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. 

Students demonstrate design skills at end-of-year showcase

Pellissippi State Community College graphic design students will demonstrate their design skills at the annual Communication Graphics Technology Showcase 4-8 p.m. April 20.

The event is free and the community is invited. The showcase will be held in the Bagwell Center for Media and Art, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The theme of this year’s showcase is “The Future of Design.”

The showcase will give 24 students the opportunity to present their portfolios for viewing and evaluation by invited area design professionals. Each student has his or her own table display, business cards and resumes available to industry professionals. The event is like a graduation, celebration and potential job interview all rolled into one.

Participating students are Mark Allison, Adam Atchley, Jaima Baskin, Justin Blizard, Lucy Branam, Alex Bright, Paul Bush, Jessica Cole, Jordan Graham, Austin Hall, Kevin Harris, Kisha Jackson, Nicholas Jackson, Dane Jensen, Taylor Lawrence, Ayla LeCoultre, Ryan Oglesby, Sam Spann, Megan Stephenson, Brennon Toledo, Alexandria Walker, Chelsea Walker, Liz Wilson and Nick Wright.

The CGT Showcase is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, an annual arts series that includes music and theatre performances, cultural celebrations, lectures and fine arts exhibits. Learn more about the CGT Showcase at www.pstcc.edu/cgt_showcase.

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

Theatre students premier original plays at Pellissippi State

Pellissippi State Community College theatre students will premiere their own original, one-act plays April 14-15 and 21-23.

The collection of plays, entitled “One’s Night,” will be held in the Clayton Performing Arts Center, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 14-15 and 21-22 and 2 p.m., April 23.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students, available at the door or online at www.pstcc.edu/tickets.

“We hope the community enjoys this special evening of never-before-seen and original short plays written, directed by and starring Pellissippi State theatre students,” said Pellissippi State professor and theatre program director Charles R. Miller. “Each of these one-act plays is the culmination of months of hard work and dedication — and is an incredible display of the talents and creativity of our students.”

The evening will include the original one-act plays “The Stubborn Artichoke and the Pompous Potato,” written by Olivia Webb; “Lauren Spencer is Ready to Die,” by Cypress Wade; “Serve and Protect,” by DeSean Blevins; “Alexandra,” by Jeremy Law and “Dominant Women,” by Olivia Webb.

“One’s Night” is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, an annual arts series that includes music and theatre performances, cultural celebrations, lectures and fine arts exhibits. For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400.

To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State hosts 10th annual Festival of Cultures

Pellissippi State Community College’s popular Festival of Cultures celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and the community is invited.

Celebrate 10 years of the Festival of Cultures with Pellissippi State Community College from 4-8:30 p.m. Friday, April 7.

The Festival of Cultures honors East Tennessee’s and Pellissippi State’s diverse community and heritage. This year’s 10th annual celebration will include not only the popular “Taste of International Food” but performers as varied as bagpipers and belly dancers, traditional rangoli kolam (Indian folk art) and even an international fashion show.

The event is free and open to the community and will be held in the Goins Administration Building on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

Pellissippi State alumni Rashmi Gomatom, Neelima Mertya and Niloo Ranjan will return to the college to create rangoli kolam, a type of Indian folk art that has been a popular staple at the Festival over the past ten years.

Entertainers include: Bella Wang classical Chinese dancers, bagpiper Kelly Shipe, Debka and the Oasis Dancers, Carlos Gonzales, Ogya World Music Band and Dancers, Tollkretsen Skandinavian Dancers, Natana Manohari School of Performing Arts Indian classical dancers, John Hausmann on the sitar and Pellissippi State’s own bluegrass band, the Hardin Valley Thunder.

Booths will allow attendees to try Asian calligraphy, hair braiding and Spanish conversation. Additional exhibits will showcase the cultures of Brazil, Congo, Eastern Europe, Haiti, Kenya, Spain, Romania, Vietnam and more.

New this year, the Festival of Cultures will culminate in an international fashion show coordinated by Pellissippi State’s international students.

The Festival of Cultures is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, an annual arts series that includes music and theatre performances, cultural celebrations, lectures and fine arts exhibits. The event is co-sponsored by Student Life and Access and Diversity at Pellissippi State, as well as Bellevue University.

For more information about The Arts at Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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