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The Center for Laser Applications (CLA) at The University of Tennessee Space Institute was established in 1984 as a state funded Center of Excellence to provide outstanding capabilities in research, education, and technology transfer in the increasingly important area of laser applications. CLA began as an active multi-disciplined and collaborative research group at UTSI with expertise and significant industrial and university-based experience in phenomena related to the interactions of lasers with gases, liquids, and solids. The diverse background of the faculty and staff and the strong mission-related research programs of CLA provide a blend of applied and basic research that is unusual for universities.
The goal of CLA has been to establish a center for graduate education and research that is recognized for its excellence in laser applications. Accomplishment of this goal required selective additions to the UTSI/CLA faculty and staff, recruitment of quality graduate students, and major revisions to the curriculum in recognition of the educational and career opportunities associated with lasers. The associated objectives that were established for CLA research include significant additions to the capital equipment base, the creation if industrial alliances, interaction with other university centers in the state, technology transfer, diversification of the contract income base, and an increase in sponsored research.