At a press conference at the college, James Catanzaro, Chattanooga State president, and Dr. Ingomar Kovar, president and CEO of Wacker Chemical Corporation, held a signing ceremony to officially announce the establishment of the Wacker Institute, a fast-track technology program specifically designed to help develop a vibrant and cutting-edge workforce.
“We want to hit the ground running,” Kovar said. “We’re leading where others follow.”
He wants to make sure all employees are uniquely trained and qualified to be part of the WACKER team. The international company, established in 1914, said reliability is its hallmark. But far more is at stake, such as environmental and social responsibility.
The Wacker Institute at Chattanooga State is the result of months of planning to make sure applicants will be prepared to fill more than 600 production and professional positions when the Bradley County plant opens in 2013. The new facility will be manufacturing polysilicon. The groundbreaking is April 8.
“We are looking to hire as many people as possible locally,” Kovar said. “We’re seriously looking.”
But WACKER needs to find the right skill sets as well as people who are willing to go through the training, including a six-month training program at their headquarters in Germany.
The first classes are scheduled to start as soon as June.
Starting this fall, the Wacker Institute and other Engineering Technology programs will be held in the former Olan Mills building next to Chattanooga State’s main campus. The Wacker Institute will be in 25,000 square feet of the total 149,000 square-foot building.
WACKER has donated $3 million to the construction of a state-of-the-art chemical training plant as well, making sure that the facility will mirror the actual plant.
The Engineering Technology Division of Chattanooga State and Wacker Polysilicon North America are teaming to develop specific programs of study to provide trained technicians in the petrochemical industry using a unique approach. The four program areas include chemical technology, chemical laboratory technology, mechanical technology and electrical/instrumentation technology.
Graduates will have the skills required to work as a process technician in many areas of manufacturing including petrochemical, plastics, pharmaceuticals and waste management. Process technicians also are qualified in the operations of different types of equipment within a chemical plant including boilers, cooling towers, distillation columns and reactors. Chemical laboratory technicians will also be needed to analyze data and monitor quality control.
Some of the classes for this accelerated 16-month program include pre-calculus, chemistry, industrial safety, computers for engineering technology, process chemistry, CAD engineering drawing, statistics and quality control, etc.
Graduates would receive an associate of applied science in engineering technology-chemical engineering technology.
At last count, around 4,000 hopeful future WACKER employees have already applied online.
Anyone with an aptitude for math, science and technology who is interested can get more information at www.chattanoogastate.edu/engineering/wacker.
Some of the first WACKER job fairs in the area are scheduled to be held at Cleveland State Community College at the end of April or early May. “We are wholly committed to Bradley County and Cleveland,” said Kovar.
For more information on the Wacker Institute at Chattanooga State Community College, attend one of several one-hour information sessions. Learn about the careers Wacker Polysilicon North America has to offer and the programs of study prospective employees will need.
Weekly sessions are held every Monday and Tuesday through May 31, excluding May 30. Monday sessions are at 5 p.m. on the main campus, located at 4501 Amnicola Highway in the Health Science Center. Tuesday sessions begin at 9 a.m. at the Center for Education and Human Services, formerly the East Campus, located at 7158 Lee Highway. Registration is not required. For more information, call 697-4404 or go to www.chattanoogastae.edu, then click the Wacker Institute banner.