College Notes:

Pellissippi State makes ‘elite eight’ in regional competition to build a robot
Pellissippi State Technical Community College recently made it to the ‘elite eight’—the last eight in an elimination round—in a regional competition calling for participants to build a robot that plays basketball. The college was one of only three two-year schools to enter.

"I’m proud of our students," said Ken Swayne, associate professor and program coordinator of Electrical Engineering Technology. "They accomplished a great deal simply by being able to compete with some of the best engineering schools in the Southeast."

A total of 38 college and university teams participated in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. SoutheastCon 2007 Student Hardware Competition. The IEEE is a nonprofit professional organization dedicated to the advancement of technology.

Any school with a student chapter of IEEE was eligible to enter, but Pellissippi State, Guilford Technical Community College in North Carolina and Tidewater Community College in Virginia were the only community colleges that chose to compete.
A team from Mississippi State University won this year’s competition, which took place March 24 in Richmond, Virginia.

"Pellissippi State’s Electrical Engineering Technology program offers students a great deal of hands-on training in electronics, automation and microcontroller technology," said Swayne. "We also offer a Pre-engineering transfer program."
Students and instructors from both degree programs participated in the project, which began in September 2006.

Participants from the college’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program helped in the initial stages as well.

"The variety of help that came out of the three programs has encouraged collaboration and teamwork between students with different skill sets," said Swayne.

Pellissippi State’s team consisted of EET students Scott Britt, Chris McAbee, Tim Kadri and Darrell Wood; Pre-engineering students Jeremy Brantley and Wes Forbes; and instructors Swayne and Carl Mallette, associate professor of Electrical Engineering Technology.

The group left March 22 armed with its version of a robot that plays basketball—the central theme of this year’s competition. The Pellissippi State students named their robot Robocat.

The basketball used was actually a ping-pong ball, and each half-court measured 4 by 6 feet. The robot itself was allowed to be a maximum of 12 x 12 x 12 inches. The team that scored the most points won the competition. Robots scored points by shooting the ball through a goal.

The project required an understanding of numerous engineering topics, among them, circuits, machinery and microprocessors.

"This has been a great educational experience for the students," said Mallette. "They have learned a lot about coordinating projects and applying the things they’ve learned in the classroom."

"The students returned from the competition already excited about trying to compete again next year," added Swayne.

Smokies tickets discounted for Pellissippi State Alumni Night
Pellissippi State Technical Community College aims to hit a home run on Saturday, May 12, by hosting its first annual Alumni Night at the Tennessee Smokies-Chattanooga Lookouts game at Smokies Park in Sevier County.

Alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the college can purchase specially discounted tickets at $7 each for field-level seats, saving $3 off the regular game-time price.

Reserved seats are available by calling 865-286-2315.

The deadline to purchase discounted tickets is May 5.

Gates open at 5:30 p.m. for the 7:15 p.m. game. A fireworks display takes place immediately afterward.
For additional information about Alumni Night, call the Pellissippi State Alumni Relations office, 865-39-7275, or visit the Web site,

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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