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Board Votes to Name the John D. Tickle College of Engineering

The UT Board of Trustees have voted to name the College of Engineering for distinguished alumnus John D. Tickle.

It marks the second time in the campus’s 222-year history that a college has been named for an alumnus and benefactor. Tickle, a 1965 industrial engineering graduate from Bristol, Tennessee, is chairman of the Strongwell Corporation.

“My goal is for the University of Tennessee to be known for their education and the product they put out,” said Tickle. “[My wife] Ann and I both believe that education is what fuels success—not just our own success, but the success of UT and the state as well.

“I’m deeply honored and will try to live up to the billing,” he said of the naming recognition.

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Engineers Day to Welcome 1,500 High School Students to Campus

The newly named Tickle College of Engineering will welcome more than 1,500 high school students from across Tennessee to campus on Thursday for the college’s annual Engineers Day.

The annual daylong celebration of engineering will feature events at various engineering locations on the Hill and in Thompson-Boling Arena.

Engineering classes will be dismissed for the day so UT faculty, staff, and students can interact with the visitors and give demonstrations.

“This is a great way for us to share with prospective students what engineering is about, both in general and more specifically here at UT,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the college. “Giving them the hands-on experience with current students and faculty members is a far more personal touch than anything that they could find online, so it really brings all the possibilities home to them.”

Dave Wilson, vice president of product marketing for software, academics, and customer education at National Instruments, will be this year’s keynote speaker.

The college has held Engineers Day each October for more than a hundred years. The event includes building competitions, design challenges, and an egg drop. The day culminates with a quiz bowl.

Nearly 30 groups will take part in the event.

“The goal is to have everyone get involved and interact with our visitors as much as possible,” said A. J. Toth, a senior majoring in electrical engineering who is helping plan the event. “Our student groups and our student ambassadors are really helpful in letting us pull that off.”

UT is even sending a convoy of buses to Memphis and West Tennessee to bolster attendance by students from that part of the state.

To accommodate the event, Middle Drive will be closed in front of Perkins Hall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


David Goddard (865-974-0683,

Parker Leads Task Force on AI Plan

Parker_EECSDr. Lynne Parker, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Division Director for Information and Intelligent Systems at the National Science Foundation (NSF), led an interagency task force on artificial intelligence (AI) that produced the “National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan,” released October 12 by the White House. This Strategic Plan is part of the broader White House efforts to ready the United States for a future in which AI plays a growing role. Parker, at the direction of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, attended the White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh on October 13, where this Strategic Plan was further announced and highlighted.

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Dr. Micah Beck Named Fulbright Scholar for 2016–17 Academic Year

Four UT professors are serving as Fulbright Scholars this academic year—Micah Beck, Sarah Eldridge, Krista Wiegand, and Songning Zhang.

The Fulbright Program is a prestigious international exchange initiative that awards about 1,100 grants to American scholars each year. Funded by the US government, Fulbright Scholars are chosen based on their leadership and their abilities to teach, conduct research and contribute to solutions for shared international concerns.

Beck_EECSMicah Beck, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science in UT’s College of Engineering, will head to Nairobi, Kenya, to conduct research and teach at Strathmore University.

There he will work with iLabAfrica to develop better network and data systems in the hopes of increasing connectivity between urban centers and rural schools, libraries, and research locations. The lessons learned during that work will help better connect rural areas to the modern world.

Leader of the Logistical Computing and Internetworking Laboratory, Beck’s research activities include computing and operating systems, networking, storage, and exploring the boundaries of both parallel and distributed computation.

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IBM Donates Server to UT

IBM has generously donated a Pure Application appliance system, additional storage, and several suites of software to UT. The technology provided will deliver capabilities in the areas of big data analytics, statistical analysis, business mining and information sciences. Both students and faculty in the University of Tennessee’s College of Engineering and the Haslam College of Business, will benefit from their generosity.

On August 25, 2016, EECS held a “ribbon cutting” ceremony in the Min Kao building, where the Pure Application system will be housed. Here are some photos from the event:

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College of Engineering, Haslam College of Business Work with IBM to Tackle Big Data

UT and IBM have announced a new computational lab and education initiative devoted to analytics that will enable the university to store large amounts of unstructured data in a security-rich environment while providing students and researchers the processing systems necessary to analyze it.

Established with technology donated by IBM, the “Advanced Analytics Lab, IBM Enabled” has been developed as a joint resource for the College of Engineering and the Haslam College of Business.

It will provide enterprise applications and systems processing to analyze big data from corporate partners. Students and researchers in both colleges will benefit from the new computing and analytics lab, which will be located in the university’s Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building.

“With this donation, we will be able to develop research applicable to both colleges that will ultimately help businesses such as IBM that rely on the successful development of students in those fields,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek.

Approximately 3,800 undergraduate and graduate students in the business, electrical engineering, and computer science programs will work in the lab, which officially opens August 25 in an event featuring IBM executives.

“This lab will facilitate research at the crossroads of engineering and business and begin an evolution of research and education that positions UT faculty and students to be more influential and relevant in academia and industry,” said Steve Mangum, dean of the Haslam College of Business and Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair.

Both colleges will be using the lab for classes including big data and streaming data analytics, database management and design, supply chain analytics, marketing analytics, information technology (IT) audit and audit systems security, and supply chain IT.

“Any opportunity to combine learning with aspects of real-world experience is a plus for students,” said College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis. “IBM is allowing students from both of our colleges to have the opportunity of a lifetime, to take part in something that can elevate them from their peers at other institutions.”

Students in the Advanced Analytics Lab will conduct research in the analytics of large data sets from the financial and health care sectors, including social media data, business-to-business transactions, Medicare claims data, and real-time streaming data from the Internet of Things.

Based on an IBM PureApplication® system, the technology solution incorporates servers, storage, software, network devices, and virtual machine managers that can be operated through a single console. The solution can recognize patterns even across video and audio files, and simplifies creation and reuse of applications using Bluemix, IBM’s cloud platform.

“The workforce of the future needs the skill sets to draw insights from big data that can transform businesses,” said Mike Ray, IBM’s vice president of business architect and transformation. “By working with the University of Tennessee to develop the Advanced Analytics Laboratory, we are working to bridge the skill gap when it comes to analytics and helping prepare the next generation of workers for the business challenges of the future.”


College of Engineering

David Goddard (865-974-0683,

Haslam College of Business

Katie Bahr (865-974-3589,

UT, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Release New Biodiversity Web Application

UT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and School of Art have partnered with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Inventory and Monitoring Branch to create a new web application, Species Mapper.

Everyone from park managers to school groups can use Species Mapper to explore suitable habitats for species for more than 1,800 species.

Species Mapper uses locations where species have been found to help predict additional places they may occur in the park. These predictions, or models, are based on observations made during ongoing resource monitoring as well as research studies conducted by scientists from all over the world.

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CURENT’s Huang Receives Chinese Government Award

Picture of Can HuangWhen the National Science Foundation and US Department of Energy chose UT to serve as lead institution for its new engineering research center in 2011, the impact was felt far beyond the $18 million in support.

One of the key goals of the initiative, known as the Center for Ultra-wide-area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks, or CURENT, was to attract top minds from around the world—and the varying perspectives they bring—to UT.

Once here, those students help researchers resolve issues surrounding the nation’s power system, including developing a high-efficiency low-cost grid that can be monitored and controlled in real time.

Under the leadership of the College of Engineering’sCTI Molecular Imaging Chair and Professor Kevin Tomsovic and Governor’s Chair for Power Electronics Yilu Liu, CURENT has brought in such visionaries in spades.

The latest example of that success is Can Huang, an electrical engineering doctoral candidate who was recently honored with the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad.

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EECS Professor Honored for Early Career Excellence in Research and Scholarship

Gu_EECSFour faculty members received Research and Creative Achievement—Professional Promise Awards at the 2016 Chancellor’s Honors Awards. The honorees are Monica Black, associate professor of history; Shawn Campagna, associate professor of chemistry; Sarah Colby, associate professor of nutrition; and Gong Gu, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Dr. Gu is a prodigious researcher whose h-index—27 for the Web of Science—already exceeds the average in his field. His primary interest lies in the heterostructures of two-dimensional materials. Published in the journal Science in 2014 and cited sixty-eight times, his landmark study in this area examines how the concept of heteroepitaxy in 3-D semiconductors can be extended to two dimensions, resulting in a one-dimensional interface. Gu’s other research interests include photovoltaics and organic electronics. For this work, Gu and his student, S. Das, were featured on the cover page of the journal Nanoscale. He is known for his open-mindedness, perseverance, and leadership in the discipline.

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