President and CEO of Wacker Chemical Corporation Dr. Ingomar Kovar could barely contain his excitement at Wednesday morning's grand opening of the pilot plant and training facility, the Wacker Institute at Chattanooga State Community College.
"I'm really fired up already," he said before giving his official remarks to the large crowd of about 120 people.
Wacker Polysilicon North America built the $5 million pilot plant and training facility, which is part of the engineering technology division at Chattanooga State.
Students of the institute learn the skills needed to make polysilicon, which is the raw material used in solar panels.
There are currently 65 employees in training and 110 enrolled in upcoming classes, leaders said.
And Kovar said the institute, which is in the old Olan Mills building on Amnicola Highway, is more than bricks and mortar. It represents the future of technology, education and the local economy, he said.
“The concept of the Wacker Institute is a pioneering and innovative learning experience that both Chattanooga State and Wacker jointly feel is consistent and symbolic of the principle of investing in a sustainable future,” he said. “While we might be hard-pressed to understand what the future may hold, it is always the present world in which we live where the future is created.”