Pellissippi State Announcements, Oct. 12

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Community College Week has recognized Pellissippi State Community College in CCW’s 2015 rankings as awarding the fifth-highest number of associate’s degrees in the nation, among both two-year and four-year institutions, in the communication technologies/technicians and support services field. Pellissippi State offers four concentrations in its Media Technologies degree program.

Download this press release: PSCC Announcements Oct 12

Pellissippi State, Alcoa Foundation partner to give industrial scholarships

Miguel Balladares
Pellissippi State Community College student Miguel Velez Balladares received a scholarship from the Alcoa Foundation that is allowing him to earn his Industrial Maintenance Technology degree.


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 or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State Announcements, Oct. 5

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Heather Schroeder, a Pellissippi State Community College English faculty member, presents a noon lecture Tuesday, Oct. 20, in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The title of the lecture is “From P!$$ed to Perfect: Tales of a Farm Woman.” The lecture, part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, is free and the community is welcome.

Tawnysha Greene, author of the recently released novel “A House Made of Stars,” presents a reading and book-signing on the National Day of Writing, Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Pellissippi State Community College’s Strawberry Plains Campus, 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike. The reading begins at noon and is free and open to the community. Greene is a graduate of and lecturer at the University of Tennessee. Her work has appeared in “PANK,” “Bellingham Review” and “Weave Magazine.” The event is sponsored by Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Creative Writing Club.

Pellissippi State Community College’s Fall Choral Concert is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The performance features student groups, including the Concert Chorale and Variations Ensemble, as well as student soloists. The performance, part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, is free and the community is welcome.

The Knoxville Watercolor Society Exhibition is on display at Pellissippi State Community College through Oct. 23 in the Bagwell Center Gallery on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The exhibit features current work by Knoxville Watercolor Society members. The event, part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, is free and the community is welcome.

Download this press release: PSCC Announcements Oct 5

Pellissippi State earns grant funding to study Knoxville’s Cherokee Caverns

posted in: Academics, Faculty and Staff, Grants, TBR | 0
Cherokee Caverns Anthodites
Anthodites like these are just one of the unique rock formations that Pellissippi State Community College students will study in Cherokee Caverns, thanks to a National Speleological Society grant.

Strange as it might seem, East Tennessee was once quite beachy.

Geologically speaking, this area lay on the floor of a warm, shallow sea 500-plus million years ago, and Pellissippi State Community College students will soon be studying the rock formations and mineral deposits in Knoxville’s Cherokee Caverns that point to the fact that East Tennessee once had a climate similar to that of the Bahamas.

“[Cherokee Caverns] is good exposure to the geological history of East Tennessee and a new way to see your own hometown,” said Kathleen Affholter, associate professor in Natural and Behavioral Sciences at Pellissippi State. “This cave is unique — not just in Tennessee, but in the world. It’s a great outdoor laboratory.”

Affholter and Garry Pennycuff, an associate professor in the same department, recently applied for and were awarded a $750 grant from the National Speleological Society to study the mineralogy of Cherokee Caverns, one of the most geologically unique caves in the world. The cave, despite the effects of vandalism and improper use, is still home to flower-like crystal formations called anthodites and hollow stalactite-like formations that hang from the ceiling and look like bulbous soda straws. There are only a handful of caves around the world that feature anthodites and few others reported to have the bulbous-soda-straw stalactites.

“Tennessee has more caves than any other place in the United States — more than 10,000,” Affholter said. “But Cherokee Caverns is special.”

“When we grow up in a place, we often don’t realize or don’t take advantage of the amazing resources that are around us,” Pennycuff said. “But this amazing cave is right in our students’ backyards.”

The professors say their beginning physical geology, chemistry and environmental geology students will have the opportunity to take field trips to Cherokee Caverns. In class, students will study responsibly collected research samples and have remote access to Florida International University’s scanning electron microscope to analyze those samples. Some of the grant funds will be used to pay for the use of the electron microscope.

The biggest advantage of using an electron microscope over a more common optical microscope is that the electron microscope has a higher resolution and is able to magnify an object up to two million times. Optical microscopes can only magnify up to 1,000-2,000 times.

“So many times, students think of school as one thing and the ‘real world’ as another thing,” said Pennycuff. “But this opportunity lets them conduct real-world tests, explore real-world places and make real observations. This is what science looks like.”

 “For community college students, this is a rare opportunity to have this type of field experience and to use special equipment like the scanning electron microscope,” Affholter said.

The duo hopes the hands-on science experience will teach students the importance of conservation, particularly given Cherokee Caverns’ history. (Today, the cave can be accessed only with the permission of its caretaker.) But more than that, Affholter and Pennycuff hope students take away a love of science.

“Maybe the students will learn terms like ‘anthodites,’ but what’s more important to me is that they see that science is fun,” Affholter said.

“We can’t hide our enthusiasm,” Pennycuff said. “Hopefully, it’s contagious.”

The National Speleogical Society 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 the Foundation, visit or call (865) 694-6528. For more information about Pellissippi State and its science and other academic offerings, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Download a copy of this press release: Cherokee Caverns Grant

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