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Groundbreaking Ceremony

Dignitaries and alumni, including Tickle College of Engineering eponym John D. Tickle, were on hand Friday afternoon as UT broke ground for its new engineering facility.

“This new complex will make a great impact on the University of Tennessee,” said Interim Chancellor Wayne T. Davis, who served as dean of the college during the building’s planning. “It will strengthen our reputation and our rankings, provide hands-on learning opportunities for our students, provide new learning spaces for our faculty to share their expertise, and it will be a place for research and innovation.”

The $129 million 228,000-square-foot building will be home to the Jerry E. Stoneking engage program, the Joseph C. and Judith E. Cook Grand Challenge Honors Program, the Min H. and Yu-Fan Kao Innovation and Collaboration Studio, the Department of Nuclear Engineering, and laboratories for advanced engineering research.

“This building will impact students from freshmen to doctoral candidates by opening up new opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaborations,” said Mark Dean, interim dean of the college. “The projects made possible by the new spaces are as limitless as one’s imagination.”

One of the biggest improvements for nuclear engineering will be the ability for research to continue unimpeded during football games thanks to the unique design of the building.

US Department of Homeland Security requirements dictate that any facility within a certain distance of a stadium be secured during games. The new building has been designed so the portion within the security footprint can be locked up while the side where most of nuclear engineering’s work will take place can stay open.

“There are a number of advantages that this new facility will have,” said Wes Hines, head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering, which ranks among the top in the country. “We’ll also be able to have new equipment and laboratory spaces that our former building just couldn’t physically support.”

The building is being billed as a new gateway to engineering and will drastically alter the view of campus from the Tennessee River.

Other components of the new building include:

  • Flexible research laboratories designed to anticipate future laboratory needs that can be adapted for use across various disciplines
  • Maker and project spaces where engineering students can build out their ideas in wood, metal, and other materials using 3D printing, laser cutting, welding, and painting
  • Flexible classrooms that can be converted from one room with 128 seats to four smaller rooms with 32 seats for more personal instruction
  • Numerous informal areas for student collaboration, observing student design work, and developing research plans
  • A grand atrium
  • A UT Dining P.O.D. Market

The building’s construction is being funded with $90 million provided by the state, nearly $29 million from university sources, and $10 million from private donors as part of the university’s Join the Journey campaign.

About Join the Journey

As the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, aspires to become a preeminent institution, the $1.1 billion Join the Journey campaign will assist in positioning the university among the nation’s elite. The comprehensive fundraising campaign focuses on increasing support for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, faculty support, college priorities, and athletics. The funds raised will create a student experience that reaches beyond the ordinary, shaping the next generation of leaders for the state, nation, and world.

Media coverage: News Sentinel, September 28; WBIR, September 28


David Goddard (865-974-0683,