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Volkswagen Group of America receives Silver Star of excellence.

The Silver Star of Excellence Award is presented annually to a company that is supportive and committed to postsecondary technical education. Nominations for the award are from postsecondary technical institutions in letter form identifying specific contributions to technical education such as: donations of equipment, facilities, training, financial assistance, internships, advisory committee members and the company's impact on technical education. The Tennessee Technology Center at Chattanooga, Tennessee nominated Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations for the 2011 Silver Star of Excellence Award. In addition to the award, Volkswagon Group will be listed in the NTHS Hall of Fame for Educational Excellence.

With the announcement in July of 2008 that Volkswagen, which includes some of the most iconic and sophisticated brands in the world, selected Chattanooga as the site for their U.S. assembly plant, technical education came to the forefront as the conduit for employment in the assembly plant. Chattanooga State and the Tennessee Technology Center (TTC) at Chattanooga became the preferred educational provider. The college was inundated with prospective students wanting to enroll in technical training programs--automotive, welding, industrial electricity/electronics, industrial maintenance--that would enhance their chances of gaining employment with Volkswagen.

In two plus years, Volkswagen (VW) has proven to be a tremendous community and educational partner. In January 2010, VW executives expressed their desire to develop a world-class automotive training program. After six months of collaboration, the Tennessee Technology Center and the Volkswagen Group announced the development of Tennessee's "first-of-its-kind" Automotive Mechatronics Program (AMP). This program would bring together the resources of Volkswagen and the TTC at Chattanooga. In addition to assisting with the development of the program, Volkswagen committed facilities, VW specific training and orientation, financial assistance for student tuition, paid on-the-job-training and multiple members on the AMP advisory board.


To be considered for enrollment in the Automotive Mechatronics Program, prospective students were required to be at college level in math and reading in order to keep up with the demands of the program. These requirements are above the norm for traditional programs in the TTC and reflect the values that Volkswagen desires in graduates from technical education programs. In addition to the educational standard, students attended an orientation session about the Mechatronics program, met with a selection panel consisting of three Volkswagen employees and two from Chattanooga State. Following the interview, applicants spent an entire Saturday undergoing a battery of computer tests and a three-hour hands-on skill demonstration to judge their manual dexterity. The top 30 students underwent a background check and a drug test before the top 20 were offered a place in the class.

Once selected to the program, the students were awarded a scholarship to pay the difference between the cost of attending and the state lottery grant. Additionally, the students became quasi-Volkswagen employees and enjoyed many of the benefits of a traditional VW employee. Each student attended the standard VW orientation for new employees, received an ID badge and issued official Volkswagen logo attire--shirts, pants, hats and shoes. The students are recognized as part of the VW family of workers and are held to the same standard of excellence in their studies and their work.

As evidenced by their involvement from conception to selection to monitoring and interacting with the students, Volkswagen has a goal of developing the next wave of highly-skilled technicians who will move the Chattanooga Operation forward and keep Volkswagen in the forefront of the automotive industry. The city of Chattanooga is fortunate to have a world-class automobile assembly plant and the Tennessee Technology Center is privileged to partner with the Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations to deliver a world-class educational training program.
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Publication:ATEA Journal
Date:Mar 22, 2011
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