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October 2023

Tell the story of Tennessee Tech Homecoming on Nov. 4

the Tech marching band

Join us for Homecoming Nov. 4! The theme is "Once Upon a Time," and we look forward to hearing the stories of Tech Homecoming -- both past and present.

Alumni and friends are invited to enjoy free breakfast and giveaways at a parade watch party at the Varsity Building at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning. (The parade begins at 10:30 a.m.) The Tennessee Tech Alumni Association will have a tailgate tent in Tailgate Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. At 1:30 p.m., the Golden Eagle football team will take on U.T. Martin at Tucker Stadium. On Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m., the Evening of Excellence will honor the Class of 1973 Golden Grads and 2023 Alumni Award recipients.

Many colleges and departments will host events throughout the day as well. Click the link below to view the full Homecoming schedule.

crawford alumni center events

Tech alumni award winners, community leaders Michael and Cigi England named grand marshals of 2023 homecoming parade

Cigi and Michael England at the Exceptional Bean

Tennessee Tech did not have to look far for the grand marshals of the 2023 homecoming parade. In fact, this year's honorees live just off the parade route, but their community leadership and nonprofit work have touched lives across the Upper Cumberland and beyond.

Michael and Cigi England, married Tech alumni and founders of the venerated Cookeville-based nonprofit coffee shop "The Exceptional Bean," which is dedicated to inclusion and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, will guide the annual parade down Dixie Avenue on Saturday, Nov. 4.

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Alumni Association to host tailgate event at Titans game Dec. 3

T-Rac and Awesome at Nissan Stadium

On Sunday, Dec. 3, the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association will host a Tennessee Titans tailgate event in Titan Town prior to the noon kickoff when the Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. The cost is $65 per person and includes access to Titan Town, a buffet lunch from Martin's BBQ, two drink tickets and attendance to the game.

There are only 100 tickets available, so if you are interested, register via the link below as soon as possible.

Please do not share the registration link outside of the Golden Eagle community so we may continue to offer this fantastic event for Tennessee Tech alumni and friends.

Register Now

Alumni Association attends Nashville Soccer Club game

Attendees of the game at the tailgate

Thank you to everyone who came out for the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association's Nashville Soccer Club event at Geodis Park last month! We enjoyed meeting each of you.

Click the link below to view a list of upcoming alumni events. We hope to see you at an event in your area soon!

Crawford Alumni Center Events

Champs again: Tech soccer takes second-consecutive regular-season title in dramatic fashion

Women's soccer celebrating on the field

Theatrics took center stage for the Tennessee Tech soccer team in a match that had the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship hanging in the balance Oct. 22 at Tech Soccer Field. The Golden Eagles stepped up when it mattered most, and it was all capped off with less than 10 minutes left.

Tech's victory not only clinches the regular-season championship, but also gives the Golden Eagles the No. 1 overall seed in the OVC Tournament. Tech will receive a double-bye straight to the semifinals and will host the semis and championship match for the second-straight year.

read more

Tech-affiliated Bryan Symphony Orchestra celebrates 60 years of music and memories in the Upper Cumberland

The BSO onstageCookeville's Bryan Symphony Orchestra, the only professional symphony in residence outside of an urban center in Tennessee, is celebrating its 60th anniversary throughout the 2023-2024 season. It is a milestone made possible in part by the orchestra's unique partnership with Tennessee Tech University.

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Former Tennessee Tech dean, chess aficionado honored with campus chess table dedication

Dean Semmes and a member of the chess club play at the table while Dean Roberts watches on.

Tennessee Tech University recently made a move that would make any chess master proud.

A permanently installed chess table on Centennial Plaza was dedicated to former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Paul Semmes, who served 28 years as advisor for Tech's Chess Club before retiring in 2021.

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Tennessee Tech psychology degree helps Cookeville police officer understand people she serves

Alannah Davis receives a medal with two of her colleagues.

Alannah Davis, `22 psychology, says she became a police officer because she wanted to be the change she hopes to see in the world.

"I wanted to be the person that I needed when I was younger," Davis said. "And I felt like if anyone was going to be that person, why couldn't it be me?"

Davis is featured in The Alumnus: Tech Took Us There edition. To read her full story and the stories of other alumni who credit Tech for amazing careers, click the link below. If you prefer a print copy, email And if you believe Tech prepared you for your career, let us know. We'd love to hear your story.

Appalachian Center for Craft prepares fine arts graduate for career in teaching and blacksmithing

Reist creating an anvilA love of anvils and blacksmithing led one aspiring artist and teacher to Tennessee Tech's Appalachian Center for Craft. Andrew Reist, `21 fine arts, says he chose to attend Tech because of its emphasis on STEAM education and because of the Craft Center's national reputation. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) incorporates art into the traditional scientific elements of STEM.

Reist is from Pennsylvania and, like many fine arts majors, chose Tech specifically because of the Craft Center, even though it was far from home.

"I was looking for STEAM education classes, and the Craft Center offered so many things that fit into STEAM as well,' Reist said. "I really like STEAM education and combining art, technology and engineering together. Tennessee Tech is one of the best places to do that."

Reist is featured in The Alumnus: Tech Took Us There edition. To read his full story and the stories of other alumni who credit Tech for amazing careers, click the link below. If you prefer a print copy, email And if you believe Tech prepared you for your career, let us know. We'd love to hear your story.

Lessons in the classroom and on the field prepared football alumnus to teach abroad

Luke Maynard

Luke Maynard, `21 early childhood education and `22 M.A., came to Tennessee Tech from Australia to play football for the Golden Eagles. Now, he is using his experience as an international student, combined with lessons in the classroom and on the football field, to teach English to children in other countries.

Maynard is featured in The Alumnus: Tech Took Us There edition. To read his full story and the stories of other alumni who credit Tech for amazing careers, click the link below. If you prefer a print copy, email And if you believe Tech prepared you for your career, let us know. We'd love to hear your story.

Read The Alumnus: Tech Took Us There Edition

2024 alumni award nominations due Nov. 15
 Eagle head alumni award statuettes

If you would like to nominate a deserving individual for a 2024 Tennessee Tech Alumni Award, be sure to submit the nomination form by Nov. 15, 2023!

The Tennessee Tech Alumni Association annually presents awards to individuals who have demonstrated great professional success in the following four categories:

  • Distinguished Alumnus Award
  • Outstanding Young Alumnus Award
  • Outstanding Service Award
  • Outstanding Philanthropy Award

Click the link below to read the criteria for each award or to submit a nomination in one of the four categories.  Email if you have any questions.

nominate an individual for a 2024 alumni award

A few seats remain on Great Trains & Grand Canyons alumni trip

The Grand Canyon

We still have a few seats available on our Great Trains & Grand Canyon alumni trip, but the trip is filling up fast!

The itinerary features five nights in Sedona, Ariz., and includes two historic train rides, Chapel of the Holy Cross, the Spanish-Mexican Village of Tlaquepaque, Uptown Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Montezuma Castle National Monument, the old mining town of Jerome and Old Town Scottsdale. The highlight of the trip is a two-hour train journey aboard the Grand Canyon Railway to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park!

This trip is in partnership with Premier World Discovery and will take place March 3-8, 2024. Visit the link below to view the full itinerary or to sign up.

great trains & grand canyons itinerary

Alumni invited to Albuquerque Balloon Festival Oct. 9-14, 2024

Colorful hot air balloons

Tennessee Tech alumni and friends are invited to join the Crawford Alumni Center next October to experience the Albuquerque Balloon Festival! From Oct. 9-14, 2024, we'll travel to the Land of Enchantment where we'll enjoy New Mexico's beautiful landscapes, history and architecture. We'll spend three nights in Santa Fe and two nights in Albuquerque. The highlight of this tour is the Albuquerque Balloon Festival -- the world's largest hot air balloon event.

Visit the link below to view the full itinerary or to sign up!

view albuquerque balloon festival itinerary

Tech Took Us There

In his own words: `67 EE alum thanks Tennessee Tech for education that allowed him to be part of space race to the moon

Bill Panter

The Alumnus: Tech Took Us There edition inspired Bill Panter, `67 electrical engineering, to share his own story of how a Tennessee Tech education allowed him to go from a farm in Bledsoe County, Tenn., to a fulfilling career with NASA where he achieved his dream of being part of the space race to the moon.

Here is an excerpt from Panter's story:

"On Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first-ever artificial satellite (Sputnik 1) into Earth's orbit! At the time, the United States had minimal space activity, and this scared the dickens out of a lot of people. As a result, President Eisenhower converted NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) into a new agency known as NASA. 

"My intention was to get through college in three years because I wanted to be part of the space race to the moon. And that's what I did. I received my degree in May 1967 and reported for duty at NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center the following month. 

"Over the years, I have known and worked with people from most of the prominent engineering universities, and not once did I feel they had a better education than I did. When I think back to an East Tennessee hillbilly kid getting to participate in things he didn't even know enough to dream about, it makes me say, 'Wow! Thank you, Tennessee Tech!'"

Read Panter's full story 

Donor Spotlight

Tennessee Tech alumnus honors mother's commitment to education with Sonja Robinson Scholarship

Sonja Robinson

Shane Dixon, `00 sociology, says he established the Sonja Robinson Scholarship Endowment at Tennessee Tech in honor of the most wonderful person who has ever lived: his mom.

"My mom is, no joke, the greatest person on earth," Dixon said. "I know everyone thinks that their mom is the greatest, and that's fine, and I'm sure they love their moms, but I am lucky enough to have the greatest mom on earth."

Dixon grew up in Gladeville, Tenn., and says his mom worked three jobs to ensure that he and his brother had food to eat and a roof over their heads.

"Let's call it what it was -- we were poor growing up," Dixon said. "My mom did not grow up with money and sadly, that lack of money followed her into early adulthood. However, even without money, she instilled a work ethic and moral compass in my brother and me that made us who we are today. We owe everything to her. She taught us to be better each day than we were the day before. And she always made sure that we did well in school. She was adamant that, no matter what, we would get an education. She wanted us to see that there was a better life out there than what we were living. I always knew that if I ever became successful enough to do something like this, I was going to name it after my mom."

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Judy Wicinski Memorial Scholarship supports next generation of nurses

Bruce and Judy Wicinski

When Bruce Wicinski needed financial assistance to attend college, his wife Judy dropped out of college and worked to support her husband while he pursued an accounting degree. Now, Bruce wishes to honor his late wife with the Judy Wicinski Memorial Scholarship for Tennessee Tech students.

"When I think of education, I think of those in need and am reminded that I was one of those students when I was in college," Bruce said. "My wife saw the need for me to continue on in college, and she went to work to help me do that."

Bruce and Judy enjoyed 12 years of retirement in Fairfield Glade before Judy was diagnosed with dementia. Bruce was impressed with the end-of-life care his wife received but was surprised that there weren't any young nurses. He learned that hospice facilities have a hard time attracting new nurses, and he wanted to find a way to change that. Bruce decided that a scholarship for students with financial need that gives preference to nursing majors would be one way to help.

Judy passed away in 2022 at the age of 76, but Bruce says he hopes the Judy Wicinski Memorial Scholarship will honor her legacy and give future students the same support that he received from his wife.

read full story

A graphic that is made to look like a word find. The words Tennesee, Tech, Trivia, Puzzle, Crawford, Quiz, Games, and Alumni are circled.

Alumni invited to participate in monthly Tech Trivia question

ROTC students climbing the stairs of Tucker Stadium on 9-11

Last month we asked the following trivia question:  

What does Tennessee Tech's Army ROTC do on Sept. 11 each year to honor the victims and first responders of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks? 

Tennessee Tech's Army ROTC Golden Eagle Battalion commemorates the anniversary with the annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at Tucker Stadium. Army ROTC cadets wear 35-pound backpacks and climb the stadium steps continuously to reach the equivalent of 110 flights of stairs, a tribute to first responders' sacrifices on that day. Read more.

Congratulations to Kristen Melton Miller, `03 sociology, who won the trivia prize last month. Kristen also shared her 9/11 memories with us:

"I was a junior at Tech on 9/11. Earlier that morning I went to PT (I was in ROTC) and was eating a bowl of oatmeal and drinking coffee in my dorm room in Crawford Hall while watching The Today Show. I remember hitting my knees and crying and calling my parents. I remember several of us students went to the hospital to donate blood, and someone in the dorm was blasting "God Bless the USA" from their window."

And now for this month's question: 

What Tennessee Tech professor was featured on the Travel Channel's "The Dead Files" this month? Hint: Her courses include student favorites such as "Ghosts, Myths and Legends in American History," "The History of Crime in America" and "Women Who Kill."

Photo top left: Samuel Mast, a military science level I student at Tech, carries the American flag for the annual 9/11 memorial stair climb.

Monthly trivia questions in The Alumnus are designed to test your knowledge of all things Tech! If you know the answer, email We'll randomly select one of the correct answers to win some Tech SWAG! And if you have an idea for a trivia question, send it to us! You may see it in a future edition of The Alumnus.

Tech-themed games and activities 

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Archives with Atkinson Graphic

One Small Step For...Mice: The Epic Journey of a Near-Space Traveler Named Cosmouse


Many Tennessee Tech alumni know about Dammit the Dog, but do you know about the space mouse named Cosmouse?

Cosmouse (1970-71) was a black-furred mouse who traveled 1,000 feet in the atmosphere at approximately 21.3 G-force in a student-designed mini-rocket on May 18, 1970, in a project led by Dr. Elmo Dooley, a biology professor. The experiment was to test the mouse's physiological changes using bio-instruments on the mouse as it traveled in the air, illustrating to students some of the many complications of space flight and telemetering biochemical information.

Cosmouse was only five weeks old when he took his death-defying journey, placing his life in the hands of a Tech professor and his students. He received his name from Dooley's students. In preparation for the flight, he received a spacesuit in double-knit polyester designed by Betty Dooley, Dr. Elmo Dooley's wife. The launchpad was eight inches wide and was embellished in purple and gold. Cosmouse and Astromouse (Cosmouse's potential backup) received steak and scrambled eggs two days before the journey -- a high-protein meal "just like our astronauts" receive," said Dooley.

Photo top left: Cosmouse receiving well-deserved media attention before launch

University Archivist Megan Atkinson and the University Archives staff are responsible for collecting, preserving and making accessible materials of historical significance to the university and the Upper Cumberland. Follow Archives and Special Collections on Facebook, email their office with questions and watch for more "Archives with Atkinson" in future editions of The Alumnus.

archives' blog

Friends Remembered

Michelle Huddleston

Michelle Huddleston

Michelle Huddleston (`09 sociology and `17 M.S.) passed away on October 21.

Michelle worked at Tennessee Tech in various capacities since 2010, including as coordinator for the service learning center and later as assistant director of service learning and community engagement, culminating in her most recent position as associate director of residential life and service learning.

A hallmark of Michelle's service to Tech will always be her leadership overseeing the university food pantry, including during the aftermath of the March 2020 tornadoes and the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Tech students needed to isolate due to positive COVID-19 diagnoses, Michelle teamed up with Residential Life, Health Services and Chartwells to make sure no one on campus went without meals while in quarantine. She helped build a system to ensure students had meals and snacks for their dorm rooms or off-campus apartments, calling the program "Meals on Wings."

Michelle was a 2021 recipient of Tech's Wings of Kindness award and was presented with an honorary key to the City of Cookeville by former mayor Ricky Shelton.

Those wishing to make a contribution to Tech's food pantry in Michelle's memory can do so here.


Class Notes

Miguel Mendieta

Dr. Dale Blair, `85 electrical engineering and `87 M.S., received the Warren D. White Award for Excellence in Radar Engineering by the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society. Dr. Blair is a principal research engineer at Georgia Tech Research Institute's Sensors and Electromagnetic Applications Laboratory.

Bart Carter, `91 M.S. biology, retired from his position as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Region 4 program manager. His 33-year career included improving hatcheries, enhancing fish habitat, restoring streams to native fish fauna, helping discover new species, adding public access areas and mentoring employees.

Trae Crowder, `08 psychology and `09 MBA, co-authored a book titled "Round Here and Over Yonder: A Front Porch Travel Guide by Two Progressive Hillbillies (Yes, that's a thing.)"

Alicia Dauw, `07 mechanical engineering, joined Smith Seckman Reid, Inc. as a Principal and Operations Director for the firm's industrial market.

Zach Greenwood, `19 civil engineering, was featured in his employer's #ConnectwithCooper spotlight on social media. Greenwood is a sub fabrication project manager at Cooper Steel, a nationally recognized structural steel fabrication and erection company.

Susan Henry, `05 interdisciplinary studies and `09 M.A., was featured in a Tennessee Tech article titled "Tech's Susan Henry recognized for 35 years of service to campus." 

Cindy Hollander, `23 nursing, was featured in a Tennessee Tech article titled "56-year-old mother of five starts 'brand new adventure' with Tech nursing degree."

Eric Lawson, `89 accounting, has been appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority.

Brooke Mayo, `11 exercise science, physical education and wellness, was featured in a Tennessee Tech article titled "Tech soccer alumna Brooke Mayo reflects on officiating 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup."

Miguel Mendieta, `15 human ecology, was featured in a Tennessee Tech article titled "Tech alumnus brings taste of Hispanic culture to middle Tennessee with coffee roasting, food truck business."

Sean Ochsenbein, `11 biology and `18 MBA, was featured in a Tennessee Tech article titled "Decorated Tech alumnus, Medal of Valor recipient shares campus memories and advice to students on university podcast." 

Peggy Perdue, `04 English-journalism, recently celebrated the release of her poetry chapbook, Comfort, about grief, motherhood and longing. Best American Poetry 2022 contributor Matthew Dickman called the debut collection "Vibrant...a book we need especially now."

Photo top left: Miguel Mendieta, `15 human ecology, monitors the temperature of the coffee beans in his small-batch roaster

We love hearing about the successes of Tennessee Tech alumni. Email us your promotions, awards and other achievements, and we'll share in the next edition of The Alumnus! 

Upcoming Tennessee Tech University bookstore sales

Tech apparel

Check out the bookstore's Tennessee Tech University Spirit Shop featuring apparel, accessories and Tech-themed items for students and alumni.  

The original bookstore website is still available and will focus mainly on textbooks and school supplies, while the Spirit Shop focuses more on Tech-themed gear.

The University Bookstore is open Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


The Crawford Alumni Center


Giving to Tennessee Tech