There’s little doubt not every high school graduate has both the means and desire to move on to a college or university. And that’s where the Tennessee College of Applied Technology becomes an option.
Though it was touch and go when it came to contract negotiations between the Tennessee Board of Regents and the Wilson County Board of Education a few months ago, everything appears to be on track for the college to open this spring in the former Wilson County Career Technical Center in Lebanon, according to Carol Puryear, associate vice chancellor for instruction and special projects with the Tennessee Board of Regents.
Puryear said recently TCAT received a lot of national attention for its completion and placement rates, with an 87-percent completion rate statewide and an 84-percent placement rate.
“That means if we train them to be a welder, they get a job as a welder,” Puryear said. “It happens because we’re so in tune with the community and we want to offer things that the community needs.”
Puryear said the school trains people, such as welders, machinists and computer and automotive technicians, among many others.
“Machine tool and industrial maintenance are our big programs right now. Advanced manufacturing programs are hot, no pun intended,” Puryear said.
According to Puryear, the Board of Regents has a strong partnership with the Wilson County Career Technical Center, and she hoped establishing a TCAT in Lebanon would help better serve Wilson County and the surrounding areas.
“People don’t like to leave and drive to places like Nashville and Murfreesboro; this way they can stay in the area,” Puryear said.
Puryear also said she hoped they would be offering six courses and day, evening and special industry classes. She said there are usually 22-25 students per course.
“Plus, you have to factor in night and special industry classes, so that number goes up. You really can’t give a number on how many students it’ll see,” Puryear said. “But it’s enough to make things work.”
It appears everything is in line and ready to go for the new college in Lebanon. It can only mean good things to come for both local high school graduates looking for an alternative to traditional higher education, as well as a benefit to Wilson County industries in strengthening our local workforce.