TBR honors Blount County Economic Development Board for philanthropy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Varlan agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pellissippi State honors retired Rep. Harry Brooks with Career Education Center dedication

Harry Brooks in front of Career Education Center sign
Retired state Rep. Harry Brooks, third from left, unveils the new Harry Brooks Career Education Center on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus on Tuesday, Sept. 10. With Brooks, from left, are Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Dunn of the Tennessee House of Representatives, and Brooks’ wife, Mary.

Pellissippi State Community College lauded retired state. Rep. Harry Brooks of Knoxville on Tuesday by naming a wing of its Strawberry Plains Campus in his honor.

The Harry Brooks Career Education Center contains Pellissippi State’s MegaLab as well as its newly expanded cyber operations and welding centers. The campus is located at 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike.

“Rep. Harry Brooks championed career and technical education during his many years in the legislature,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “His advocacy for workforce training, dual credit and dual enrollment promoted career opportunities for students not just at Pellissippi State, but across Tennessee.”

Brooks, who was on hand Tuesday to witness the dedication with many friends and family members, represented District 19, part of Knox County, in the state legislature for eight terms, from 2003 until his retirement in 2018. During that time he served myriad committees, including chairing the House Education Committee during the 108th General Assembly and the House Education Administration and Planning Committee during the 109th and 110th General Assemblies. He also served on the Knox County School Board from 1992 until 1996.

“I’ll remember this day forever,” Brooks said Tuesday. “It’s an honor to see your name added to an educational institution, whether it’s K-12 or a college, and I don’t deserve it. I’m just happy to have been part of a team that made great strides in education in our state, and the future is bright.”

Pellissippi State also held a grand opening for its new cyber defense and welding centers on Tuesday.

Pellissippi State has 80 students enrolled in its Cyber Defense concentration under the Computer Information Technology program. The concentration has added $69,000 worth of equipment and supplies in response to explosive growth from an initial 19 students in fall 2016.

Cyber Defense Program Coordinator Charles Nelson
Cyber Defense instructor Charles Nelson shows off Pellissippi State’s new Cyber Security Operations Center on the college’s Strawberry Plains Campus on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The Harry Brooks Career Education Center also contains Pellissippi State’s MegaLab and welding areas.

Funding was made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor via the Knoxville area Information Technology and Engineering (KITE) Program, which focuses on removing barriers facing unemployed or underemployed 17- to 29-year-olds in order to obtain middle- and high-skill jobs in the information technology and advanced manufacturing sectors.

“When we were teaching in a general purpose classroom with no dedicated equipment, we were not able to provide the quality or capacity we wanted,” said Cyber Defense instructor Charles Nelson. “This facility provides a digitally safe and secure environment to simulate cyber security scenarios that allow students to explore a wide variety of tools and techniques without interfering with normal campus operations, leaking threats or exposing vulnerabilities outside of the lab space.”

Pellissippi State has 52 students enrolled in its Welding Technology program and has expanded its welding area at the Strawberry Plains Campus by adding 15 booths to the 14 the college already had there. In addition to offering Welding Technology cohorts for Pellissippi State students during the day and in the evenings, the college also is offering three welding classes this semester to high school students in Knox County Schools’ Career Magnet Academy located on the Strawberry Plains Campus.

“These facilities are now available and utilized from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday mornings for student utilization, open labs and courses,” said Welding Technology Program Coordinator Adam Streich, noting the American Welding Society is predicting a shortage of 450,000 skilled welders by 2022. “Local employers have asked for more student proficiency in alloys, stainless steel and aluminum (so) this expanded space and new equipment allows students to get more time on the skills local employers require.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Regions Financial Corporation

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

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

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

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

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

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

The DENSO funding and this new equipment is expected to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tennessee Board of Regents honors ORNL, ORAU for support of higher education

ORAU accepts Regents Award
Andy Page, president of Oak Ridge Associated Universities, accepts the Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy on Aug. 2. From left are Roane State President Chris Whaley, Page, Regent Danni Varlan and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Oak Ridge Associated Universities were honored recently with Tennessee Board of Regents awards for their support of Pellissippi State and Roane State community colleges.

The Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy, which both ORNL and ORAU received, recognizes those organizations and individuals who have been “very generous” to one or more TBR institutions. TBR is the largest system of higher education in the state, governing 40 community and technical colleges – including Pellissippi State and Roane State.

“ORNL and ORAU understand the investments they are making in the futures of our students with the partnerships they support for Roane State and Pellissippi State community colleges,” said Regent Danni Varlan, who presented ORNL and ORAU with their Regents Awards at a recent East Tennessee Economic Council meeting in Oak Ridge. “We are grateful for their leadership and commitment to education and workforce training.”

Pellissippi State nominated ORAU for its longtime support of Pellissippi State and Roane State, both financially — $340,000 and counting – and through countless hours of volunteer time and expertise assistance. Roane State provided a letter in support of the nomination.

“Community colleges are so important in terms of advancing science and education in the workforce and in bringing in the talented workforce that East Tennessee is going to need in the next 10 to 15 years,” said ORAU President Andy Page. “ORAU is privileged to be a member of this community, and we have to be able to pay that back by investing in Pellissippi State, Roane State and their many students.”

Through the support of ORAU, Pellissippi State offers an annual middle school mathematics contest. During the past 18 years, more than 10,000 students from 32 East Tennessee schools have participated in the event, which is free for them to enter.

ORAU also partnered with Pellissippi State to offer an Advanced Manufacturing Internship, a six-week program designed to prepare students to enter this high-tech workforce, and provided scholarship support to Pellissippi State students, who worked as math tutors during their time at the college.

Most recently ORAU pledged $100,000 to support Pellissippi State’s Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on its Hardin Valley Campus.

“ORAU’s continued commitment to Pellissippi State and Roane State has strengthened both institutions and made a positive impact on students and the community,” wrote Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., in nominating ORAU for the award.

ORNL accepts Regents Award
Dr. Thomas Zacharia, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, accepts the Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy on Aug. 2. From left are Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Zacharia, Regent Danni Varlan and Roane State President Chris Whaley.

Roane State nominated ORNL for the lab’s nearly two decades of support of many of the college’s educational initiatives, ranging from an innovative program for high school students to scholarships and grants to a major building project. The Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Harriman and Pellissippi State supported the nomination.

“We partner with Roane State and Pellissippi State because they effectively prepare students to succeed in diverse fields, including some that are still rapidly evolving,” said Dr. Thomas Zacharia, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “Oak Ridge National Laboratory exists to tackle some of the most compelling challenges facing our nation in energy, science, technology, and national security, and we are fortunate to have both of these excellent colleges right in our backyard.”

UT-Battelle manages ORNL and since 2015 has supported Roane State’s unique Middle College with $119,000 in scholarships for high school students so they can graduate from both their high school and the college at the same time.

UT-Battelle in 2011 provided an initial $10,000 to buy supplies for the new “Lab-in-a-Box” program where middle school educators are given materials to use in teaching their students about biology, geology, chemistry and other sciences. Roane State faculty train the teachers. The program is still in place and provides assistance to schools in Roane State’s service area.

In 2008, UT-Battelle contributed $100,000 to help in the construction of the three-story Goff Health Sciences & Technology Building on Roane State’s Oak Ridge campus.

ORNL, through UT-Battelle, also has supported numerous other educational programs at Roane State through gifts of scientific equipment; support for the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Roane State; backing for federal grants, including more than $1 million for the development of the college’s Mechatronics program; support for career-readiness training for wounded veterans; and access to lab facilities and volunteer staff support.

“Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s tremendous engagement with both Roane State and Pellissippi State benefits students and contributes greatly to workforce development in the region,” said Roane State President Chris Whaley. “ORNL is a wonderful partner, and we are deeply thankful for their support of the region’s community colleges.”

Pellissippi State offers a high quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals. Founded in 1974, with five campuses in Knox and Blount counties, Pellissippi State offers associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees.

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

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has campuses in Crossville, Harriman, Huntsville, Jamestown, Knoxville, LaFollette, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge and Wartburg.

For more information on Roane State, visit www.roanestate.edu or call 865-882-4554.

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Pellissippi State offers aviation training for teens this fall

Group of Tuskeegee NEXT and Pellissippi State officials who announced partnership on Monday, July 22, at Magnolia Avenue Campus
On hand at Pellissippi State to announce a new aviation training program Monday were, from left, Tuskegee NEXT Executive Director Sanura Young, Pellissippi State Economic and Workforce Development Executive Director Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Tuskegee NEXT founder and chairman Stephen Davis, Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman and Pellissippi State Executive Director of Equity and Compliance Annazette Houston.

Teenagers and young adults who want to get a jumpstart on a pilot’s license have the opportunity this fall through a new class at Pellissippi State Community College.

Pellissippi State has partnered with Tuskegee NEXT to offer a 13-week introductory aviation training for students ages 16-20, Pellissippi State announced in a kickoff breakfast Monday.

Classes will meet on Tuesday nights on Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus, with one mandatory Saturday field trip. Professionals from the aviation industry will mentor students in the program, who will use a flight simulator to “fly.”

“It’s no secret that the aviation industry is facing a shortage of airline pilots, but that isn’t the only aviation career grappling with a labor shortage,” said Teri Brahams, executive director for Economic and Workforce Development for Pellissippi State. “Aircraft mechanics and flight simulator technicians are also in high demand. This course will introduce students to the opportunities available and provide options for training to pursue these careers.”

There is a global need of 754,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians and 790,000 pilots over the next 20 years, according to Boeing’s 2018 Pilot and Technical Outlook projections.

The nonprofit Tuskegee NEXT saw that need and created programs to help fill that void by offering aviation outreach programs to at-risk youth through Flight Training, Life Skills and Educational Assistance. The program is named in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the United States’ first black military airmen.

“As a historian, I am excited about the connection this program has with the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “As a community college president, I am pleased with the opportunities this program creates for young people in our community.”

Students who participate in the Introduction to Aviation class at Pellissippi State will gain the basic knowledge needed to sit for the Federal Aviation Administration private pilot written exam. Those who successfully complete the course and pass the written exam will be eligible to apply to the Tuskegee NEXT Cadet program in Chicago, which will run from mid-June to mid-August 2020.

Black and white photos of Tuskegee airmen and a certificate of proficiency for one of them, dated 1945
The Tuskegee NEXT program, which provides aviation outreach program to at-risk youth, is named for the Tuskegee Airmen, the United States’ first black military airmen.

“Students are often unaware of the many career possibilities available to them,” said Dean Rosalyn Tillman of Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus. “Exposure to this industry as an option may create interest for some that was never before imagined.”

There are aviation careers available right here in East Tennessee, Brahams noted.

“Local employers like Cirrus Aircraft, the Air National Guard, Pilot Flying J, Jet Aviation, Endeavor Air, STS Technical Services, Standard Aero and many others currently have openings and expect future openings for the next 10 years or more,” she said.

Students must be at least 16 years old and a sophomore in high school, hold a minimum grade point average of 2.75 and have no criminal record. Preference will be given to minority and female students.

For more information or to request an application, contact Pellissippi State Business and Community Services at 865-539-7167 or bcs@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State offers Tennessee’s first Water Quality Technology program for water, wastewater

Pellissippi State Community College has answered the call from industry partners to start offering associate degrees in Water Quality Technology.

Man at water tank.
Water Quality Technology is one of Pellissippi State’s newest programs.

The new program, approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents at the end of June, will start this fall and prepare students for careers in water and wastewater treatment plants. It is the first program of its kind in the state, said Program Coordinator Arthur Stewart, who was brought on board last year to design the curriculum with industry partners.

“This is real important to the industry,” said Drexel Heidel, general manager of West Knox Utility District. “Some 30 to 50 percent of our certified operators are slated to retire in the next 10 years. So we’re struggling to find people to run our plants.”

An advisory committee comprised of 11 utility representatives as well as staff from the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts and the state’s Fleming Training Center have been working with Pellissippi State to create a program that will meet the needs of water and wastewater treatment plants. Instructional materials align with those used for state-level certifications so that graduates will be prepared for what Heidel calls “pretty rigorous tests.”

Right now the pass rate for Class 3 and Class 4 operators in Tennessee is about 30 percent, he noted.

“There are just not enough people to go around,” Stewart added. “There is a real need here for classes that will help existing utility workers pass their state-level certifications, which will address the industry’s short-term need, and also to recruit new and younger students to the field, which will serve the long-term need.”

Men working with tanker truck
Water Quality Technology was created to help fill the demand for workers at Tennessee facilities.

Pellissippi State’s Water Quality Technology program provides both operational theory and a strong practical background in mathematics, chemistry and aquatic sciences through coursework, site visits and a capstone project conducted at a local water or wastewater treatment facility.

“We came to Pellissippi State and told them our dilemma and our need for the program because Pellissippi State is the best around,” Heidel said. “We are very excited to be able to prepare students to be our future operators.”

Joshua Johnson with Knoxville Utilities Board’s Plant Operations agreed.

“Water and wastewater treatment is a career path that is vital to all healthy communities, and the Water Quality Technology Program will allow for faster onboarding of new employees in this critical field,” he said. “KUB is excited to be a part of developing the next generations of treatment professionals.”

College and industry representatives are recruiting students now for the program’s first two classes, which start this fall: Orientation to Water Operations and Regulations & Compliance. Pellissippi State’s fall semester begins Aug. 26.

man working at computer
Classes will consist of many off-campus visits to local water treatment facilities.

“The program will follow a cohort structure, in that students will move through their classes as a group,” Stewart explained. “Regardless of their age or their experience, students will take the same classes at the same time.”

Sixty or 61 credit hours are needed to graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Water Quality Technology. The program goals, typical job opportunities, courses and course sequence can be found in Pellissippi State’s online 2019-2020 College Catalog or on the program’s website at www.pstcc.edu/water-quality.

“There will be multiple off-site visits, where students will be able to engage with plant operators and have face time with prospective employers,” Stewart noted. “And because this program is the only one like it in the state, we expect incredible growth.”

For more information about the new Water Quality Technology program, contact Program Coordinator Arthur Stewart at ajstewart1@pstcc.edu or 865-694-6427 or Natural and Behavioral Sciences Dean Kane Barker at kmbarker1@pstcc.edu or 865-694-6695.

To apply for Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu/admissions.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1800789. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Pellissippi State unveils improvements to Blount County Campus library

Ed Harmon unveils his name above the library on the Pellissippi State Blount County Campus
William “Ed” Harmon, right, unveils his name above the library on the Pellissippi State Blount County Campus on Wednesday, June 19, assisted by Blount County Campus Librarian Will Buck, left.

Panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains, natural light from a semicircle of nine large windows and shorter shelving accessible to those who use wheelchairs are among the changes students will discover when they visit the library on Pellissippi State Community College’s Blount County Campus.

The improvements were unveiled Wednesday during a ceremony naming the library in honor of Pellissippi State donor William “Ed” Harmon, who has committed $100,000 to help build the Blount County Workforce Development Center on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

“The space is just transformed,” said Dean of Library Services Mary Ellen Spencer. “It looks so much larger.”

Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett agreed.

“The library is, by far, the most open, most naturally lit and most inviting area on this campus,” she said.

Three large shelves previously dominated the library, blocking not only the light from the room’s soaring windows, but also the line of sight from the service desk to the library’s computers, which were located around the perimeter of the room.

“When a person was struggling or needed help, we couldn’t see them,” Spencer said, adding that the library’s glass display cases also were hidden from view by the large shelves.

Removing the tall shelving and replacing it with shorter stacks that fit beneath the windows along the wall not only flooded the room with natural light, but also made the library collections accessible to those who use wheelchairs.

Meanwhile, the library’s computers were moved to a different area of the room, closer to the printer and to the service desk, and existing furniture was rearranged to make the library “much more student-friendly” and conducive for collaboration. Students who don’t want to use one of the library’s desktop computers can check out laptops or tablets and use them at four-top tables located throughout the library.

“The space looks twice as big; it’s night and day,” Spencer said. “We’re very excited to show off this inviting, welcoming atmosphere.”

William "Ed" Harmon and Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett pose inside the newly improved Blount County Campus library.
Ed Harmon and Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett pose inside the newly improved Blount County Campus library on Wednesday, July 19. In the background you can see the shorter shelving, which not only allows natural light to flood the room from the massive windows, but also is accessible to those who use wheelchairs.

Naming the library in honor of Harmon was a natural fit, as the Maryville native has been supporting Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus since 2004, when the college was located in the old Bungalow School. In fact, much of the framed artwork located throughout the Blount County Campus was donated by Harmon, said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.

“It means a lot to me,” Harmon said at the unveiling ceremony Wednesday. “I have been blessed with so many friends, and I appreciate you all coming.”

Harmon’s most recent gift to the college –  $100,000 to build the Blount County Workforce Development Center – will benefit not only Pellissippi State, Wise noted, but also the community.

“Our students who graduate from here stay here,” Wise said, noting the Blount County Workforce Development Center will include alignment with Alcoa City, Maryville City and Blount County schools; Tennessee College of Applied Technology; and the college’s industry partners. “We are all in this together to create great jobs and careers for the people who want to live and work here.”

For more information on the Blount County Workforce Development Center or to make a donation in support of the project, which Pellissippi State hopes to break ground on by the end of this year, visit www.pstcc.edu/campaignforpellissippistate/workforce.

For more photos of the event, check out Pellissippi State on Facebook.

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Pellissippi State gives high school students hands-on experiences at summer camps

High school students from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley work on the SimMan at Nursing Camp
YouthForce students from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley listen to the lungs of SimMan during Nursing camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.

Something is happening.

The nurses check the patient’s pupils. “They’re asymmetrical,” one reports. Stethoscopes out, they listen to his chest, where they hear an asthmatic wheeze. A few minutes later, they’re administering CPR, taking turns counting and doing chest compressions.

It’s not a real patient, and it’s not an emergency. It’s just a typical day at Nursing camp at Pellissippi State Community College.

YouthForce, the workforce development program of the Boys & Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley, will bring 60 high school students to Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus this summer to experience week-long Technical Training Camps.

Nursing and Welding camps were held June 4-7 while Cybersecurity and Manufacturing camps will take place June 18-21.

“We like to make everything hands-on applications of the theory,” explained Andy Polnicki, director of the MegaLab on the Strawberry Plains Campus. “I went to a traditional (four-year) school, and when I graduated and got out into the real world, I realized I only knew a lot of theory. Here at Pellissippi State we spend a lot of time actually applying that theory.”

The goal of YouthForce, which is open to any high school student in Knox and Blount counties, is to expose high school students to skilled trades and to gain first-job skills, explained YouthForce Director Rebecca McDonough. This is the third year YouthForce has held the camps at Pellissippi State.

Decked out in matching scrubs with fully equipped nurse’s kits, the 16 students in Nursing camp rattled off all the things they learned during the week, from the medical (how to stop a bleed, how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, how to administer CPR to a baby) to the practical (how to change hospital beds, how to wash their hands, how to put a pillowcase on a pillow without getting it contaminated).

“We got to experience real nurses, and they shared their stories with us,” explained Callie Anderson, a rising senior at Fulton High School. “Them giving us that extra background of what it’s like to be in the nursing field and then all the hands-on skills labs was just beyond my expectations. I’m so appreciative of this program.”

As nursing instructor Jennifer Priano started to walk a group of students through how to deliver a baby on the SimMom, an advanced full-body birthing simulator, Auna Campbell could not contain her excitement.

“I watch labor videos all the time! People think I’m weird, but it’s really interesting,” said Campbell, a rising junior at West High School. “I want to be a nurse, and I know what I need to do, but I need guidance to know what classes to take and to keep me on the right path because labor and delivery takes a whole lot of schooling. This camp this week helps a lot.”

A high school student from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley works on a project during Welding camp
A YouthForce student from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley works on a project during Welding camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.

Downstairs, the 14 students in Welding camp showed off what they’d learned how to make this week.

“This was my first experience with welding, but it’s really cool,” said Tashaun Patrick, a rising junior at South Doyle High School. “I love the plasma cutter. It’s just the most amazing thing. I made my football number and put it on a post. Today I took these random parts and made an eagle. We’re making a lot of cool stuff that you wouldn’t make in a typical high school class.”

Patrick noted he enjoyed Welding camp so much that he plans to make welding his back-up plan if a sports career doesn’t work out.

“This has been all you want in a summer camp,” Patrick added. “We’ve been learning and having a lot of fun doing it.”

For more information about YouthForce, visit www.bgctnv.org/youthforce. For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

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YouthForce students at Nursing camp, lined up to practice the Heimlich maneuver
YouthForce students line up to practice the Heimlich maneuver during Nursing camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
YouthForce student learns to take a manual blood pressure at Nursing camp
A YouthForce student learns to take blood pressure manually at Nursing camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
YouthForce students perform CPR on SimMan
YouthForce students perform CPR on SimMan, a patient simulator, during Nursing camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
YouthForce students check SimMan's pupils
YouthForce students check SimMan’s pupils during Nursing camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
Female YouthForce welding student with work she made at camp
A YouthForce student from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley shows off the artwork she made during Welding camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
YouthForce student welding
YouthForce student Tashaun Patrick practices welding during Welding camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
YouthForce male student with project he made at welding camp
Teshaun Patrick, a rising junior at South Doyle High School, shows off how his football number he made with a plasma cutter during Welding camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
YouthForce students in full welding gear
YouthForce students from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley watch as Pellissippi State Welding Technology Program Coordinator Adam Streich (not pictured) shows them what they’ll be learning next at Welding camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.

ORAU donates $100,000 to Pellissippi State to support new center for math and science

use Dr. Eric Abelquist, Executive Vice President, and Andy Page, President of ORAU, with Dr. Wise
Dr. Eric Abelquist, Executive Vice President of ORAU, and Andy Page, President of ORAU, from left, present a $100,000 donation to Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise. Jr. on March 14 to support the building of a new math and science center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus.

Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a longtime partner of Pellissippi State Community College, has pledged $100,000 to support Pellissippi State’s new center for math and science on its Hardin Valley Campus.

ORAU President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Page and ORAU Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer Eric Abelquist presented Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. with the donation March 14.

“We are excited to be able to help Pellissippi State realize its vision for a new science and math building on the Hardin Valley Campus,” Page said.  “It’s exciting to think how many young scientists, engineers and mathematicians this new building will serve in the coming years.”

ORAU, which manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education for the U.S. Department of Energy, demonstrates their commitment to science, technology, engineering and math education and the STEM workforce through its support of Pellissippi State – both financially and through countless hours of volunteer time and expertise assistance.

Through the support of ORAU, Pellissippi State offered an annual middle school mathematics contest for 18 years. More than 10,000 students from 32 East Tennessee schools participated in the annual event, which was free for them to enter.

ORAU also partnered with Pellissippi State to offer an Advanced Manufacturing Internship, a six-week program designed to prepare students to enter this high-tech workforce, and provided scholarship support to Pellissippi State students, who worked as math tutors during their time at the college.

“ORAU serves as a key partner, as they lend their research capabilities and specialized experts to make a positive impact in our community,” Wise said. “Together, we are shaping the next generation of this region’s scientific and technical workforce.”

Pellissippi State will break ground on the new math and science center at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 15, on its Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The 82,000-square-foot building will include 18 classrooms, six computer labs and nine science labs, as well as a teacher education center.

Pellissippi State expects to open the $27 million building for classes in fall 2021.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s two new buildings and the campaign to build them, visit www.pstcc.edu/campaignforpellissippistate. For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

For more information about ORAU, visit www.orau.org.

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