by Susan Newby
A new $55 million engineering building at Tennessee Tech University moved closer to reality earlier this month when it was announced it topped the list of capital projects recommended by members of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) for the upcoming fiscal year.
Last year the project ranked fourth on THEC capital projects list and garnered $3.25 million for planning purposes.
The proposed 100,000-square-foot engineering building will be Tech’s first new engineering building in 50 years.
“We are excited that THEC has selected our new engineering building as their number-one priority for capital projects,” said Tech President Phil Oldham.
“This is a recognition of the importance of Tech’s engineering programs to the state in that we provide a top-quality education to students, preparing them for a meaningful and rewarding career,” the Tech president noted.
Over the last 10 years, enrollment in the College of Engineering has grown 52 percent, resulting in space shortages and an inability to meet projected growth.
The new engineering building will be a student-centered, interdisciplinary space used by all departments in the university’s College of Engineering, which comprises more than 25 percent of Tech’s students.
“The new building will be programmed around the concept of intelligent infrastructure, along with open, flexible and reconfigurable lab and classroom spaces to promote multipurpose uses and collaborative learning,” said Joseph Slater, dean of the College of Engineering.
“These areas build on Tech’s existing strengths in engineering and cybersecurity, as well as a new vehicle engineering concentration and research related to smart technologies.
“This will be a signature facility to inspire the next generation of engineers at Tennessee Tech,” Oldham said.
According to the university’s master plan, the building will be located directly across Stadium Drive from Prescott Drive.
In addition, THEC is recommending Tech receive $8.1 million is capital maintenance funds.
For its annual state appropriation, THEC has recommended an additional $2.3 million for Tech, a 4 percent increase over last year’s appropriation.