Pellissippi State partners with NASA to study solar eclipse, will hold viewing party

posted in: Community, Events, Partnerships, Students, TBR | 0
Photos of Earth’s stratosphere were taken by Pellissippi State Community College students and faculty members through the camera attached to a high-altitude balloon. This photo, taken during a test launch in March, gives some idea of the types of images the balloon and camera may capture during the total solar eclipse August 21.
 
Pellissippi State Community College is one of only 55 educational institutions across the United States that will participate in a high altitude ballooning experiment — sponsored by NASA — during the August 21 total solar eclipse, and the college will host a viewing party and community event to mark the solar eclipse.
 
The total solar eclipse will move from the west coast to the east coast throughout the day of August 21. The moon’s shadow will come between earth and the sun at approximately 2 p.m. in East Tennessee. It’s the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in the U.S. since 1918.
 
Pellissippi State is one of only three colleges in Tennessee that are participating in the NASA-sponsored effort.
 
Pellissippi State will launch a high altitude balloon to gather data and conduct experiments during the two-minute window of the total eclipse. Video from the balloon of the eclipse will be streamed live to NASA’s website.
 
Additionally, a viewing party and community event will be held at the Blount County Campus from noon-3 p.m. The free event, called Tailgating in Totality, will include food trucks, games and activities for children — plus a live stream from Pellissippi State’s high altitude balloon.
 
“This is an amazing learning opportunity,” said Lynn Klett, instructor in Engineering and Media Technologies, and a faculty advisor to Pellissippi State’s high altitude ballooning team. “The last total solar eclipse was years ago, so we have the opportunity to learn a lot about what happens during an eclipse. But high altitude ballooning has its own challenges that require critical thinking and problem-solving, whether you’re flying during a solar eclipse or not.”
 
As an example of those challenges, Pellissippi State’s balloon must be within the proper altitude range — 60,000 to 100,000 feet — precisely during the two-minute window of the total eclipse. The scientific equipment within the payload must be able to withstand temperatures of -60 degrees Celsius and survive a controlled fall from approximately 100,000 feet in space.
 
And that’s just the beginning.
 
Jerry Sherrod, associate professor in Business and Computer Technology and this project’s other faculty advisor, is working with predictive software to determine where the payload is likely to land.
 
“East Tennessee has geographic challenges when it comes to predicting where a 12-pound payload on a small parachute will land,” Sherrod said. “We don’t want the equipment to land in a lake or in the national park where it may be impossible to retrieve, or where the scientific equipment will be lost or damaged.”
 
Klett and Sherrod have been working with the students on the high altitude ballooning team — as well as students in their classes — not only to discuss the project, but to design experiments, improve the payload structure and create predictive algorithms for the device’s retrieval.
 
The high altitude ballooning effort is being funded through the NASA Science Mission Directorate and the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium. 
 
For more information about Pellissippi State, visit  www.pstcc.edu/cae or call 865-694-6400. 

Pellissippi State honors outstanding students

posted in: Academics, Awards, Students, TBR | 0

Pellissippi State Community College honored dozens of outstanding students at its annual Academic Awards ceremony April 25. The awards recognized not only excellent academic achievement, but excellence in altruism, community service and leadership.

The college named Leah Hazel Davis and Haley Victoria Ferguson to the All-USA Community College Academic Team.

Gulsah Onar and Dustie Phillips were recipients of the Service Leadership Excellence Award, in recognition of their devotion to civic and community engagement. Susan Spoon was named winner of the Shelley Grace Clayton Award, which honors an altruistic and caring attitude; and several students won Campus Leadership Awards: Heather Butler, Sandra Davis, Sarah Kear, Robert McGinley and Amanda Wollard.

Nathan Armistead was recognized as an outstanding student in the fine arts, and his painting “Presley” was purchased for Pellissippi State’s permanent student art collection.

Additionally, several students were named as Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges: Demi Camia, Sandra de Jesus, Caleb Edmonds, Haley Ferguson, Elicia Ferrer, Kathleen Ford, Jonathan Harter, Apryl Herrell, Yulia Kanevskaya, Jeremy Law, Nikolas Likourentzos, Gulsah Onar, Laura Overton, Walter Rutherford, Valentyna Samonik, Jennifer Sandberg, Mary Templeman, Joy Walker and Darryl Woodridge.

Pellissippi State also named its Faculty Member of the Year — as voted on by students — as Jonathan Lamb, associate professor of mathematics.

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

Pellissippi State a finalist for national Award of Excellence

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For the second year in a row, Pellissippi State Community College was one of four finalists — out of 1,100 community colleges across the nation — for an American Association of Community Colleges Award of Excellence.

Pellissippi State was nominated for its corequisite remediation model, which places academically underprepared students in college-level courses while at the same time providing extra academic help during the course.

Anthony Wise
L. Anthony Wise Jr.

“Over the last two years, Pellissippi State has redesigned the delivery of remedial courses. We’ve implemented a new model that allows students to enroll in college-level courses but still receive the additional support they need to succeed,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.

Nationally, about 70 percent of college freshmen need remediation in at least one subject, and more than half need remediation in two subjects. In addition, almost 40 percent of the students who enroll in that remedial course never complete it, and only 25 percent go on to complete a college-level course in English or math.

Pellissippi State’s corequisite model, which was piloted in 2015 and has since been fully implemented, places students directly in college-level courses. Students needing remediation attend class one extra day a week for focused attention and support. Pellissippi State students who have completed the corequisite model have demonstrated extraordinary success.

Ted Lewis
Ted Lewis

“Corequisite remediation has dramatically improved students’ success. The success rates for remedial students enrolled in college-level courses of English was 47 percent. Mathematics was 53 percent, and college success was 61 percent,” said Ted Lewis, vice president of Academic Affairs.

Additionally, the corequisite remediation model allows students to receive financial aid for their course work (many remedial courses weren’t covered by financial aid) and helps students stay on track to graduate quickly.

The Student Success Award of Excellence recognizes a community college that has demonstrated a sustained commitment to and proactive advancement of the cause of student success. Nominees are evaluated on increases in degree completion and transfer rates, as well as innovative programs that encourage retention, graduation and student success.

The winner of the Student Success Award, Wallace Community College-Dothan in Alabama, was announced at the AACC annual convention in New Orleans April 24.

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

Mother inspires daughter by earning college degree

posted in: Alumni, Commencement, Students, TBR | 0
Ruth Crippen and Family
Ruth Crippen, center, at the Nursing pinning ceremony for her daughter, Maggie Pierce, far left, along with her other children, from left, Stephanie, James and Sara.

Maggie Pierce grew up in a household that valued education and encouraged her to earn good grades. But when she and her sisters earned college degrees, they were progressing down a path their parents had not trod.

That changes on May 5, when Maggie’s mother, Ruth Crippen, will cross the stage and earn her Business degree from Pellissippi State Community College.

“Neither of my parents had completed college,” Pierce said. “But they always expected our best when it came to education. We were encouraged to make straight A’s and study hard.”

That childhood emphasis seemed to have worked: Pierce and her two sisters have seven degrees among them. Pierce earned a Nursing degree from Pellissippi State in 2014, after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in a career field she decided wasn’t for her after all. Today, she works at Parkwest Medical Center.

Two years ago, her mother, Crippen, went through a divorce and then a lay-off. After a time of unsuccessful job searching, she decided it was time to earn a degree herself.

“This started out as a way for me to get a decent job to provide for my family,” Crippen said. “But now it’s a way for me to say, ‘I did this.’ I tell people it’s my 39-year-path to a degree. I get emotional talking about it.”

Crippen enrolled in an accelerated cohort program at Pellissippi State — which condenses classes into five-week terms, allowing a part-time student to still complete an associate degree in two years.

“I have had to work so hard and take this one semester at a time. I never would have been able to get this done without my daughters’ help,” Crippen said.

“We all respect my mother and her decision to go back to school, so much,” Pierce said. “But she’ll tell you that she’s just doing what she expected us to do. Seeing her succeed is priceless to us.”

Pierce and her siblings will be in the audience, cheering, as Crippen crosses the stage at Pellissippi State’s Commencement ceremony, 7 p.m., May 5, in Thompson-Boling Arena.

“I had the opportunity to go to college as a young person,” Crippen said. “But I announced I was getting married at the ripe old age of 19. At that time, I didn’t realize it was a mistake. But my whole life, I’ve tried to instill in my kids that they did not want to be like their dad and me. The priority was for them to make good grades.

“I never applied myself when I was young. This has a been a long, hard road, but I’m so proud. I’m so proud that I’ve kept a full-time job and done this cohort, and that I will graduate with a 3.4 GPA.”

For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at Commencement, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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