4 minute read

Getting Technical

Getting technical Technology and education at TCAT

Automotive Technology instructor Richard Nash teaches students at TCAT.

While working at a production job in a local factory, Brandon Madison watched a maintenance worker rewire an electrical component to keep the production line moving.

“It was amazing to watch him as he worked,” Madison says. “I thought right then, ‘I really want to know how to do that.’” Now, Madison knows how to rewire parts and much more after a year at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology.

At 35 years old, Madison is a TCAT graduate and plans to have a career in industrial maintenance. He earned his GED after high school and went to community college for a while, but he says that route wasn’t for him. So he went to work at a local factory. After enrolling at TCAT, Madison’s training took about a year, much of it the hands-on experience that prepares students to transition to a job more quickly.

“They help you get the job you’ve trained for while you’re a student,” Madison says. Placing students in productive jobs upon completion of the program meets the school’s goals, Warren Laux, president at TCAT McMinnville, says.

TCAT has 27 institutions across Tennessee, including Crossville. Limited programs operate at the Manchester location, which is under the McMinnville campus that opened in 1996 as the area’s technical training center and evolved to the status of technical college.

The McMinnville location has about 315 students. Training is geared toward helping students who are seeking a new career, whether they’re still working in one job while training for another or going to school full time, Laux says.

It takes about a year to complete most of the programs when attending during the day. “If someone is motivated, they’re going to progress through more quickly,” Laux says.

Going through a program with night classes four evenings a week takes a little longer than day classes. “It takes a little longer, but it accomplishes the same goal,” Laux says.


Most of the classes require hands-on training, but technology plays a big role in classroom instruction. TCAT uses e-books instead of traditional textbooks, which saves students money. Students use laptops, smartphones, tablets and other devices for online lectures and learning platforms.

Self-paced learning offers students the flexibility to watch videos on YouTube or from manufacturing and technical websites geared to the craft they’re studying. “That way, they can do it at their own learning level,” Laux says. “It gives them the ability to pause and go back over a video demonstration as much as they need to.”

The schedule consists of two hours in the classroom and four hours in the lab for hands-on training. Programs include automotive technology, computer information technology, cosmetology, industrial electrical, industrial maintenance, machine tool technology, practical nursing, phlebotomy and welding.

A new program for hybrid nursing pro vides even more flexibility for students with a combination of online and on-campus training, Laux says. “For this class, they’re only on campus for practical training and tests,” he says. The college plans to add global logistics soon.


The various programs’ successes hinge on the relationship between TCAT and local industries within the school’s service area. Each program has an advisory committee from those fields. “We make sure the curriculum that we’re offering is what is needed in reality,” Laux says. “If we’re offering something an industry doesn’t need, we’re wasting people’s time.”

The college also issues a warranty with every graduating student placed in a job.

“We guarantee that they can accomplish the task they’re hired to do,” he says. If the graduate cannot perform the job duties, TCAT provides additional employee training at no cost, Laux says.

“This sets a challenge for our instructors to make sure each student is prepared when they leave here,” he says. “It increases the quality of the training in the classroom, and it’s our goal to prepare each student for what’s currently needed in local industry.”


Madison attended TCAT later in life, while students like Zane Maxwell went after high school. Maxwell, a 19-year-old Warren County High School graduate, had welding in his senior agribusiness class. He discovered he loved working with metals, using the high heat to form joints and pipes.

The hands-on training allows him to perfect numerous welding techniques, preparing him for a job at a local industry. Maxwell says many local companies are looking for welders, and it’s a craft that always will be needed.

“I’ve learned so much, and I’ve gotten a lot of experience welding different types of materials and parts,” he says. “The environment and instructors are great. For any kind of hands-on job training, TCAT is the place to be.”

Madison says completing his training at TCAT provides a great feeling of accomplishment. “It’s really a good feeling to do something knowing it took the skills you’ve learned to do that,” Madison says.

More about TCAT

Ben Lomand Connect provides broadband internet to TCAT at the McMinnville, Manchester and Crossville locations. The easy website navigation provides access to information about how to apply, financial aid options and registration along with information about all the programs. Lim ited programs also are available at TCAT’s Manchester campus.

For more information about the McMinnville and Manchester locations, visit tcatmcminnville.edu or call 931-473- 5587. For information about the Crossville location, visit tcatcrossville.edu or call 931-484-7502.

Hybrid nursing student Peyton Meeker with Nursing Coordinator Kim Rymer.
Michael King prepares a license plate for engraving.