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.

Pellissippi State vice president selected for leadership institute

Audrey Williams
Audrey Williams

Audrey Williams, vice president of Information Services and chief information officer for Pellissippi State Community College, has been selected to participate in the 2019 Leading Change Institute in Washington, D.C.

Williams, who has worked for Pellissippi State for 20 years, is one of only 38 individuals chosen for the conference, which is jointly sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources and EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association that helps higher education elevate the impact of information technology.

“Throughout my career in educational and information technology, I have had the mindset of being a problem-solver, serving as a support function within the work of others,” Williams said. “To increase our capacity to serve our students, we have a growing number of new and existing technologies and data platforms. This brings change, not only to the technical staff, but to faculty, students and staff. I am now asked to provide leadership before, during and after these projects to ensure their purposes are understood, all voices (both positive and negative) are heard, risks are evaluated and impacts are anticipated.”

The Leading Change Institute, which takes place this week, brings together leaders in higher education who want to work collaboratively to promote and initiate change on critical issues, including new sources of competition, use of technology to support effective teaching and learning, distance learning, changing modes of scholarly communications and the qualities necessary for leadership.

“Participation in LCI will provide me with tools, networks and information to help me lead my division, my college and the statewide college system at a critical time as we approach several upcoming large changes in operations, as well as whatever the future may bring our way,” Williams said. “By attending LCI, I hope to create strong, professional relationships with peers around the world and to take advantage of what I can learn from the presenters and institute faculty to build my understanding of how to lead positive change on campus and beyond.”

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

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Pellissippi State names Kevin Fillers Alumnus of the Year

Kevin Fillers
Kevin Fillers

Pellissippi State Community College has recognized Kevin Fillers as its Distinguished Alumni Award winner for 2019.

Fillers, Business Manager at Innovative Design Inc., graduated from Pellissippi State in 2011 with an Associate of Science degree in Management. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee in 2013.

College wasn’t always Fillers’ plan, however.

“I decided when I was 13 years old that it was going to be my dream to become a professional paintball player,” Fillers told Pellissippi State Alumni for a #WhereAreTheyNowWednesday post on social media. “When I graduated high school, I told my parents I wasn’t going to college and put all my energy into pursuing a paintball career, where I ended up going pro.”

It took Fillers only a couple of years on the paintball circuit, however, to realize professional paintball was not going to be a sustainable future, he said. Fillers started taking classes part time at Pellissippi State in 2006, when he was 21 years old.

Going to school part time didn’t deter Fillers from giving it his all. In fact, Fillers was the recipient of multiple academic awards at Pellissippi State, including the 2011 ACBSP Student Leadership Award, which is given to the top business graduate each year.

After graduating from Pellissippi State, Fillers continued to receive academic recognition at UT, where he was named the Haslam College of Business’ Top Graduate in 2013 after completing his degree with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Innovative Design Inc. CEO Cindy Hollander noted this in nominating Fillers for Pellissippi State’s Distinguished Alumni Award this year.

“I think Kevin’s unconventional journey to get where he is today would be an excellent motivator for current students while clearly illustrating the transformative power of education, regardless of the path you took to get there or how long it takes you to finish,” Hollander wrote in her nomination of Fillers.

Fillers was recognized with the Pellissippi State’s Distinguished Alumni Award at the college’s annual Alumni Luncheon. The award is given to an individual in recognition of significant professional achievement, service to the community and support of the college and the Pellissippi State Foundation.

On top of his job at Innovative Design Inc., Fillers has spent the last seven years helping local businesses through his firm, Fillers Consulting, which specializes in business process consulting and fractional chief financial officer services. Although he keeps a busy work schedule, Fillers still has found the time to serve as a tnAchieves mentor, a member of Pellissippi State’s Alumni Steering Committee, a guest speaker and judge for UT’s Vol Court Entrepreneurship Competition, and a Knoxville Chamber Ambassador.

Fillers also has spearheaded the development of Innovative Design Inc.’s outreach programs, including creating a partnership with Knox County Schools to develop a computer-aided design and 3D printing curriculum that will be rolled out across the county next year, as well as a STEM enrichment program specifically for Green Magnet Academy. Innovative Design Inc.’s other major outreach program focuses on Knoxville’s entrepreneurship community, with the firm donating engineering and design services for startup companies.

“Receiving this award has been an extremely humbling moment for me because I look back at Pellissippi State as the place that really changed the trajectory of my adult life,” Fillers said. “The education and support I received from the faculty gave me the foundation and confidence I needed to advance my academic and professional careers. Making the decision to take that first class at Pellissippi State is a decision I would make 100 out of 100 times again.”

For more information about Pellissippi State Alumni, visit www.pstcc.edu/alumni or call 865-539-7275.

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Pellissippi State’s H.A.B.I.T. cat makes literary debut in new “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book

Betsy Boyd holding her gray Maine Coon cat
Longtime Pellissippi State counselor Betsy Boyd talks about her H.A.B.I.T. cat, Jimmy Carter McGill, during a celebration on the college’s Blount County Campus on Thursday. Jimmy Carter McGill is featured in the new book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat.”

When Jimmy Carter McGill walks onto Pellissippi State Community College’s Blount County Campus, students just “melt” onto the floor.

The local celebrity walks around like he owns the place. Faculty and staff lure him into their offices with toys and treats. He makes himself at home on their bottom shelves.

Now Jimmy Carter McGill, a 14-pound Maine Coon cat, is featured in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat,” published earlier this month. The story was written and submitted by his owner, Betsy Boyd, a longtime counselor on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

Included in the book’s chapter titled Who Rescued Who?, “Jimmy Carter McGill” recounts how Boyd came to adopt the stray cat at a grief-stricken time in her life and have him certified as a volunteer with Human Animal Bond in Tennessee (H.A.B.I.T.), an animal-assisted therapy program sponsored by the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

“It’s a very rare kitty to have the confidence and composure to go visit people in a variety of settings,” H.A.B.I.T. Program Coordinator Ruth Sapp said at a celebration of Jimmy Carter McGill held at Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus on Thursday. “I am just so proud of you guys.”

Boyd started bringing Jimmy Carter McGill – named for both former President Jimmy Carter and fictional character Jimmy McGill in the television series “Better Call Saul” – to the Blount County Campus around three years ago, she said Thursday. It was Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett who recognized his potential as a H.A.B.I.T. animal, Boyd noted.

“I said, ‘I’ve never seen such a friendly cat! You may want to check into (animal-assisted) therapy,’” Burkett recalled Thursday.

Boyd did just that, driving to Chattanooga for a H.A.B.I.T. informational meeting. With the blessing of Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., all five of Pellissippi State’s campuses became official H.A.B.I.T. facilities that can host H.A.B.I.T. animals at any time, not just during final exams week, as had been the college’s practice.

“This is just the coolest and greatest program,” said Pellissippi State Assistant Vice President for Student Services Elizabeth Firestone, who was director of Counseling Services when Boyd adopted Jimmy Carter McGill and went through the H.A.B.I.T. certification process.

Holly Burkett petting H.A.B.I.T. cat
Pellissippi State Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett, right, pets H.A.B.I.T. cat Jimmy Carter McGill at a celebration Thursday. The cat’s owner, longtime Pellissippi State counselor Betsy Boyd, middle, has had a story about Jimmy Carter McGill and his volunteer work published in the new book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat,” which she presented to Campus Librarian Instructor Will Buck, left, during Thursday’s celebration.

“Jimmy helps students de-stress and relax, but I have to tell you: the faculty and staff go gaga for him,” Boyd added.

Jimmy Carter McGill still visits the Blount County Campus for one hour once a week, even though Boyd retired from her full-time job with the college last year.

“Interacting with an animal helps to reduce stress and releases happy hormones,” Boyd explained, noting Jimmy Carter McGill visited a nursing home for 10 months in addition to his work on the Blount County Campus. “Wherever we go, Jimmy brightens people’s days and brings a smile to their faces.”

Burkett agreed.

“Jimmy Carter McGill coming on campus equals happiness, smiles and student engagement,” she said. “People are sitting on the lobby floor, petting Jimmy, de-stressing.”

Boyd compares Jimmy Carter McGill’s volunteer work to the humanitarian efforts of one of his namesakes – and told President Carter that in a letter.

“I got a little note back from him in his handwriting,” Boyd said. “He said he was honored to have such a special friend as a namesake. It was very sweet.”

Now, with the publication of Jimmy Carter McGill’s story in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat,” Boyd has other ideas “percolating.”

“I can see a whole series of children’s books about Jimmy Carter McGill,” Boyd said, listing off some possible titles based on the cat’s adventures. “I just definitely need an artist!”

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Pellissippi State invites educators to free distance learning conference

Educators interested in making their online classes more engaging are invited to a free one-day distance learning conference at Pellissippi State Community College on June 26.

Tanya Joosten, director of Digital Learning Research and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, will give the keynote presentation to kick off the conference, which will be held in the Goins Administration Building on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

Joosten is nationally recognized for her work in blended and online learning. She leads a national research initiative, supported by the U.S. Department of Education, working to provide access to research models and methods, facilitate innovative processes of data collection, and encourage the replication of research across institutions through the DETA Research Toolkit, which identifies key factors that influence student success with particular attention to underrepresented students.

Paul Ramp, director of Distance Education for Pellissippi State, will follow the keynote with an update on “Pellissippi Online: Where We Are. Where Are We Going?” which would be useful for high school educators to know as high school students across the region continue to supplement their classes with online courses offered by Pellissippi State.

Conference participants also will have the opportunity to attend three breakout sessions. Among the planned topics are accessibility, best practices and online pedagogy.

The conference, which is co-sponsored by Distance Learning and the Pellissippi Academic Center for Excellence (PACE), will begin at 8:30 a.m. June 26 and wrap up by 4 p.m. Registration is open now at https://pstcc.libwizard.com/f/PSCCDEconf. Registration is free, but space is limited.

For more information, contact PACE at 865-539-7335. To request accommodations for a disability for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State offers free financial aid assistance, advice in four upcoming events

Students who are feeling overwhelmed with paperwork for grants, loans and scholarships have four upcoming opportunities to get hands-on help from financial aid experts at Pellissippi State Community College.

Pellissippi State will host four Financial Aid Days:

  • 12:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, May 24, at the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville;
  • 2-7 p.m. Monday, June 3, at the Blount County Campus, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville;
  • 12:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, at the Magnolia Avenue Campus, 1610 E. Magnolia Ave., Knoxville; and
  • 2-7 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at the Strawberry Plains Campus, 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike, Knoxville.

A link to RSVP to the events, which are capped at 100 students each, is available on the Pellissippi State website at www.pstcc.edu.

Financial aid experts will be available to assist students with Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Financial Student Aid (FSA) IDs, verification of the FAFSA, Tennessee Reconnect applications, and checking the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) student portal to ensure state funding is routed to the appropriate college.

Students should be sure to bring their 2017 tax returns and W-2s, Social Security numbers and FSA ID, if already created, to ensure they can accomplish as much as possible with financial aid experts during the event.

For more information about Financial Aid Days at Pellissippi State, contact Financial Aid at 865-694-6400 or financialaid@pstcc.edu. To request accommodations for a disability at these events, call 865.539.7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State breaks ground for Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on Hardin Valley Campus

17 people wearing hard hats shovel dirt in a ceremonial groundbreaking
Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, eighth from left, joins Pellissippi State to break ground on the new Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus May 15. The Tennessee Board of Regents approved the name of the building May 14, and the name was announced, to Haslam’s surprise, at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Pellissippi State Community College broke ground today on a new academic building on its Hardin Valley Campus and announced that the building has been named the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science.

As governor of Tennessee from 2011 to 2019, Haslam was key to establishing Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, last-dollar scholarships that provide two years of tuition-free attendance at a community or technical college in Tennessee.

“We would not be here today without the leadership of Bill Haslam, who made it a priority to increase the number of college graduates in our state and responded with programs like Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, which have opened doors for more students to continue their education at community colleges,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “A recent study by the Postsecondary Education Research Center at the University of Tennessee showed that Tennessee Promise already has increased retention and graduation rates for full-time, first-time freshmen at Pellissippi State, and we know anecdotally that Tennessee Reconnect is helping adults without degrees achieve their dreams of obtaining a college education as well. We are honored to have Bill Haslam’s name on this building.”

The new 82,000-square-foot Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science 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.

The Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science, which will be located on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus in Knoxville, 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 expects to open the new building for classes in fall 2021.

The total project cost for the construction of the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science is $27 million, and Tennessee’s community colleges are required to provide a minimum of 10 percent match for all state building projects. Significant progress has been made toward the $2.7 million fundraising goal due to generous contributions from donors such as the Haslam Family Foundation; Pilot Flying J; UT-Battelle; Oak Ridge Associated Universities; UCOR, an AECOM-led partnership with Jacobs; and Stowers Machinery Corporation.

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.

UT-Battelle donates $150,000 to Pellissippi State to support new center for math and science

ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. with a ceremonial check for $150,000
ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia, left, presents Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. with a UT-Battelle donation to the college’s new center for math and science in December 2018.

UT-Battelle LLC, which manages and operates Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, has pledged $150,000 to support Pellissippi State Community College’s new center for math and science on its Hardin Valley Campus.

“I would say – if I were to look at my own life experience, career experience – that education in STEM opens you up for an adventure of a lifetime,” ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia told Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. when Wise visited ORNL to receive the donation. “I think the opportunity for community colleges generally, but particularly for Pellissippi State, is to prepare your students not just for the jobs that are available today but, in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to prepare students for the rapidly changing job opportunities and the job market of tomorrow.”

As the largest DOE multiprogram open science laboratory, ORNL’s mission is to deliver scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs that accelerate the development and deployment of solutions in clean energy and global security while creating economic opportunities for the nation. Signature strengths in neutron scattering, high-performance computing, advanced materials, and nuclear science and engineering are the foundation for the lab’s broad research and development portfolio.

“Pellissippi State is fortunate to have a world-class national laboratory in our backyard,” Wise said. “Our student interns and alumni can be found in all corners of the organization. ORNL serves as an advocate for the technical skills and value of community college graduates, and Pellissippi State looks forward to continuing to build on our relationship with ORNL that has existed since the early days of State Technical Institute.”

ORNL partners with Pellissippi State by providing internships to students in a variety of fields. Meanwhile, ORNL operates DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility not far from Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, allowing Pellissippi State students a unique opportunity to see advanced manufacturing and materials science at work – as well as the practical application of the research that is happening at ORNL.

“Sometimes it seems like it’s a long way from the community college to ORNL, but in a lot of ways, it’s really not, because we hope we can provide foundational learning experiences that may eventually support the work you do as well,” Wise told Zacharia.

Zacharia agreed, noting that a large number of ORNL employees got their starts at Pellissippi State.

“I joined the laboratory in the welding group and ended up leading the world’s premier computing facility – and only because when opportunities were presented to me, rather than asking myself, ‘Should I do it?’ I just said, ‘Why not?’” Zacharia said in response to Wise’s request for his advice for STEM students. “Someday I’d like to see a student who started out at Pellissippi State Community College be the director of this laboratory.”

Pellissippi State will break ground on the new center for math and science 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 ORNL, visit  www.ornl.gov. To read the conversation between Zacharia and Wise in its entirety, visit https://sites.pstcc.edu/connections/2019/04/29/conversation.

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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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Pellissippi State commencement May 3 will honor longtime student who died last year

Barry King
The late Barry King, photographed here as he was training to be a New Student Orientation leader at Pellissippi State, passed away in January 2018 at the age of 32.

Exactly 800 Pellissippi State Community College students will graduate this spring, but there will be one poignantly empty chair at the school’s Commencement ceremony Friday, May 3, at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The empty chair will be left for the late Barry King, a longtime Pellissippi State student who likely would have finished his associate degree and graduated this semester. Barry, who had brittle diabetes and kidney disease, passed away in January 2018 after being hospitalized for flu. He only lacked three classes to earn his Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Information Technology with a concentration in Programming, but he would have had to take those three classes consecutively.

Barry’s father, Associate Professor Donn King, will address Pellissippi State graduates with “Lessons from a Not-So-Empty Chair.” Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and commencement begins at 7 p.m.

“Barry was a student at Pellissippi State for 12 years; he was determined to get that degree, and he kept at it,” said King, who has taught communication at Pellissippi State for 28 years. “It took him so long because he would get part way through a semester, wind up in the hospital for a couple of weeks, get too far behind to catch up and withdraw for the semester to try again later.”

While Barry’s long-sought degree will be awarded posthumously at commencement, King stressed he will focus his address not on his son, but on the lessons he learned from Barry – lessons that Pellissippi State students may realize they also have learned along the way.

“I want to recognize our graduates’ own strength and what it took for them to get to this spot and what it will take moving forward,” King said. “Graduation is not the end of their education. Like a graduated cylinder they may have used in their science classes, ‘graduated’ means ‘marked.’ Graduation marks a major transition and achievement in these students’ ongoing journey.”

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, call 865.539.7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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