Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Gallatin Mechatronics Open House July 13

Volunteer State Community College is holding an open house event for people interested in the expanding job field of Mechatronics. Attendees can see the program equipment in action and ask questions of instructors. 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 design, program, repair, and maintain state-of-the-art robotics and computer-aided equipment in today’s fastest growing industries. The Vol State program launches in Gallatin this fall, with a two-year associate of applied science (A.A.S) degree. Applications to the college are being accepted now. Each step of the degree program also prepares students to test for Siemens Certifications. Siemens Certifications are internationally-recognized Mechatronics industry designations that are important to employers. Job prospects for students with Mechatronics degrees are much higher than average in Tennessee and the positions have a national median salary of $55,610 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The open house will be held on July 13 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Gallatin campus at 1480 Nashville Pike. The Mechatronics Lab is located in the back of the campus and can be reached best by using the Greenlea/Enterprise Drive entrance. Registration is not required.
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 in Gallatin and eventually 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:
Pictured: Mechatronics students work with robotics, hydraulics, machine programming, and assembly line automation. They are shown here at the Cookeville campus.

Vol State Announces Eclipse Event Activities for Families August 21

The August 21 total solar eclipse will be a moment for families to share together. Volunteer State Community College has a free and educational eclipse watching event planed that day for kids and parents. Everyone, from everywhere, is invited, but advance registration is required. The total eclipse will only be seen in a narrow path across the United States. Gallatin will be one of the best spots in the country to view the total eclipse, with totality lasting two minutes and forty seconds. Educational presentations at Vol State will include an examination of the eclipse event in human history and culture and how viewing the sun can cause eye damage, if you’re not safe. There will be discussions with amateur astronomers who are traveling to Vol State from across North America to view the eclipse. Science activities for kids will include a scale model of the solar system; construction of pinhole cameras to view the eclipse; making a sun dial; and constructing a solar hot dog cooker for a contest. There will even be astronomically themed face painting. A science instructor from Mississippi will be doing fun eclipse presentations for younger kids that will include music and demonstrations. There will be a live narration during the totality and free viewing glasses for attendees. The activities will be held both outside on the Thigpen Library lawn and in air-conditioned buildings.
The Vol State event will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eclipse viewing in the area will be from noon to 3 p.m. Totality will occur at 1:27 p.m. Viewing will be dependent on the weather. Attendees are encouraged to pack for a picnic, as seating will be on the lawn. Food and drinks will be available for sale at the event. There will be no smoking or alcohol allowed on campus. Attendance will be capped at 3500. While a ticket is not needed, registration is required. Click here to register. One person can enter one form for a group attending the event. Traffic in Gallatin is expected to be heavy on that day. Attendees are encouraged to car pool and arrive early. Registrations are already approaching 2000, so people should register soon. For details visit People with questions can also email or call 615-230-3570.
Parking and entry
Campus officially opens at 8 a.m. Parking will be limited. We encourage carpools.
Caudill Hall Wemyss Auditorium
9:30 a.m. Auditorium Welcome by Vol State President, Dr. Jerry Faulkner
Eclipse viewing suggestions and warnings
9:45 a.m. “Image and Understanding: Overcoming Error through Observation and Reason" by Dr. Jeremy Shipley, Vol State Philosophy
10:45 a.m. “Eclipses in History and Culture” by Dr. Joe Douglas, Vol State History
11:45 a.m. Jonathan Pettus, Associate Director of the NASA – George C. Marshall Space Flight Center

12:45 p.m.-1 p.m. Eclipse video feeds from other parts of country
Pickel Field House Gym
7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Athletic Department Concessions open for breakfast and lunch
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Kid and parent activities by Vol State faculty and staff volunteers
“Solar System Scale Model” -a gym sized model to explore
“Construct a Pinhole Camera” -use it to watch the eclipse
“Make a sun dial and see it in action” -take it outside to track the sun
“Astronomical and Earth Science Face Painting”
10 a.m., 11 a.m. and Noon  Kid and family presentation and songs about eclipse phases and viewing an eclipse- Bob Swanson, Instructor of Physical Sciences / Geography, Itawamba Community College- Tupelo, MS
Thigpen Library Lawn
9 a.m. Day kick-off with light, fun, family Yoga and discussion of how astronomical events are used in Yoga- by Joanna Blauw, Vol State Health and Fitness
10:30 a.m. Lawn Welcome by Vol State President, Dr. Jerry Faulkner, and eclipse viewing suggestions and warnings
11 a.m. “Build a Solar Cooker Contest” -kids build sun powered cookers out of material we provide. It’s a race to cook hot dogs the quickest! Parents please attend with your child to participate.
11:15 a.m. What does it take to get good pictures of an eclipse? We talk to a Montgomery County Community College assistant professor of Physics, visiting from Pennsylvania. Kelli Corrado Spangler explains the Coronado Solar telescope.
11:30 a.m. Why travel for a total eclipse? A conversation with Starr Livingstone, amateur astronomer from Ontario, Canada and member of the Royal Astronomy Society of Canada.  
11:45 a.m.  “How the eclipse may or may not affect natural background radiation” by the Vol State Radiologic Technology Program
Noon Direct solar viewing can cause serious eye damage. There are some surprising people in history who damaged their eyes by looking directly at the Sun. We chat with Alisha Cornish, Director of the Vol State Ophthalmic Technology Program
12:30 p.m. Solar Cooker Contest winners announced
1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Eclipse Narration before and after totality, Bob Swanson, Itawamba Community College- Tupelo, MS
Wood Campus Center – Nichols Dining Rooms
7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Vol State CafĂ© open for breakfast and lunch
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Eclipse themed art work on display in the Nichols Dining Room
11 a.m. Eclipse and astronomy themed poetry, story-telling and music
The Eclipse Watch event will end at 3 p.m.

The Vol State campus will close to the public at 6 p.m.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Campus Connect Experiences

One of the most exciting things about becoming a Vol State student is attending Campus Connect, an event where the faculty and staff of Vol State welcome new students to the campus. I can remember when I went to Campus Connect with my aunt, who was there to make sure I stayed focused and didn't become a nervous wreck. Not only did they give us valuable information needed to succeed as a Vol State student (things such as who to contact in an emergency, how many days we needed to attend and why, and how to access the online features available from Vol State), they also gave us a free lunch which is always a good reason to attend many events as a college student.

A College Success Fair was held inside the SRB Building. Vol State representatives were on hand to give incoming freshmen information on valuable resources, such as the Library and Language Center.
Now that I'm almost done with my studies here at Vol State, I can say it's been interesting to see things from the other side during Campus Connect. I saw freshmen followed by, or led by, their parents as they took their first steps onto campus. I got a chance to hear what people were going to school for and whether they had everything planned out or not. There was plenty of hard work put in by the faculty and staff, and they carried on despite the heavy rain. By the end of the day, the uncertainty that the students felt when they first set foot on campus had been washed away, replaced with excitement for the upcoming semester.

A new addition to Campus Connect is the Color War, a competition where students choose to represent either the Blue Team or the Red Team. Which team do you support?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Vol State Professors on Freshman Success

Believe it or not, your professors were once students too; they survived college and lived to teach about it. I interviewed a few of them, asking them about their time as freshmen and what advice they had for you. Here’s what the professors at Vol State had to say:

What was it like being a freshman, and how does that affect what you’re doing now?

Professor Leslie LaChance:I felt empowered by getting to choose my own classes and create my own schedule. I really liked how all the different classes created an intellectual synergy. I loved being in classes with a diverse group of students and faculty who challenged me to think for myself, to connect my own dots, and to synthesize what I was learning. That experience affects me now as a lifelong learner who is interested in interdisciplinary studies and as a teacher who wants her students to think for themselves and be empowered by their learning. Also, as an advisor, I like to encourage students to challenge themselves by taking classes on a wide range of subjects.

Professor Douglas Williams: “I had a lot of fun [laughs]. It was a fun experience and it taught me how to manage my time.”

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?
Professor LaChance: I think the most important thing to understand is that once you get into college, you are in charge of and responsible for your own learning. Also it’s important to be an active learner. That means you’ll need to put away your distractions in  class (I see you Snapchatting over there!) and participate in discussions, take notes on lectures, do the in-class exercises and group work.”
Professor Williams: “Enjoy the college experience, but don’t lose focus of the learning aspect. That’s why you’re here.”
What is the most important habit a new student should pick up?

Professor LaChance:  “The best habit is to cultivate curiosity and imagination, to challenge yourself each day to learn something surprising, difficult, fun. Think of yourself not just as a college student, but as a lifelong learner.”

Professor Williams: “Use the library! I don’t want to just say ‘study’. Use the library and all available resources.”

What habits should a new student avoid?

Professor LaChance: “Avoid a negative and fixed mindset. If something goes wrong, for instance, if you fail a test or do poorly on a project or essay, don’t dwell on the negativity of that experience. It’s fine to feel angry or embarrassed, but don’t stay angry or embarrassed.  Move beyond that, and ask yourself what you can learn from the experience, how you can do better the next time.”
Professor Douglas: “Staying out late [laughs]. That was one my son who takes classes here had to avoid. More specifically, avoid staying out late on weekdays. Weekends are fine, but you’ll want to get in bed on weekdays.”

Professor Leslie LaChance is a member of the English faculty and director of Sigma Kappa Phi, the English Honors Society.

Professor Douglas Williams is a member of the Natural Sciences faculty.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Overcoming Freshman Fears

“When you get to college, you’re going to have a harder time. The professors there won’t let you get away with some of the stuff you do here.” I can’t attribute this quote to one single teacher, but I heard it many times throughout high school. The funny thing is that I remember this being said about high school when I was in eighth grade, and about middle school when I was a fifth grader. It’s true that college is quite a leap from high school, what with the different expectations and all, but I wouldn’t say it’s been all that bad. On the contrary, being a student at Vol State has been the best time of my life.

Like most students, I had a mix of emotions during my first couple of weeks as a college student. There was joy in having the freedom I didn’t have in high school, but there was also fear that I was in over my head. For those first few weeks, most of my time was spent in the library studying and listening to music. I figured it would be a good idea to stay on top of things. While I was right about that, I wasn’t having that great of a time. Eventually, I made friends with some of my classmates and we made a habit of hanging out a lot. As the months wore on, I made more friends and worked hard, even making it onto the Dean’s List and having one of my essays published. All it took was for me to overcome my fears. Now it is time for you to do the same.

Hello there, my name is Shannon. I create content for Vol State's blog and Facebook page. If you have any questions, email me at

Friday, June 9, 2017

Sumner Parents - Bring Your Family Here for the Eclipse August 21

Sumner County public schools will be closed on Monday, August 21 for the total eclipse of the sun. It's a huge event for the area. We're inviting kids and families to a free educational eclipse watching event on the Vol State campus in Gallatin that day. We'll have presentations, fun activities for kids, free eclipse watching glasses and a narration during the event itself. The goal is to share a love of science learning with kids and parents alike. It's a family event- no alcohol or smoking will be allowed. We will have food for sale. Families can picnic if they would like.

We're inviting people from across the area to attend. It should be a fun day. We already have 1000 people registered. We will cut off registration when we reach our limit for the we encourage interested parents to sign-up now at this registration web page

Here are more details:

On August 21, 2017 there will be a total solar eclipse along a narrow path across the United States. A total solar eclipse occurs when the new Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth. The event creates fascinating lighting and allows viewers to see the corona of the Sun.

Gallatin, Tennessee will be one of the best spots in the country to view the total eclipse with totality lasting two minutes and forty seconds. Eclipse viewing in the area will be from noon-3 p.m. Totality will occur at 1:27 p.m.
Of course, viewing is dependent on the weather. Overcast skies may make eclipse viewing marginal.
Volunteer State Community College is organizing a free eclipse watching event on our campus in Gallatin. It is open to everyone. We will have educational presentations, live video viewing of the eclipse in other parts of the country, live narration during the totality, and fun science exhibits for kids and adults. The activities will be held outside and also in air-conditioned buildings.
We will have free eclipse viewing glasses available, while supplies last. You want to make sure to use such glasses or devices to view the sun during the partial phases of the eclipse. Viewing the sun directly is dangerous without the proper eyeware. Sunglasses do not block enough light to be safe.
Seating will be primarily open lawn. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs. There will be room for picnicking. We will also have food and beverages for sale. The campus has plenty of bathrooms and heat relief zones (seating areas) in many buildings.
Parking is also free. Buses and RV's are welcome, but there will be no overnight parking, before or after the event. Parking lots open at 8 a.m. Once the lots are full, the campus will be closed to new entrants. Entry is first come, first served. The campus will close at 6pm on the day of the Eclipse. No alcohol will be allowed in vehicles or on campus. There is no smoking on campus. This is designed as a family event. To schedule a group visit with a bus please call 615-230-3570 or email

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

3 Tips for Freshman Success

College may seem like a difficult time but it doesn’t have to be. Here are three tips to stay on top of your game.


1. Follow the Class Syllabus

The syllabus is given to you on the first day of class. This valuable document is your guide to the semester, giving you information about the course, important dates to remember, and ways to keep in touch with your instructor. Follow the syllabus closely and use it to stay ahead of assignments.


2. Make a Schedule

Balancing school, work, and life can be hard. A good schedule helps you use your time wisely and keeps you from being overwhelmed. Avoid staying up all-night if you can help it, and remember to set aside time for studying. I try to spend 2-3 hours each evening after school doing homework and studying, which works for me. Just find what works for you and stick with it.


3. Remember Your Campus Resources

We all need a little help sometimes, and there are plenty of useful resources on (and off) campus that can do just that. The Learning Commons has tutoring for math and math-based science classes. The Language Center on the Gallatin campus has people who can help you with papers and assignments. The Vol State library and its website are great for research papers, see the librarians for help. And covers a variety of tutoring and it’s free to all Vol State students. You access it via the class eLearn page.

Monday, June 5, 2017

New Courses and Degrees this Fall

Volunteer State Community College is continually updating course offerings and degree programs to keep up with the demands of a fast-changing society. Students will find new courses and new degrees this fall, as part of 90 programs of study at the college. Fall registration is open now. New students will need to apply first.
The new Associate of Science Health Sciences degree is designed for transfer to a university bachelor’s degree program. People with the four-year degree can seek jobs as Community Health Workers, Health Services Managers and Health Education Teachers. Health Sciences bachelor degree programs are taught at Tennessee State University and East Tennessee State University. The new Vol State degree can also help people who don’t make it into specific Health Sciences specialties at the college, but still want a career in the health field. The degree is offered at all Vol State campuses, but some of the classes may need to be taken online. See your advisor for details.
New courses in Gallatin this fall include African-American Literature (ENGL 2055). Students will read poems, stories, novels, memoirs, and songs by African-American writers. It fulfills the literature General Education requirement. Mechatronics is also new to the Gallatin campus this fall. Mechatronics professionals are the experts who design, program, repair, and maintain state-of-the-art robotics and computer-aided equipment in today’s fastest growing industries. The Vol State degree program is taught for people with a high school degree or those with another college degree who want in-demand job skills.
Fall classes start on August 28. The fall schedule is available on the college website at New students will need to fill out an application on the website at . The Office of Admissions is located in the Ramer Building, Room 173, on the Gallatin campus at 1480 Nashville Pike. Students with questions can also call 615-230-3688.