Ahadut Mengesha works on his Raspberry Pi computer at camp in summer 2021. Raspberry Pi camp is an introduction to physical computing using the Python programming language and a Raspberry Pi single board computer.

Ahadut Mengesha works on his Raspberry Pi computer at camp in summer 2021. Raspberry Pi camp is an introduction to physical computing using the Python programming language and a Raspberry Pi single board computer.

Pellissippi State Community College has received a second round of funding to enhance its College to Career Collaboratives in Knox and Blount counties.  

Gov. Bill Lee announced Nov. 18 the second round of the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) program, which prioritizes learning opportunities in rural counties and enhances career and technical education statewide. The first round of GIVE funding in 2019 served an estimated 8,000 students, and this second round will serve an estimated 7,500 students. 

Among the 13 projects funded in East Tennessee are Pellissippi State’s Advanced Manufacturing and Information Technology College to Career Collaboratives. The $786,284 GIVE 2.0 grant will expand the Advanced Manufacturing program already underway in Blount County to Knox County, while the $994,164 GIVE 2.0 grant will expand the Information Technology program already underway in Knox County to Blount County. 

“We have experienced great satisfaction as we have helped to inform students to see all the career possibilities in manufacturing and construction,” said Jon Gilbert, work-based learning director for Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services. “Building relationships with the schools and industry partners and helping to connect all relevant parties strengthens the entire community and the developing workforce.” 

GIVE 1.0 focused on advanced manufacturing and construction career pathways for Blount County. To date, the grant enabled Pellissippi State to 

  • Purchase needed equipment for Blount County, Alcoa City and Maryville City schools, including electrical trainers and precision measurement equipment; 
  • Provide hands-on learning experiences for more than 100 students through camps and workshops in welding, electrical, machining, electrical engineering, robotics and construction; 
  • Facilitate tours of local manufacturing plants, providing a first-hand look at what careers in these fields would involve; and 
  • Provide resources for Pellissippi State students to receive National Institute for Metalworking Skills certifications and for Pellissippi State instructors to enhance their skills through externships with Denso. 
Pellissippi State Instructor Jose Nazario, left, and MegaLab Director Andy Polnicki, second from left, teach Blount County high school students about manual machining during the Mechanical Engineering Young Manufacturers Academy.

Pellissippi State Instructor Jose Nazario, left, and MegaLab Director Andy Polnicki, second from left, teach Blount County high school students about manual machining during the Mechanical Engineering Young Manufacturers Academy.

GIVE 2.0 will expand the advanced manufacturing career pathway into Knox County. Some of the key elements will be:  

  • Providing Advanced Manufacturing interactive career awareness and exploration activities in up to six middle schools; 
  • Providing Certified Production Technician training and camps to support the needs of local employers for skilled employees; 
  • Working with industry partners to develop and facilitate work-based learning opportunities for Knox County students; and 
  • Partnering with high schools to develop manufacturing dual enrollment course opportunities. 

In Knox County, GIVE 1.0 focused on increasing the number of students who enroll in and complete Information Technology-related degrees and certifications in Pellissippi State’s Computer Information Technology programs, which include concentrations in Cybersecurity, Networking, Programming and Systems Administration and Management. A key component included embedding industry recognized credentials into Pellissippi State’s IT associate degrees. 

GIVE 1.0 also engaged high school students with industry partners and faculty in a systematic and significant way. Examples include 

  • Saturday Clubs for middle and high school students, taught by Pellissippi State faculty, on topics such as Introduction to Programming, Internet of Things and Principals of Cybersecurity; 
  • Summer camps including two programming camps (one in coordination with Centro Hispano), an IT Fundamentals and Coding class in partnership with Project GRAD and a two-week Raspberry Pi camp in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley; 
  • A series of virtual “Day in the Life” events with industry partners, highlighting careers within each of Pellissippi State’s Computer Information Technology concentrations; and 
  • Placing 10 high school students in IT-related summer internships with local businesses. 

 GIVE 2.0 will expand the information technology pathway into Knox County. Some of the key elements will be: 

  • Expanding IT career pathway programs, including the development of IT 4+1 plans with partner high schools that allow students to work toward their associate degrees over the course of their high school years, finishing with just one additional year of college after high school;  
  • Implementing a collaborative, meaningful and structured work-based learning continuum that begins in middle school and continues through completion of postsecondary credentials; and  
  • Expanding access to in-demand industry recognized certification testing. 

“We are thrilled to expand our services into Blount County and continue our work making IT career pathways accessible to students from underrepresented populations,” said Rebecca McDonough, work-based learning director for Business and Computer Technology. “We are thankful to our IT industry partners who have invested in the next generation of local IT workforce through this type of community outreach and look forward to building new relationships in Blount County.” 

The GIVE grants are administered by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), and the award process began in July 2021 with the release of a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP). Each proposal was required to show local data that clearly identified both workforce needs and a sustainable plan utilizing equipment, work-based learning experiences, or recognized industry certifications to increase the state’s competitiveness and postsecondary attainment goals. 

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400. 

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