Students in two Engineering Technology concentrations at Pellissippi State Community College are eligible for new scholarship money, thanks to a grant from the Alcoa Foundation.
The Pellissippi State Foundation received $50,000 from the Alcoa Foundation last month. The grant funds scholarships for students in Industrial Maintenance and Automated Industrial Systems, both of which are concentrations in the Engineering Technology degree program, over the next two years.
“These scholarships will empower students to secure the critical skills necessary to obtain a high-skill, high-wage job after earning their degree,” said Peggy Wilson, executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation and vice president of College Advancement.
Earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Engineering Technology with a concentration in Industrial Maintenance prepares students to work in manufacturing settings as multicraft, industrial machinery maintenance and repair technicians. The Automated Industrial Systems concentration prepares students to work with modern manufacturing control systems, including robotics, electrical systems and industrial process controls.
“These Engineering Technology concentrations are filling the gap that exists between the skills local manufacturing employers need and the skills that potential employees have,” Wilson said. “Student scholarships like those funded by the Alcoa Foundation make a higher education possible for students, whether they’re looking to start out in a promising field, transitioning between jobs or improving their knowledge base.”
“We are excited about Pellissippi State’s Engineering Technology program,” said Ken McMillen, Alcoa’s Tennessee operations location manager. “Alcoa is just one of the many manufacturing companies in our community that are expanding and looking for a qualified technical workforce. These scholarships are helping students gain the necessary skills to fill the pipeline and create a qualified workforce for manufacturing jobs.”
Alcoa Foundation grants funded 94 student scholarships in the 2013 and 2014 academic years.
The Alcoa grant funds came 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 Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.
Although women make up about 61 percent of enrollees in Tennessee’s community colleges, they account for only 11 percent of students who enter engineering technology programs.
This summer, Pellissippi State Community College provided three of its female students, two of whom are pursuing an Engineering Technology degree and one who plans to transfer to a four-year institution to major in engineering, with a jump-start on their careers.
Thanks to a grant from the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium, Pellissippi State was able to link all three students with engineering-related internships. The consortium, which is funded by NASA, is made up of five Tennessee Board of Regents community colleges. This is the first time that a NASA Space Grant has been awarded to Tennessee community colleges.
Kathryne Farris, who is in the Mechanical Engineering concentration of the Engineering Technology program, spent her summer working with DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee in Maryville. DENSO is one of the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturers and one of the largest employers in Blount County.
“I’ve appreciated the inside look at the business side of jobs after graduation — which honestly has been rather terrifying to think of for me,” she said. “This has most definitely helped. My fears of the unknown have been quelled a bit, and I feel like I could enter the workforce after graduation with some extra confidence.”
That’s the goal of the internships, says Lynn Klett, an assistant professor in Engineering Technology and the Pellissippi State faculty member in charge of the grant consortium. Klett also is a mentor to the grant participants.
The Pellissippi State portion of the grant is $110,715, $45,000 of which is earmarked for scholarships to students majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs. The award is meant to boost enrollment among women and other underrepresented groups. The funding paid for the summer internship opportunities as part of the overall scholarship package for each Pellissippi State recipient.
Farris plans to graduate in May 2016. So does scholarship recipient Gabriela Sabin, a Computer Science student. Once she earns her degree at Pellissippi State, she intends to transfer to a university, majoring in engineering. Sabin also interned at DENSO.
“I’ve been shadowing an electrical engineering co-op student who is troubleshooting and powering up a new machine,” she said. “I feel like this internship is giving me useful experience into what working as an electrical engineer would be like. I like knowing that I’ve made something that works and that people will use.”
Makayla Edwards, like Farris, a Mechanical Engineering/Engineering Technology student, will take a different path once she graduates from Pellissippi State. Instead of continuing on to a four-year school, she’ll enter the workforce directly.
“[Earning a two-year degree] is much more hands-on and applicable,” she said. “My internship was at Pellissippi State, where I worked with professor Klett in additive manufacturing. Right now, I have a huge interest in 3D printing.”
This summer, Edwards built her own 3D printer from a kit with the help of Klett and student mentors. Currently, she’s working on the design of a bicycle made from bamboo, which is considered a renewable resource because of its quick growth rate. The moving parts will be made using a 3D printer.
“I would like to think that whatever I do in the future will impact the world in a positive way,” Edwards said. “The internship has given me really useful experience. Without it, I doubt I would have had such a jump-start on 3D printing and CAD [computer-aided design].”
NASA awarded a total of $499,689 to the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium, which is headquartered at Vanderbilt University.
The award is the result of a proposal coordinated and submitted by the Pellissippi State Foundation. In total, the Pellissippi State portion of the grant will provide each of 11 students with a $4,000 scholarship.
In addition, the grant included funds to send a group from each of the community colleges to Florida to compete in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ SoutheastCon robotics event. It also will fund two grant participants to attend the 10-week Summer Robotics Program at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Automation is at the technological cutting edge of manufacturing — and Pellissippi State Community College is working with partners like DENSO Manufacturing to ensure that the college’s Automated Industrial Systems graduates are well prepared to enter the workforce.
“No question, partnerships like these are what we’re looking for in Drive to 55,” said Mike Krause, executive director of the state’s Tennessee Promise and Drive to 55 initiatives. “This initiative isn’t just about getting students in school but encouraging them to graduate and then join the workforce. That’s what it’s all about.”
The DENSO North America Foundation has awarded Pellissippi State a $50,000 grant to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for the Engineering Technology degree program’s Automated Industrial Systems concentration. The concentration prepares students to operate automated manufacturing equipment, including the programmable controller training systems, robotics and motor training equipment that are now the industry standard in manufacturing settings.
DENSO and Pellissippi State representatives gathered for a ceremonial check presentation Wednesday morning, Aug. 5, at the college’s Blount County Campus.
“In order for students to be ready to go to work at the most advanced levels of manufacturing, we must continue to integrate newer technology into our programs,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi State president. “We appreciate DENSO’s support in helping us achieve those goals.”
“Manufacturing is now high-tech. I don’t know of any manufacturing job that doesn’t include automation,” said Margaret Ann Jeffries, dean of Engineering and Media Technologies.
DENSO is a longtime supporter of Pellissippi State. Awards from the international automotive supplier during the past decade have included two grants that have helped the college build its Automated Industrial Systems concentration. The concentration was launched in 2013.
“In a global economy, DENSO is continually investing in ways to improve our competitiveness through highly skilled employees and advanced equipment,” said Mike Brackett, DENSO North America Foundation board member and senior vice president of Corporate Services at DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee. “This donation represents an investment in the future of our region, as well as in the advanced technology needed by our customers in the automotive industry.”
For more information about Automated Industrial Systems or other academic offerings at Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.
Pellissippi State Community College students in a geology course are working at the town of Farragut’s outdoor classroom to study soil porosity and the hydrologic cycle and to build a rain garden.
“The projects at the outdoor classroom are led by the groups that come here,” said Jason Scott, Farragut’s stormwater engineer. “Pellissippi State has been great to work with. They’re coming in to test the soil, come up with concept plans and follow the whole process of building a garden.”
Sarah Drummond, a Geology adjunct faculty member at Pellissippi State, had her students at the garden in early February to take soil samples and study how quickly water drains from East Tennessee’s clay soil. This month, Drummond hopes her class—in addition to others from Pellissippi State—will be able to plant a rain garden at the site.
“I’ve loved the hands-on experience that the outdoor classroom has given us,” said Rachael Reeves, a student in Drummond’s class. “Sometimes it’s hard to relate what you learn in the classroom to real life, and this class has definitely broken that mold.”
Kathleen Affholter, an associate professor in Geology, travels with her class from Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus to Farragut’s outdoor classroom.
“We’re taking soil samples and testing porosity and permeability, and those tests are more meaningful when the students have collected the soil themselves,” Affholter said. “It’s a great learning experience to have hands-on knowledge of what can be an abstract experiment.”
Affholter is using technology, including a storytelling app called Shadow Puppet, to help her students document their experiments. Landon Lowe and Catherine Metler created a short video in February to show their experiment.
Pellissippi State’s partnership with the town of Farragut began in 2014 with Caroline Erickson, also a Geology adjunct faculty member.
“I was looking for a project that would tie in what students were studying in the classroom with hands-on learning in a setting that would benefit both the students and the community,” Erickson said. “Students will carry out various projects in the demonstration space: they will study the soil’s porosity and permeability and finally install the plants at the outdoor classroom.”
Farragut’s outdoor classroom is located near Farragut High School off Campbell Station Road. With the help of grant funds, the outdoor classroom showcases native plantings, rainwater collection systems and water quality.
For more information about Pellissippi State and its many programs, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.