Female students earn engineering technology degrees through ‘Women in STEM’ grant

Makayla Edwards
Makayla Edwards
Tara Walker
Tara Walker

When Tara Walker and Makayla Edwards cross the stage at Pellissippi State Community College’s commencement ceremony on May 5, they will have a special grant, funded by NASA, to thank.

Walker and Edwards are two of 14 female Engineering Technology students at Pellissippi State to have earned scholarships funded through the Tennessee Community College Space Grant Consortium, which is part of the NSPIRES (NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System) program. The grant funds are earmarked for women and other underserved populations in STEM programs.

“I have absolutely loved the time I have spent at Pellissippi,” Walker said. “The teachers I’ve had make me want to come to class every day because they are so enthusiastic about their jobs. I do not believe, as a whole, any school has better teachers than Pellissippi. They are truly here because they want to see us learn and help us in any way they can.”

“I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without Pellissippi State and my professors,” Edwards said. “Pellissippi introduced me to 3D printing, and that helped me start my own business.”

Edwards started AMTec Fishing (an abbreviation of Additive Manufacturing Technologies Fishing) at the end of 2016. She designs and 3D prints fishing lures, then has them mass manufactured. Edwards intends to transfer to Austin Peay State University this fall, where she will study mechanical engineering.

Walker will transfer to Tennessee Technological University, where she will study chemical engineering.

“I like the engineering field because I feel like it gives me the opportunity to apply the knowledge I have gained in math and science while in college in a practical way. Chemical engineering is a fairly broad field, and there are a lot of different directions I could go with it. I would really like to work on the environmental side of chemical engineering in waste water treatment,” she said.

Walker, who graduated from Hardin Valley Academy in 2013, was not always interested in STEM fields.

“When I was in high school, I wasn’t always a very good student. But in my senior year, something clicked and I realized I needed to do well to be successful. That success mindset has continued here at Pellissippi State,” she said. “I first enrolled in an education program, but I realized it takes a very special person to be an educator and that wasn’t me.”

Walker first came to Pellissippi State as part of the tnAchieves scholarship, the precursor to Tennessee Promise — as did Edwards.

“The tnAchieves scholarship was one of my biggest reasons for originally attending Pellissippi,” Walker said. “I wasn’t sure if I would do well in college because of my not-so-stellar academic performance in high school, so I didn’t want to go to a huge university.”

 “The NASA grant brought a lot of the female engineering technology students together,” Edwards said. “It’s nice to know you’re not alone when you’re studying in a traditionally male-dominated field. It also introduced me to the community; I was able to go to local middle schools and speak to students about STEM.”

The NASA grant funds more than just scholarships for the students who earn it. Pellissippi State students have traveled to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama and to the Society of Women Engineers conference.

“At the SWE conference, I was able to speak to companies who wanted to hire female engineers,” Walker said. “Those contacts and the SWE organization may help me find companies hiring engineers when I graduate. Plus, it was amazing to see all of the accomplishments women in engineering are making.”

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

 

Food Lion supports Pellissippi State food pantry

FoodLion_PSCCGrant
Pellissippi State Community College Service-Learning Coordinator Annie Gray accepts grant funding from Food Lion representative Roger Scarbro.

 

The Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation will support Pellissippi State Community College’s food pantry with a $2,000 grant not only for its continuing operation, but its nutrition education goals.

The Pellissippi Pantry provides hunger relief for at-risk students at the college by delivering enough food for students to prepare one healthy meal a day for themselves and their families, for up to two weeks at a time. Students can pick up food on any of Pellissippi State’s five campuses. The pantry provides canned and packaged goods, healthy recipes and seasonal fresh produce from Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Garden.

To remain operational, the Pellissippi Pantry relies on packaged food donations from the community as well as monetary donations that cover the costs of food ordered through Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.

“We’re immensely grateful to partner with Food Lion in this productive way, which will translate to an increased ability to do community outreach and education through the Pellissippi Pantry,” said Annie Gray, Service-Learning coordinator at Pellissippi State — the program that oversees both the Pellissippi Pantry and the Hardin Valley Garden.

“Although the Pellissippi Pantry only began last May, we already know it’s making a huge, positive difference in students’ lives,” Gray said. “One hundred percent of our participants reported in a survey that the Pellissippi Pantry services helped them stay in school.”

Funding for this grant goes through the Pellissippi State Foundation. The Foundation works to provide student scholarships and emergency loans, to improve facilities and to 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, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

National Science Foundation supports scholarships at Pellissippi State

The National Science Foundation has awarded Pellissippi State Community College grant funding to support a scholarship program for students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The $649,737 NSF grant will fund scholarships and support programs for students studying STEM fields at Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus. The program, Supporting College and Career Education for Student Scholarships in STEM, will provide scholarships of up to $8,500 per year to at least 24 non-traditional students with financial need. Eligible students can study transfer or career programs at Pellissippi State — the Geosciences, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics transfer programs or the Automated Industrial Systems concentration within the Engineering Technology career program.

“There will be support for students in the form of mentoring and tutoring,” said Chris Milne, professor in Natural and Behavioral Sciences and grant lead. “The students these scholarships will help will be those who aren’t already eligible for other financial aid like Tennessee Promise or HOPE.”

The SuCCESS in STEM program involves a unique “reciprocating scholarship” system in which a student who applies for the program must pay for the first semester of school with their own funds. However, students who meet the GPA requirements for the program in that first semester will not only earn the scholarship for their remaining semesters, they will be reimbursed for their initial semester of school.

“Reciprocating scholarships offer students an incentive to succeed and to start on the right track,” Milne said.

The scholarship will pay more than the average cost of tuition at Pellissippi State, which will allow students who earn it to cover the costs of books, fees and transportation costs.

The scholarship program could be in place by fall 2017; students could begin applying to participate as early as spring 2017.

The grant also will fund support services for students enrolled in the program to encourage them to graduate and, if applicable, transfer to a four-year university. The SuCCESS in STEM program will offer students the ability to learn real-world skills through internships, mentoring and job shadowing with community partners.

Funding for this grant goes 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. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.pstcc.edu/foundation or call 865-694-6528.

Department of Education awards $1.9 million grant to Pellissippi State

posted in: Faculty and Staff, Grants, TBR | 0

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Pellissippi State Community College a five-year, $1.9 million grant to support student success and engagement through providing comprehensive professional development for faculty.

“Faculty development is often fragmented,” said Kellie Toon, Pellissippi State’s Quality Enhancement Program director and the grant lead. “But a comprehensive professional development program will strengthen our faculty, which will in turn strengthen our students — and that’s what it’s all about.”

The grant will fund a center for teaching excellence that will include pedagogical training programs and other professional development opportunities to teach faculty members the newest and best-practice methods of teaching in meaningful, engaging ways.

“Professional development opportunities through a center for teaching excellence will give faculty the ability to lead change through academics,” Toon said. “Through improved academic quality and teaching, we can strengthen student learning and retention.”

Pellissippi State’s Quality Enhancement Program, “Strong to the Core,” focuses on improving student learning in targeted academic courses, including writing, oral communication and mathematics. Pellissippi State’s QEP was first developed as part of the college’s accreditation renewal process in 2012 through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The QEP continues to support student success and engagement through promoting active learning techniques to faculty members — from a new faculty academy to online training and beyond.

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

 

Download this press release: Teaching Excellence Grant

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