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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pellissippi State hosts Remake Learning Day on May 22 with DENSO, ORNL, more

Brian Davis of Danny Davis Electric, right, shows students how to run electrical wire at Pellissippi State's Blount County Campus
Brian Davis, right, of Danny Davis Electric shows students how to run electrical wire at Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus during a spring break exploration camp in 2021. The Blount County Campus will host a free Remake Learning Day on May 22 for children and their parents to explore career readiness, science, technology and construction.

After a challenging year for education, Remake Learning Days Across America returns this spring in more than 17 regions, with family-friendly learning events designed to engage caregivers, parents and children around the country.  

Remake Learning Day in Blount County will take place 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, May 22, at Pellissippi State Community College’s Blount County Campus2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville.

This free, in-person event is designed for parents and caregivers to learn alongside their kids and offer relevant and engaging educational experiences for youth (pre-K through high school).  Remake Learning Day is an interactive fair designed to help develop kids’ sense of creativity and curiosity.

This year’s event highlights the learning themes of career readiness, science, technology and construction. Some of the local businesses and organizations involved include DENSO, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Home Depot and Pellissippi State 

For more information, contact Joy McCamey at jlmccamey@pstcc.edu or visit https://remakelearningdays.org/knoxville 

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Remake Learning Days Across America is led by Remake Learning, a network that ignites engaging, relevant and equitable learning practices in support of young people navigating rapid social and technological change. National partners of RLDAA include PBS Kids, Digital Promise, Common Sense Media, Learning Heroes and Noggin. RLDAA is generously supported by The Grable Foundation, The Hewlett Foundation, Schmidt Futures and Carnegie Corporation of New York. Visit remakelearning.org for more information or follow RL on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For more information specifically on Remake Learning Days Across America, visit remakelearningdays.org or follow RLDAA on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the hashtag #RemakeDays. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Pellissippi State accepts federal grant for Appalachian Heritage Project

Strawberry Plains Campus exterior
Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus, photographed here in spring 2018, will house a new Appalachian Heritage Project.

A $400,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities is laying the groundwork for an Appalachian Heritage Project at Pellissippi State Community College.

The Appalachian Heritage Project will be housed at the college’s Strawberry Plains Campus, which serves more than 1,200 students from Knox County Schools, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology and Pellissippi State.

The grant will help Pellissippi State expand its Strawberry Plains Campus library to house the Appalachian Heritage Project, which will focus on regional literature, history and folklore.

“The Appalachian Heritage Project will create a cultural center that will educate not only our Pellissippi State students, but the entire community about the traditions and narrative of our region,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “This grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities gives us the significant head start we need to make this dream a reality.”

The $400,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Infrastructure and Capacity-Building Challenge Grant requires a $400,000 match, which will be met through a major gift fundraising campaign. The Pellissippi State Foundation develops financial resources to support Pellissippi State’s educational goals.

“We expect that the Appalachian Heritage Project will be one of the most unique educational settings in Tennessee,” said Foundation Executive Director Aneisa Rolen. “The project will create a repository of information, be a champion for Appalachian history and create a shared space that will bring together students and community members to learn about the people and the land of Strawberry Plains, East Tennessee and the Appalachian region.”

The project is expected to be completed Oct. 1, 2020.

“The Pellissippi State library staff is very excited about our role in the creation and continued development of our treasured Appalachian Heritage Collection,” said Pellissippi State NEH Grant Project Director and Librarian Susan Martel.  “We are committed to providing a robust repository of information that will preserve our collective memory about this unique culture for our community.  We will use the new space at the Strawberry Plans Campus library to host cultural events for students and our community that will help to keep this knowledge alive.”

NEH logoFor more information about the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, visit www.neh.gov. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this story do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Arconic provides grant to Pellissippi State to aid manufacturing education

Check presentation from Arconic to Pellissippi State on Oct. 19, 2018
Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., left, and Pellissippi State Foundation Executive Director Aneisa Rolen, right, accept a $25,000 grant from Jeff Weida, plant manager at Arconic Tennessee Operations, on Friday in Alcoa.

A $25,000 grant from Arconic Foundation will help Pellissippi State Community College teach middle and high school students about the careers available to them in manufacturing.

The grant, which was awarded July 25 and announced Friday, will support Pellissippi State’s efforts to bring the Dream It. Do It. Tennessee initiative to Blount County.

“Pellissippi State has a rich tradition of working closely with the local manufacturing community to prepare our students with the skills they need to succeed in this rapidly evolving workplace,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., who accepted the grant from the Arconic Foundation on Friday as he toured Arconic’s North Plant with high school students, teachers and counselors from the Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems. “To be able to reach out to middle and high school students, as well as to introduce them to these in-demand careers as they start thinking about what they want to do after graduation, is a next step Pellissippi State is excited to take.”

Dream It. Do It. Tennessee was co-founded by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services to respond to an ongoing need to fill the hundreds of job vacancies each year in advanced manufacturing. Nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs likely will be available over the next decade, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

Dream It. Do It. Tennessee is designed to create awareness among young people and those who influence their career decisions about the training and job opportunities that exist in advanced manufacturing today. Careers highlighted on the Dream It. Do It. Tennessee website – along with their average salary in Tennessee and the level of education needed for an entry-level position – include machinist, electronics engineering technician, industrial designer, electrician, welder, chemical engineer, computer hardware engineer, assembler and mechanical engineer.

“Arconic creates products that shape industries and solve our customers’ toughest challenges – those that require ingenuity and engineering and technical expertise from the brightest minds,” said Jeff Weida, plant manager at Arconic Tennessee Operations. “That’s why Arconic and Arconic Foundation continue to partner with educational institutions like Pellissippi State, to expose students to a wide array of STEM career opportunities.”

Plant manager talking to students
Jeff Weida, plant manager at Arconic Tennessee Operations, talks to Blount County students about advanced manufacturing careers Friday in Alcoa.

Pellissippi State’s Dream It. Do It. Blount County initiative will include outreach activities in middle and high schools as well as a Young Manufacturers Academy designed to engage students in hands-on learning with industry partners and Pellissippi State faculty.

Pellissippi State’s goal is to engage 185 Blount County students in the initiative.

Middle school students chosen for the Young Manufacturers Academy will participate next spring in a four-hour block of activities at Pellissippi State focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and manufacturing career pathways, while their parents will be invited to the Blount County Campus to learn more about career opportunities in advanced manufacturing.

Meanwhile, high school students chosen for the Young Manufacturers Academy will be immersed in manufacturing for one week next summer, with morning tours to industry partners’ facilities and afternoon sessions with Pellissippi State faculty.

“Alcoa City Schools is excited to participate in Pellissippi State’s Dream It. Do It. program sponsored by the Arconic Foundation,” said Director of Schools Brian Bell. “With our recent introduction of an advanced manufacturing pathway for high school students, this initiative will serve to further expand the strong partnership between Alcoa City Schools, Pellissippi State and Arconic. We are dedicated to providing early postsecondary opportunities for students that lead to high-skill, high-wage, high-demand jobs, including those in advanced manufacturing, in our community.”

Pellissippi State will work with the Boys & Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley along with faith-based and community-based agencies in Blount County to identify participants for the Young Manufacturers Academy.

For more information on Dream It. Do It. Tennessee, visit www.dreamitdoittn.com. For more information on Pellissippi State, visit the website at www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.

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Joy Bishop receives Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy

Pellissippi State Foundation Board Member Receiving TBR's Chancellor's Award
(L-R) Ginger Hausser, TBR associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, Joy Bishop, Regent Danni Varlan, PSCC President L. Anthony Wise

 

The Tennessee Board of Regents has presented the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy to Maryville’s Joy Bishop in recognition of her support of Pellissippi State Community College.

The award is part of TBR’s Excellence in Philanthropy Awards recognition program that began in 2003 to recognize individuals, companies and organizations who donate their resources, finances and personal time to TBR institutions. TBR is the governing body for Tennessee’s 13 community colleges and 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.

“I am honored to receive this award. I believe in the community college concept, and I particularly support Pellissippi State and its Blount County Campus. Dr. Wise, the faculty and the staff at Pellissippi State have added a great deal to all five of their campuses. I’m just so proud to be a member of the Pellissippi State Foundation Board of Trustees,” Bishop said.

Bishop has been a long-time supporter of Pellissippi State. She provided leadership in two of Pellissippi State’s major gift campaigns, which have resulted in the establishment and the expansion of the college’s Blount County Campus.

“Joy’s financial commitment to the college is just the tip of the iceberg in measuring her impact. She is a natural-born fundraiser who is not shy about asking others to support our institution,” said L. Anthony Wise, president of Pellissippi State.”

Most notably, she also was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Leg-Up Child Care Assistance Program, a program that provides free child care to a number of qualified Pellissippi State students who are single parents. The program is a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Human Services, Pellissippi State and state-licensed child care centers in East Tennessee.

Program participants must be enrolled in a minimum of six credit-hours, have a 2.0 or better grade-point-average and be working toward a certificate or associate degree program. Leg-Up pays the full cost of weekly child care, after-school costs, registration fees and various activity charges for children between six-weeks-old and age 13.

The financial burden on single parent-students to provide child care while they work, attend school, and take care of their children, is a major factor in determining whether a student will successfully complete college. The annual cost of providing one child with year-round care can exceed $10,000 a year, and many of Pellissippi State’s student-parents have more than one child. Students participating in Leg-Up have shown improved class attendance, better grades and a lower dropout rate.

Bishop says the inspiration for the Leg-Up Program began on a 12-hour plane flight to Southeast Asia with friend Carolyn Forster. The women were on a trip to Vietnam and had a lot of time to think and talk about ways to help the students at Pellissippi State.

“We realized that the cost of child care was a real problem, especially for single parents,” said Bishop. “So we said, ‘We can do something about that,’ and we came up with a plan. We would get the business community to support us, and we would select only highly-motivated students and provide them with mentors in addition to the child care.”

Bishop formed a committee, which included Holly Burkett, the dean of Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus, did some research on the cost of day care, and wrote out a plan to take to the state.

“Dr. Wise and I went to see the DHS commissioner. [Former] State Senator Doug Overbey [Maryville] met us at the commissioner’s office. Commissioner Hatter was aware of how much child care was a barrier to some students. She was impressed someone was working to do something to keep single parents in school and approved the plan,” Bishop said.

Bishop is quick to share the credit for the success of Leg-Up with her fellow committee members: Marty Black, Jim Proffitt, Carolyn Forster, Ellie Morrow, Gaynelle Lawson, Steve West, Mark Johnson, Greg McLean, Tammi Ford, Tom Bogart, Pam Wolf and Holly Burkett.

In September 2016, Pellissippi State hired Le’John Ellis to manage the program, which has grown steadily and, now, provides quality child care free of charge for 39 student-parents with 60 children in Knox and Blount counties.

“I think Le’John fell from heaven,” Bishop said. “Everyone needs someone to give them a leg up once in their lives. I’m so proud of Leg-Up. It’s perfect, just perfect.”

Bishop, a native of Texas, graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Federal Executive Institute. She spent 30 years in the U.S. Air Force as a civilian and was the first woman to receive an appointment to the Senior Executive Service. Bishop retired in 1990 as one of the highest ranking civilians in the Air Force and put her roots down in Blount County. She then started her own consulting firm, the Emerald Group, which helped underdeveloped countries. Joy serves her community as a member of Maryville Church of Christ, Blount Partnership, Maryville Kiwanis Club, Blount County Library, Maryville College Advisory Board, Clayton-Bradley Academy and Clayton Center for the Arts.

“Joy’s work in the community and with Pellissippi State is transformative. When it comes to volunteering, Joy brings plenty of passion and positivity to the table. Her creativity, motivation and vision inspires all that engage with her. It is an honor to nominate Joy Bishop for the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy,” Wise said.

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

Pellissippi State student earns CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Award

Alexander Marti Photo

Alexander Marti, a Pellissippi State Community College student, has earned a CyberCorps Scholarship for Service award to attend Tennessee Technological University when he graduates.

“When Associate Professor Sharon Burlingame called me about this scholarship over the summer, I thought it sounded too good to be true,” said Marti, who is in his second year at Pellissippi State.

He first came to the college as a Dual Enrollment student during his homeschooled high school years, then took online courses, and finally came to campus in 2016 as a Tennessee Promise student. He will graduate in May with a general associate degree and then transfer to Tennessee Tech.

“I took a programming class in high school and thought I wouldn’t like computer science,” Marti said. “But here at Pellissippi State, I took the classes and they clicked. I have enjoyed getting past the basics to the understanding of what happens behind the scenes of information technology.”

The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program is administered through the federal Office of Personnel Management with the intent to increase and strengthen the cadre of federal information assurance professionals that protect the government’s critical information infrastructure. CyberCorps provides scholarships and stipends that typically cover the cost of tuition and fees. Those scholarships are funded through grants awarded by the National Science Foundation.

The scholarship not only will pay for Marti’s final year at Pellissippi State and his bachelor’s degree in cyber security at Tennessee Tech, but also will pay him a stipend to allow him to focus solely on school. For three years after graduation, he will work for the federal government in a cyber security post.

“Cyber security has always interested me. It’s like being a computer police officer — someone who works to protect information and people from hackers and other cyber criminals,” Marti said.

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