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UT Chancellor Donde Plowman with Greg Brown, board chair for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has opened its first out-of-state research office: the UT Space Institute Huntsville Research Center, located in Huntsville, Alabama. The new research center will focus on connecting federal agencies and industry leaders with UT talent and capabilities to solve complex aerospace and defense challenges. Four key areas for the center are research and development, technology transfer, undergraduate and graduate education, and workforce development.

Leadership from UT Knoxville, the UT Space Institute, and the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce made the joint announcement at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Our faculty are doing fundamental research in laboratories, but the research doesn’t just stay there,” said UT Chancellor Donde Plowman. “Our faculty are taking what they’ve learned, discoveries they’ve made in their labs where they solve problems, and they’re really working hard at making lives better here in Alabama, Tennessee, and around the world.

“UT is thrilled and honored to be part of that community. The talent, the ingenuity, the leadership right here in Madison County is really inspiring. I know we’re going to do big things together.”

UT’s capabilities in critical fields like advanced materials and hypersonic systems, along with the proximity of the UT Space Institute—in Tullahoma, Tennessee, just 60 miles north of Huntsville—make the university an ideal partner for agencies and industry.

Huntsville is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and a hub for the nation’s aerospace and defense sectors. The new research center is housed in Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park, home to more than 300 companies, 26,000 employees, and 13,000 students. It anchors the Tennessee Valley Corridor, whose footprint includes five states, more than 80 federal agencies, over $75 billion annually in federal spending, and more than 150,000 federal employees.

“UT has a history of developing projects with members of the aviation and defense community who have a major presence here, including NASA, Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Lockheed Martin, and branches of the military,” said Matthew Mench, dean and Wayne T. Davis Dean’s Chair of UT’s Tickle College of Engineering, which includes the UT Space Institute. “We seek to leverage this and other unique advantages and opportunities in Tullahoma and Huntsville with the best of Knoxville. Together we will take on our nation’s critical mission of driving growth in the aerospace and defense sectors through increased workforce development, via cutting-edge research, and by reaffirming and expanding our partnerships.”

The UT Space Institute is a vibrant research, education, and innovation center of excellence, located adjacent to the epicenter of US aerospace ground testing at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex. UTSI is on a mission to prepare 21st-century engineering and scientists to drive growth in US aerospace and defense sectors.

UT’s presence in Tullahoma makes it one of just two major research universities within a 100-mile radius of Huntsville. The proximity makes it easy for companies and agencies to access UT’s world-class expertise and resources in aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, and hypersonics to solve industry challenges. UT has more than 3,400 alumni living within a 50-mile radius of Huntsville, a science and technology hub with more PhDs and engineers per capita than any other city in the US.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,