published Thursday, June 9th, 2011

University of VW: Chattanooga State, Tennessee Tech plan degree

Jeff Hood, not pictured, operates one of the stations in the Volkswagen Academy while students from the Governor's School for Emerging Technology at Tennessee Tech watch Wednesday. Volkswagen, Chattanooga State and Tennessee Tech held a news conference at the VW Academy on Wednesday to talk about their educational partnerships. Afterward, students from TTU were given a brief demonstration of the robotic stations in the academy.
Jeff Hood, not pictured, operates one of the stations in the Volkswagen Academy while students from the Governor's School for Emerging Technology at Tennessee Tech watch Wednesday. Volkswagen, Chattanooga State and Tennessee Tech held a news conference at the VW Academy on Wednesday to talk about their educational partnerships. Afterward, students from TTU were given a brief demonstration of the robotic stations in the academy.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

Eyeing future hiring and expansion at its Chattanooga plant, Volkswagen is partnering with a pair of higher education institutions to create a new degree program.

“We want to expand our operations here as soon as possible,” said Hans-Herbert Jagla, VW’s executive vice president of human resources in Chattanooga. “It will depend on the market and it will depend on our innovation.”

VW, Chattanooga State Community College and Tennessee Technological University are joining to create a new bachelor of science degree in industrial technology to train workers for the German automaker, its suppliers and other manufacturers, officials said.

All classes will be offered at the assembly plant’s Volkswagen Academy, where VW does much of its employee training. Plans are to have 20 students enrolled this fall, according to officials who unveiled the program Wednesday at the $1 billion factory.

Chattanooga State President Jim Catanzaro said the degree program is a natural extension of its existing training efforts with VW.

“We’ll be preparing a superior work force for VW and other manufacturers,” he said.

Tennessee Tech President Bob Bell termed the initiative “a leading-edge and prototype degree.” He said its students need to be grounded in “the real world. They need grease under their fingernails.”

Golf made in U.S.?

The degree announcement comes as a report out of Germany says the automaker is mulling Golf production in the U.S., where VW just marked the official opening of its only assembly plant in the country in Chattanooga. The new plant is producing VW Passat cars.

Volkswagen’s top labor representative, Bernd Osterloh, said Tuesday that management is considering some Golf models in the U.S. instead of exporting them from Germany, according to daily regional newspapers Wolfsburger Allgemeine and Braunschweiger Zeitung.

VW officials locally had no comment on the report.

Concerning the new degree program, the so-called “2+2 agreement” calls for a seamless articulation of education and training through the two schools. Students will earn an associate of applied science from Chattanooga State and transfer to the bachelor’s degree program from Tennessee Tech, similar to the agreement Chattanooga State has for other programs with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Jagla said the VW Academy already is a model for the automaker. He noted VW and Chattanooga State are working in the Automotive Mechatronics Program, which trains people to work on and repair the high-tech robots and other complex systems at the plant.

“Our experience from the mechatronics program motivated us to expand educational offerings,” he said.

Jagla said the new degree will “really meet the future needs of the region for the auto industry.”

VW employees will be among the first students accepted into the degree program, for which classes begin Sept. 6.

Gary Booth, manager of training and development for VW in Chattanooga, said officials are thinking long-term.

“It’s all about our future,” he said.

State Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, cited the initiative’s articulation agreement, which ensures an efficient class transfer process between the schools.

Jack Matens, chairman of the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association’s education committee, said the degree program “opens all sorts of doors to people locally.”

VW’s new plant now employs more than 1,700 workers, and a staffing company it hired is taking applications for 300 more contract employees.

The plant has capacity to produce 150,000 cars annually when it is fully operational next year.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
please login to post a comment

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement

Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.