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Excitement is Building

kao_future.jpg Faculty, staff and students at the College of Engineering are all excited about the construction of the new Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) building. Groundbreaking is currently slated to take place May 14, 2007.

The building project, originally funded by a $12.5 million donation in 2005 from COE alumnus Dr. Min Kao, was enhanced when Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and the State Legislature provided a further $25 million in matching funds for the facility, bringing the building project to a total of $37.5 million for the 150,000 sq. ft. facility.

Kao, CEO of Garmin Ltd., one of the world's largest manufacturers of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) products, donated a total of $17.5 million to the college, of which $5 million was designated toward a matching fund-raising initiative designed to create a $10 million endowment for the ECE Department.

“We are coming along very well with our plans for the building,” said Dr. Wayne Davis, COE associate dean for research and technology. “The architectural design will be completed in early 2007, after which the university will seek and award a contract with a construction firm. After the groundbreaking, we anticipate that the actual construction of the building will take about two and a half years, with completion in mid-to-late 2009.”

Sited on the east side of the area of campus known as “The Hill” on Estabrook Road between the Dougherty Engineering Building and Cumberland Avenue, directly across the street from the 11th Street Parking Garage, the six-floor building will include a soaring atrium, a classroom annex, a 2,500 sq. ft. auditorium and a spacious deck with a magnificent view of downtown Knoxville. The building will also overlook a City of Knoxville-owned greenway, which is currently receiving an extensive landscaping upgrade.

The two architectural firms hired for the project, Bullock Smith and Partners and Lindsay and Maples Architects, are working closely with the ECE Department to create a plan for the building, which will house the majority of ECE classrooms, laboratories, faculty and administrative offices and a 6,000 sq. ft. clean room.

Plans are also progressing for the renovation of Estabrook Hall. The building was the recipient of $16.6 million in renovation funding from the Tennessee State Legislature in 2005. The multi-disciplinary architectural and engineering group Grieves and Associates and Pro2Serve have been selected to direct the project. The architects and the principal occupant, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, are meeting on a regular basis to address the needed design features. A groundbreaking date has not yet been designated, since the current occupants must be relocated to temporary facilities before beginning the renovation.

Another COE-related building project is the new Joint Institute for Advanced Materials (JIAM) building. Funded by $30 million in federal and state grants, JIAM will house laboratories and offices for faculty and researchers from UT and ORNL who are extensively involved in materials research.

Barber & McMurray and Bullock Smith and Partners have been selected as architects for the project, and site reviews and project planning are currently taking place.

The new and renovated buildings will allow the college to accommodate growing enrollments and will provide more advanced facilities to enhance learning and research opportunities for students and faculty.

In addition to the three new COE facilities, the UT-Knoxville campus currently has several major building and renovation projects in the works, including the College of Business Administration's Glocker Hall; a new aquatic facility; the renovation of Neyland Stadium; and the completion of the Hesler Biology Building Phase II.

“This is an exciting time for the college, to be in the midst of the design and construction of all of these new facilities,” Davis said. “We've just got to stay organized and focused on planning ahead to make the best use of both our new and current space.”