Wideman worked for Celanese Emulsions and Celanese Acetates, two other German companies, before applying at Wacker.
Wideman has associate’s degrees in chemical engineering and technology, engineering graphics technology, and a business degree with emphasis on project management.
She was a trainer in her previous job and is hopeful of transitioning into environmental maintenance and regulations.
The 30-minute graduation ceremony took place at Chattanooga State Community College where Wacker Site Manager Dr. Konrad Bachhuber praised the first American contingent of new employees to complete the 12-month training course.
He said the trainers in Germany were impressed with the local groups’s motivation, curiosity and level of knowledge, and referred to them as the cornerstone of Wacker’s growth.
“It is my understanding you have lots of capability and opportunity in the company,” he said. “This is an exciting time to be a part of Wacker as we approach our centennial anniversary in 2014.”
He wished the graduates much success and for long and fruitful careers.
Erika Burk, director of human resources, described the graduation ceremony as the beginning of a new adventure as staff are integrated into the ultra-modern hyperpure polysilicon manufacturing facility east of Charleston.
“It is the first of its kind for Wacker outside Germany, and Wacker’s single-largest investment ever. We are so proud of you and excited you are back home again ready to hit the ground running,” Burk said.
Forty-three of the graduates are from Tennessee, seven from Georgia and one is from South Carolina. Bradley County was the county with the most graduates.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said the graduation of 51 senior lead chemical operators after a year of rigorous training is the culmination of what local leadership has been trying to convince business of for years.
“Early on we had to convince them of our education system in Tennessee and the Cleveland and Chattanooga area,” Davis said. “From what we were told, they we very impressed with the people who trained in Berghausen. It wasn’t a surprise to us because we knew we had a good workforce in the area and people were ready to be trained. I think this is proving we were right and I believe Wacker is very, very happy with the outcome so far.”