Members of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission voted today to approve capital projects recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year, and Tennessee Tech’s new $55 million engineering building topped the list.
“We are excited that THEC has selected our new engineering building as their number one priority for capital projects,” said Phil Oldham, Tennessee Tech’s president. “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.”
According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, each year Tech awards nearly a quarter of all the engineering and computer science degrees from Tennessee’s nine public universities.
Last year, the building was fourth on the list of recommendations to the governor’s office for budgeting purposes. While not entirely funded, Tech received $3.25 million for planning efforts for the facility, which will be Tech’s first new engineering building in 50 years.
The proposed 100,000-square-foot engineering building is a student-centered, interdisciplinary space used by all departments in the College of Engineering, which comprises more than 25% 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 use 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.”
Over that last 10 years, enrollment in the College of Engineering has grown 52%, which has resulted in a space shortage that this building will help alleviate and give room to meet projected growth.
“This will be a signature facility to inspire the next generation of engineers at Tennessee Tech,” Oldham said.
Per the university’s master plan, the building will be located directly across Stadium Drive from Prescott Hall.
THEC also is recommending $8.1 million in capital maintenance funds for Tech.
For the annual state appropriation, THEC is recommending an additional $2.3 million for Tech, a 4% increase over last year’s appropriation. Tech had the second highest score on the state’s Outcomes Formula.