Pellissippi State awarded federal grant for manufacturing training and education

A $15 million federal grant awarded to a consortium that includes Pellissippi State Community College is earmarked to fund manufacturing job training for East Tennesseans and help local companies in search of more skilled workers.

The funding also could transform manufacturing education and training—an area in which Pellissippi State has emerged as a leader.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Sept. 19 that the grant had been awarded to the multi-state consortium. One goal of the 13-college partnership is to redesign teaching and delivery programs in manufacturing. Pellissippi State is the only community college in Tennessee to be a member.

“We’re honored to receive this grant and look forward to this collaboration,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi State president.

“Working with our consortium partners, we’ll be able to come up with innovative ways to train and educate workers in manufacturing. Our being part of the consortium benefits our community and the region’s manufacturers, and it better positions the U.S. to compete in the global market.”

The DOL grant awards a minimum of $760,000 to each consortium member during a three-year period. The funding will boost instructional capacity at each school, pay for equipment and technical support, and improve online delivery of the college’s Engineering Technology classes.

Pellissippi State offers a two-year associate’s degree in Engineering Technology. Students can concentrate in Civil Engineering, Electrical Construction Management, Electrical Engineering, Industrial Maintenance, Manufacturing or Mechanical Engineering.

The grant-funded training is directed toward helping workers who are displaced, unemployed or underemployed. It also focuses on the needs of the manufacturing industry.

Manufacturing employers and manufacturing instructors alike recognize a “disconnect” between the needs of industry and the content of manufacturing curricula in most colleges, according to Pat Riddle. Riddle is the program coordinator and a faculty member in Mechanical Engineering at Pellissippi State. He is also the co-leader of curriculum development for the DOL grant.

Manufacturing has changed a lot in the last 30 years, and with those changes have come the introduction of robotics and other technological advances that have reduced the need for manual labor. As a result, manufacturing now requires employees with more education and skills, says Riddle.

“What we’re starting to see now is a blend in the industrial environment of machinery and electronic communications,” he said. “In other words, we’re starting to see high-speed production environments that require workers who not only work hard but can think through problems on their own, to help their company find solutions to better and more efficient production.”

One example of how the grant will benefit Pellissippi State—and subsequently employees and employers—is that it will fund a software development tool called a fault simulator. A fault simulator allows users to introduce computer-application glitches that might occur in a real workplace.

“With it, we will have the capability to introduce problems that require troubleshooting skills,” said Riddle. “That is a major component that employers consistently ask for from us.  The equipment will provide the ultimate in state-of-the-art problem-solving development and skills development.”

Pellissippi State has a history of working with East Tennessee employers to find workforce development solutions, while creating more flexible pathways to education for the region’s residents.

In 2004, for example, Pellissippi State joined forces with several other colleges and the nation’s automakers on a new curriculum to train autoworkers. The partnership was the Automotive Manufacturing Technical Education Collaborative.

This August, AMTEC announced the release of a new general maintenance mechatronics curriculum and program, which Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services staff and Mechanical Engineering Technology degree program (now the Mechanical Engineering concentration) faculty helped create. The new program also is expected to benefit workers and employers in non-automotive manufacturing.

Pellissippi State can build on its work with the AMTEC partnership for the DOL grant project.

“This new multi-college collaboration is an offshoot to [AMTEC] and runs parallel to it,” said Riddle.

To find out more about the grant, manufacturing training and Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi professor presents ‘A Hobbit’s Holiday’

Before Harry Potter, “Game of Thrones” and “The Lord of the Rings,” a timid, yet surprisingly resourceful hobbit set out on a series of adventures. Along the way, he fought trolls, spiders, orcs, and an ancient dragon, and ended up learning quite a bit about himself.

The journey of Bilbo Baggins, the hero of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” is the subject of the upcoming Faculty Lecture Series presentation at Pellissippi State Community College. Faculty member Keith Norris’ talk—“A Hobbit’s Holiday: The Extraordinary Journey of Bilbo Baggins”—is Nov. 29, 7-8 p.m., in the Clayton Performing Arts Center at the Hardin Valley Campus.

Norris focuses on Bilbo’s journey, performing original stories, poems and musical compositions to evoke the magic of Tolkien’s novel. The family-friendly event is free and open to the public.

Norris will retell Bilbo’s adventures in five parts: “Drinking With Dwarves,” “The Trouble With Trolls,” “Matching Wits With a Monster,” “Songs for Spiders” and “Dueling With Dragons.”

Even though “The Hobbit, or There and Back Again” was published as a children’s novel in 1937, Norris says it also can teach adults a thing or two.

“Bilbo runs into a series of foes, and he learns enough to make sensible decisions,” said Norris. “He becomes the perfect person to stand between powerful people as a negotiator. As we grow up and learn to deal with our own bullies, enemies, monsters and villains, we learn to use creativity to effectively oppose them.”

Norris has read “The Hobbit” at least once a year since he was 12 and says the book has taught him that people can talk their way out of almost any unpleasant situation. More than that, he credits the book with influencing him to become an English professor and poet.

The next lecture is faculty member David Key’s “The Cold War,” Feb. 21, 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus.

The Faculty Lecture Series is part of Pellissippi State’s new arts series, “The Arts at Pellissippi State,” which brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the visual arts.

For more information about the Faculty Lecture Series, email Keith Norris at or Rob Lloyd at, or call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action for Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State: Engineering Technology students enhance campus with service-learning project

Esther Dyer, dean of Pellissippi State’s Division Street Campus, views the new display case frame created by students Ted Maitlen and Ben Manuel (not pictured). Maitlen and Manuel created the frame to hold fliers at the campus. The frame was part of a project for both an Engineering Technology class and the college’s Service-Learning program.

Service-learning gives Pellissippi State Community College students an opportunity to learn while improving the community. In some cases, that means improving Pellissippi State’s campuses, too.

Just ask Ted Maitlen and Ben Manuel, two students in Engineering Technology’s Mechanical Engineering concentration who spent summer semester creating metal frames to display fliers at the Division Street Campus.

The college’s Service-Learning program integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

“It’s more than I asked for—way more,” said Esther Dyer, dean of the Division Street Campus, after viewing the frame’s prototype in the Mechanical Engineering lab. “Your design will be in big demand,” she told the students. “It’s beautiful.”

The display frame is roughly a yard square, made of aluminum and designed to hold up to eight fliers. Plexiglas covers the front and holds the papers in place. For Maitlen and Manuel, the project differs from previous MET coursework in at least two ways.

First, there were no specifications at the outset.

“This is different because we had no prints provided for us,” said Maitlen, a 28-year-old U.S. Army veteran. “This is something we had to envision and draw out.”

He and Manuel also crafted a metal replica of the Pellissippi State shield as a centerpiece to the frame.

Second, they had a client.

As they designed and created the frames, they involved Dyer throughout the process. They also had a manager to answer to: Pat Riddle, MET faculty member and program coordinator. Riddle met with Dyer initially and proposed the project for Service-Learning.

“What they’ve done exactly mimics what they would have to do in industry to produce a product—all the way from conception to final installation of the product,” he said.

The project required the students to draw on everything they have learned at Pellissippi State, from MET classes to English, math and science. That is typical in Service-Learning.

“It’s about how to take all these—what seem to be disparate things that you’ve learned—and how to integrate those, so that you have the skills and knowledge it takes to actually perform at a level of expectation, not just in a school but within an organization,” Riddle said.

The first display frame is one of five in production for the Division Street Campus. Dyer, who took over at the campus in the spring, came up with the idea when she noticed fliers hanging in the hallways. Putting the fliers in displays makes them more visible and helps “accentuate” their message, she says.

As part of the MET capstone, the students will document the project so that someone else can either recreate it or use it as a basis for development of another product.

Pellissippi State launched its Service-Learning initiative last fall with workshops for interested faculty. The college began offering service-learning-based classes spring semester.

Students worked with several community partners this year, but that work does not always have to take place outside of campus, as Maitlen and Manuel have shown.

“It’s a great example of how Service-Learning can bring together administration, faculty and students in a situation where everyone benefits,” said Annie Gray, English faculty member and Service-Learning coordinator. “In other words, our community partner can be the college just as easily as it can be a nonprofit outside the college.”

Learn more about Pellissippi State at or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State hosts session on earning college credit through apprenticeship

Pellissippi State Community College is hosting an information session for prospective students who want to learn how they can earn college credit through U.S. Department of Labor–approved apprenticeships.

Training directors, apprentices and practicing trades workers are invited to attend. The information session is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus.

The college has a new technology program that makes it possible to receive up to 30 college credit hours through a DOL-approved apprenticeship. The credits count toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in General Technology, with an Industrial Technology concentration. The program includes preparation and tutoring to help students get started.

To reserve a seat in the info session, call (865) 694-6400 or email Celeste Evans, head of Cohort and Certificate Programs, at

TnCIS study abroad available to students at Pellissippi State

With three new exciting educational opportunities—Iceland, Turkey and Eastern Europe’s Best—the list of study abroad options offered by the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies to college students in summer 2013 has now reached 18.

Hagia Sophia, located in Istanbul, Turkey, was once a church, later a mosque and now a museum.

TnCIS, which is located on the Hardin Valley Campus of Pellissippi State Community College, sponsors study abroad programs for students at Pellissippi State and other institutions in the Tennessee Board of Regents system. TBR governs all public colleges and universities outside the University of Tennessee network. Students now have a smorgasbord of programs from which to choose: Austria, Brazil, China, Eastern Europe’s Best, Ecuador/Galapagos Islands, England, France, Great European Capitals, Greece, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Peru, Scotland, South Africa, Spain and Turkey. Pellissippi State supports study abroad for its students through scholarships funded by an international education fee. Financial aid, student loans, Hope scholarships and academic scholarships also may be applied to the costs. Higher education students interested in participating in one of the TnCIS programs must apply to and be accepted at Pellissippi State. Iceland—a scientist’s wonderland “Students on the science-based Iceland trip will have a July they will never forget,” said Jerry Burns, the Iceland trip’s program director and Chemistry professor at Pellissippi State. Students will earn credits in General Chemistry II under Burns or in Physical Geology under Kathleen Affholter, a Pellissippi State Geology professor. The group will stay in several different locations across the country during the three-and-a-half week trip. Students will have access to lab space at the University of Akureyri and the University of Reykjavik. Highlights of the chemistry class include analyzing the iron content of the sand on the Black Sand Beach and determining why some glaciers are blue. Affholter’s students will focus on plate tectonics, volcanoes, earthquakes and glaciers. “Iceland is on a divergent plate boundary that goes all through the Atlantic Ocean,” Affholter said. “It’s in Iceland where it’s at the surface. I hope we can stand with one foot on the North American Plate and one on the Eurasian Plate.”

Spice bazaar in Turkey.

East meets West in Turkey Students who need credits in programming, economics or advanced CAD are in luck. Their courses are available through study abroad in Istanbul, Manisa and Izmir, Turkey. TnCIS participants take coursework in all three locations. Part of the time is spent at Manisa’s Celal Bayar University, one of the country’s largest academic institutions. The Turkey program is directed by Ali Sekmen, chairman of the Computer Science Department at Tennessee Technological University. Principles of Economics 2010, Java Programming 3110, and Advanced CAD Techniques will be taught by faculty from TTU and Dyersburg State Community College. Students will be based in Manisa, a large city in western Turkey on the Aegean Sea. Classes visit cultural and historic sites in the cities of Istanbul and Izmir. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and the second largest metropolitan area in Europe. Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey and the second biggest port after Istanbul. Eastern Europe’s Best Study abroad students have the opportunity in 2013 to take history, photography, and art in the capitals of Eastern Europe’s Hungary and Czech Republic and Central Europe’s Austria. David Key, TnCIS’ assistant director and a Pellissippi State faculty member, looks forward to teaching History 2020 with a Cold War emphasis in Budapest, Prague and Vienna. “It will give the students a unique opportunity to study the U.S. and understand its place in the world,” he said. The Prague (Czech Republic) Museum of Communism, the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna (Austria) and Budapest’s House of Terror—a kitschy museum that focuses on the city’s struggle against fascism and totalitarianism—are on his course to-do list. Annette Fournet, a Southwest Tennessee Community College faculty member who directs the Eastern Europe program, will teach photography. Stacy Jacobs with Roane State Community College will teach Art Appreciation and Special Topics in Art History. To learn more about TnCIS study abroad opportunities, go to For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus hosts free HIV testing in November

The Magnolia Avenue Campus of Pellissippi State Community College offers free HIV testing on Nov. 29, noon-4, in the Community Room. The campus is located at 1610 E. Magnolia Ave.

The test is confidential and requires no blood samples or needles. The event is open to the community.

Testing will be done by Helen Ross McNabb Center and Samaritan Ministries, and results will be available in 20 minutes.

For more information, contact Jeanette Myers at (865) 329-3100 or

Pellissippi State highlights instrumental music in Nov. 15 free concert

The free 2012-13 Music Concert Series at Pellissippi State Community College continues on Nov. 15 with a performance focused exclusively on instrumental music. The event promises to offer a wide variety of selections and musical styles.

Music at the Instrumental Concert will include separate ensembles of brass, guitar and percussion. A mixed small instrumental ensemble and a bluegrass ensemble perform as well. The groups are set to present a variety of musical genres, including classical, blues, jazz and folk.

Pianists will perform on Steinway pianos, in keeping with Pellissippi State’s status as an All Steinway School. The Pellissippi State Foundation conducted the All Steinway School fundraising campaign in 2010 in order to elevate the college’s Music program to world-class status. The community college now boasts 13 Steinway pianos in studios, practice rooms and performance venues.

Many of the student performers are pursuing the college’s new Associate of Fine Arts degree, concentrating in Music. Through the Tennessee Transfer Pathways, all credits from the degree transfer to other Tennessee Board of Regents institutions and the University of Tennessee.

The Instrumental Concert begins at 7 p.m. and takes place in the Clayton Performing Arts Center at the Hardin Valley Campus. Ample free parking is available, and admission is free. Donations are accepted at the door for the Pellissippi State Foundation on behalf of the Music Scholarship Fund.

The 2012-13 Pellissippi State Music Concert Series is one component of Pellissippi State’s new arts series, The Arts at Pellissippi State. The series brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the fine arts.

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

For additional information about the arts series, call (865) 694-6400 or visit

Pellissippi State faculty speaker addresses fighting heritage of East Tennesseans

Scottish and Irish immigrants poured into America in the 1700s and 1800s, many of them migrating to this region. Their impact on the culture of East Tennessee is still felt today, says Pat Riddle. Riddle is a faculty member and program coordinator of the Mechanical Engineering concentration in Engineering Technology at Pellissippi State Community College.

In a Nov. 15 presentation at the college titled “Born Fighting,” Riddle discusses the waves of emigration from the British Isles and how the thinking and behavior of native Tennesseans are still influenced by their ancestral heritage. The discussion is part of the 2012-13 Faculty Lecture Series, which showcases the expertise of Pellissippi State faculty members. The series lectures are designed to be informative and entertaining jumping castle sydney.

Riddle, who has Scottish blood coursing through his own veins, speaks at 12:30-1:30 p.m., in the Goins Building Auditorium at the Hardin Valley Campus. The event is free, and the community is invited to attend.

“Red hair and quick tempers are stereotypes of people of Scots-Irish descent,” said Riddle. “There’s a lot of truth in those stereotypes. The Scots are wired to fight.

“The Scots and Scots-Irish have always had to fight, and have long been known as the best fighters. The border region that includes Scotland and England has been in a constant state of war. The Normans and Saxons couldn’t conquer the locals. The Romans couldn’t conquer them, and ultimately they were sent to America to serve as a buffer between the ‘civilized’ colonies and Native Americans.”

The propensity to fight persists, Riddle says: The majority of the Marines come from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Virginia. Fighting is in East Tennesseans’ DNA and is a pivotal element of our regional culture. The challenge we have today, he says, is to direct that impulse and energy in positive ways.

The Faculty Lecture Series is part of Pellissippi State’s new arts series, The Arts at Pellissippi State, which brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the visual arts.

The next lecturer is the English Department’s Keith Norris. Norris speaks on “A Hobbit’s Holiday: The Extraordinary Journey of Bilbo Baggins,” on Nov. 29, 7-8 p.m., in the Clayton Performing Arts Center at the Hardin Valley Campus.

For more information about the Faculty Lecture Series, call Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6400 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action for Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6607 or

Help beat Kentucky by donating blood at Pellissippi State

Community members who wish to take part in the “25th Annual Battle of the Orange and Blue” organized by Medic Regional Blood Center may do so at Pellissippi State Community College on Nov. 14. The blood drive, which is held each year prior to the University of Tennessee vs. University of Kentucky football game, encourages friendly competition to see which community can turn out the most blood donors. Kentucky has won the blood drive competition for the past two years.

Those who donate will receive a free game day T-shirt and a coupon for a one-topping pizza from Papa John’s. More importantly, donors will play an instrumental role in keeping the blood supply at necessary levels to serve community members in the East Tennessee region.

There is a need for all blood types. Blood and its components are used for transfusions, as well as in the treatment of cancer patients and in the treatment of those with clotting disorders. One donation can help up to three people.

Donors must be at least 17 years of age and weigh at least 110 pounds. They should not have fasted prior to arriving. In fact, Medic suggests that donors eat a meal and drink fluids approximately three hours prior to donating. Participants are asked to provide photo identification and a list of all current medications to Medic personnel at the site.

Event hours are 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. The mobile unit will be parked in the F-1 lot at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus.

Additional information on the donation process can be found at

Pellissippi State students benefit from international fiber artist’s visit during film fest

Fiber artist Lori Zimmerman brings something extra to this year’s Southern Appalachian International Film Festival at Pellissippi State Community College.

Pellissippi State students get an audience with an emerging artist who understands the fiber art world, and SOAPIFF organizers gain a speaker who moves the discussion of art beyond the world of filmmaking.

SOAPIFF is scheduled for Nov. 12-17 at the college, with all campuses hosting screenings.

Following an exhibition of her work at the World of Threads Festival in Ontario, Zimmerman travels to Knoxville for a session with Pellissippi State students.

“What I’ve prepared is a presentation that looks at the definition of what fiber art is and explores major trends in the art world—the fiber art world,” she said. “So I’m hoping to create a visual feast for people, and then the discussion can go wherever the discussion wants to go.”

Zimmerman’s overview encompasses process, technique, the definition of art itself and what actually constitutes a fiber.

“I’ve been looking a lot at fiber art trends all over the world and noticing that the one adjective you could use is the ‘explosion’ of exploration and of pushing of boundaries,” said Zimmerman, who is working on an article for Fiber Art Now magazine about the topic.

Her work incorporates fabric painting, photography, freestyle hand embroidery and collage. Zimmerman’s studio in the Los Angeles area also serves as a laboratory when she experiments with preserving natural specimens, such as leaves and seed pods.

“My work is an exploration of the effects of time on materials and the beauty inherent in aging,” she said. “Like a conversation that explores a specific topic, I open a dialogue through the use of materials, colors and images, conversing with what is on the fabric. As in any conversation, I stumble upon tense moments, confusion, delight, surprises and even moments of brief enlightenment.”

Zimmerman has been at work on her craft since the 1980s, when she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from California College of the Arts and Crafts. She says she was determined to prove she could make a living as an artist, accomplishing that after graduation with work in several commercial venues.

One job at an interior design studio prompted Zimmerman to learn more about business. She earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Southern California and worked in nonprofit management before deciding to return to the creative impulse that drove her to become an artist.

Zimmerman’s visit is sponsored by SOAPIFF, the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies and Pellissippi State’s Art and Media Technologies programs.

View Zimmerman’s art and blog at See the schedule of films for SOAPIFF at

Learn more about Pellissippi State by visiting or calling (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, TN