Category Archives: AHEAD

Pellissippi State, Alcoa Foundation partner for student scholarships

A growing need for machinery operators with mechanical and electrical engineering training is being met through a partnership between Pellissippi State Community College and Alcoa Foundation.

Alcoa Foundation is supporting Pellissippi State students pursuing an industrial maintenance certificate or associate’s degree with a two-year, $50,000 scholarship grant.

Pellissippi State offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Engineering Technology with a concentration in Industrial Maintenance, as well as a certificate in Industrial Maintenance Technology. The Industrial Maintenance concentration prepares students for careers in large manufacturing companies, working as multicraft, industrial machinery maintenance and repair technicians.

“There is an existing shortage of qualified men and women who are able to maintain and repair equipment in local industry,” said Peggy Mahan Wilson, vice president of College Advancement for Pellissippi State and executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation.

“A great opportunity exists to provide students with the skills needed to obtain high-paying jobs in our community. The manufacturing industry is on the rebound in our region, and this scholarship grant will help provide students the necessary training to become experienced-and much needed-maintenance personnel.”

The Engineering Technology/Industrial Maintenance program at Pellissippi State is an Accelerated Higher Education Associate’s Degree program. AHEAD is designed to meet the needs of busy adults by offering shorter-term courses and credit for prior learning. Engineering Technology/Industrial Maintenance is also a cohort program. Cohorts allow students to move through their courses as a unified group, encouraging collaboration and fostering long-lasting relationships.

The Alcoa Foundation grant is expected to affect 80 Industrial Maintenance students directly through August 2015.

“This grant,” said Wilson, “will empower Industrial Maintenance students to secure the critical skills necessary to obtain self-sufficiency through the completion of their degree. We are pleased to receive this grant from Alcoa Foundation and honored to have a long history of partnership with them.”

The grant is a continuation of support from Alcoa Foundation, which last year completed a separate $37,000 donation for scholarships for students pursuing an associate’s degree in Engineering Technology/Industrial Maintenance.

For more about Industrial Maintenance, call (865) 694-6400 or visit To learn more about the college’s many giving opportunities, call the Pellissippi State Foundation at (865) 694-6528 or email

Pellissippi State graduates earn degree on accelerated path, as a group

A row of people standing in front of buildings and trees.
Front row, left to right: Lee Blackburn, Rick Stogsdill, Heather Hatfield, David Carr, Diane Mannis, Brandi Dockins, Amber Slaterbeck, Amy Proctor, Harmonie Wallace and Denise Reed. Second row, left to right: Jim Wolfenbarger, Walter Radny, Philip Woods, Bobby Snodderly, Elizabeth Donaldson, Sevaughn Green, John Carter and Joe Junemann. (Bridget Webb is not pictured.) Photograph by Austin Webb.

Pellissippi State Community College’s Accelerated Higher Education Associate’s Degree program gives working adults the chance to earn a two-year degree in 16 months—an option that has grown more popular, and in some cases essential, for students.

At Pellissippi State’s 2013 Commencement Ceremony on May 10, AHEAD marked its sixth year with the graduation of its Management cohort, the first cohort the program offered when it was launched. Students in the cohort earned an associate’s degree in Business Administration with a Management concentration.

In a cohort, a group of students follows the same schedule and progresses through the program together.

“Getting to work with a team that you stay with through the whole thing was appealing to me. I knew I would have a good support system,” said David Carr, a new AHEAD Management graduate.

“You know everybody’s strengths and weaknesses, and who you can depend on to do what. It’s not like a regular class where you’re on a different team, with different people. You form more of a bond and do better work.”

AHEAD is a full-time program, and many students balance school with full-time jobs and family.

“It’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s worth the struggle,” said Lee Blackburn, a 2013 graduate in the Management cohort who worked as a construction subcontractor while a Pellissippi State student. “Juggling work and school and home, it’s tough. But it’s worth it.”

AHEAD faculty member Denise Reed agrees. “You have to have such a determination that you’re going to succeed and do this,” said Reed, “and I’m just so proud of them for all they accomplish in such a short amount of time.” Reed  has taught classes in AHEAD’s Management cohort from the beginning.

AHEAD provides two ways for students to accelerate their studies: credit for prior learning and shorter-length courses.

“I do work full time, so this was the best, quick way to do it,” said Heather Hatfield, who also graduated with the cohort. “You need to be dedicated and focused in order to finish. It is not a traditional class, for sure. It is for those who are committed and wanting that degree.”

Pellissippi State offers several AHEAD programs in the cohort-style format: Computer Accounting, Culinary Arts, and Management, all in the Business Administration major; Industrial Maintenance, in Engineering Technology; the Associate of Science in Teaching; and the A.S. 41-Hour General Education Certificate.

To learn more about AHEAD and other cohort programs, visit or call Celeste Evans at (865) 539-7381.

Registration under way for accelerated degree program at Pellissippi State

The Accelerated Higher Education Degree (AHEAD) program at Pellissippi State Community College continues its growth with a new Computer Accounting concentration in spring semester. Classes start Jan. 17, and registration began Oct. 29.

The college also starts new “cohorts” in two long-running AHEAD degree choices, Management and Culinary Arts.

AHEAD is designed to meet the needs of busy adults and working parents. Concentrating in Culinary Arts, Management or the new Computer Accounting option leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Administration.

Most students enrolled in the program work full time, have a family and seek a path to promotion in their career, according to Roger Crowe, a faculty member who has taught Management classes in AHEAD since its onset in fall 2007.

“They’re usually moving along in their careers but have reached a point where they either have to have a degree of some kind to move up the ladder or they feel like they just need additional training,” said Crowe. “In some cases, they realize they should have gotten a degree way back when and they’re trying to make up for that.

“But I’d say that the majority of the AHEAD students see the necessity of a degree in order to make progress from where they are now.”

AHEAD provides two ways to accelerate earning a degree: shorter-length courses and credit for prior learning. The program also is newly offering Management and Culinary Arts in a cohort-style format. In a cohort, a group of students follows the same set schedule and progresses through the program as a unit. Cohorts benefit students by giving them a ready-made framework to support one other.

Like Crowe, faculty member Denise Reed has taught classes in AHEAD since the beginning of the program. She says the coursework is rigorous and intensive and the students bring a high level of commitment to the program.

“You have to have such a determination that you’re going to succeed and do this. I’m so proud of the students for all they accomplish in such a short amount of time,” she said.

AHEAD degree programs are designed for completion in two years or less. In addition to Computer Accounting, Management, and Culinary Arts, AHEAD degrees are offered in Industrial Maintenance and Teaching. The program also provides students with the opportunity to earn an A.S. (Associate of Science) 41-hour General Education certificate.

To learn more about AHEAD, visit or call Celeste Evans at (865) 539-7381.