Monday, May 15, 2017

Tell the Machines What to Do with Vol State Mechatronics

Employment analysts say that manufacturing jobs are at risk because of automation. Robots have become the new employees on the line. There is one way to stay ahead of technology: be the person who tells the robots and machines what to do. The field is called mechatronics. Volunteer State Community College is expanding its Mechatronics degree program to Gallatin starting this fall semester. Mechatronics is the blending of engineering fields including mechanical, controls, electronic and computer engineering, to automate manufacturing, distribution and complex services through multiple industries. Mechatronics professionals are the experts who repair, maintain, and design state-of-the-art robotics and computer-aided equipment in today’s fastest growing industries. The Vol State program is taught for people with a high school degree or those with another college degree who want in-demand job skills.

“Students with a natural curiosity and who enjoy working with their hands will do well in Mechatronics,” said Tim Dean, department chair of Mechatronics. “Folks with mechanical aptitude do well, but it’s not a requirement. As we go through the process of training, students can acquire the mechanical aptitude.”

There is plenty of technical equipment used in the program to give students hands-on experience in automation, hydraulics, machine controls and robotics. Students in the Cookeville Mechatronics program say it provides a great base for a new job or a promotion at a current workplace.

“Right now I’m a lab tech,” said student Joana Rhodifer, who works at Tutco Heating Solutions. “With this program I can do engineering jobs, like designing our heaters. Having a degree will increase my opportunity to get a better position at work.”

“I love the fact that this class is very hands-on,” said student Charles Little. “It turns into more of a conversation than a lecture in the classroom. It’s very animated and there is a lot of feedback.”

Job prospects for students with Mechatronics degrees are much higher than average in Tennessee and the positions have a national median salary of $53,910 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Vol State program will feature Work Based Learning opportunities, designed to get students plugged into the many companies that need Mechatronics professionals.

“Having the connection with industry gives students an idea of what will be expected when they get a job,” said Dean. It can also lead directly to jobs for students who fit in well with a company.

Vol State offers a two-year associate of applied science degree in Mechatronics. Each step of the degree program also prepares students to test for Siemens Certifications. Siemens Certifications are internationally-recognized Mechatronics industry designations. They are important to employers. Being Siemens certified gives Vol State graduates a real advantage in the field.

Classes start in Gallatin this fall with a new Mechatronics lab. However, the program will grow even more with a new facility as part of a renovation project to the Warf Math and Science building on the Gallatin campus. The Mechatronics-2-Jobs LEAP 2.0 Grant Project expands the Mechatronics A.A.S. program targeting potential students in Macon, Robertson, Sumner, Trousdale, and Wilson counties. The grant helped purchase equipment for the new Mechatronics classes on the main Campus in Gallatin and the Highland Crest Campus in Springfield. Mechatronics classes are also available from Vol State at the Cookeville Higher Education Campus (CHEC).

For more information on a career in Mechatronics visit the web page at People interested in learning more can call 1-931-372-5546. By email:

Thursday, May 11, 2017

New TN Reconnect Scholarship for Adults Starts Fall of 2018

There is a high degree of public interest in the new version of TN Reconnect, which will be a last dollar scholarship, making community college tuition-free for adult students. It just passed the legislature and will be signed by the Governor.  It starts in Fall of 2018. This is a link to the TN Reconnect eligibility requirements. Please note that some of the most important eligibility info is in the notes at the bottom of the page, which explain who can be called an “independent student."

In the meantime, we are encouraging adults who want to get a degree to start this fall by applying for current Financial Aid, such as Pell Grants and scholarships.

To get started visit the Adult Learning web page.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spring Grades Now Available

Spring grades are now available for viewing on your My Vol State page. Hope they turned out well!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Cap and Gown Bicycle Ride this Saturday, May 13

Volunteer State Community College is hosting a day of bicycling fun for the fourth year in a row, but now under the title “Vol State Cap and Gown Ride. The Cap and Gown Ride, like the former Cycling Classic, is a fun day of riding, with food and entertainment. The music and atmosphere are something riders point out as different from other rides in Tennessee.
“Many musicians and entertainers from Vol State’s Music Department performed, encompassing many different types of music,” said cyclist Tim Mullis of the 2016 ride. “It was actually one of the few times that I hung around after the ride, and after lunch, just to hear the music. All in all, a great ride.”
The Cap and Gown event features three different rides, depending on ability and interest. The routes travel through scenic roads across Sumner County. There will be a 15 mile Fitness Tour; a 33 mile Half Metric Century Tour; and a 63 mile Metric Century Tour. The tours will start and finish on the Vol State campus in Gallatin. There will be rest stops along the way for food, hydration, first aid and restrooms. The Metric Century Tour leaves at 8 a.m. The Half Metric Century will depart at 8:15 a.m. and the Fitness Tour will get underway at 8:30 a.m.  When riders finish, the college will have an event with barbecue, beverages and live music. Changing facilities and showers will also be available.
The ride cost is $40 for advance registration until Thursday and $45 on Friday, May 12 at the Pickel Field House 5pm-7pm or on the day of the ride at the Pickel Field House starting at 6:30am. Riders will get a t-shirt and a goody bag. Only riders who sign up by April 21 are guaranteed to receive a shirt in their size of preference. Route maps for each tour and a link to the registration page can be found at

Business Credit Reports is the Metric Century Ride Sponsor for 2017. There are still opportunities for sponsorships. For more information about the ride and sponsorships contact the Vol State College Foundation at 615-230-3506 or email

Awesome Brother-Sister Story at Graduation

After having to drop out of Tennessee Tech University 18 years ago to take care of his mom and sister, Ferrell Lewis finally took the stage at Vol State's Commencement ceremony Saturday with an A.A.S. in Computer Information Technology. Ferrell's sister, Feylyn flew in from England to surprise him just before the ceremony started. Their mom, Darline Lewis was there to enjoy the magical moment as well. Congratulations, Ferrell!

Feylyn wrote up the whole story in the Huffington Post- it's quite moving. Congrats to an awesome family. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Graduation Live Streaming

The Spring 2017 Commencement Ceremony will be streamed live on the Vol State website starting at 10am on Saturday, May 6. You can view it on this web page. Congrats to all of the graduates!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Student Leadership Awards- Ruff and KEY awards

There were two student leadership awards announced during the annual Student Leadership Luncheon at Vol State. Congrats to these two students:

Crystal Sloss was awarded the Robert M. Ruff Distinguished Leadership Award.  Crystal held  a prestigious scholarship as a President’s Ambassador, representing Vol State at events. She also led student groups, including her most recent position as vice chairperson of the Campus Activities Board. The Robert M. Ruff Award is named for retired Professor of History and Political Science, Dr. Robert Ruff. The criteria for the award include dedication, dependability, sensitivity, objectivity and the ability to motivate others. 

Dillon Van Rennes was honored with the KEY Award during the luncheon. The KEY Award recognizes his exemplary service to the Office of Student Life. Van Rennes served on the cabinet for the Student Government Association as Secretary of Treasury. 

Spring Graduate Awards 2017

Vol State Graduate Awards Night is always a special moment at the college. It's an opportunity to recognize students for academic and extracurricular honors. The awards include academic division awards, Student Services leadership awards, Who's Who honorees and Outstanding Graduate nominees (shown here). The winner of Outstanding Graduate will be announced on graduation day. Congrats to everyone! View all of the pictures on Facebook. Each winner will also be sent the picture via student email in a Merit Pages announcement in the next few days.

2017 Spring Awards 
Alicia Marshall
Who's Who
Amera Biggs
Janice Nelson Award
Anedra Moore
Who's Who
Austin Windsor
Outstanding Grad nominee
Benjamin Cody
Patricia B. Lebkuecher Award
Brad Howell
Teresa Moore Award
Briah Beasley-Jones
James "Jim" C. Moore Award
Caitlyn Ellis
Who's Who
Carlie Pride
Who's Who
Chelsy Stephenson
J. Richard Moore Award
Crystal Sloss
Positive Difference Award
Dallas Eidson
Who's Who
Debra Sandow
Who's Who
Dillion Van Rennes
Patty T. Powell Award
Emily Beasley
Who's Who
Gaynell Buffinet Payne
Humanities & Grad Nominee
Hannah Williams
Who's Who
Lauren Hamblin
Who's Who & Grad Nominee
Mackenzie O'Sullivan
Who's Who
Marrisa Edwards
SS & Education and Grad Nominee
Nicholis Crumble
Who's Who
Pamela Lockhart
R. Wade Powers Award
Sabreana Cashman
Hal R. Ramer Award
Savannah Kearney
Who's Who
Shannon Cherry
Mary Cole Nichols Award
Shannon Cooper
Pathfinder Award
Steven Wall
Math & Science and Grad Nominee
Tanner Bushue
Bus. & Tech and Grad Nominee