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Klaus Blache, director of UT's Reliability and Maintainability Center, talks to students during the "Spare Parts and Best Practices—A Practical Approach" class in the spare parts lab in January.
Klaus Blache, director of UT’s Reliability and Maintainability Center, talks to students during the “Spare Parts and Best Practices—A Practical Approach” class in the spare parts lab in January.

One of the key connections between the College of Engineering and the business world has hit a major milestone as the Reliability and Maintainability Center welcomes its fiftieth corporate partner.

“This is a tremendous milestone for our center,” said Klaus Blache, director of the center. “Achieving fifty member companies further reinforces the center as the premier choice for knowledge and interns in the field.”

The center’s main task is working real-world scenarios and problematic issues from corporations into a classroom environment.

Doing so not only helps the businesses get the answers they need, but it gives students a chance to gain experience that would typically come only after graduation.

“There’s a strong push now for increasing the amount of applied engineering, the amount of practical experience they have, before graduation,” said Blache. “What we do is seen as helping making undergraduates more valuable.”

While the experience gained at the center benefits students, and the problems students solve benefit companies, the success and reputation of the center in doing those two things have grown to be a benefit to UT.

“Reaching this milestone after five years of steady growth is evidence that we are offering what’s needed,” said Blache. “Even more important is that we are delivering relevant value to the College of Engineering, our member companies, and the long-term viability of the center and are following our mission, vision, and core values.”

The center is the only one in North America to offer both undergraduate minors and graduate degrees in reliability and maintainability engineering.

Not only that, but its certificate program for workers has led it to become a go-to place for anyone involved in studies or work involving mechanical, industrial, or electrical engineering as related to reliability and maintainability engineering.

“We stress implementation, skill building, and certification,” said Blache. “We can help provide data assessments and feedback if someone is looking at improving how they do things, or we can analyze what went wrong if someone comes to us with a problem.”

While most training courses and an annual conference are available to all, the center provides fee-paying member companies all activities at a discount, access to two members-only events each year, trained interns, and guidance and support focusing on best practices and common issues.

Even though they are considered a leader in their field, Blache feels like the future could be even better.

“Even with the successes we’ve had, I feel like only 5 to 10 percent of the campus even knows about us or what we do,” said Blache, “between the training, studies, research and assessments, and the chance to give students pre-graduation experience.

“I hope that more students and faculty will take advantage of our link to industry.”


David Goddard (865-974-0683,