UT engineering upgrade may attract more students from across US

UT engineering upgrade may attract more students from across U.S.

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It took more than four years to complete the six story, state of the art facility. It took more than four years to complete the six story, state of the art facility.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The $37.5 million, newly-completed University of Tennessee building that  houses the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is expected to attract students from across the country.

The Min H. Kao Building opens to students next week. It took more than four years to complete the six story, state of the art facility.

A portion of the building was paid for by the man who founded Garmin International Inc., Min Kao. He earned his masters and Ph.D at UT and wanted to give back to the university.

It's a gift that Associate Department Head Michael Berry says will greatly impact the students. "We actually have a really nice space for our senior design students. We have actually special laboratory environments for our seniors to work on their senior design programs," he said.

The new building is where electrical engineering student George Richardson will spend most of his senior year. Before it was built, his classes were spread across campus.

"Being consolidated into one large building that's new, has better research facilities and better classrooms, it's really nice," Richardson said.

New technology for the nation's electric power grid will be researched here, putting UT in the spotlight and on the map around the world.

"Bringing a lot of visitors post doctoral, external researchers all over the country as well as the world will be coming to this facility to be part of the center which is called CURENT," Berry explained.

He says four new faculty members will be hired, and there's enough space to double the number of undergrads in the department, which he expects will be needed.

"We're seeing a lot more students interested in our program. We're seeing transfer students. We're seeing a lot of people changing careers with the recession. We have pretty much a 100 percent placement of our graduates," Berry said.

George Richardson already has a job lined up and expects the new facility, along with the faculty, will bring in more students.

"It's something they can show off with perspective students. I think it's really going to draw graduates back to UT," Richardson said.

A dedication ceremony featuring Min Kao will be held on March 14.

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