Pellissippi State hosts inaugural James Agee Conference for Literature and Arts

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Pellissippi State Community College invites aspiring writers, scholars and fans of Appalachian literature to attend the inaugural James Agee Conference for Literature and Arts, Sept. 9-10.

The free conference will feature dozens of scholarly and creative presentations led by noted Appalachian authors and scholars, including Pellissippi State’s own English assistant professor Charles Dodd White and writer-in-residence Ed Francisco. Leading a master class on creative nonfiction will be Karen McElmurray, the author of “Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven,” which won the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. A poetry master class will be led by Linda Parsons, poet, playwright and editor of “Now & Then” magazine. Finally, novelist Mark Powell will lead a fiction master class. Powell is author of “The Dark Corner” and “Prodigals.”

A keynote presentation and book signing by Crystal Wilkinson, author of “Blackberries, Blackberries,” “Water Street” and “The Birds of Opulence” will complete the two-day schedule. Wilkinson, a Kentucky native, is writer-in-residence at Berea College.

The James Agee Conference for Literature and Arts will be held on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus. To register for the free event, or for more information, visit

Event attendees will have time to network with other writers and creators, meet and mingle with the featured authors and speak to local publishing houses.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit 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


Download this press release: James Agee Conference

Pellissippi State Announcements: Non-credit courses available in September

Pellissippi State Community College offers the non-credit course Basic Digital Photography at its Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Learn to effectively use a digital camera and gain basic knowledge about exposure, composition, lighting and color theory. Students must bring their own digital SLR camera. Class times are 6:15-8:15 p.m., Wednesdays, Sept. 14 to Oct. 12. Cost is $109. For more information or to register online, visit

Pellissippi State Community College offers the non-credit course Appalachian Dulcimer Beginner Course at its Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Learn to play the traditional Appalachian mountain dulcimer. No prior musical knowledge is necessary. Students must bring their own dulcimers or acquire one after the first class session. Class times are 5:30-7 p.m., Thursdays, Sept. 15 to Nov. 10. Cost is $95 with a $37 materials fee. Class space is limited to 12; register at

Pellissippi State Community College offers the non-credit course Our Appalachia: Uncivil Conflict in the Coves: The Civil War in Southern Appalachia at its Blount County Campus, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway. Learn the history and legacy of the Civil War in Appalachia. Class times are 6:15-8:15 p.m., Tuesdays, Sept. 13 to Oct. 25. Cost is $89 plus a $15 materials fee. To register, visit


Download this press release: PSCC Briefs BCS Aug 29

Alcoa, DENSO grant funds for equipment at Pellissippi State

Alcoa and DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee have awarded Pellissippi State Community College a combined $150,000 for the purchase of new equipment for Engineering Technology students.

Alcoa’s grant of $100,000 will be used to purchase textbooks and advanced programmable logic controllers, which are computers used for industrial automation processes. The $50,000 grant from DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee will be used to purchase Elvis boards and multimeters, which are types of testing and learning equipment for electrical and electronic engineering technology.

The new equipment will be used by students enrolled in the Automated Industrial Systems and Industrial Maintenance Technology concentrations at Pellissippi State. AIS trains students to operate automated manufacturing equipment — including programmable logic controller training systems, robotics and motor training equipment — which are now the industry standard in manufacturing settings. IMT teaches students how to maintain and operate advanced manufacturing equipment.

Funding for these grants goes through the Pellissippi State Foundation. The Foundation also provides scholarships and emergency loans to students, improves facilities and secures new equipment for the college.

For more information about the Foundation, visit or call 865-694-6528. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400.


Download this press release: AIS Equipment Grants

Pellissippi State to participate in total solar eclipse experiment in 2017

posted in: Academics, Grants, Students, TBR | 0

Pellissippi State Community College is one of 55 educational institutions across the United States that will participate in a high-altitude ballooning experiment — sponsored by NASA — during next year’s total solar eclipse.

The total solar eclipse will move from the West Coast to the East Coast throughout the day of Aug. 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 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.

“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 will be 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.

“This is an accessible project to the STEM field,” student Sarah Graham said. “Everyone can understand a solar eclipse because it’s a real, visible phenomenon. It’s a great way to learn about physics and engineering in a less intimidating way.”

Pellissippi State’s high-altitude ballooning team will spend the next year improving the payload structure and conducting test launches, as well as working with predictive software to improve retrieval. The team also has the chance to create additional experiments, so long as they add less than two pounds to the payload, to include in the launch next year.

The high altitude ballooning effort is being funded through the NASA Science Mission Directorate and the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium. Pellissippi State is one of only three colleges in Tennessee that are participating in the NASA-sponsored effort.

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


Download this press release: Solar Eclipse Experiment

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