By authority of the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and the Tennessee Board of Regents, three Centers of Excellence have been established at Tennessee Technological University. These accomplished Centers of Excellence focus on advanced interdisciplinary scholarship, including basic and applied research. Each center strives to utilize more efficiently the resources of the University in order to improve the general economic development of the State of Tennessee; improve the state’s research base; and enhance the intellectual, cultural, and social activities of its citizens.
Among its priorities, each center attempts to attract internationally recognized faculty, as well as both undergraduate and graduate students who have strong scholarly backgrounds and a commitment to academic excellence.
Graduate students who become affiliated with a Center of Excellence must first qualify for admission into one of the University’s graduate programs. Thereafter, in cooperation with the chairperson of the student’s major department and the director of the center, the student may gain an assignment in research or similar scholarly activity; in most cases, the student will be appointed to a graduate assistantship or be given some remuneration for successful participation.
Center for Energy Systems Research
The Center for Energy Systems Research was established to advance and apply scientific and engineering knowledge associated with the generation, transmission, distribution, and use of electric power while supporting the instructional program of the University in academic areas related to electric power. In pursuing its goals, the Center works with electric utilities, state and federal agencies, private industries, nonprofit organizations, and other universities on a wide spectrum of projects. Research efforts, both theoretical and experimental, are focused on solving problems currently faced by the electric power industry. Specific research projects involve:
- developing integrated software packages for the simulation and analysis of electric power systems to improve performance and reduce costs,
- implementing innovative techniques to improve the utilization of fossil fuels in power plants, and
- participating in basic research on emerging technologies to ensure that future electric power needs are met in an environmentally acceptable manner.
The Center, which is administered through the College of Engineering, provides opportunities for interdisciplinary research by involving faculty, staff, and students throughout the University. The Center has a positive impact on many facets of the electric power industry in the State of Tennessee and the nation.
Center for the Management, Utilization, and Protection of Water Resources
The Center for the Management, Utilization, and Protection of Water Resources focuses interdisciplinary scientific research on water resources issues in Tennessee, the surrounding region, and the nation. Its team approach to environmental research strengthens the University’s educational program by combining faculty, professional staff, and students from agriculture, biology, chemistry, the Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit, earth sciences, engineering, and the social sciences into problem-solving groups. Center-supported graduate students pursuing degrees in one of these academic areas become important members of professional research teams. The Center is administered through the Office of Research & Economic Development. It maintains a staff with expertise in geographic information systems (GIS), modeling, and database management, and a professionally staffed laboratory, capable of general wet chemistry/physic parameter analyses, organic analyses, metal analyses, and biological/mutagenicity/toxicity testing. Basic techniques on solid-liquid phase interactions, chemistry, and the biological sciences provide support for fundamental and applied research. Current faculty research emphasizes:
- surface and ground water protection, use, and availability;
- domestic, industrial, and recreational water use;
- conservation and reuse of finite water supplies;
- public education and the examination of socioeconomic problems of water treatment and distribution;
- wastewater treatment and disposal; and
- water pollution and the protection of aquatic organisms and other wildlife from point and nonpoint sources.
Center for Manufacturing Research
The Center of Excellence for Manufacturing Research was created to draw together resources of the State of Tennessee, the University, industries from Tennessee and abroad, and government funding agencies into a cooperative effort to be on the leading edge of the latest technological advances in manufacturing. The Center has a twofold mission:
- to advance and support scientific and engineering knowledge in areas related to manufacturing, and
- to enhance the University’s instructional program in manufacturing-related areas.
The Center draws upon expertise from throughout the College of Engineering and various other colleges, departments, and the University, as appropriate, as well as resources outside the University. In addition, the Center employs dedicated faculty and staff that are responsible for enhancing and supporting our strategic research program. The Center for Manufacturing Research has concentrated on four (4) strategic research areas:
- Intelligent Control of Processes and Equipment,
- Integrated Product and Process Realization,
- Next Generation Materials and Manufacturing Processes, and
- Pervasive Modeling and Simulation.
The Center for Manufacturing Research also has a significant extension component with a focus on quality services provided to industry. Service activities can include externally funded research projects, small laboratory testing projects, an industry work-study program that matches industry needs for engineering assistance with engineering student capabilities, and small business support through a TSBDC that is partially supported by the Center.