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Space Institute in ‘Growth Market,’ Daniel Tells Manchester Chamber

The University of Tennessee Space Institute is in a growth market as it pursues its twin mission of graduate education and research, Donald C. Daniel told Manchester Chamber of Commerce in a speech Oct. 2.

“We’re looking nationwide for an assistant vice president for research” to succeed Joel W. Muehlhauser of Manchester, who is retiring Dec. 31, said Daniel, UT associate vice president and chief operating officer of the Institute.

Nine faculty members – including research and tenured professors –also are being sought as the Institute strives to raise the educational level in Tennessee.

“We want to see more people graduate – to get those who for whatever reason didn’t finish college back in school,” Daniel said. “This will help the economy. People with college degrees make more money.”

An increase in college graduates also means more potential graduate students to do research at UTSI to “create knowledge,” the speaker said, emphasizing the goal of exposing these students to current and future research, not to out-dated ideas and information.

Introduced by Don Rogers, president-elect of the Chamber, Daniel reviewed current research at UTSI ranging from materials science and aerospace propulsion to applied fluid dynamics, biomedical physics, computer mechanics and flight systems. He called attention to John Steinhoff’s revolutionary development of a new concept in visualizing highly detailed flows around complex objects, utilizing conventional personal computers.

Daniel cited Ahmad Vakili’s work in UTSI’s new “spin lab” manufacturing low-cost carbon fibers as an example of innovative research with great potential. He also called attention to work of Bill Hofmeister, director of UTSI’s Center for Laser Applications, who was present at the luncheon.

The speaker stressed the Institute’s increased partnerships including “our Big Brother, Arnold Engineering Development Center, without which we would not exist,” and UTSI’s summer “out reach” to area elementary and high school students.

Global outreach also is part of the plan, Daniel said, adding, “We want to reach out more. We want our people to play a more important role in international affairs.”

Noting that the outreach also involves relationships on the national level, Daniel said many of the research opportunities come through Washington, D.C.

“We think the Space Institute is a key element of Middle Tennessee and that we can contribute to the future success of the area,” Daniel said. “We are the UT flagship in Middle Tennessee.” He invited those interested to join the Space Institute’s Support Council headed by Dick Farrar of Fayetteville.