HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Philip Sharpe was among the Wallace State students in instructor Joe Hendrix’s first Industrial Electronics classes in the late 1990’s.
Sharpe, now a nuclear training instructor at Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, recently returned to campus and visited Hendrix’s current Industrial Electronics students, enlightening them on the history, background and operations of TVA and the opportunities it provides.
“I’ve tried to maintain relationships with our graduates, and Philip Sharpe is one of those former students who goes back a way. Our job is to put people to work, and I don’t think that can be emphasized enough. Philip trains at TVA and they pick the people who are hired. Philip knows me, knows our program and knows he can come here and find quality graduates,” Hendrix said. “If we didn’t maintain our connection with graduates, something would be lost in our department. It’s great to have one of your success stories come back, and Philip is certainly very successful.”
Sharpe, 36, was born in East Tennessee, but grew up in Alabama. He graduated from Brewer High School and began classes at Wallace State in 1996. Sharpe originally thought he wanted to work in automotive repair, but his father encouraged him to dig into electronics because the industry was becoming more computerized.
After taking electronics classes at Brewer, Sharpe enrolled in the same field at Wallace State.
Upon graduation, Sharpe accepted at job at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville where he worked for four and half years as a simulator technician for space camp. While working in Huntsville, Sharpe received a call from Hendrix about a potential job opening with TVA and was eventually hired on to perform instrumentation work for the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant.
Sharpe worked in instrument maintenance for a little more than seven years at Browns Ferry before transitioning into his current role as a nuclear training instructor.
The Browns Ferry plant in North Alabama, which was constructed in 1966, currently houses three reactors and provides power to approximately $2.5 million homes out of one of its buildings.
Sharpe discussed the qualifications and expectations of an instrument mechanic at TVA and laid out a timeline a prospective employee can expect if hired on by the company.
Sharpe advised the current students to savor the time they spend inside the Industrial Electronics walls.
“You need to appreciate what you have here and take advantage of all of this equipment. It’s easy to come in, do the bare minimum, get a grade and leave with a diploma. Anybody can do that. You need to make the most of what have you here and never stop learning,” Sharpe said. “The technology we have in this industry is continually changing. If you don’t keep up with it, you’re going to get left behind.”
Sharpe was excited for the opportunity to speak at Wallace State and blown away by the changes on campus since he was a student.
“This facility was awesome when I was a student, but it’s much more advanced now than it was 15 or 20 years ago. It’s just amazing the amount of hard work Joe Hendrix puts into this program. He has this place set up like a mini-manufacturing line, especially with some of the new equipment he has acquired. There’s no better way to learn than to see it first-hand,” Sharpe said. “It’s also great to get back on campus and to see how much this campus has exploded. I almost turned into the wrong place because I wasn’t used to some of the new red lights.”
For more information about Wallace State, visit wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
1-866-350-9722 256-352-8443 direct
Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu
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Wallace State Community College
801 Main Street NW | Hanceville, AL 35077
Office: 256.352.8118 | Cell: 256.339.2519 | Toll Free: 866.350.9722
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