The University of Tennessee Space Institute shared the spotlight with each of UT’s campuses and institutes at the Legislative Plaza for the annual “UT Day on the Hill” March 1.
UT President John D. Petersen told members of the Senate Education Committee that UTSI is moving ahead with its new research goals, adding to its faculty, and experiencing growth in research funding. He also noted that “strong candidates” are being interviewed to succeed John Caruthers, who is retiring as leader of the Institute.
Petersen also met with the House Education Committee as well as visiting with Gov. Phil Bredesen, Lt. Gov. John Wilder, House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, and other state officials.
Three graduate students from the Institute who manned a display and met various lawmakers and other state leaders were Mark Olles of Holley, N.Y., Sean Fischbach of Bloomington, Ill., and Eric Jacob of Oconomowoc, Wis. They were accompanied by Joel W. Muehlhauser, UT assistant vice president and UTSI dean of research.
Olles is president of UTSI’s Student Government Association, Fischbach is vice president, and Jacob is an SGA senator and webmaster. Andrea Loughry, a UT trustee from Murfreesboro, Sen. Charlotte Burkes, Petersen, UT Executive Vice President Jack Britt, and Robert Levy, UT associate vice president for academics, were among those visiting with the students.
All of the UT exhibitors wore pins proclaiming the message “Education Works,” and the UT leaders stressed UT’s role in driving the state’s economy, research and public service.
Regarding UTSI’s emphasis on materials processing and aerospace, Sen. Bill Ketron from Murfreesboro expressed concern that the Institute’s laser work with surface treatment of metals not be neglected. Petersen assured him that the Laser Induced Surface Improvement (LISI) work is a vital part of the Institute’s materials processing program.