Pellissippi State Community College welcomed its first class of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union apprentices from the B&W Y-12 National Security Complex this semester.
Thanks to a partnership that began early this year, Y-12’s IAM&AW workers are now receiving instruction in the classroom and hands-on training in the engineering labs at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus. The new apprenticeship program, which launched with 10 students, focuses on building the skills the workers need to succeed on the job: among them, machining, materials and maintenance print reading.
“Y-12 is a highly specialized and classified work environment,” said Rick Heath, solutions management director for the college’s Business and Community Services Division and a key player in the new partnership. “It’s logical and smart for them to grow apprentices from their own talent within the organization.”
“IAM is very committed to the apprenticeship training, but it doesn’t have the lab facilities or staff to train locally,” said Tim Wright, IAM District 711 business representative. The partnership between the college, Y-12 and the union makes training more convenient and saves Y-12, which pays for the apprenticeships, the expense of having to send workers out of town.
Beyond proximity and affordability, quality of programs factored into the IAM’s decision to choose Pellissippi State for the training contract.
“We have long been aware of the good work Pellissippi State does,” Wright said. “The training partnership is a win for everyone.”
The apprenticeship at Pellissippi State will take four years to complete. During that time, the machinists also have the opportunity to earn 45 credit hours toward an Associate of Applied Science degree. Since apprentices can finish the program only 15 hours short of earning a 60-credit degree, the college is also developing a 15-credit path to complete a General Education degree. The curriculum will be structured as a cohort, in which students proceed through their coursework as a group.
Pellissippi State’s Engineering Technology faculty and Business and Community Services developed the curriculum for the program. BCS works with employers to create customized training and development solutions, and Y-12 ultimately contracted with the division to offer the apprenticeship.
The effort is sponsored and the curriculum has been approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, says Heath. It also has the support of the Atomic Trades and Labor Council.
This is the first time Pellissippi State, Y-12 and IAM have collaborated on an apprenticeship program. Y-12 and union representatives initially met with Pellissippi State faculty and staff in early January. Curriculum development took place throughout spring and summer semester.
“They brought their experts over—the people who are doing the work,” said Heath. “They told us, ‘This is what you need to teach for our employees to be successful.’”
So far, the partnership seems to be working well for all parties, but there’s still plenty of room for fine-tuning.
“We’re going to analyze as we go along and see what’s working, what’s not working,” said Pat Riddle. Riddle coordinates and teaches in the Mechanical Engineering concentration of the Engineering Technology degree program. “We’ll meet with the IAM and Y-12 partners and see where we stand, see what they think we might want to change or reemphasize.
“This is a continuous improvement cycle that we’re working on, to make sure that the program meets the partners’ needs and still follows the academic guidelines set by the Tennessee Board of Regents.”
To find out more about the apprenticeship program and other contract training opportunities, email Rick Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.