Much has changed about our college and the UT campus since I started here as an electrical engineering student in 1975. When I returned in 2013 as a faculty member, the Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science building had just opened. Today, we also have the John D. Tickle building and just broke ground last month on the new 228,000 square-foot engineering complex, set to open in 2021. This new “gateway to engineering” will be the new home for our top-ranked Department of Nuclear Engineering. It will also give a consolidated space for our freshmen to gather, engage, collaborate, and learn. In short, it will be a point of pride for TCE, the university, and Knoxville for decades to come.
Throughout the past decade, during Interim Chancellor Wayne Davis’s tenure as Dean, our campus facilities, research activities, student body, and faculty have grown significantly. In May, we graduated the most PhD students ever at 118. In August, we welcomed our largest-ever class of incoming freshmen, 12 percent larger than the previous year. And we have reimagined the Innovation and Collaboration Studio—a dynamic space for students of all levels to bring their creativity to life.
Our role as a nationally recognized research institution was confirmed this year through an Office of Naval Research MURI award in advanced manufacturing (AM) and a $9.8 million hypersonics project with the US Air Force Research Laboratory. Faculty from every department are actively working on AM projects with multiple partnering institutions and companies, and our collaborative relationship with Oak Ridge National Laboratory has never been stronger.
In 2018, we are celebrating the 45th anniversary of our Minority Engineering Scholarship Program (MESP) and Engineering Diversity Program (EDP)\. Diversity continues to be an area of focus and need for the college. We are continuing to explore new ways to prepare, attract, and retain minorities and women in engineering. I look forward to celebrating the success of our diversity programs and of our MESP/EDP alumni on November 2.
Our commitment to making the Tickle College of Engineering the best it can be remains steadfast. Since I was asked to serve as interim dean, I have been energized by the dedication and ideas of our faculty, staff, and students, and I look forward to leading our Engineering Vols family to even greater heights. To our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and local community, we are open to your ideas and recommendations to continue the growth and success of the Tickle College of Engineering. Thanks for your support.