Corey Cantrell becomes TTU's first Southern Regional Education Board's Doctoral Scholar

Corey L. Cantrell, a mechanical engineering major from Springfield, has become the first Tennessee Tech University student selected for the Southern Regional Education Board’s Doctoral Scholars program.

“This is an historic accomplishment for Corey and for the university,” said Francis Otuonye, associate vice president of Research and Graduate Studies at TTU. “The university is proud of Corey’s selection as the first TTU student to participate in this program.”

The purpose of the program is to increase the number of minority students who earn doctoral degrees and become university or college faculty, and it goes beyond traditional fellowship programs in a number of ways.

For instance, each scholar — in addition to financial support — receives a commitment by the academic department at his or her institution to provide opportunities for mentoring, professional development and honing teaching skills.

They also become active members of the Doctoral Scholars Association, which serves as an important outlet for keeping program participants informed and provides a means for networking with each other and with program staff.

By agreeing to participate in the program, scholars are required to attend the annual Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, which will be held in Miami this October, and submit dissertation progress reports each semester.

Cantrell’s dissertation, tentatively entitled “Performance Modeling of Complex Crossflow Heat Exchangers With Some Practical Applications,” will explore various ways to maximize the operations of coal burning furnaces to make them more efficient. His academic adviser is Stephen Idem.

“Corey’s selection for this program is evidence of the quality of education our students receive, and I would like to thank Dr. Idem for guiding Corey’s research and supporting his application for the award,” Otuonye said.

Cantrell’s bachelor’s degree and master’s degree — both in mechanical engineering — are also from TTU.

“After I earned my bachelor’s degree from TTU, I didn’t even consider going to another university to pursue the rest of my education,” he said. “This is a good university, and I’ve found the instructors here to be friendly and helpful.”

Cantrell has an older brother and an older sister, Charles V. Cantrell and Freida Butler, and it was his brother’s career in chemical engineering that inspired him to pursue a similar study. “I don’t like chemistry, but I enjoy tinkering with things, so mechanical engineering was a better choice for me,” he said.

During his graduate studies, Cantrell participated in a year-long cooperative education assignment, followed by a year-long internship, at Clarksville’s Trane Co., where he helped engineers with various calculations and lab tests and where he got a first-hand look at how heat exchangers and air conditioning coils are put together.

He plans to earn his doctoral degree in August 2007 and hopes to eventually teach at the university level. He is the son of Josephine Bigbee of Russellville, Ky.