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Walters State Announces Partnership with ORNL

ornl partnership

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Walters State Community College have formed a unique partnership to give students the chance to interact with scientists at one of the world’s premier research facilities.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in educating future scientists and enhancing the training available to today’s workforce,” said Dr. Wade McCamey, president of Walters State.

“This is a win-win situation for all of us,” said Dr. Ian Anderson, director of graduate and university partnerships for ORNL. Prior to his current position, Anderson was associate director of neutron science at the lab and played a key role in the development of the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), the only research facility of its kind in the world.

“We believe in helping develop the workforce of the future. At ORNL, we have amazing assets, but few young people understand the potential of those assets. This agreement will allow us to reach Walters State students early in their academic career,” Anderson added.

The agreement also provides a method for ORNL to assist Walters State in providing training opportunities for the area’s workforce. ORNL will be able to advise on future needs of employers based on the technology being developed.

McCamey commended the Walters State administrators and faculty responsible for the agreement. Dr. Lori Campbell, vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Jeff Horner, dean of natural science, and Dr. Eugene de Silva, associate professor of physics, were instrumental in Walters State’s efforts to formalize a working relationship with the internationally-known laboratory, McCamey said.

“Working with ORNL scientists and visiting the laboratories there will be a great experience for both students and faculty,” Horner said.

 For de Silva, who initially approached ORNL, research is a key method of teaching.

“We intend to provide training, guidance and hands-on experience in conducting research for our students. Research is the fourth R after reading, writing and arithmetic,” de Silva said. 

“Research is the application of knowledge. When we include research in teaching, we employ a proven learning process,” he explained. He added that, while community colleges are not known for research, Walters State students do research and have presented at regional and statewide conferences.

Campbell said that the initial focus may be on science, but the agreement is multi-disciplinary and will eventually include other areas.

“Both Walters State and ORNL are taking a multi-disciplinary approach in this partnership. Students and faculty will have opportunities to see how ORNL uses skills in fields including but not limited to public safety, business, information technology and the social sciences,” Campbell said.

CUTLINE: Walters State Community College and Oak Ridge National Laboratory recently announced a partnership for educating future scientists and training the workforce of tomorrow. From left are Tom Sewell, dean of technology at Walters State; Dr. Eugene de Silva, associate professor of physics and facilitator of the agreement; Dr. Lori Campbell, vice president for academic affairs at Walters State; Dr. Ian Anderson, director of graduate programs and university relations at the ORNL; Dr. Wade McCamey, president of Walters State; and Dr. Jeff Horner, dean of natural sciences at Walters State. 

Tri-State High School Students Visit WSCC for Physics Day

Over 150 high school students converged on Walters State’s Claiborne County Campus for Physics/Chemistry Day, organized and hosted by Dr. Eugene de Silva, associate professor of physics and chemistry.

The day gave students the chance to participate in some unique experiments. Students also learned about how the principles of physics and chemistry apply to everyday life.

“This day gives area high school students a chance to visit the campus and see that science can be fun,” said de Silva.

“The Physics/Chemistry Day is where the application of science in daily activities are explained to encourage, engage and education young adults. The presentations encourage critical thinking,” he added.

Many students were attracted to de Silva’s demonstrations of the martial arts and its relation to physics. de Silva is an eighth degree black belt and does demonstrations throughout Tennessee. On this day, his feats included breaking cinder blocks and breaking a piece of wood while leaving the two wine glasses holding it intact. He was also sandwiched between two beds of nails.

Kim Bolton, assistant professor of biology, demonstrated how iPads are used in the classroom to teach science. Olena Owen, assistant professor of astronomy, discussed astronomy and the use of a telescope.

Other experiments during the day included apply Bernoulli’s principles to levitation using magnets.

de Silva is chair of the Physics and Astronomy sections at the Tennessee Academy of Sciences (TAS) and is a member of the executive board of TAS. He is the developer for online physics programs offered by the Tennessee Board of Regents, Walters State’s governing body. He is also editor of several magazines, including the “International Journal of Martial Arts Research” and the “International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Education.”