Northeast State postpones spring opening of Downtown Centre

Northeast State Community College has postponed the spring 2013 opening of the Downtown Centre in Johnson City due to complications brought on by recent heavy rains in the city.

“In the process reviewing the needed renovations for the Johnson City Downtown Center to meet the expectations of students, employees, the community, and the Tennessee Board of Regents, we will have to delay the opening of the teaching site,” said Dr. Janice Gilliam, president of Northeast State.

Gilliam said it was anticipated that a spring opening could be achieved by opening up one corridor of the facility; however, the recent 10-year rainfall event caused the delay.

“We have determined we have to address the internal rain water collection issues before we start renovations,” Gilliam said. “In addition, all restrooms have to be redesigned to meet American Disabilities Act requirements.”

Gilliam also said an early analysis of the building’s HVAC systems and duct work indicates a needed overhaul.

“All these would have to be completed before we occupy any area of the facility,” Gilliam said.

Nonetheless, work continues forward with exterior cleaning, paint preparation work, and interior design on the facility.

College officials met with Shaw & Shanks Architects of Johnson City on Aug. 13 to discuss interior design and renovations. The company has provided the College with a first draft of possible configurations for classrooms, labs, and offices.

“We will have final reports from the designers September 24. Then recommendations for contract work will be addressed,” Gilliam said. “A bid process will be required to initiate the actual construction phase. Our goal now is to open in fall 2013, but that is tentative as well until we finalize design and construction plans.”

In addition, the first level of the Centre’s parking garage has been pressure washed and cleaned by Extreme Clean of Johnson City and the interior courtyard of the building was recently cleaned and prepped by the College’s Plant operations staff.

Currently, the building’s exterior is being pressure washed, cleaned, and readied for painting. Johnson City-based Gardner Paint Service is the contractor for the work. In addition, College officials have selected a 3-color scheme for the exterior and forwarded the selections to the contractor.

In December 2011, Northeast State signed a five-year lease with the Johnson City Development Authority for use of the Downtown Centre. JCDA has committed $1 million in funds for interior renovations.

In the meantime, classes are being held at Gray teaching site located at 120 Dillion Court. For more information, call Evening and Distance Education at 423.323.0221, 423.354.5141, or e-mail evedistedu@NortheastState.edu. Gray information can be accessed at www.NortheastState.edu/gray.


Guitar concert: Muriel Anderson and Jack Pearson

Guitarist Muriel Anderson and special guest Jack Pearson return to Northeast State on Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. to perform a variety of music at the WRCPA Theater on the main campus at Blountville, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

Anderson is considered among the top acoustic nylon-string guitarists / harp-guitarists in the world. She is the first woman to have won the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship and is host of the renowned Muriel Anderson’s All-Star Guitar Night.

Formerly of the Allman Brothers Band, Pearson’s musicianship and vocals have made him one of the most sought after studio musicians in Nashville. During his 30+ year career he has mastered a range of instruments including electric, slide, acoustic and resonator guitar, mandolin, old time banjo and Hammond organ, which he incorporates into many musical styles such as blues & roots music; jazz; pop & rock; and bluegrass & country. His list of accolades is nearly endless, summed up by Charlie Daniels: “He’s got to be one of the finest pickers on the planet.”

Anderson’s Heartstrings recording accompanied the astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery and her music appears in the film Vicki Cristina Barcelona. She has performed in a bluegrass band and has written music for the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. She was the first woman to win the National Fingerpicking Guitar Championship and was also awarded a bronze level for classical in the 2009 Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s Players Choice poll. She has been composing since the age of six and has published works for guitar and orchestra, voice, and solo guitar.

The free concert is open to the public and sponsored by the College’s Cultural Activities Committee. Check out samples at www.murielanderson.com. For more information, contact 423.279.7669.


Mini-Mesters offer second chance at college credit this fall

If time got away from you and you weren't able to enroll in classes for the fall 2012 semester, Northeast State Community College is offering a second chance to enroll in mini-Mester courses to earn college credit.

Northeast State developed mini-Mesters to help students who have work or family responsibilities that make it difficult to attend classes during a long semester, which are typically 15 weeks. A mini-mester course can be completed in fewer weeks and students receive the same quality instruction and credit hours.

The College offers more than 50 courses this fall with courses in business management, English, computer applications, computer and information sciences, history, humanities, learning strategies, learning support mathematics, office administration technology, and reading.

Depending on the course, a mini-Mester may run three weeks or seven weeks. The three-week sections are slated Aug. 27 through Sept. 17, Sept. 24 through Oct. 12, Oct. 22 through Nov. 9, and Nov. 15 through Dec. 7. The seven-week sections run from Oct. 22 through Dec. 7.

For a complete listing of fall mini-Mester offerings, visitwww.NortheastState.edu/mini-mester.

For questions regarding the mini-Mester or Second Session Fall courses, please call the Student Success Center at 423.323.0214 or e-mail advising@NortheastState.edu. Questions may also be directed to the Campus Information Center at 423.323.0243 or CollegeAnswers@NortheastState.edu.

Most courses are located on Northeast State's Blountville campus, 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to the Tri-Cities Regional Airport.


Online chemical process operation curriculum ready for launch

A state-of-the-art online chemical process operations curriculum has been developed at the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

With the availability and assistance of a vast supply of subject matter resources through Eastman Chemical Company and the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), this curriculum provides 10 courses in chemical process operations. Some topics covered include materials handling, process equipment, distillation, instrumentation, and troubleshooting.

With the increased demand for flexible content delivery, and the complexities of running a modern chemical process, the new chemical process operations curriculum is meeting the needs of the 21st century workforce.

The work was funded through a $15 million grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development in a partnership with Eastman, Northeast State, and ECD in response to Eastman's Project Reinvest. The curriculum will launch this fall.


Shane Roberts makes it in America

If you don't think anything's still made in America, drop in on RMI in Blountville and ask for Shane Roberts.

Don't be surprised when he emerges from the group of lathes and milling machines that are rocking the nondescript metal building just off Muddy Creek Road in Blountville. 
Looking younger than his 29 years and dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, he's often mistaken for an employee, but once he starts talking, you'll know you've found your man.

Shane, a former Northeast State student, fixes you with a focused gaze and launches into a rapid history of his machining/manufacturing business that is gaining a reputation for innovative CAD design and quality parts. RMI's list of clients includes Eastman Chemical Co., Wysong Enterprises, End Point Industries, and Google. Yes, Google.

"We've been really lucky," Shane said. "Most of our business comes from word of mouth. I usually just go in to companies and introduce myself and tell them what RMI has to offer. Invariably, someone will think of some work that need to be done or problem that needs to be solved and show it to me. Usually that results in work."

Shane said RMI's genesis came about eight years ago when he was racing cars and working as a server at Cheddar's. He was looking for a way to subsidize his racing interest, which was experiencing fits and starts.

"You win some races and you have money. Then you lose some and you're broke or you crash your car and you're really broke," Shane said.

Previously, he had worked part-time at a machine shop after racking up some CAD classes at Northeast State. Remembering the equipment he'd worked on at Northeast State, Shane decided to buy a similar machine to make car parts that he could sell to other racers and use himself.

"I got on eBay – everything's on eBay – and there was a machine just like Northeast State's," Shane said. "I knew if I bought the machine I could get solid training on it at Northeast State. So with some help from my father and mother I bought it I and signed up for a class."

Shane worked for a while producing parts for cars, motorcycles, and go-karts, eventually moving on the commercial jobs for local companies such as Allied Metals in Johnson City, ADpma in Piney Flats, and Wysong Enterprises in Blountille. ADpma, for example, produces parts for commercial airliners.

He also found that his CAD design skills were gaining demand.

"When we were doing car parts, people would have ideas and I would complete the design for the real part," Shane said. "That's just continued as we've gained new customers. Everyone has ideas of what they want, but it is wide open as to how it gets solved – so we make that happen."

By now, the business was expanding, adding employees, and doing pretty well, according to Shane. And then, RMI caught a huge break.

"I was playing music in a band with this guy and his brother was a software engineer for End Point, a New York company doing contract work for Google," Shane said. "Google hired them to start doing system installations of something called a Liquid Galaxy (a complex HD video display). They needed a supplier for all the mechanical parts to these systems that they were going to install for Google."

At the time, it was too complex for RMI, so Shane outsourced the work and then hitched a trailer to his mother's car and hauled the project to Google's Manhattan offices.

Shane said he felt the initial system had some design flaws and that it could be consolidated into a much more compact system. He told this to Google and the company was open to his suggestions. He designed one for free and Google liked the work an ordered one system. Since then, RMI has built more than a dozen of the systems for Google.

"They ship straight to Germany or to other places in Europe and get installed in offices over there," Shane said. "We continue to redesign them as well."

About a year ago, RMI became an official Google vendor when the company was hired to work on a research and development project. While Shane can't talk about the project because of its proprietary nature, RMI initially developed one prototype and then produced seven of the mechanical systems. Shane said RMI then redesigned the system and has 17 more in production.

Shane currently has four employees and he said expects to add more when he can find time to expand RMI's currently facility. He might even put a sign on the building, which is now anonymous except for the steady hum of people making things in the U.S.A.


RCAM exceeds goals for course sections

Through a recent Community-Based Job Training grant focused on retooling incumbent workers, Northeast State's Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing offered 103 credit course sections for 26 different technical courses – about 150 percent of targeted goals. In addition, there were also 164 credit course sections for 23 different on-line/lab process operations courses and another 44 credit course sections for 19 different on-line/lab maintenance courses. That is a grand total of 311 course sections for 68 different credit technology courses – about 400 percent of the stated goals. The grant also provided $441,883 in scholarship funds for 353 incumbent workers.


Cooperative learning builds leadership, communication, and trust

Northeast State Community College faculty members were introduced recently to an alternative teaching theory known as cooperative learning, which seeks to build collaborative skills within small-group settings.

While conventional methods of teaching can make learning a solo and competitive effort, cooperative learning takes a communal approach, building leadership, communication, decision making, trust, and conflict resolution skills among team members.

In a workshop conducted by Dr. Edye Johnson Holubec of the University of Minnesota's Cooperative Learning Center, educators were shown the key components of the theory:

• Positive interdependence - each individual depends on and is accountable to the others (a built-in incentive to help, accept help, and root for others).
• Individual accountability - each person in the group learns the material.
• Face-to-face interaction - group members help one another, share information, and offer clarifying explanations.
• Social skills - group members develop leadership and communication.
• Group processing - members assess how effectively they are working with one another.

In a hands-on exercise, Holubec divided faculty members into groups of three and asked them to count rectangles in a puzzle. Group members had to agree on the answer and each member had to be able to explain or show the final result. One group member was chosen at random to give the answer and then the group analyzed its performance for strengths and weaknesses.

Holubec said the exercise was designed to ensure participation, understanding, communication, and the ability to resolve conflict. She said cooperative learning fosters these soft skills, which are valued by employers.

"Cooperative learning takes away the isolation and competition, and makes each individual stronger," Holubec said. "As students practice this, they will eventually do these things automatically, making them higher achievers and better employees."

Holubec said cooperative learning was highly generalizable and could be used in kindergarten as well as the corporate world. She said the Cooperative Learning Center has conducted more than 80 research projects in the field and analyzed more than 1,500 research articles on the subject.

For more information about the Cooperative Learning Center and its research, visit www.co-operation.org.


Literature of Appalachia course at Northeast State

A new literature course offered at Northeast State this fall studies the rich history of Southern Appalachia.

The three-credit-hour course Appalachian Literature (ENGL 2150 I70, #81648) is being taught online for the first time this semester. Students will examine the literature, music, and films of the Appalachian Mountain people.

"Appalachia is a place, a people, an idea, a culture," said Louise Dickson, course instructor and assistant professor of English at Northeast State. "The Appalachian story is rich, exciting, and compelling."

This is the first time Appalachian Lit has been offered as an online course. The course meets four times during the semester at 6 p.m. on Thursday nights during the semester.

All classroom meetings will be held in H153 of the Locke Humanities Building on the main campus at Blountville, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

This is an elective course and does not meet the General Education Core requirement for literature. This course meets the requirements as an elective course. To register go to www.NortheastState.edu and click MyNortheast.


The Northeast State Theater needs zombies. And victims.

Northeast State Theater will stage the region's first stage production of the cult classic Night of the Living Dead this fall. The potential walking dead can strut their stuff at not one, but two open auditions scheduled Sept. 5 and 6 from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

The auditions are being held at the main campus at Blountville, 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport. Call backs will be made on Sept. 7 between 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Performers are asked to gather in the lobby of the Wellmont Center for the Performing Arts. A performer is only required to attend one night of audition. Auditions are open to performers aged 10 years old to adults.

The production casts 9 to 11 male speaking roles and five female roles. The plays also requires up to 30 zombies needed for non-speaking roles.

Performers are asked to prepare a one-minute monologue to be read at the audition. Females performers must be prepared to deliver their best "horror movie scream." The zombies will require a distinct walk and movement, so performers should be prepared to perform a convincing "zombie walk."

The production run goes for two weekends: Oct. 25-28 and Nov. 1-4. The play is being directed by Brad McKenzie.

For more information, contact Northeast State Theater at 423.354.2479 or e-mail emsloan@NortheastState.edu.


College accelerates technology updates for true believers

When it comes to technology, college students are true believers.

Even a casual viewing of reports and surveys about technology use shows college students are definitely wired. For example, 78 percent of students believe technology improves their grades, 73 percent say they cannot study without technology, and 65 percent use cell phones to surf the Internet and check e-mail.

Northeast State Community College has spent the last year evaluating and integrating technology to improve instruction and increase efficiency to stay abreast of student needs and increase student success.

"We realize that technology is very important to today's college student and it can be a great resource and motivator for them to learn," said Dr. Janice H. Gilliam, Northeast State president. "Our goal is to serve their needs with technology that supports learning and functions efficiently."

The College has purchased 216 iPads for staff use during the last year and recently acquired 120 for student use this fall.

Tablet use among college students is expected to grow significantly in the next couple of years – already more than 25 percent own a tablet. A recent Pearson Foundation study showed that 63 percent of students believe that tablets will replace print textbooks in the next five years.

Staffers at the College use tablets in a number of departments and offices ranging from admissions to testing services to evening and distance education.

"The primary advantage I have found for using the iPad is its portability; it allows me to take a larger portion of my office wherever I go, " said Dr. Keith Young, director of Northeast State at Elizabethton. "I use the device to read and respond to emails, check and update my daily calendar, manage contacts, and conduct teleconference meetings via FaceTime."

"I check my iPad a couple of times during the weekend and often take care of student issues quickly," said Denise Walker, director of Testing and Counseling Services. "Keeping up with my emails when I am off campus also saves time when I am back in the office. I also have access to my desktop through my iPad and can keep up with other work."

To cut travel costs, the College recently installed a videoconferencing system that allows for face-to-face communication between the Blountville campus and other teaching sites. Media Services also tracks usage of the system so savings from travel and time can be calculated.

"For example, deans no longer have to travel to the main campus for all meetings," said Dr. Lana Hamilton, vice president for academic affairs. "They can join meetings via the videoconferencing unit, thus reducing costs and time associated with travel."

Vice President for Information Technology Fred Lewis said the College is putting into play several software packages to help students and staff use data and information to make decisions. Students will find particular help and support with DegreeWorks and Course Signals, Lewis said.

DegreeWorks is a web-based tool that helps students and advisors monitor progress toward degree completion. The software combines degree requirements and completed coursework in an easy-to-read worksheet. Students can readily see what courses and requirements are needed to complete their degrees.

Course Signals, developed by Purdue University, is a real-time, early intervention system providing students with concrete steps toward improvement in classes where they may be in danger of failing. This improves their chances for success, lays a foundation for success in future classes, and, ultimately, improves retention and graduation rates. In addition, the system provides an automated way for instructors to reach out to students in need of help early in the semester, when they have the most opportunity to improve.

Another software system – iDashboards - provides Northeast State better access to its data to make timely decisions. According to Dr. Susan Graybeal, vice president for Institutional Effectiveness, the College is using the dashboards to monitor such indicators as application, enrollment, financial information, and institutional metrics. It is also being used to present information to the community in an easy to understand format via the Web.

Lewis also said Northeast State had finished installation and training for Argos, a software program that allows users to easily pull information from databases for use in reports and decision-making. Oftentimes, information technology departments are flooded with requests for about admissions, finance, and other student records. Argos provides end users with a secure, cost-effective, and easy to use interface that speeds report production and frees IT staff for other tasks.

Northeast State was the first community college in the Tennessee Board of Regents system to launch its own mobile application. The free app is available for both Android and Apple devices and can be downloaded from the Android Marketplace or from the iTunes Store by searching for Northeast State.

The app currently includes buttons to search the college directory, look at maps of the main campus and the Kingsport teaching sites, read recent news articles about the college, view contact information for all of Northeast State's teaching sites, and access to Library information and various research databases. Users may also use the app to access Northeast State's Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter sites.

Two of the most head-turning pieces of technology to arrive on campus this year are the virtual painter and welder, which are used in the automotive body service technology program and the welding/metal fabrication technology program, respectively.

The virtual painter is an eco-friendly device that produces a realistic setting that allows students to practice techniques and muscle and joint movements that produce ideal paint coverage and thickness on a finished vehicle surface.

With traditional training, students must select, move, and mount a part before painting. They must also choose nozzles, retrieve paint, and don protective gear before starting. With the virtual painter, the student logs in and chooses his equipment, paint, and auto body surface in a matter of seconds.

After painting a hood, fender, or other part, the students and instructors may view the work from 360 degrees, inspect defects, and evaluate paint coverage, thickness, and amount used. For another practice session, just few taps on a touch screen monitor get the student back to work.

Based on similar concepts as the painter, the virtual welder helps students gain the skills needed to control the welding torch's angle, speed, and depth. As with the painter, feedback is immediate.

The virtual painter and welder are a boon for training, making training less expensive and more environmentally friendly. There is no need for materials and no harmful or toxic emissions are produced.

"Sustainability and efficiency is a big part of the recent Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010," said Northeast State President Dr. Janice Gilliam. "The virtual and mobile devices are a perfect example of how you can achieve excellent training results, and reduce costs and environmental impact."


College to host annual fall convocation

Northeast State Community College will host its annual convocation Aug. 15-24 to welcome back faculty and staff for fall semester 2012.

The convocation will feature a State of the Institution address by President Janice Gilliam, a workforce development panel, Targeted Leadership Development presentations, and an address by cooperative learning expert, Dr.  Edye Holubec.

In addition, faculty will receive schedules and assignments as well as training in academic advising and financial aid.

Open registration at Northeast State begins Aug. 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Regular classes begin Aug. 27 and the last day to add a class for the fall term is Aug. 30.