Pellissippi State to participate in total solar eclipse experiment in 2017

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Pellissippi State Community College is one of 55 educational institutions across the United States that will participate in a high-altitude ballooning experiment — sponsored by NASA — during next year’s total solar eclipse.

The total solar eclipse will move from the West Coast to the East Coast throughout the day of Aug. 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 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.

“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 will be 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.

“This is an accessible project to the STEM field,” student Sarah Graham said. “Everyone can understand a solar eclipse because it’s a real, visible phenomenon. It’s a great way to learn about physics and engineering in a less intimidating way.”

Pellissippi State’s high-altitude ballooning team will spend the next year improving the payload structure and conducting test launches, as well as working with predictive software to improve retrieval. The team also has the chance to create additional experiments, so long as they add less than two pounds to the payload, to include in the launch next year.

The high altitude ballooning effort is being funded through the NASA Science Mission Directorate and the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium. Pellissippi State is one of only three colleges in Tennessee that are participating in the NASA-sponsored effort.

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

 

Download this press release: Solar Eclipse Experiment

Department of Labor awards Pellissippi State $3.8 million grant

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded Pellissippi State Community College a $3.8 million workforce development grant that will allow the college to enhance its recruitment and training of women, young adults and other underrepresented minorities in the information technology and advanced manufacturing fields.

Pellissippi State is expected to begin recruiting students from around the region through the Knoxville Area Information Technology and Engineering, or KITE, grant in January 2017. In particular, KITE will focus on young adults (ages 17-29) with barriers to gainful employment, particularly women and minorities. KITE also will be open to nontraditional college students, particularly those between the ages of 45 and 60, who are under- or unemployed and who also lack skills to obtain jobs or promotions.

“Pellissippi State leads the way in workforce development in East Tennessee,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “Through KITE, we’ll partner with local employers to combine classroom instruction with on-the-job training to help boost the local economy and fill high-demand jobs with skilled employees.”

KITE will pair Pellissippi State students with a number of key regional employers, including DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, Jewelry Television, Staffing Solutions, Scripps Networks Interactive and others for on-the-job training — in the form of internships, apprenticeships or co-ops. Knoxville-Knox County CAC – Workforce Connections and KnoxWorks will provide students with interviewing, resume writing and job placement assistance.

 “KITE is going to address identified gaps in training within the fields of information technology and advanced manufacturing, including the fact that women, minorities and other underrepresented populations are often rare in these fields,” Wise said.

Additionally, a portion of the DOL grant will go toward the purchase of specialized computer equipment at Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue and Strawberry Plains campuses, where high-tech computer labs will support the college’s new Cyber Defense concentration. Other funds will augment Engineering Technology programs offered at the Blount County, Hardin Valley and Strawberry Plains campuses.

Pellissippi State was one of 39 institutions across the country to win a Department of Labor TechHire award, and the only Tennessee institution to do so. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

 

Download this press release: KITE Grant

Pellissippi State hosts workshops for high school students with disabilities

Pellissippi State Community College invites local high school students with disabilities and their parents to attend college career readiness workshops.

The one-hour workshop will inform students and parents about how to take and request accommodations for the ACT test, including when to take the ACT, general testing tips, and the types of accommodations you can request. The workshop is totally free, but participants must register. Reserve a spot at www.pstcc.edu/upep.

The workshops are provided by the college’s Universal Pathways to Employment Project. Dates, times and locations:

  • Blount County Campus — 6-7 p.m., Feb. 4, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, room 147
  • Division Street Campus — 6-7 p.m., Feb. 1, 3435 Division Street, room 100
  • Magnolia Avenue Campus — 6-7 p.m., Feb. 2, 1610 E. Magnolia Avenue, room 100
  • Strawberry Plains Campus — 6-7 p.m., Feb. 1, 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike, room 2053

Pellissippi State’s Universal Pathways to Employment Project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy.

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

Download this press release: PSCC UPEP Workshop

Female Pellissippi State students benefit from attending women engineers conference

Makayla Edwards
Makayla Edwards is one of the Pellissippi State Community College students who attended the recent Society of Women Engineers conference.

Female Pellissippi State Community College students pursuing a career in engineering had the chance to hear from some of the nation’s most prominent women engineers at a recent conference.

“The SWE [Society of Women Engineers] conference was an amazing opportunity,” said Ravenne Hall, one of the students who attended. “The workshops were helpful and thorough. The biggest benefit was to meet all the amazing women who, just like me one day, work in the technical industry. It was very inspiring to see that women really have accomplished amazing feats and are expanding and sharing their great minds with the world.”

The conference took place in Nashville in late October. It highlighted successful female engineers and the realities that women face when they enter traditionally male-dominated fields in science, technology, engineering, and math.

“My experience at the conference was inspirational: just to be around fellow like-minded female engineers who have accomplished so much,” said Makayla Edwards.

“I learned so much, but most important to me was how to negotiate your salary. That’s invaluable information that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life,” said Ines Mena-Solano.

Hall, along with Edwards and Mena-Solano, are recipients of scholarships funded through the Tennessee Community College Space Grant Consortium, part of the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System.

The NASA grant seeks to increase enrollment and retention in STEM fields among women and underrepresented minorities.

“Women only account for about 11 percent of the enrollment in engineering technology programs in Tennessee community colleges,” said Lynn Klett, “even though women make up 61 percent of overall community college enrollment.” Klett manages the NASA grant at Pellissippi State.

“Out-of-classroom experiences like this increase retention rates for our students by encouraging them to build relationships with each other and with their professors,” said Kathleen Scruggs, student completion coach for the NASA grant at Pellissippi State.

In all, nine female Pellissippi State students attended the conference with Scruggs and Klett. The NASA grant covered not only the cost of the conference but also the students’ ongoing membership in the Society of Women Engineers.

Funding provided by the NASA grant comes through the Pellissippi State Foundation. The Foundation works to provide student scholarships and emergency loans, as well as to improve facilities and secure new equipment. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.pstcc.edu/foundation or call (865) 694-6528.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s Engineering Technology degree program and concentrations, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400. For more about the Foundation and giving opportunities, call (865) 694-6528 or visit www.pstcc.edu/foundation.

Download this press releaseNASA Scholars Attend Conference

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