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Chattanooga State Community College will expand its industrial maintenance mechatronics program to Dayton, Tennessee next year when it adds the one-year program at the Nokian Tyres plant.

Chattanooga State's Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) offers the mechatronics program at its main Chattanooga campus and at its Kimball satellite campus already to help Tennessee rank as one of the top 10 U.S. states for mechatronics training, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"We are extremely pleased to bring our high-tech programs to the Dayton area. There is a very high demand for trained maintenance techs and electricians in the region," said Jim Barrott, executive vice president of the technical college. "We hope to fill these programs to demonstrate the need for a permanent technical education building in Rhea County."

Chattanooga State will introduce program to the Dayton schedule beginning spring 2021. Barrott said graduates of the Industrial Maintenance Mechatronics program leave with the ability to install, maintain, and troubleshoot industrial electrical control systems, including programmable logical controls (PLC), automation, robotics, and mechanical systems including hydraulics and pneumatics.

The program boasts a 100% job placement rate, a yearly median pay of $52,000and a 10-year job growth outlook of 13%, the BLS said.

 

Belarus starts up first nuclear plant

Belarus' first nuclear power plant began operating Tuesday, a project that has spooked its neighbor Lithuania, which immediately cut off importing electricity from Belarus at the news.

The Russian-built Astravyets nuclear power plant, 25 miles south of the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, has been connected to Belarus' power grid and has started producing electricity, according to Belarusian electricity operator Belenergo.

Lithuanian authorities long have opposed the plant's construction, arguing that the project has been plagued by accidents, stolen materials and the mistreatment of workers. In line with the country's law banning electricity imports from Belarus once the plant starts, Lithuania's Litgrid power operator cut the inflow of electricity from Belarus upon receiving data that the Astravyets nuclear reactor had started producing energy.

Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom, which built the plant, has rejected the Lithuanian complaints, saying the plant's design conforms to the highest international standards as confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, a U.N. watchdog.

 

Cruise industry delays reopening

The cruise industry has jettisoned hopes of restarting operations this year.

Days after both Carnival and Norwegian extended a halt on cruises through the end of the year, the group that represents cruise lines with 95% of global ocean-going capacity said Tuesday that its members have agreed to extend the suspension of U.S. sailing operations for the rest of 2020.

The announcement comes just days after the U.S. government effectively lifted its no-sail order despite a global spike in coronavirus infections.

Cruise Lines International Association — which includes cruise giants Princess, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean — said that its members have voluntarily opted to maintain the current suspension of cruise operations in the U.S. through the end of the year.

Members "will use the remainder of the year to prepare for the implementation of extensive measures to address COVID-19 safety" with the guidance of public health experts and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the association said.

On Friday, federal health officials issued new rules that will enable large cruise ships to start sailing again in U.S. waters, though not immediately. Among the CDC's requirements is that ship owners must test all passengers and crew at the start and end of all voyages, which are limited to seven days.

 

Ford won't build big all-electric pickups

Ford Motor Co. does not intend to build all-electric Super Duty pickup trucks, a top Ford executive told industry analysts Monday.

"At the moment, we do not have any plans to go into heavy duty with battery-electric vehicles," said Kumar Galhotra, president, Americas and International Markets Group, during a forum hosted by Dan Levy of Credit Suisse.

The bestselling Ford F-Series, which refers to the F-150 and its Super Duty siblings, is a lucrative revenue stream for the company, reaching $42 billion in 2019. For perspective, in that one year the Ford F-Series generated more revenue than the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League combined — which was just $40 billion.

A light duty pickup has a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 pounds or fewer while a so-called heavy duty truck — a series referred to as Super Duty in the Ford lineup — exceeds 8,500 pounds.

Ford has discussed publicly its ambitious plan to build an all-electric Ford F-150 and all-electric Transit van in addition to the all-electric 2021 Mustang Mach-E SUV. But this latest morsel of information followed a question from the Credit Suisse analyst.

"Our goal is to build a profitable electric vehicle portfolio," John Lawler, Ford chief financial officer, explained during the forum. "To do that, we need to leverage our strengths and the scale that we have. We're being very strategic about the platforms that we choose."

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