Battle of the Build provides connection point for Northeast State


By Dave Ongie

By necessity, the Johnson City Area Homebuilders Association’s Battle of the Build turned into a road show last year.

The COVID-19 pandemic prevented the annual event from being held in a centralized location in 2021, so the judges and organizers had to hit the road and judge the projects at each individual school in order to decide the winners.

This year, however, the pandemic has subsided and the Battle of the Build may have found itself a permanent home inside Northeast Tennessee State Community College’s Technical Education Complex. That is certainly the hope of Nichole Manz-Young, Assistant Director of the Technologies Division at Northeast State Community College and the liaison between the institution and the JCAHBA.

“We’ve actually having conversations with them about this being an annual event that we host here,” Manz-Young said.

The fit certainly seems to be a good one for both parties. Northeast State’s expansive Technical Education Complex made for a stunning backdrop for the 10 teams of area high school students to show off the projects they built for the annual competition.

The glass walls in the hallway of the building gave the students a glimpse of some of the programs Northeast State has to offer young people who want to make a living working with their hands. Manz-Young said the idea was to model the 114,000-square-foot building after a mall storefront so the work being done by Northeast State students in a variety of different areas could be seen by anyone walking through the building.

The students competing in the Eastman Credit Union Battle of the Build and their instructors were offered tours of the facility.

“For us, we can bring high school students and their instructors into our facilities, and not only showcase our programs, but also have those conversations of what is next for them,” Manz-Young said. “A lot of our programs do fit in the realm of what they are learning in the high school environment, and a lot of these students have never been in our facility or visited our campus and don’t really know what our programs have to offer.”

Students who are considering making a living in the trades certainly had a lot to consider as they toured Northeast State’s Technical Education Complex. Automotive repair, aviation, electrical, HVAC and welding are among the trades offered at the community college.

Northeast State recently earned a major certification from the FAA, making the institution the only community college in the state of Tennessee to offer FAA Part 147 Airframe and Powerplant certifications to its students. The Technical Education Complex also houses a machine tool and manufacturing engineering lab that is just over 10,000 square feet.

Upstairs, Northeast State houses a fully functional data center that also helps set the institution apart from the competition.
“We are the only community college in the state of Tennessee and one of the only colleges on the east coast that offers a data center that our students actually work out of,” Manz-Young said.

The center also includes an entertainment technology program offering training in sound and video production complete with a full stage. Manz-Young said SkillsUSA provides common ground for those already enrolled at Northeast State and those who are still in high school.

“A lot of them are already in SkillsUSA, and we are, too,” she said. “We try to showcase that as well in hopes that they’ll learn about duel enrollment opportunities or opportunities for them to join us as freshmen and take advantage of Tennessee Promise.”

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