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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee-Knoxville has been awarded a five-year, $1.1 million grant from Bechtel Jacobs Development Company as part of a virtual reality research center being established here by Prosolvia AB, an international visualization technologies firm.

UT-Knoxville Chancellor William T. Snyder said the grant will expand UT-Knoxville’s high performance computing capabilities and purchase software for virtual reality research in connection with Prosolvia’s Advanced Visualization and Virtual Reality Center, which is set to open by Spring 1999 on Knoxville’s downtown waterfront.

”The new center will develop virtual reality technologies for advanced academic, professional and vocational application and training,” Snyder said. ”It will provide state-of-the-art facilities, equipment, and software for the development of interactive visualization and simulation technologies and will be available to support industry throughout the Tennessee valley and across the nation.”

Bechtel Jacobs Development Company President Jim Coleman said the center could stimulate local industrial growth and generate more than 100 new jobs within the year.

”This facility will be a valuable resource for high-technology companies, creating new career opportunities for students, technicians, workers and researchers in East Tennessee,” Coleman said. ”We believe it will contribute significantly to the architecture, engineering and construction fields in which our parent companies — Bechtel and Jacobs — participate worldwide.”

The grant will extend over five years and included a $250,000 grant award in July 1998. Some $200,000 will be provided annually in 1999 and 2000, and then about $150,000 per year through 2003.

Based in Goteborg, Sweden, Prosolvia is the world’s market leader in virtual reality and visual simulation software for industrial users, and a top supplier of virtual reality training centers. The company focuses on interactive simulation, product development and manufacturing simulation. It has more than 550 employees and operates virtual reality centers around the world.

Bechtel Jacobs Development Company, a division of Bechtel Jacobs Company LLC of Oak Ridge, contracts with the U.S. Department of Energy for environmental management and enrichment facilities in Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, Coleman said.

Locally, the company’s work is helping to create new jobs and boost economic development in Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon and Roane counties, he said.