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

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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 students earn top spots in regional Math Contest

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Math contest winners
Pellissippi State students took top spots in the annual regional Student Mathematics League competitions: from left, Son Quang, Bohdan Makarchuk, Lily Turaski and Robert Weber.

 

Pellissippi State Community College finished first in the state — and second in the region — in this year’s regional Student Mathematics League competition.

Pellissippi State had 105 students take part in the 2016-2017 contest. In the first round of competition in October, the top five Pellissippi State students were Lily Turaski, Nicholas West, Son Quang, Ben Koester and Michaela Shoffner. In February’s round two competition, the top five places were earned by Lily Turaski, Son Quang, Robert Weber, Ian Cannon and Bohdan Makarchuk.

Those top five individual scores constitute the college’s overall score. In the final standings, Pellissippi State placed first among Tennessee colleges and second among 19 schools in the southeast region.

Also in the southeast region, Pellissippi State student Lily Turaski took first place among all participating students. Nicholas West and Son Quang tied for ninth place in the southeast region, while Ethan Vals took 19th.

 “All of our students performed very well this year,” said Bobby Jackson, a mathematics professor at Pellissippi State. “The team’s second place regional finish tied the highest ranking we’ve ever had.”

Pellissippi State has taken part in the Student Mathematics League contest for the past 16 years. The contest is sponsored by the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges. Nationally, 165 schools in 35 states participated this year.

Each year the contest consists of two rounds, one during the fall semester and one during the spring semester. In the Student Mathematics League contest, students are tested in many areas of mathematics, including geometry, trigonometry, algebra, probability and logic. Each round includes an exam of 20 multiple-choice questions. Students can use a calculator, but no notebook or textbook. Pellissippi State — thanks to a grant from Oak Ridge Associated Universities — awards its top finishers in each subject with additional cash prizes.

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

Pellissippi State hosts Armenian Humphrey Fellow in April

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Tatevik Gharibyan
Tatevik Gharibyan

Pellissippi State Community College will host Tatevik Gharibyan, a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow, April 2-8.

Gharibyan works for the Ministry of Education and Science for the Republic of Armenia, where she is a higher education policy development specialist.

“My goal is to explore how effectively higher education contributes to economic development and the wellbeing of society in America,” Gharibyan said. “I hope to connect with policy-makers and researchers who focus on the ethical internationalization of learning.”

As part of her work in Armenia, Gharibyan works with the European Union’s Erasmus+ program, which focuses on education, training and sport activities for youth — as well as the opportunity to study or volunteer abroad.

“I want to compare the education perspective of the American system with the European system,” Gharibyan said.

During her week at Pellissippi State, Gharibyan will spend time with administrators and may visit local civic organizations and businesses in order to help her research on America’s higher education system. She will lead a presentation to college students, employees and the community at 2 p.m., Thursday, April 6.

Humphrey Fellows are mid-career professionals from other nations who travel to the U.S. and spend one academic year at a university or other higher education institution. The program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, was established in 1978. Professionals from 24 countries participate.

Gharibyan’s fellowship year is sponsored by Penn State University.

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

TSBDC names Blue Slip Winery as its 2017 ‘Rising Star’

Tennessee Small Business Development Center Knoxville Director Bruce Hayes, left, with Blue Slip Winery owner Linn Slocum, center, and Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr.

The Knoxville office of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center has named Blue Slip Winery as its 2017 Rising Star winner.

The Rising Star award is the highest honor TSBDC has to recognize growing small businesses in the Knoxville area. The award honors business owners who have achieved sustainability and success and who contribute to the growth and development of Tennessee’s economy.

“The Blue Slip Winery has come so far from its beginnings as a hobby for Linn Slocum,” said Bruce Hayes, director of Knoxville TSBDC. “Originally housed in only a small basement in the Old City, Blue Slip Winery expanded to become Knoxville’s first urban winery in 2014.”

“The restoration of an iconic landmark in the Southern Railway Station, mixed with Blue Slip Winery’s advancements in the wine industry has created a commodity for historic downtown Knoxville that locals and visitors can enjoy and watch grow,” Hayes said. “In recognition of her achievements and of the passion that allowed her to pursue her dreams, we’re honored to name Linn and the Blue Slip Winery as winner of the Rising Star Award.”

Pellissippi State’s Small Business Development Center serves Blount, Claiborne, Cocke, Jefferson, Knox, Sevier and Union counties. In 2016, it served 454 clients for a total of 1673 counseling hours. The TSBDC helped 28 new businesses start up, create 107 new jobs and retain 183 jobs. The firms TSBDC aided went on to create more than $11 million in new capital investment into the local economy.

The Small Business Development Center is affiliated with Pellissippi State and partners with the College on training opportunities and workforce development. TSBDC is a network of professional business consultants with 13 centers throughout Tennessee. For more information, visit www.tsbdc.org.

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

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