Chattanooga State Honored With Prestigious Bellwether Award

Thursday, February 7, 2013
Shown, from left to right, are Tim McGhee, Chattanooga State dean, engineering technology; Dr. Jim Catanzaro, Chattanooga State president, and Dr. George Graham, Chattanooga State head, chemical engineering technology and director, Wacker Institute.
Shown, from left to right, are Tim McGhee, Chattanooga State dean, engineering technology; Dr. Jim Catanzaro, Chattanooga State president, and Dr. George Graham, Chattanooga State head, chemical engineering technology and director, Wacker Institute.

Chattanooga State Community College received the celebrated Bellwether award at the 2013 Community College Futures Assembly in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The award is bestowed upon a community college with leading edge programs in community college practices worthy of replication. Since its inception 19 years ago, only 55 winning projects have been selected from among thousands of applicants.

Chattanooga State won in the Workforce Development category for a project called “The Wacker Institute: Diplomas with Job Offers!” The Workforce Development category recognizes programs that create public and/or private strategic alliances and partnerships that promote community and economic development. Chattanooga State formed a partnership with Wacker Polysilicon, North America to establish the Wacker Institute, which opened February, 2012.

According to Dr. George Graham, head of the chemical engineering department at Chattanooga State and director of the Wacker Institute, “this is an affirmation of the tremendous efforts made by our faculty and staff to provide a world-class educational experience while exceeding the expectations of our partner’s (Wacker) needs – what an honor to be recognized as the best of best among other community colleges around the country.”

The Engineering Technology Wacker Institute stands ready to offer programs of study that will produce the best educated and trained technicians in the chemical manufacturing industry through a unique and rigorous educational collaborative. Graduates receive an associate of applied science degree (A.A.S.) in Engineering Technology or an embedded certificate in other technical areas of emphasis. The Institute’s key areas of education focus on preparing students to become process technicians (chemical operators), chemical laboratory technicians, electronics and instrumentation systems technicians, and mechanical systems technicians.

The innovative collaboration provides students an exciting blend of theory and hands-on experiences, which includes training in a one-of-kind chemical pilot plant located within the 25,000 square foot Institute.  Graduates of the Chemical Engineering Technology program of study leave with their diploma in one hand and a job offer from Wacker in the other.

“We congratulate Chattanooga State on winning the prestigious Bellwether Award. The program they developed at the Wacker Institute is important to our future. The applied learning characteristic of programs developed by Chattanooga State are exactly what industry needs to prepare the workforce for today and the future. Chattanooga State’s approach of learning the competencies and educational needs of industry and developing a workforce to meet that gap hits the mark every time. The CRMA applauds these events and considers them essential to the economic development of Tennessee. We are proud to be their partner,” said Tim Spires, CEO and president, Chattanooga Regional Manufacturer’s Association.

For more information about chemical engineering technology or other programs in engineering technology at Chattanooga State, visit or call 423 697-4434.



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