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KNOXVILLE — U.S. Army Lt. Jeremiah Manning endures a grueling work schedule in 115-degree heat while serving as a construction engineer in Iraq.

U.S. Army Lt. Jeremiah Manning
U.S. Army Lt. Jeremiah Manning
After his work day has ended and his fellow soldiers take time to unwind or sleep, Manning continues his daily routine by logging on to a civil engineering course offered via distance education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Manning, who earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at UT in 2003, is taking the last course needed to complete his master’s degree in civil engineering through UT’s Department of Distance Education and Independent Study.

“Taking classes while I’m here is a huge burden,” said Manning, 31, who serves with the 20th Engineering Brigade from Fort Bragg, N.C. “I typically work on the assignments and view the courses when everyone else has completed their 14- to 18-hour day. I have slept in my office a few nights this semester already.”

Manning has been stationed in Iraq since February and expects to return next February.

Manning’s last course required for his master’s is Urban Systems: Engineering and Management (CE510) taught by adjunct professor Sam Parnell. The course is offered live online via Web conferencing.

“It feels good to know that I will have been able to do this one thing for myself this year here in Iraq,” he says.

Dayakar Penumadu, professor and interim head of UT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said Manning “represents the spirit of our department.”

“Distance education is one of the tools that allowed his remote interaction with professors in the classroom and provides our faculty with a unique opportunity to bring some sense of normalcy back in the life of student soldiers such as Lt. Manning,” Penumadu said. “We are very appreciative of his dedication to his graduate studies and service to this great country.”

Manning said the Department of Civil Engineering and the Department of Distance Education have been very helpful.

“There has always been a live voice that you can call up anytime to answer questions or provide assistance,” he said.

Caroline Bowers, assistant director of the Department of Distance Education, recognizes the importance of Manning’s dedication to his studies.

“Jeremiah is an excellent example of a motivated individual who has utilized available resources to reach his goal. He is serving his country in Iraq while completing his graduate program — no small accomplishment,” Bowers said.

Manning graduated from Richland Northeast High School in Columbia, S.C., and served in the U.S. Coast Guard for several years before enrolling at the University of Tennessee, Martin. He transferred to UT Knoxville and became active in the Army ROTC program. At graduation, he also received a second lieutenant’s commission from the U.S. Army Reserve Engineer Corps. Manning’s parents are retired and live in Cottage Grove, Tenn.

UT offers 19 Web-delivered graduate programs leading to degrees and certificates. Most courses are delivered “live online,” meaning that students and faculty log on at a given day and time for a real-time learning experience. Students may (with the instructor’s consent) access the recording of the class meeting anytime.

Degree programs and courses offered via distance education are the same as the degree programs on campus, taught by the same faculty and governed by the same high academic standards and regulations. Visit for more information.

Caroline Bowers, UT Distance Education and Independent Study, (865) 974-5134,
Darrin Devault, UT Outreach & Continuing Education, (865) 974-0270,
Elizabeth Davis, UT media relations, (865) 974-5179,