Pellissippi State partners with Blount Memorial to train nurses for Covid-19 care

Blount Memorial nurses run a simulation in the Nursing lab on Pellissippi State's Blount County Campus
Blount Memorial Hospital nurses run a Covid-19 simulation in the Nursing lab on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus on June 3. Each group of medical-surgical nurses is led by an ICU-surgical nurse. BMH Critical Care Educator Briana Dahl, at head of SimMan, is the team lead for this group of nurses.

Pellissippi State Community College is helping Blount Memorial Hospital nurses train to care for Covid-19 patients. 

The partnership allows the Maryville hospital’s nurses to train in the Nursing simulation lab on the college’s Blount County Campus. The first training was held Wednesday, May 27. 

“We have gotten together with Briana Dahl, the critical care educator for Blount Memorial, to create simulation scenarios based on actual cases to better prepare these nurses for what can come up in the hospital,” said Assistant Professor Ronda McCown, who is the lab coordinator for Pellissippi State Nursing. “A simulation lab is a safe place to learn because no one can get hurt.” 

For Blount Memorial’s critical care nurses, the simulations will be a review. But for the hospital’s medical-surgical nurses, the single largest nursing specialty in the United States, the simulations will allow them to practice skills they may not had to use since they were in Nursing school. 

“Learning is often experiential,” said Michelle McPhersondirector of education for Blount Memorial. “This training enables us to run scenarios that maybe they’ve only come across once or twice in their career.” 

As Pellissippi State continues to follow guidelines for social distancing, only seven people are allowed in the lab at one time: one ICU-surgical nurse and four medical-surgical nurses, as well as Katrenia Hill, nursing skills and simulation laboratories coordinator for Pellissippi State, and Pellissippi State Nursing Instructor Anna Wells. 

“We purposely mixed the floor staff who aren’t used to dealing with ventilators and Covid-19 with our critical care unit nurses, who can serve as team leads,” McPherson explained, adding there is ample time between the 2.5-hour training sessions for a “very strict cleaning regimen. 

BMH Critical Care Educator Briana Dahl is flanked by Pellissippi State Nursing staff in the Blount County Campus' Nursing lab
Katrenia Hill, nursing skills and simulation laboratories coordinator for Pellissippi State, left, and Pellissippi State Nursing Instructor Anna Wells, right, join Blount Memorial Hospital Critical Care Educator Briana Dahl in Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus Nursing lab to train BMH nurses on Covid-19 care.

By the time the training ends, 61 Blount Memorial medical-surgical nurses will have more experience in intubation careputting patients on a ventilator, adjusting ventilator settings, suctioning and proning” patients, which means lying them flat on their chests. 

The trainings will culminate in a mock code that allows nurses to practice what to do when a patient is declining, McCown noted. 

These Covid-19 trainings, which are expected to wrap up June 17, are just the beginning of what Pellissippi State and Blount Memorial nursing staffs envision being a year-round partnership. 

“We are trying to start up a nurse residency program that would meet once a month for one year,” McPherson said. “These four-hour sessions would allow us time to address things new nurses may need help with, such as mock codes and leadership training. 

This conversation with Pellissippi State actually started last fall, noted Joseph Newsomeassistant chief nursing officer for Blount Memorial – before Covid-19 pushed that training to the forefront. 

“When Mr. Newsome and I met last fall and he toured our Blount County Campus, we started discussing all of the possibilities for a training partnership between the college and the hospital,” said Dean of Nursing Angela Lunsford. “Blount Memorial provides several clinical training areas for our Nursing program, and it is our hope that using the simulation lab at Pellissippi State will strengthen training for nursing students, new graduate nurses and experienced ones.” 

Blount Memorial Hospital nurses train on Covid-19 care at Pellissippi State
Blount Memorial Hospital nurses Kenlie Langford, left, and Kody Smitherman, right, train on Covid-19 care on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus on June 3. The nurses do not have to maintain social distancing because of the personal protective equipment they are wearing.

Newsome agreed. 

We are excited to send our intern nurses and our new graduate nurses to Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus to use the simulation lab to enhance their training,” he said. “I think the Covid-19 trainings and the new nurse residency program show the best of what we can do when we work together.” 

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

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Pellissippi State creates protective face shields for Covenant Health

Employees assemble face shields in the Strawberry Plains Campus MegaLab
MegaLab Director Andy Polnicki, left, and Pellissippi State student Matt Nidiffer, right, clean and package face shield kits for Covenant Health. Each kit contains one 3D-printed headband, two overhead transparencies, two elastics and a set of assembly instructions.

Pellissippi State Community College has produced its first 200 transparent plastic face shields for Covenant Health, building on an earlier project that provided personal protective equipment to health care facilities throughout Tennessee. 

Once we finished our responsibility to the statewide effort spearheaded by Gov. Bill Lee, I suggested we reach out to our friends in health care to see if they also had a need for personal protective equipment,” explained Teri Brahams, executive director for economic and workforce development for Pellissippi State. “It was great to offer assistance at the state level, but as a community college, it is great to be able to impact our local community as well.” 

Covenant Health responded to Pellissippi State’s offer, requesting 2,000 face shields that health care professionals can wear over their masks to help protect them from infectious diseases such as Covid-19. 

Moving from 3D-printing only the headbands for the face shields to producing the entire face shields took collaboration between Covenant Health’s Emily Sinkule and Pellissippi State’s Andy Polnicki, director of the MegaLab on the college’s Strawberry Plains Campus. The two worked together to find a prototype Pellissippi State could produce with the supplies the college already had on hand or could find quickly, as “a lot of these items are difficult to get (due to the pandemic),” Polnicki explained. 

Pellissippi State got creative, repurposing transparencies for overhead projectors as plastic for the face shields. 

“We found about 500 usable transparencies,” Polnicki said. “We ordered more as well.” 

Pellissippi State also needed to produce face shields that Covenant Health couleasily store and pull out of inventory as neededPolnicki added. That meant coming up with kits that could be stacked on shelves and assembled by health care professionals on site. 

A Pellissippi State employee hands off a box of face shield kits to an Covenant Health employee
Pellissippi State student Matt Nidiffer, left, delivers face shields to Covenant Health employee Cody Leach, right. Pellissippi State produced its first 200 transparent plastic face shields for Covenant Health, building on an earlier project that provided personal protective equipment to health care facilities throughout Tennessee.

Polnicki and Pellissippi State student Matt Nidiffera former Knox County Schools educator who is now studying Electrical Engineering Technology, worked together in the MegaLab, printing about 50 headbands each day. Staff from Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services chipped in by helping clean the headbands before packaging them with the other raw materials. 

Pellissippi State finished printing and packaging the first 200 face shield kits for Covenant Health last week. Each kit includes one 3D-printed headband, two overhead transparencies, two elastics and a set of instructions for how to assemble the components into a face shield. 

Even masked and gloved, the shields can be assembled and donned by health care professionals in less than a minute, Polnicki demonstrated, wearing a mask and gloves himself. Two plastic shields and two elastics were included in each kit so that those opening the kits have a backup should one of components become contaminated, he noted. 

Pellissippi State now will turn its attention to creating similar packets for the college’s Nursing students to use in labs this summer and fall, but then will resume fulfilling Covenant Health’s order of 2,000 face shields, as health care facilities prepare for whatever the coronavirus pandemic may bring this fall. 

“This is still a large project, but we are not under the same deadlines (as when the pandemic started),” Polnicki explained. “We have our 3D printers running at half capacity, which allows us to make about 250 headbands for face shields each week, but we could ramp up to full capacity if we need to. 

A representative from Covenant Health picked up the first 200 masks Thursday, May 21. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those award winners have not been announced. 

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

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About FirstBank 

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

For More Information 

Jeanie Rittenberry or Roger Shirley 

FirstBank MP&F Strategic Communications 

jrittenberry@firstbankonline.com 

rshirley@mpf.com 

(615) 313-8328 

(615) 259-4000 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pellissippi State manufactures critical personal protective equipment amid coronavirus pandemic

3D printers at MegaLab
3D printers at Pellissippi State’s MegaLab on its Strawberry Plains Campus are working around the clock to manufacture personal protective equipment for health care professionals.

Pellissippi State Community College is one of several Tennessee colleges using 3D printers to manufacture personal protective equipment that will help health care professionals caring for coronavirus patients. 

The project, announced Monday, March 23, by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, has been underway since Saturday, March 21. By Monday afternoon, the colleges had cranked out more than 1,500 pieces of equipment including 838 headbands like the ones Pellissippi State is producing to attach to face shields. 

Health care professionals wear plastic face shields over their masks as further protection from infectious diseases while working with patients. 

Headbands made by 3D printers
Pellissippi State shipped 239 headbands, shown here, to Austin Peay State University on Tuesday, where they will be attached to transparent plastic face shields that health care professionals wear over their face masks.

“We are pleased to be a part of supporting efforts to combat this virus in our community and across the state,” said Teri Brahams, executive director for economic and workforce development for Pellissippi State. “Our ability to assist in this project is evidence of our efforts to always be on the cutting edge of technology taught in our classrooms and through Business and Community Services. This also is a perfect utilization of campus resources that would otherwise lie dormant during this period.” 

While Pellissippi State has closed its five campuses in Knox and Blount counties amid Knox County’s Safer at Home Order issued Monday, essential personnel continue to report to the MegaLab at Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus to keep the 3D printers working around the clock. The MegaLab, its entrance and its nearby restrooms are on a daily cleaning schedule to ensure the space remains disinfected while essential personnel are working there. 

Andy Polnicki and Todd Evans wearing headbands
MegaLab Director Andy Polnicki, left, and Workforce Solutions Director Todd Evans, right, test the headbands being manufactured on 3D printers on the Strawberry Plains Campus. These headbands will be attached to plastic face shields to protect health care workers tending to patients with infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

Pellissippi State MegaLab Director Andy Polnicki has been hard at work preparing the first shipment of 239 headbands to send to Austin Peay State University, the college that developed the prototype. Austin Peay employees will attach the headbands to transparent plastic face shields for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, which will distribute them to health care facilities and professionals who are facing shortages of equipment. 

This is one of the projects the governor is spearheading to find new and innovative ways to serve Tennesseans during the COVID-19 crisis. To keep up with the latest news about coronavirus response at Pellissippi State, visit our website at www.pstcc.edu/coronavirus. 

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Pellissippi State Foundation raises more than $14 million for new buildings, student support

Student speaker Destin Hickman stands with L. Anthony Wise Jr. and second student speaker Jon Collins
Students Benjamin Bridges (left) and Angela Dixon (right) pose with L. Anthony Wise Jr. after the Campaign for Pellissippi State Celebration at the Hardin Valley Campus on March 6.

The Pellissippi State Foundation has wrapped up its campaign to raise money for Pellissippi State Community College’s two new buildings and other initiatives, exceeding its $10 million goal by more than $4 million.

The Campaign for Pellissippi State, a four-year project spearheaded by 60 volunteers, will support the college’s largest expansion in its 45-year history. Some $8.8 million of the funds raised are earmarked to help build the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus in Knox County, the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the college’s Blount County Campus and other capital projects.

Meanwhile, $1.6 million was raised for student support, including 10 new scholarships and 13 new endowments, and $3.7 million in grants were secured to support the college’s academic efforts and workforce development initiatives.

“We could not have met our lofty $10 million goal, let alone exceeded it, without the help of our volunteers and our donors,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., noting that 571 of the Campaign’s 1,547 donors were new donors to Pellissippi State. “This support is going to help not only our current Pellissippi State students, but generations of students to come.”

The practical impacts of the Campaign are far-reaching, from eliminating waiting lists for required science labs to expanding several academic and career programs including Audio Production Engineering at the Magnolia Avenue Campus, Culinary Arts at the Blount County Campus, Early Childhood and Teacher Education at the Hardin Valley Campus and Welding at the Strawberry Plains Campus.

Student speaker Destin Hickman poses with L. Anthony Wise Jr. and second student speaker Jon Collins
Students Destin Hickman (left) and Jon Collins (right) pose with L. Anthony Wise Jr. after the Campaign for Pellissippi State Celebration at the Blount County Campus on March 6.

Meanwhile, the college’s Student Opportunity Fund was bolstered to provide a financial safety net for students at risk of dropping out due to an emergency situation, and the Hardin Valley Garden and Pellissippi Pantry will grow to address the increasing number of local students experiencing food insecurity.

“Pellissippi State is charged with a most important mission – preparing the next generation workforce for our community,” said Campaign Chair Tom Ballard. “The funds that we raised will provide modern facilities and enhanced programs to ensure that current and future students have a solid foundation for success.”

Pellissippi State Foundation extends a special thanks to Campaign Leaders who donated $500,000 or more: Arconic Foundation; the Economic Development Board of Blount County, City of Alcoa and City of Maryville; Pilot Company; and Ruth and Steve West.

Pellissippi State employees and retirees also gave more than $500,000 combined to the Campaign, the Foundation noted.

A campaign impact video is available HERE. To learn more about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.

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Pellissippi State Media Technologies program to host Digital Storytelling Forum April 24

Female students operating cameras
Pellissippi State’s Media Technologies program will host a Digital Storytelling Forum on April 24.

Pellissippi State Community College’s Media Technologies program will host “The Art, Science & Impact of Digital Storytelling” on Friday, April 24, on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The half-day event is designed as a continuing education forum for professionals, faculty, students and alumni in East Tennessee’s digital, creative and strategic communication communities.

“We’re excited to welcome East Tennessee’s creative and strategic communications community to join us for learning, sharing and networking opportunities, as we interact with Pellissippi State’s Media Technology students who represent such an important segment of our industry’s workforce pipeline,” said Mary Beth West, volunteer chair of Pellissippi State’s Media Technologies development campaign.

Presented by sponsors The Hive and Discovery Inc., this Digital Storytelling forum will bring together thought leaders in digital production, creative services and brand storytelling to discuss industry trends and workforce opportunities as greater Knoxville continues to evolve as a nationally and internationally recognized center of digital content development for major broadcasting and consumer platforms.

All proceeds will benefit Pellissippi State’s Media Technologies program, which offers concentrations in Audio Production Engineering, Design for Web and Print, Photography, Video Production Technology and Web Technology.

A full slate of session and keynote speakers will be announced soon. Planned break-out sessions during the forum will include topics such as:

  • Igniting the Power of Social Listening
  • Crafting Digital Messages that Motivate Audiences to Action
  • Building Greater Knoxville’s National Reputation as a Creative Community
  • User-Experience Trends in Digital Development
  • Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, Bias and What it All Means for Clients and Consumers
  • Employer Panel – Hiring Needs & Priorities for 2020-21

Registration can be accessed at www.pstcc.edu/bcs, with fee options including:

  • $55 for early bird registration by March 31
  • $25 for professionals to sponsor attendance for one Pellissippi State student
  • $25 for students
  • $75 to register between April 1 and April 20
  • $95 to register after April 20 or on site the day of the forum

The event will be held in the Goins Administration Building, but will include a student showcase and networking reception in the college’s Bagwell Center for Media and Art, which opened on the Hardin Valley Campus in September 2007. The building is named in honor of Ross Bagwell Sr., a pioneer in the cable television production industry, and his family.

“Pellissippi State’s Bagwell Center for Media and Art includes impressive facilities and technical capabilities for students to gain hands-on, experiential learning,” West said. “This event will be a fantastic opportunity for industry employers and hiring managers to tour the school and meet with students from the next graduating class.”

The Pellissippi State Foundation is welcoming more corporate sponsors until March 20. Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities during the event should contact Executive Director Aneisa Rolen at 865.694.6525 or alrolen@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State aviation training aims to close gap for women and minority pilots

Brandon Hardin
Captain Brandon Hardin is a Knoxville native and commercial pilot who wants to see more African American representation in aviation.

Knoxville native Brandon Hardin fell in love with the idea of flying when he saw an airplane fly over his house as a child.

Hardin’s dream of becoming a pilot didn’t waiver throughout his years in high school, and he went on to pursue a degree in Aerospace at Middle Tennessee State University before flying with the U.S. National Guard.

These days Captain Hardin is a commercial pilot who loves being able to see the world and the adventure that comes with the job.

Now students like Hardin don’t have to wait until college to learn about the aviation industry. Pellissippi State Community College has partnered with Tuskegee NEXT to offer introductory aviation training to teens and young adults in an effort to close the gap for women and minority pilots.

The program, which started last fall at Pellissippi State, could not come at a better time for the aviation industry. The 2019 Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook, a respected industry forecast of personnel demand, projects that 804,000 new civil aviation pilots, 769,000 new maintenance technicians and 914,000 new cabin crew will be needed to fly and maintain the world fleet over the next 20 years.

“Every single airline is hiring,” Hardin said. “There is a huge need for pilots right now, and they need the next generation of kids to be ready to take the seat in the cockpit.”

Of all the professional pilots and flight engineers in the United States, however, only 7.5% are women, 2.6% are black, 3.4% are Asian and 2.2% are Hispanic or Latino, according to 2019 numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We need more African American representation in aviation,” Hardin said. “We represent less than 3% of the commercial pilot workforce, and that’s not enough.”

One possible cause of the lack of diverse representation among pilots is how much it costs to get started. Students could easily invest $60,000 to $70,000 in their training, from attending flight school or a college aviation program to paying for flying hours and Federal Aviation Administration certification exams.

Aviation students in flight simulator at Cirrus in fall 2019
Students in Pellissippi State’s first Introduction to Aviation class check out a flight simulator at Cirrus Aircraft in Alcoa during the fall 2019 semester.

Pellissippi State has partnered with the nonprofit Tuskegee NEXT to help remove some of those obstacles. Students ages 16-20 can apply to take a 15-week Introduction to Aviation class at Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus this fall.

Students who participate in the Introduction to Aviation class at Pellissippi State will learn what they need to know to sit for the Federal Aviation Administration basic knowledge written exam.

“The Tuskegee Airmen are such iconic figures in the field of aviation for individuals like myself,” Hardin said of the United States’ first black military airmen. “They led the way, and the obstacles they had to surmount are huge compared to what myself and my peers have had to go through. They paved the way for me, and I want to help pave the way for the next generation.”

While the Introduction to Aviation class at Pellissippi State does have a cost, full scholarships are available to those with financial need in keeping with Tuskegee NEXT’s mission of providing flight training and educational assistance for underrepresented minorities and at-risk youth.

“Tuskegee NEXT and Pellissippi State back me up in supporting that goal of inspiring and providing resources for the next generation of aviators,” Hardin said. “We want it to be normal to see an African American pilot in the cockpit.”

Those who successfully complete the Introduction to Aviation course at Pellissippi State and pass the FAA written exam will be eligible to apply to the Tuskegee NEXT Summer Flight Program in Chicago, which will run from mid-June to mid-August 2021.

The summer program completely immerses students in both flight training and life skill development. The skills learned during the program can help change lives and transform communities.

“I think aspiring pilots should take advantage of the unique opportunities Pellissippi State and Tuskegee NEXT are offering,” Hardin said. “There are going to be hurdles, but there are going to be people like me who are going to help and mentor students past those obstacles.

“The one thing students should know is that they want to get there,” he added. “When you get to the endpoint and become a pilot, you’re going to be able to take care of yourself and take care of your family. If you are willing to focus and commit yourself to a career in aviation, the rewards are amazing.”

Students can apply now for the Fall 2020 Introduction to Aviation class at Pellissippi State. Applications are due May 7.

Fall 2020 Introduction to Aviation Class

  • When: Tuesdays, August 25 – December 15, 2020, 6-8 p.m.
  • Where: Pellissippi State Community College Magnolia Avenue Campus
  • Who is eligible to apply: Students ages 16-20 and at least a sophomore in high school – must hold a minimum grade point average of 2.75 and have no criminal record

Students can learn more and apply at www.pstcc.edu/bcs/aviation or call Business and Community Services at 865.539.7167.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Improve your health and social life in the New Year with ballroom dancing

Couple ballroom dancing
Ballroom dancing can help you keep your New Year’s resolutions to be more active and get your exercise in 2020.

If living a more active lifestyle is one of your New Year’s resolutions, ballroom dancing classes offered by Pellissippi State Community College Business and Community Services can help you meet your goals.

Ballroom dance is a social dance that focuses on partnership and has gained popularity in recent years with the rise of competitive television shows like “Dancing with the Stars.” In the seven-week Ballroom Dancing, Level 1 class offered by Pellissippi State in partnership with Dance Tonight, dancers will learn six core dances: waltz, tango, foxtrot, rumba, cha-cha and swing.

“There are so many reasons to take ballroom dancing,” said Kris Hazard, professional dance instructor and choreographer at Dance Tonight. “It gets you out of the house, and it’s a great way to meet people. Social dancers are friendly. They want more people to dance with, so it’s an easy crowd to get to know people in.

“Exercise is another one,” he continued. “Ballroom dancing is great if you want to be active and retain your mobility. It’s a low impact activity. We’re always sliding our feet on the floor, so you’re using your legs, but not getting the hard impact.”

Ballroom dancing is designed to help you communicate with a partner to move as one with the music, but participants are encouraged to sign up with or without a partner, as there are opportunities to meet and dance with others during the class.

The hardest step for most people is signing up for the class and coming through the door, Hazard noted.

“It’s a big step they took coming because they’re nervous about it, and now I have the responsibility to make them comfortable,” he said. “I want to push them so that they learn something and learn it correctly, but that also makes them comfortable and more confident with their dancing.”

Getting ready to perform on a stage is not the goal of the beginner class, Hazard stressed.

“We’re learning so you can get out on the dance floor, look comfortable and have a good time,” he said.

Students in Ballroom Dancing, Level 1 will have an opportunity to practice their moves outside of the class, if they choose, at Dance Tonight’s dance parties on Friday nights. Dancers and instructors from all of Dance Tonight’s classes are invited to attend the weekly parties.

“Practicing and dancing around others makes such a difference for the dancer’s learning and enthusiasm,” Hazard noted. “They get to use what they’ve learned in class!”

Ballroom Dancing, Level 1 begins Jan. 27 and will be held 6:45-7:30 p.m. Mondays through March 9, at Dance Tonight, 9119 Executive Park Drive, Knoxville, off the Cedar Bluff exit. Cost is $85 for an individual or $100 per couple.

To register for Ballroom Dancing, Level 1, or any other Pellissippi State lifelong learning classes this spring, contact the Business and Community Services office at 865.539.7167 or visit www.pstcc.edu/bcs.

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