Opening the new building allows Pellissippi State to transform its Hardin Valley Campus, Wise added, by thinking about the spaces those programs have vacated and other ways to use them to support other college programs and initiatives. 

Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, for whom the building is named, was on hand Tuesday to tour the new building. As governor of Tennessee from 2011 to 2019, Haslam was key to establishing Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, last-dollar scholarships that provide two years of tuition-free attendance at a community or technical college in Tennessee, and the Haslam Family Foundation and Pilot Company were “Campaign Leaders” for Pellissippi State’s new math and science center, donating between $500,000 and $1 million toward the $27 million project. 

“I was thinking, driving out here, if you were going to pick a perfect location for a community college, you might pick this one,” Haslam said. “You’re strategically located between Oak Ridge and everything that is happening there, Blount County and Knox County. And if you’re going to find a really critical discipline that you want to make certain you have the room to grow and expand, it would be math and science.” 

Exterior of the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science
The Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Class will welcome its first students to class when the college’s fall semester starts Monday, Aug. 23.

Haslam told the audience that he had talked last night with Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thomas Zacharia, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and others about how to leverage the area’s assets of ORNL, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Tennessee, among others. 

“Among the key tactics to make that happen is the success of Pellissippi State,” Haslam said. “You all feel like I do: that the key to success is giving more folks a chance for education. We’re struggling with a lot of things in this country – a whole lot of things that are dividing us – and to me, the best answer for all of those problems comes back to more opportunity out of great public education. So thank you to all of you who serve, work out here and have been a part of making this happen. I truly am honored by it and always will be.” 

Following the ribbon cutting, Pellissippi State held an open house so that guests could tour the new building. Pellissippi State’s fall 2021 classes start Monday, Aug. 23, as many students return to campus for the first time since March 2020. 

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Pellissippi State Motorsports finishes sixth in national competition

Pellissippi State Motorsports founder Christian Boone drives the team's 2021 race car on the college's Hardin Valley Campus June 7.
Pellissippi State Motorsports founder Christian Boone drives the team’s 2021 race car on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus June 7. The team was nearly finished with the car and demonstrating it for supporters at a send-off celebration before the competition in Las Vegas the following week.

Pellissippi State Motorsports headed out to Las Vegas with a car about 110 pounds lighter and 60 horsepower faster than the first one the students designed and raced two years ago. 

They were betting the team’s new car would finish better than their first one did at Formula SAE Michigan in 2019, and they were right. 

Pellissippi State Motorsports finished sixth at Formula SAE Nevada held June 16-19.  

“There were 36 teams, and we finished sixth overall, as well as sixth in the Acceleration event,” said Christian Boone, who was a Pellissippi State student when he founded Pellissippi State Motorsports in 2018 and now serves as an engineering lab technician at the college. He is finishing his Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Tennessee. 

Pellissippi State was, again this year, the only community college in the competition that brings university undergraduate and graduate students together to compete with small, formula-style vehicles that they have conceived, designed, fabricated and developed themselves. The team finished ahead of larger four-year universities including Purdue, West Virginia and Mississippi State, among others. 

“Our biggest surprise for everybody (in 2019) was not that we were the only community college in the competition, but that we were a first-year team,” Boone said. “The chief design judge said our car was the best first-year car he had seen.” 

An issue with the engine, however, tripped up the team in 2019, and Pellissippi State Motorsports finished 95th of 109 teams that year, with an overall score of 181.4. This year’s car finished with an overall score of 378.7, an improvement of nearly 200 points. 

Boone said from the moment the 2019 competition ended that the team’s main objective moving forward was to reduce the weight of the race car from 578 pounds with fuel/without a driver. With the 2020 competition canceled due to COVID-19, the team regrouped and started working on the 2021 car in August, despite the ongoing pandemic. 

“We’re down to 465 pounds now by incorporating lighter materials and being more careful with the choice of hardware we make (internally),” Boone said at a send-off celebration for the team June 7. “We also have a launch traction control that will help us get off the line quicker.” 

“This team took what they learned from their first car and adjusted, and it looks great,” Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. said June 7, checking out the new car. “It’s going to be exciting to put it on the track.” 

The 2021 competition was hot – literally. After temperatures reached 115 degrees in Las Vegas and several competitors passed out from the heat, Formula SAE Nevada revised the schedule. Instead of teams having 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. each day to get their cars to pass tech and safety checks and then complete the competition’s four events, the window was shorted to 5:30 a.m.-2 p.m. after the first day, said Associate Professor Lynn Klett, the team’s faculty advisor. 

“They did great despite the oppressive heat and aggressive schedule,” she said. “Temperatures were 115 and higher every day.”   

The shortened schedule knocked 14 teams out of competition, as their cars never made it out of tech, according to the Formula SAE Nevada results. Tech includes about a 15-page inspection, Boone explained. 

The Pellissippi State Motorsports club at competition in Las Vegas in June 2021
Pellissippi State Motorsports and their faculty advisor, Associate Professor Lynn Klett (third from right on the back row) take a minute to pose with their finished race car at Formula SAE Nevada in June. The team finished sixth in the competition.

“For Formula SAE, you design the car around a set of rules, and Formula SAE goes through everything to make sure your car is rules-compliant — everything from the firewall and the seats to the chassis and every critical fastener,” he said. “We came prepared and got through our tech inspection really quick.” 

Pellissippi State wasn’t spared all the effects of the Las Vegas heat wave, however. During the Acceleration event, which measures the time it takes each car to travel 75 meters, Pellissippi State’s fan broke, causing the car to overheat after one run on the Acceleration course.  

While Pellissippi State’s time of 4.5 seconds still netted the team a sixth-place finish in the Acceleration event, that 4.5 seconds was only 4/10 of a second away from a first-place finish, Boone noted — and the car had been testing at 4.1 seconds on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus. 

“I think we could have won if we had another run, but we had to let the car cool down,” he said. 

Pellissippi State fixed the fan and went on to compete in the other four events: Skid Pad, which tests each car’s cornering capability on a figure-8-shaped course; Autocross, which tests how fast each car can make it around an open course; and Endurance and Efficiency, which test each car’s overall reliability on a 22-kilometer closed course, as well as how much fuel is used during the run. 

“When we got there at 6 a.m., it was already 95 degrees,” Boone said. “We were worried about the temperatures, but we managed to keep the car 5 degrees below where the ECU (engine control unit) would have cut off the engine.” 

In the end, Pellissippi State was one of few teams in the competition that got to finish all the events, which made Boone proud. 

“With the car we had, we did the best we could have done,” he said after the team returned from competition. “There were some technical things we did with the car that we could do differently next time, but this was a good team with good organization and good communication at the competition. Everyone had a job to do.” 

Pellissippi State students attending the competition this year included Daniel Ray (powertrain performance), Daniel Rasmussen (composite materials specialist), Ethan Crisp (electrical capstone student) and Zachary Koller (co-captain).  

They were joined by UT students Clayton Hickey and Charles Brush, both of whom previously attended Pellissippi State, as well as UT students Charlie LindeJeff Cargile and Cooper Jenkins. Cargile and Jenkins designed the race car’s aerodynamic package as their senior design project with fellow UT Aerospace Engineering student Gavin Jones. 

All UT students who serve on the team do so as volunteers and pay their own way to competition. 

Other Pellissippi State Motorsports team members who worked on the car but did not travel to the competition this year include George Johnson IV of Pellissippi State and Forrest Hamilton, a dual enrollment student who completed his Associate of Applied Science in Welding Technology while completing high school at Knox County’s Career Magnet Academy. 

“A lot of it has not been easy, but it was definitely a great experience,” Hamilton said. “There was a lot of going to school and going to work and then coming here and welding for six to eight hours, but it feels good to see so much of it finished. A lot of welding is not small diameter tubes so this has given me so much more confidence.” 

Pellissippi State Motorsports is a college-sponsored student club that could not do what it does without additional help from sponsors such as Barton Racing, Daycab Company, Norm and Ann Naylor, Gene Haas Foundation, Dave and Lynne Blair, Morlind Engineering, BHS Corrugated and Endeavor Composites. 

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President of Discovery’s new Magnolia Network headlines Pellissippi State celebration

Headshot of Allison Page
Allison Page, president of Discovery Inc.’s new Magnolia Network, will headline Pellissippi Strong: A Virtual Celebration on April 16.

Join Pellissippi State Community College for a free virtual event featuring a Q&A with the president of Magnolia Network, the joint venture between Discovery Inc. and Chip and Joanna Gaines’ home and lifestyle brand. 

Pellissippi Strong: A Virtual Celebration will be held 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Friday, April 16, and also will feature door prizes, networking and the college’s annual alumni awards. Registration is free and open to the public. 

The virtual celebration represents a transition from our former Alumni & Friends luncheon to a new event encompassing all individuals in the community that have a vested interest in the success of the college and its students,” said Aneisa Rolen, executive director of the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation. We are focused on sharing the stories that bring our Pellissippi State mantra start strong, stay strong and finish strong to life. Next year, we hope to fully launch the redesigned event in person. 

The celebration, presented by FirstBank, will be held on Lunchpool, which allows participants to video chat around virtual tables for face-to-face networking if they choose. Participants also may choose to keep their cameras off, if they prefer. 

At noon, media sponsor WATE-TV’s Tearsa Smith will kick off the event with a Q&A with Allison Page of the Magnolia Network. The former president of HGTV and Food Network, Page joined Food Network in 2001 and spent many years developing primetime series for Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri. Her efforts were key to Food Network’s record-breaking, double-digit, ratings growth and instrumental in the successful launch of Cooking Channel in 2010. 

She later served as general manager of HGTV, DIY Network, Great American Country and Travel Channel. Under her leadership, series such as Fixer Upper, Flip or Flop and Brother vs. Brother garnered record ratings for HGTV.  

Allison Page’s story of launching a new network during a pandemic is the perfect way to kick-off a conversation about how you start strong,’” Rolen said. Overcoming adversity takes determination and a clear vision of success. I look forward to hearing more about Allison’s leadership and lessons learned during this challenging time. 

Following the Q&A, Pellissippi State will present the College’s annual alumni awards. The Distinguished Alumni Award, announced by FirstBank, highlights an outstanding graduate in recognition of significant professional achievement and service to the community, while the Peggy Wilson Volunteer Alumni Award, sponsored and announced by Discovery Inc., highlights an outstanding graduate in recognition of extraordinary service to the Pellissippi State community. 

For more information about the event, including sponsorship opportunities, visit https://sites.pstcc.edu/foundation/pellissippistrong 

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Former Pellissippi State president J.L. Goins, wife Martha receive TBR award for philanthropy

Martha and J.L. Goins accept the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at their Friendsville home on Dec. 11.
Martha and J.L. Goins accept the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at their Friendsville home on Dec. 11.

J.L. and Martha Bond Goins were born to parents whose education ended with early elementary school. Neither had the financial support from home to attend college, yet they became lifelong educators who continue to support students during their retirement. 

J.L. Goinsformer president of State Technical Institute at Knoxville — now Pellissippi State Community Collegeand Martha Goins, who worked as a counselor at Oak Ridge High School until her retirement, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy for 2020 at their Friendsville home Dec. 11. 

The award honors individuals, companies and organizations who go “above and beyond” to donate their resources, finances and personal time to a Tennessee Board of Regents institution. 

Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. nominated the Goinses as “career educators with a focused passion for career and technical education.” 

“J.L. and Martha Goins know first-hand the importance of educational access for a family and a community,” Wise said. “Their passion for career and technical education was evident in their working years and has continued to drive their commitments today.” 

J.L. Goins grew up attending Blount County schools, the middle of seven children in a poor family. 

“As a youngster, I picked and sold blackberries, hoed cantaloupes and watermelons, built fires for the school – just about anything to earn money to help the family,” he explained. “At age 15 and a sophomore at Everett High, I began washing dishes at Blount Memorial and started saving what I could for college. It took a long time at 50 cents an hour!” 

Martha Goins is from rural Campbell County and spent two years in a coal mining camp in Claiborne County. She was put in touch with a Lincoln Memorial University representative who explained she qualified for scholarships, grants and work study. She later transferred to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and was able to graduate early with honors. 

J.L. Goins chose Maryville College because he had no vehicle and could walk to school. At no point did he receive any financial aid. Despite working full time, he went on to become the college’s top graduate in Business Administration and received a $50 savings bond for that honor. 

“I promptly went out and spent $27 on a suit for graduation and job interviews, so when I graduated, I had $13 to my name,” he said. “I never had any help, but I vowed I would help others.” 

Throughout his time in education, J.L. Goins never lost sight of the need for preparation for employment.  

“I saw the need for decent jobs that would mean a decent quality of life,” he said. “Education is America’s equalizer. If you have a relevant education and a willingness to work, you have an equal opportunity for success.” 

But education doesn’t necessarily mean graduating from a four-year college or universityJ.L. Goins stressed. 

“Academia and many parents are in love with the idea that everyone needs a four-year college degree,” he said. “In fact, many jobs in America don’t require that, but need appropriate technical and other related job skills. It is classic mismatch of workforce educational needs.  

J.L. Goins set out to change that. In 1964, hbegan his career in education with Oak Ridge Schools, establishing its first marketing and cooperative education program. Less than two years later, he moved to Chattanooga Public Schools, serving as principal of the system’s adult education center and eventually developing the state’s largest adult education program.  

J.L. Goins went on to become technical education director for a cooperative effort by the Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County school systems. He was recognized by the American Vocational Association as the Southeast’s best. 

In 1981 J.L. Goins was appointed president of State Technical Institute at Knoxville, which evolved to Pellissippi State Technical Community College in 1988. As president, J.L. Goins promoted and supported a wide variety of programs such as fine arts and college transfer classes. During this period, he also oversaw the construction of the Hardin Valley Campus and expanded Pellissippi State into Blount County.  

Before J.L. Goins retired in 1993, Pellissippi State’s enrollment had more than tripled from 2,500 students when he came to State Tech to about 9,000. 

J.L. Goins spent time promoting technical programs in area high schools and making sure those classes articulated to Pellissippi State. He also worked with the University of Tennessee to help fill UT’s pipeline with Pellissippi State students who could transfer to the university as juniors. But he didn’t stop there. 

“The whole focus of my time in education was students,” J.L. Goins said. “As president, I spent as much time supporting economic development as I did supporting the college so that our students would have jobs when they graduated.”

Martha Goins made her mark in education as well. After working as a technician in the Biology Division at Oak Ridge National Lab for almost four years, she began her career in education as a junior high science teacher and later was a counselor at Oak Ridge High School, from which she retired. One of Martha Goins’ goals was to help her students become employable by being prepared for jobs that would be both satisfying and provide economic stability.  

In addition to guiding those students who chose to attend various universities, Martha Goins guided others who went straight into the workforce, those who chose the military and other options. She was recognized locally, regionally and at the state level for her innovating programs. After retiring in 1995, she volunteered for 20 years in Blount County Schools. 

In retirement, the Goinses have continued to support Pellissippi State through consistent and generous donations to the college’s Foundation. 

Pellissippi State’s plans to construct the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on our Blount County Campus fulfill J.L.‘s lifelong dream: a center where high school students, technical education students and community college students can study side-by-side, in pursuit of a credential, a job and a career that can support a family,” Wise said. 

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

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‘We crushed it!’ Pellissippi State wins statewide food drive for similarly sized community colleges

Pellissippi State volunteers pack and sort donations from Faith Promise to the Pellissippi Pantry on Nov. 20.
Pellissippi State volunteers pack and sort donations from Faith Promise to the Pellissippi Pantry on Nov. 20. This was a socially distanced outdoor event, with volunteers limited to two per hour for safety reasons.

Pellissippi State Community College crushed the (friendly) competition this semester, collecting the equivalent of 31,412 items in College System of Tennessee’s 22nd Annual Food Drive Challenge. 

Pellissippi State was the top institution in its tier during the month-long food drive that ended Dec. 8. 

Students, faculty and staff at Tennessee’s community and technical colleges collected nearly 76,000 food items, including almost $28,000 in cash donations, for food pantries on their campuses and food banks and organizations in their communities. 

This is the second year in a row that Pellissippi State has collected the most food items in its tier, but this years 31,412 items more than doubled last year’s 15,411. 

“COVID-19 obviously has been a big factor,” said Drema Bowers, director of Student Care and Advocacy for Pellissippi State. “We are home more and on social media all the time. People can’t escape seeing food lines. It’s made people more aware of food insecurity.” 

Pellissippi State was helped this year by the Pellissippi State Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign. Thanks to matching donors, gifts made to the Foundation and earmarked for the Pellissippi Pantry before and on Dec. 1 were doubled. Because TBR counts each $1 donation as the equivalent of two cans of food, during that time period, $1 equaled four cans of food, Bowers noted. 

“I also think that now that many of us are working from home, we don’t have the cost of our commutes and that $7 or $8 lunch some of us were buying each day,” she added. “Those of us who are still fortunate to have our jobs may have had a little more to give this season.” 

Pellissippi State was further helped by community partners including Church of the Savior, Faith Promise Hardin Valley Church of Christ and the Scarecrow Foundation. These partners not only gave monetary donations to the Pellissippi Pantry, but also contributed boxed and canned items. 

“We are very, very appreciative of all our community partners,” Bowers said. “We crushed it!” 

The Pellissippi Pantry, like other College services, had to adjust its processes this year due to COVID-19, but still has served 70 participants in fall 2020. Participants were able to pick up a five-day supply of groceries once a month during the semester, and those who were unable to come to campus for food distribution were mailed gift cards to grocery stores. 

While all the food collected by Pellissippi State stays with the college to serve Pellissippi Pantry participants, Bowers and her Student Care and Advocacy team also keep students apprised of resources in the community and teach students how to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. 

For more information about the Pellissippi Pantry, including how you can donate, visit www.pstcc.edu/advocacy/pantry. 

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Arconic Foundation funds new afterschool program with Pellissippi State

Jeff Weida, plant manager for Arconic Tennessee Operations, left, and Christy Newman, manager of communications and community relations for Arconic Tennessee Operations, right, present a grant to start the Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program in Blount County to Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director for economic and workforce development, and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. on Oct. 23.
Jeff Weida, plant manager for Arconic Tennessee Operations, left, and Christy Newman, manager of communications and community relations for Arconic Tennessee Operations, right, present a grant to start the Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program in Blount County to Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director for economic and workforce development, and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. on Oct. 23.

Arconic Foundation has awarded Pellissippi State Community College $50,000 to start a new afterschool program for children in Blount County. 

The Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program, which will be implemented at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Alcoa and the Boys & Girls Club in Maryville, will focus on career awareness, exploration and preparation for high-wage, high-demand advanced manufacturing and coding careers. The program will offer concentrations in robotics, additive manufacturing, coding, hydraulics and pneumatics. 

“The earlier a student is introduced to these jobs, the sooner they will see an optimistic future open to career-connected learning,” said Teri Brahams, executive director for economic and workforce development for Pellissippi State. “Exposing students to these career opportunities in middle school will allow them to better use their time in high school to prepare for the path they’ll take after graduation.  

Having an exciting experience with the Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program could not only spark their interest in these careers, but also could help students understand the importance of taking advanced math, science and English courses in high school,” she added. 

The program, which will begin January 2021, will be led by a Pellissippi State employee, although the College is recruiting volunteers from industry and the community to help.  Activities will be interactive and age appropriate, introducing participants to the basic terminology and concepts that are critical to each concentration. Students will learn how to use the basic types of equipment common to each field and will build new skills through hands-on instruction. Guest speakers will help students make the connection between what they are learning and a real job.  

The Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program also will focus on critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity – four areas regularly identified by area business and industry leaders as skills that their employees need. Activities will address the barriers students may face when considering one of these career pathways and will highlight the resources available throughout the community to help them. Inspiring self-esteem in students is another program goal. 

“Blount County employers are emphasizing a desire to hire a more diverse workforce, but many underrepresented populations may not be aware of the opportunities for a career in advanced manufacturing or the educational pathway needed to be successful in manufacturing,” Brahams said. “This program will address both of these challenges.” 

The Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program is open to students attending afterschool programs held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Alcoa and the Boys & Girls Club in Maryville. However, those who would like to volunteer to help with the program should contact Teri Brahams at tbrahams@pstcc.edu. 

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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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