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For Enis Cirak, a faculty member’s challenge about innovation and entrepreneurship began a new lifestyle for both him and Tech.


Faculty members Ambareen Siraj, Steven Anton and Adam Holley are helping to take Tech’s research into a new renaissance of effort and outcomes.


Chris Hodge ’95 assisted in the development of a new, rapid decontamination process for chemical, biological and radiological agents.

ON THE COVER: A 3-D version of the new Tech logo is being printed at the iMakerSpace (see p. 15).

















Tania Datta, a core faculty member of Tech’s Center for the Management, Utilization and Protection of Water Resources, works with lab manager Dan Dodson and doctoral student Nowfel Mahmud Bhuyian to measure the flow of the Falling Water River using a Sontek River Surveyor, which uses Acoustic Doppler Current Profiling techniques.

Visions is published by Tennessee Tech University for alumni and friends. Advertising rates available upon request. Visions is online at For the most up-to-date information on alumni activities, visit or call 800-889-8730. Correspondence is welcome. Editorial Office: Visions, PO Box 5056, Cookeville TN 38505-0001 Phone: 931-372-3214 | Fax: 931-372-6138 | Tennessee Tech University is part of the State University and Community College System of Tennessee. #UA071-OCV-17

TABLE OF CONTENTS | 2016 / 2017


GRADUATE ALUMNI Q&A Find out why other alumni are getting their graduate degrees from Tech


When I graduated from Maryville College, I knew that I wanted to build upon my degree with supplementary skills. I realized I lacked the depth of skill that would enable me to enter a technically driven area of my field. I felt that going into a more focused graduate program would help develop my skills.


When I looked into Tennessee Tech, I was immediately drawn to Environmental Informatics in the School of Environmental Studies due to how well it coincided with my career interests. The program involves coursework in multiple disciplines and incorporates them in an environmental context while equipping students to succeed in the industry as professionals.


I have developed marketable skills and have a better understanding of what I want to do as a profession. I’ve discovered a love for data analysis and visualization and learned methods and techniques to convey information effectively and persuasively to people both inside and outside of this field. I feel I will be fully prepared to enter the workforce.


I think that I would like to work in data visualization within the environmental field. Ultimately, while I still am not certain of the specifics, I do know I’d like it to be interdisciplinary in nature and be within the environmental industry. 2


The new science building will be the anchor of a new quad, located immediately north of Browning & Evins Halls. Architect’s rendering provided by Upland Design Group, in association with Bauer Askew Architecture and Research Facilities Design.



ennessee Tech received a massive vote of support for its STEM-based education in the form of $85 million in the State of Tennessee budget to fund a new science building. At 150,000 square feet of usable space, the building will be the largest academic building on campus. “The Science Building design and construction offers us the opportunity to continue creating the signature experiences we envision for all students,” said President Phil Oldham. “The building will be designed to meet the unique needs of our faculty and students, plus it will help us reshape the campus as we continue to prepare for growth.” The building will house the university’s chemistry department and a portion of the biology department. There will also be labs for Earth sciences, physics and environmental science. Foster Hall, chemistry’s current home, will be used as temporary space for offices and classrooms while

Pennebaker Hall is being renovated. Once the renovation is complete, Foster will be demolished, making way for a greenspace. The first phase of the project, determining what is needed in the building, has been completed; currently, the project is in the design phase. In keeping with the university’s master plan, the building will be located immediately north of the Capital Quad residence halls on the site of a current parking lot. The parking will be relocated to a new lot being constructed on the west side of campus, next to Tech Village. The university’s master plan calls for the creation of a new academic quad, which will be anchored by the new building. To view a copy of the university’s master plan, visit V

NEWS | 2016 / 2017


Gov. Bill Haslam signs the FOCUS Act at an event at Tech, hosted by President Phil Oldham.




fter more than 40 years of governance by the Tennessee Board of Regents, Tennessee Tech will be governed by its own Board of Trustees. The Tennessee General Assembly passed the FOCUS Act last session. The act, one of Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislative priorities, allows the TBR to focus its efforts on community colleges and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology while providing greater autonomy for TBR’s four-year state universities. “With the passage of the FOCUS Act, Tennessee Tech will be embarking on a new chapter in its history,” said Phil Oldham, Tech’s president. “This gives us the autonomy to move freely, thoughtfully and quickly to adapt to changing public needs, providing the most relevant, cost-effective educational opportunities to drive Tennessee’s future economies.” There are 10 members of Tech’s board; nine voting and one nonvoting. The governor appointed eight of the members last fall (six who are alumni). The two members not appointed are a Tech faculty member, who was elected by the Faculty Senate, and a Tech student. The student is the nonvoting member and will be selected by the board from a list of three students provided by the university’s Student Government Association.




Fleming, Biology ’71, has been a physician, administrator and researcher during a career of public service. During the course of her career, she has received numerous awards and honors, including the Surgeon General’s Distinguished Service Medal for Contributions to the Health of the Nation, which is the highest award given by the U.S. Surgeon General. Melissa Geist

Geist is a professor in Tech’s Whitson-Hester School of Nursing, but her impact on the university is cross-disciplinary, often collaborating with faculty members in the colleges of Education, Engineering, and Interdisciplinary Studies. Along with her teaching experience, she has 20 years of experience as an emergency department/urgent care nurse practitioner.

Trudy Harper

Johnny Stites

Tom Jones

Teresa Vanhooser

Harper, Electrical Engineering ’83, M.S. ’84, had an illustrious career with the Texas Utilities Electric Company and Tenaska, founding and serving as president of Tenaska Power Services Company. She is a recipient of the Gulf Coast Power Association’s Pat Wood Power Star Award and was honored as an Engineer of Distinction by Tech’s College of Engineering. Jones, Electrical Engineering ’86, is co-owner and general manager of Research Electronics International, one of the leading designers, developers and manufacturers of counter surveillance equipment. He served in the U.S. Navy, also serving as an instructor at the Naval Nuclear Power School. He also has worked as a defense contractor supporting the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. Millard Oakley

Oakley, who was on the Tennessee Board of Regents, served in the Tennessee General Assembly for four terms, as the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, and as general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Small Business. Oakley attended Tennessee Tech and graduated from Cumberland University School of Law. Purna Saggurti

Saggurti, Chemical Engineering M.S. ’82, is a managing director and chairman of Global Corporate & Investment Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York. He is a member of the operating committee of Bank of America. He is co-chairman of the Finance Committee of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative of the World Bank and the United Nations.

Stites has served as managing partner of XI Investments, one of the largest commercial and industrial real estate developers in the Upper Cumberland region, for more than 25 years. He served as CEO of J&S Construction Company for more than 43 years before stepping down in 2015 to focus on XI Investments. He previously served on the Tennessee Board of Regents. Vanhooser, Industrial Engineering ’80, served as deputy director of one of NASA’s largest installations, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Since graduating from Tech, she served in various roles at NASA. She has received numerous NASA awards, including an Outstanding Leadership Medal, and Exceptional Achievement Medal and a Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executives, which is the highest honor for career federal employees. Capt. Barry Wilmore

Wilmore, Electrical Engineering ’85, M.S. ’94, Honorary Doctorate ’12, is a captain in the U.S. Navy and a veteran of two spaceflights. Along with piloting the Space Shuttle Atlantis, he has served as the commander of the International Space Station. During his service with the Navy, he has flown missions in support of operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Southern Watch. He has also served as a naval test pilot. He is a member of Tech’s Sports Hall of Fame, recognizing his achievements as a member of the Golden Eagles football team. For complete bios of each trustee, visit V

NEWS | 2016 / 2017





PHOTO ESSAY | 2016 / 2017


The chorale performed an impromptu concert at Stonehenge, drawing a large crowd while performing, “The Circle of Life.”

LEFT: Professor Craig Zamer directs during a rehearsal at St. Martin’s Church in Roath, a suburb of Cardiff, Wales. RIGHT TOP: Kevin Salter, ’16 music, tightens his bowtie before a concert with Cambridge’s Queens College Choir. The two choirs performed Eveningsong at the Queen’s Chapel. RIGHT BELOW: Pate Hill, ’16 music, gets some one-on-one instruction from Anúna’s Michael McGlynn during a master class in Dublin, Ireland. FAR RIGHT: Students “wings up” after an impromptu concert at the Papal Cross in Phoenix Park in Dublin, Ireland. The cross was erected for the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979.




hortly after finals week, 41 students, nine alumni, five faculty members and two spouses traveled to Ireland, Wales and England as part of Chorale Tour under the direction of professor Craig Zamer. For some students like Dexter Lowe, a junior Vocal Music Education major, this was a once in a lifetime experience. At the final rehearsal before leaving, Lowe said, “I’m really excited, I can’t wait to see and sing in all the cathedrals and travel with my best friends. I’m a little anxious, but I’m excited to see where it takes us.” After arriving back in the U.S., Lowe expressed his thoughts on the trip. “The trip shifted my perspective in many ways. It truly was an experience.”

“Music is so universal and it has such deep roots that go beyond our towns in the United States. Seeing that children all over the world use music to learn and develop only gave me a deeper appreciation and more motivation to chase my dreams in music.” While on tour, the Tech Chorale sang with several other choirs including the Carrigaline Choir, Llandaff Cathedral Choral Society, Choristers of Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral and Cambridge Queen’s College Choir. “The type of experiential learning that occurs on these kinds of trips are invaluable,” Craig Zamer said. “The opportunity to sing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ in the place where it was first performed,




After a long plane ride and bus journey, student were able to stretch their legs at the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are on the Atlantic coast of Country Clare in west Ireland.


cannot be easily duplicated. It builds connections to the things they have studied and makes a greater impact. Standing at the port where the Titanic departed for the first and last time, performing in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, physically seeing the Queen of England make her way to Parliament, are just few of those unique experiences.” In Dublin, Ireland, the group was scheduled to have a master class with a member of Anúna. Much to their surprise, Michael McGlynn, the founder of Anúna and the composer of one of the chorale’s performance pieces, arrived to teach the class. “It is one thing to study a piece of music, rehearse a piece of music and perform a piece of music,” commented Zamer. “It is a completely new experience to have the person who wrote the piece of music talk with you, work with you, and provide insight into their thoughts on musicianship, performing and their own ideas about their composition.” DeAnna Etchison, a newly graduated music performance and music business alumna, has had the opportunity to travel twice internationally with the Tech Chorale. For Etchison the most special part of the trip was singing at the farewell dinner. V

LEFT: The first concert of the trip was at St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork, Ireland. The cathedral was consecrated in 1870. FAR LEFT: Wes Hutton, a sophomore general health major, DeAnna Etchison, ’16 music, and Nick Mullins, ’16 music, perform solos during “Pastime with Good Company,” arranged by Ward Swingle.

PHOTO ESSAY | 2016 / 2017


Enis Cirak ’16 was Tech’s first University Innovation Fellow. With the help of Tech faculty members and staff, students following in Cirak’s footsteps are establishing a culture of innovation.



hree years ago, chemical engineering professor Holly Stretz asked her freshman class for volunteers to promote innovation and entrepreneurship on-campus. For Enis Cirak, ‘16 chemical engineering, the call to action would be the beginning of an entrepreneurial lifestyle. As the first University Innovation Fellow, he traveled to California to study with with representatives from Google, Stanford University and Citrix. “The environment in Silicon Valley was incredible,” said Cirak. “The average student I met was full of passion and ambition, they were managing a nonprofit or starting a company, doing something to chase their dreams. “It was a wake-up call.” After six weeks of training, all fellows are assigned a project. On paper, Cirak’s was simple: create positive change by bringing that spirit back to campus and spreading it. To start his project, Cirak and some friends started the Social Entrepreneurship Society, a


student group that tried to mimic the adventurous culture he experienced in Silicon Valley. “It can be tough to get students to understand what an entrepreneurial lifestyle is like,” said Cirak. “The traditional path of earning a degree is the first thing students think of. I wanted to show students another side of education.” To promote creative thinking and an entrepreneurial lifestyle on campus, the society hosted a number of events, including TechX, an event modeled after the popular TED talks. Though it took place during a finals week, over 200 people showed up to hear from a diverse crowd of scientists and thinkers. “There’s something about how these highly motivated kids work,” said Stretz. “An event like that would have taken faculty and administrators six months to a year to set up. The SES kids did it in a month.” The chemical engineering professor’s interest in entrepreneurship stems from her involvement in the TTU Pathways to Innovation Program

FEATURES | 2016 / 2017


LEFT: Gigamunch, a mobile app that allows users to browse local cooks and order food that Cirak and his team developed, grew out of the university’s budding innovation culture; RIGHT: Enis Cirak and Holly Stretz, professor of chemical engineering.

team. This group of faculty and administrators was started by Stretz; Vahid Motevalli, associate dean for Research & Innovation; Steve Canfield, mechanical engineering professor; and Mohan Rao, mechanical engineering professor. “We were never charged with forming the team,” said Stretz. “No administrator came to us and asked us to start this. It’s been grassroots from the beginning, and I think that’s why we’ve been able to make such a large impact.” According to Stretz, to promote innovation and entrepreneurship on campus, the team focuses on five pillars: the University Innovation Fellows program, the Eagle Works competition, the iMakerSpace, the creation of an I&E certificate and new Tech course offerings. iMakerSpace The iMakerSpace is located in Tech’s iCube. The iCube is a shared venture, located in the Volpe Library, between the College of Business, College of Engineering and the Office of Research and Economic Development. It was created as an opportunity for students to work on interdisciplinary projects with faculty and regional businesses.


When the space was first proposed, the SES team was invited to provide input about the layout of the space and what equipment would be necessary. Now, students rely on the space to use 3-D printers, meet with their teams and receive advice from staff with real-world experience. I&E certificate + course offerings At the academic level, the university has created an I&E certificate and expanding current course offerings. College certificates are a good way to obtain some expertise in a field without investing several years for a diploma. The team is also pushing for additional classes. For example, Melissa Geist, nursing professor, and Robby Sanders, chemical engineering professor, have developed a course where nurses and engineers form teams, do rounds at Cookeville Regional Medical Center and develop a pitch for a new healthcare innovation or product. Eagle Works Cirak’s latest venture as an entrepreneur was born out of a Tech competition called Eagle Works. This annual event encourages engineering and business student teams to design, develop and pitch original inventions.

After falling short of first place his junior year, Cirak resolved to gather a team of innovators he knew since his freshman year and win the competition. “We learned a lot of lessons from our first time in the competition,” said Cirak. “The second time, we were able to focus on designing something that would truly succeed.” Their idea was a mobile app named Gigamunch. Cirak compares the barebones of the app to Esty, a popular e-commerce website. Users who download the app can browse local cooks and order food, then either pick-up the food or use a delivery service. An approval process vets all cooks who want to list their culinary creations on the app. The team started work on the app in December 2015 and released a version for Nashville users in June. At the time of publication, they have 30 or so cooks and anywhere from 100-500 users online at any given time. “Seeing those first few sales alongside the diverse varieties of food our cooks offered was huge,” said Cirak. “It got the whole team motivated to keep moving forward.” Looking back at the journey he’s taken since freshman year, Cirak recognizes the steps he’s taken have set him up to chase his calling. “Sometimes entrepreneurship has a bad connotation,” said Cirak. “Some people look at it and see a snake oil salesman in the uncertainty. “The real picture is that it’s a life of your own design – it’s a lifestyle where you rely on your creativity to get you through the day.” And the professor who got him started? “Before Enis, it was rare to find students interested in creating their own app or starting a company while they studied here,” said Stretz. “Now, it feels like there’s a growing entrepreneurial community here at Tech.” V

INNOVATION & ENTREPRENEURSHIP AT TECH There is an energy coming from recent efforts to enhance something that has been a part of Tech from the beginning: we are a university of makers. The College of Business is the home of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship program, which exists to empower students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community to create a brighter future for themselves. Here is a rapid rundown of some of Tech’s I&E efforts. Eagle Works is a process and competition to showcase students’ innovative business ideas. Students form teams focused around a business idea, develop their idea and pitch it to a panel of judges. Academic Programs include an Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate (available to all majors), the National Science Foundation I-Corps, Experiential Learning in Entrepreneurship, and a Governor’s School for Innovation & Entrepreneurship for rising high school seniors. The University Innovation Fellows are a global coalition of university students dedicated to spreading I&E on college campuses. Tech is home to 10 of the 600 University Innovation Fellows. Each member of this elite group completes specialized training and implements campus-wide events to create a I&E culture at Tech. The iMakerSpace, developed by the College of Engineering and the College of Business, provides an interactive and collaborative space for students and faculty to use in pursuit of I&E projects. The space provides a wide variety of resources and technologies that can be used in fabricating prototypes. More details about Tech’s I&E initiative can be found at V

FEATURES | 2016 / 2017





ennessee Tech is taking its research responsibilities to new heights. From increases in sponsored research to a record number of intellectual property disclosures, Tech’s Office of Research and Economic Development is seeing a revitalized research effort across the university. “We support, inspire, incentivize and help develop faculty to pursue sponsored research,” said Bharat Soni, vice president for research and economic development. “By November of 2016, we had already surpassed the total amount of sponsored research from the previous year.” The total for the previous fiscal year (July 1, 2015—June 30, 2016) was $11.2 million. By November 2016, Tech’s sponsored research stood at $11.8 million. Soni’s office has also seen significant growth in research proposal submissions. Along with sponsored research, the university supports innovation and entrepreneurship. “So far this year, we have had a record 11 intellectual property disclosures, with two more to be filed soon.” Soni says that an objective of his office is to spin off two companies based on Tech’s intellectual property by the end of 2017-2018, as well as license two additional intellectual properties. Three of Tech’s faculty researchers are showcased on the following pages: Ambareen Siraj, computer science; Steven Anton, mechanical engineering; and Adam Holley, physics.

FEATURES | 2016 / 2017





mbareen Siraj has her sights set on the future. And that future is computer science, specifically cybersecurity. Siraj, an associate professor of computer science at Tennessee Tech, teaches security courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. She has focused her research on the vast areas surrounding cybersecurity, including situation assessment in network security, secure communication in smart grids and security education. “Our life is integrated with computing. It’s in our phone. It’s at home. It’s in everything we do,” Siraj said. “Computing is everywhere. This software has to have people to write it and secure it. Cybersecurity is the job now and in the future.” Siraj has authored or co-authored approximately 30 journal and conference articles while taking an active part in promoting cybersecurity training throughout the nation. As the director of Tech’s Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center, she is the leader on four National Science Foundation grants involving cybersecurity and is the founder of the national Women in Cybersecurity conference, an effort to recruit, retain and advance women in the cybersecurity industry. Siraj hosted the first-ever CyberCorps SFS Bootcamp on Tech’s campus in August. The twoday bootcamp mentored approximately 40 aspiring cybersecurity students from around the nation by providing information and insight from guest speakers from Homeland Security, Dynetics, and MITRE Corporation, as well as faculty and staff from Tennessee Tech. Around the same time, she also conducted on campus Cybersecurity camps for high

school students and teachers in Tennessee, as part of NSA GenCyber program. In between the various camps, Siraj ventured to the White House complex in Washington, D.C., on two occasions to help promote computer science and cybersecurity. She met with other educators and members of President Barack Obama’s administration in discussing the “Computer Science for All” initiative that is aimed at coordinating efforts to boost K-12 computer science education and increasing the pipeline of national and cybersecurity workers for the United States. “Computer science is not even considered a high school elective course in most states,” Siraj said. “We want to get computer science not just in the high schools, but in middle schools as well across the country.” Siraj’s effort to educate students and enhance the cybersecurity field of study goes beyond classes, research projects, workshops and conferences. Last year, Tech’s center became the home of the Tennessee CyberCorps, a scholarship program funded by a more than $4 million NSF grant. The CyberCorps program at Tennessee Tech is the only such program in the state and one of only 63 across the country. “She has a lot of passion for what she does. What she is doing is very exciting, and it has been a source of pride for the department,” said Jerry Gannod, chairman of the computer science department. “She mentors students and runs the outreach program. There are so many moving parts and she’s been able to manage them all. The center is in very good hands with her.” V

FEATURES | 2016 / 2017



by Dewayne Wright


n Steven Anton’s vision of the future, knee implants will not only help patients walk better, the implants will be able to tell physicians how well they are working. He has received a $417,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to support this research. Anton, working with noted orthopedic surgeon R. Michael Meneghini of Indianapolis, is researching the use of piezoelectric materials embedded in artificial joints in order to sense knee forces and to ultimately increase the success of joint replacement surgeries and extend the life of the joint in order to reduce future surgeries. “By embedding piezos into the implants,” Anton said, “not only can the joints sense stresses being put on the joint during surgery, they can harvest electricity from the joint’s motion and continue to power the sensors for measurement of forces for the life of the implant. Ten to 20 years ago, this was not feasible; now it is.” Anton explains that one post-operative benefit is that the sensors would help with physical therapy by making it data driven. “Your therapist can see what forces are affecting the joint,” Anton said, instead of relying on the patient’s description of how the action feels. A long-term benefit would be to correlate surgical procedures and materials to successful patient outcomes in order to determine the ideal surgical procedures and implant design. “Hip and knee replacements are becoming more common,” Anton said. “Younger people are getting them replaced. Currently, the life expectancy of a knee or hip joint is 10 years. The ultimate question is can we improve the life of an implant and the patient’s satisfaction.” According to Anton, more than 100,000 patients are not satisfied with their quality of life after receiving an implant, which accounts for up to 20 percent of joint-replacement surgeries. The first stage of the research is confirming


what happens when the piezos are installed on the implants, obtaining much-needed data to prove feasibility. From there, the process calls for partnering with joint manufacturers and returning to the NIH for clinical studies. “We’ve been working on this for three years,” Anton said. “It’s a very continual process, but we have a path to get there.” Anton’s interest in engineering came from following in the footsteps of his father, who started on the assembly line at General Motors and worked for the automotive giant while earning his degree in industrial engineering. “What sealed the deal for me was my aptitude in math and science,” said Anton, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “It came naturally. Engineering was a good fit. I was always hands-on, and engineering was a practical field.” From his start, Anton has built a research agenda in smart materials that has led to his current work to help improve the quality of life of people with artificial joints. Anton’s work with piezos has led to two distinctions: being the recipient of a Young Investigator Award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and authoring an article that has been cited more than 1,500 times. The Air Force award was his first successful grant proposal, and involves developing real-time structural health monitoring systems for systems operating in highly dynamic environments – such as high-velocity impacts, explosions or shocks –in order to identify changes to the structures on a microsecond to millisecond timescale. Anton directs Tech’s Dynamic and Smart Systems Laboratory. He joined the mechanical engineering faculty in 2013. Prior to joining Tech, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory. V

FEATURES | 2016 / 2017





olving the mysteries of physics to help explain the origin, evolution and fate of the universe may sound intimidating, but for Adam Holley, an assistant professor of physics at Tennessee Tech, it’s an exciting adventure and an engaging research opportunity for his students. Thanks to a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Holley and his students are looking at the life of neutrons, which play an important role in the study of our universe’s origin. “This is fundamental physics,” Holley said. “Once we understand nature at a fundamental level, we can understand how other things work.” Holley and his students are busting neutrons from the nuclei of atoms and looking at the decay of those neutrons. Currently, there are two methods used for measuring the average lifetime of a neutron from the time it leaves the nucleus, but the results of those methods vary by eight seconds. “Which is huge,” Holley said. “We will be working on ways to enhance this measurement to get it to a tenth of a second.” The CAREER Award is the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award and includes federal grant funds to support research and education around an award-winning proposal. What makes Holley’s proposal especially exciting for Tennessee Tech is his plan to include undergraduate students in his research team. “This will enhance our ability at this university to involve undergraduates in cutting-edge research,”

Holley said. “Giving undergraduates the opportunity to be involved in research early is important.” Holley is building a core group, spanning freshmen to seniors, who are working on the grant components collaboratively. “This group will communicate with other research groups in the department and the across the university,” he said. “There will be a hum of research across campus.” The award was a bit of a surprise for Holley, who knew the grant was prestigious and tough to get. “This allows me to contribute to Tech,” Holley said. And this specific contribution is one that university Physics Chairman Stephen Robinson says is not only important for the study of physics as a whole but also for the future of Tennessee Tech’s physics program. “For the department and the university it provides more research opportunities, and so makes us more attractive to prospective students,” Robinson said. “It also helps to raise our profile as a research department and university.” The research involves a set of ideas and skills that fit well into the undergraduate program framework, and this initiative will be used to inspire future undergraduate research, training, mentoring and outreach at Tech. Holley’s award lasts through 2021. V

FEATURES | 2016 / 2017






n Sept. 11, 2001, Chris Hodge, ’95 chemistry, was working as a process engineer for Milliken & Co.’s Finishing Plant in Pendleton, South Carolina. He remembers gathering around a television with colleagues to watch news coverage of the terrorist attacks. At the time, Hodge was weighing a job offer to leave Pendleton and conduct research for the U.S. Navy. “I knew in that moment I had to take the opportunity to put my skills to use serving my country,” Hodge said. “I had been back-and-forth on leaving before that. What I saw on TV that day sealed the deal for me.” His decision brought him to the chemical, biological and radiological defense lab of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia. The lab is located on the Potomac River, just an hour and a half south of Washington, D.C. The military has a number of reasons for conducting research into decontamination technologies, but a major one is cost. The Navy’s equipment is expensive – to put it lightly. An average destroyer-class ship costs

I knew in that moment I had to take the opportunity to put my skills to use serving my country.

about $1.8 billion. To protect these assets from a chemical or biological attack, Hodge’s team researches ways to neutralize harmful agents without damaging property. In 2015, a decontamination project Hodge worked on for more than a decade was finished and sold to First Line Technology, a private Virginia company. To visualize the final product, Dahlgren Decon, Hodge says to imagine the solid concentrate form of a dishwasher detergent tablet. “Those little tablets were kind of our design dream,” said Hodge. “Among other performance specifications, the Navy had two practical requirements: it had to be easy to store in small spaces and it had to be able to remain in storage for many years.” In the event of a chemical spill, biological attack or radiological accident, mixing Dahlgren Decon with water creates a solution that can be sprayed onto an affected surface immediately. In 15 minutes or less, the contaminants are neutralized and dissolve into a harmless soapy mix. “People have been trying to develop a product with the Navy’s requirements for 50-60 years,” said Hodge. “We were just the first to do so successfully.” Developing this breakthrough formula was no easy task. Though the team Hodge worked with began research in 1999, it wasn’t until 2005 that they were


Has a five- to 10year shelf life in storage


Works with any water source – fresh water, salt water, brackish water – and is good for up to six hours after mixing


Capable of neutralizing Mustard gas (HD) in less than two minutes, Soman nerve agent (GD) in five minutes, VX nerve agent, Anthrax, and Ebola in 15 minutes

FEATURES | 2016 / 2017


able to create a prototype that could combat the chemical, biological and radiological agents that the military might encounter. The last decade has been spent improving the price, speed and efficiency of the product. “Research is a tough career if you’re afraid of failure,” said Hodge. “My team and I might work on 100 things and only 10 even get close to success. With Dahlgren Decon, it seemed like every year we had a breakthrough that moved the project forward and kept us going.” Still, since Hodge joined the Dahlgren lab, he and his colleagues have filed for more than 200 patents, many of which have seen use in the private commerce and industry sectors. According to him, even Dahlgren Decon has alternative uses that could bring it into homes across the country. “The ingredients that make it so powerful against harmful biological agents also make

Then-undergraduate Chris Hodge with faculty mentor Ed Lisic at a National American Chemical Society meeting in Anaheim, California, in the early 1990s.


it powerful against fungi like mildew and mold,” said Hodge. “Since what we’ve developed won’t damage property, imagine the effectiveness of our solution on a home overtaken with mold damage.” Hodge speaks fondly of his time as a Tennessee Tech student, crediting his education for giving him the tools for future success. His sophomore year, he was part of a co-op program where he spent a year producing the colorant used in Crayola markers. “Thinking back, that co-op opportunity was the best way to transition into my industry,” said Hodge. “I was basically an understudy for a process engineer. When I left, my human resources manager told me anytime I wanted a job at Milliken & Co. I just had to give them a call.” His junior year, when financial difficulties put his college education in jeopardy, he received a Blankenship scholarship from the chemistry

department that made it possible to finish. “I didn’t feel like a student at Tech,” said Hodge. “Professors were quick to look out for me and take me under their wing. I got to know my research advisor, Ed Lisic, and his family really well – we took several trips to present research together.” Lisic, now director of the Undergraduate Research Program at Tech, was an assistant professor at the time, but he remembers the effect Hodge had on his career. “Chris was the student that convinced me undergraduate research was something I wanted to pursue,” said Lisic. “He was a joker, a hard-worker and one of the most memorable students I’ve ever had.” This year, Hodge was one of three Dahlgren researchers to receive a Technology to Warfighter Award. The annual honor is given by the naval base for “direct and significant impact on the warfighter by developing needed capability and transitioning it into operations.” “That’s one of the reasons I took this job in the first place,” said Hodge. “So to be recognized for fielding a viable product our men and women in uniform can use to keep themselves safe – that means a lot to me.” V


Agriculture professor James Baier has a knack for turning difficult classroom material into a hands-on educational experience for his students. He was the first member of his family to pursue higher education, receiving his master’s in irrigation and his Ph.D. in agricultural and biosystems engineering. DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO TEACH?

Not exactly. I started out with a love for research. When I began my Ph.D. studies, I focused on how different treatments could accelerate methane production in landfills. Energy companies wanted to harness the gas to generate electricity. It was extremely messy work; we had to basically create a landfill on-campus to study.

WHAT LESSONS FROM YOUR PROFESSORS HELP YOU IN THE CLASSROOM? One of the professors who convinced me to go to grad school was Richard Warner. His teaching style was unconventional. He didn’t just walk up to the board, write some facts down and lecture. He wanted his students to take what they knew and apply it to situations – to see if we could attack real-world problems. I try to take that same tack with my upper-division students.


Time. Most of my classes have labs associated with them, and I teach those labs. Each one takes a couple of hours and all that teaching adds up. That said, I enjoy the labs because that’s where I can see students take what they’ve learned and apply it. We’re working on a graduate program right now – and it will definitely help to have grad students’ assistance with teaching lab.

FEATURES | 2016 / 2017




Satterfield has had a game M arcus plan for his life since he was a little boy. When asked in school what he wanted to be when he grew up, he responded “a football coach.” Satterfield didn’t have to go too far to find a coaching role model. He had one at home in his father, Bill, who was the head football coach at Greenback High School in East Tennessee. “I was always the manager or the ball boy,” Satterfield recalled. “I knew pretty early in life I wasn’t going to make a career of playing football, but coaching was something that was in my blood.” Satterfield tagged along with his dad, learning about the game until


he was old enough to put on the pads. He spent four years playing for the Greenback Cherokees under his father’s guidance. It was a helpful and fulfilling experience. “He wasn’t a coach who was overbearing or any harder on me,” Satterfield explained. “He definitely wasn’t easy on me, but we didn’t take it home. He was not the overbearing type. It wasn’t a burden to play for him. It was a pleasure.” After high school, Satterfield had the pleasure of playing on the collegiate level at East Tennessee State University where he lettered three years. Once Satterfield got a taste of college football, he began

designing a path for his future career. “At the time, I thought I wanted to be a high school coach,” Satterfield recalled. “But when I got to college, I decided college football was the greatest game ever, and I got the bug to coach it.” As a player at ETSU, Satterfield would approach opposing coaches and inquire about a job. He lobbied such notable mentors as Butch Davis, who was at Miami, and Jackie Sherrill, who was at Mississippi State. Satterfield began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Even though it didn’t pay anything, he knew this would

be the first step in climbing the coaching ladder. Fortunately, so did his dad. “My dad saved my career,” admitted Satterfield. “I could have coached with my dad or at some small schools. He knew if I wanted to get where I ultimately wanted to get, I needed to start at Chattanooga, an FCS Division I school. “He and my mom basically paid me — paid my salary, paid my food, paid my rent so I could pursue my dream. I will never forget that,” continued Satterfield. “It was huge for them to be able to sacrifice for a year or year and a half until I could start getting paid.” Satterfield moved up the coaching ranks before being promoted to assistant coach for wide receivers. He then left UTC and moved to Knoxville where he served on the staff of Phillip Fulmer at the University of Tennessee. From there he bounced over to Richmond and then Western Carolina before landing at the University of Tennessee, Martin. With the Skyhawks, Satterfield was the passing game coordinator before moving up to associate head coach. Satterfield then returned to Chattanooga where he was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. After four years with the Mocs, Satterfield headed to Philadelphia to become the offensive coordinator at Temple. “Everything I’ve done in my coaching career in college has been building toward being a head coach,” Satterfield explained. “Understanding that you have to work for free and be a GA, be an assistant coach and a position coach and, hopefully, one day be a coordinator. Being a coordinator puts you in a

position to have ownership and have control of 30-40 guys on one side of the ball and have some success at that.” Satterfield had a lot of success at Temple, helping turn the Owls into a Top 25 program for the first time in 36 years. As a member of the staff, the Owls won a conference divisional championship, posted a 10-win season and made a bowl appearance. For all his efforts, he was named the Tennessee Tech head football coach in December 2015. His game plan had worked, and his dream of becoming a head football coach had come to fruition. “It’s unbelievable. This is the best college town in the country,” Satterfield exclaimed. “This is a dream come true.” Satterfield put a fresh game plan into action with the Golden Eagles. His 2016 Golden Eagle squad posted a 5-6 overall record, including a third-place finish in the OVC with a 5-3 mark, which is Tech’s best finish since 2011. “We are slowly but surely defeating the inferiority complex that’s been built up in this area when it comes to sports and college football,” Satterfield said. “We are breaking that down one day at a time. Hopefully, with some success on the field this is going to be a college football program everyone knows about and one of the best in the country. In time, I think we will be.” Satterfield has wasted little time in expressing his enthusiasm for being a head coach and expectations for the Golden Eagles. He uses the word “championship” in conversation. He sits and cheers with his players at TTU sporting events. Academics

and community service are priorities. The energy and passion he exudes have captured the intrigue of the campus. “The only way anything works is if you have energy and passion and love for whatever you are doing. If ever there is a day when I come into work and I’m miserable, then I need to get out of it,” said Satterfield. “If your kids can see how much love and passion and energy you have, they are going to have the same thing. The community is going to have the same thing, and the students are going to have the same thing.” Satterfield believes in the power of positive thinking, which is why he continues to use the word “championship” in conversations. He believes Tennessee Tech will not only compete for conference championships, but national championships as well. “If we don’t talk about championships, we are never going to get there,” explained Satterfield. “You never want to get caught where you are in a position to win one and you aren’t ready.” Just as Satterfield followed his game plan to be ready when the time came to be a head coach, he believes his game plan will have Tennessee Tech ready to take the next step in becoming a winning program. “The more you talk about it, the more it will happen,” said Satterfield. “I’ve talked about being a head coach all my life and it happened. It will happen here, too.” V

ATHLETICS | 2016 / 2017



Tech is the right place T ennessee and now is the right time for Kim Rosamond. After spending 21 seasons in women’s college basketball, Rosamond landed her first head coaching job when she was hired in March to become just the sixth head coach of the TTU women’s basketball program. “I had a couple of opportunities before to be a head coach. I didn’t just want to be a head coach, I wanted to be a head coach at the right place,” said Rosamond. “When the position at Tennessee Tech opened, I had no question this was the right job for me. I knew it before I even interviewed.” Rosamond played in the Hooper Eblen Center while she was student-


athlete at Ole Miss and visited as an assistant coach at Middle Tennessee State University, competing against successful Tech women’s teams. She already had a good understanding of the rich tradition of women’s basketball at Tech. “There’s not a lot of places you can go in the country where women’s basketball is valued like it is here at Tennessee Tech and in the Cookeville community,” Rosamond said. “They love women’s basketball here. They value it.” Winning on the court has been the norm since the women’s program was created in 1970. Since then, the female student-athletes donning the purple and gold have accumulated almost 900 wins, more than 400 Ohio Valley Conference victories, 18 OVC championships, 10 OVC tournament titles and 10 trips to the NCAA tournament. But, in the past nine years, Tech has produced just two winning seasons. That’s a trend Rosamond is hoping to change. “This university and this city and this community deserve a winner,” Rosamond said. “The foundation is very strong. You are already in the top 20 in wins in NCAA history for the program. That’s pretty incredible. Winning has been done here. We know it can be done here.” Besides a successful history of women’s basketball, Rosamond says academics played a big role in her decision to come to Tech. “I want excellence in every area of my life. I want to be able to offer that to the young women we coach. I just don’t want it to be all about basketball. I want to offer them an elite degree and an elite basketball

experience,” Rosamond said. “Academics at Tech are impressive. It means something. To combine academic excellence, athletic excellence with a community which loves women’s basketball is pretty special.” Rosamond comes to Tech after spending 10 years as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt. Before that, she coached at MTSU for a couple of seasons after a five-year stint at her alma mater, Ole Miss. She has enjoyed success wherever she has coached and believes her time at Tech will be no different. “It’s going to be a daily ritual to establish championship habits. We have to get back to hanging those banners and being champions, not only on the court, but in the classroom and in the community,” Rosamond explained. “You don’t just show up and be a champion. You have to live it. You have to establish championship habits on the court, in the weight room, in the classroom and in the community.” One of those championship habits Rosamond refers to is hard work. She expects her staff – Allison Clark, Crystal Kelly, Melanie Walls and Aaron Sternecker – to work hard and set examples for the players. “The assistant coaches are tremendous people. They put student-athletes first,” praised Rosamond. “Their core values are similar if not the same as mine. We value academics, athletics and the community. We want our studentathletes to be champions in all of those areas. Beyond being great people, they are great coaches. Their experience will help speed this process up.”

The process to bring the women’s program back to prominence began in April and has progressed throughout the past few months. With several players returning from last season, and a couple of highly touted recruits, Rosamond is expecting a lot out of the 2016-17 Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. “I want our team to be relentless. I want our team to be fearless. I want them to be disciplined. I want them to have a team-first attitude,” Rosamond said. “When people come watch us I want them to see the respect we give the game; the respect we give each other; and the respect we give the fans. It may not happen overnight, but they will see a team that is committed to each other, invested in each other and helps each other to be successful.” Rosamond is very clear in the goals and expectations she has for her players and coaches. She also has goals and expectations for a loyal fan base ready to cheer on a winning team. “I want people to be drawn to this program. I want it to be a magnet and intoxicating,” said Rosamond. “When people walk in here, I want them to feel like something is brewing, something special is happening. I want them to feel it from the staff and the players. We are going to work every single day to get it there.” V

ATHLETICS | 2016 / 2017




ob Schabert knows all about how to adapt and create. For 33 years, Tennessee Tech’s assistant athletics director for sports information and broadcasting adapted to new ways of doing things while coming up with creative ideas of his own. His unique skillset helped him carve out a legacy at Tech and in the community. “Whereas a coach keeps his win-loss record, I actually kept in the back of my head a win-loss record, and I had a lot of wins, so to speak,” explained Schabert. “A lot of things I started are still here.” When Schabert stepped onto the Tech campus in 1982, he was given a blank canvas to work with. Over time, he blanketed that canvas with fresh ideas which have enhanced the athletics department. “The two biggest accomplishments in my 33-plus years were conceiving new ideas and creating them; hiring and developing new people would be the other,” Schabert said. “Most of the people I brought here aren’t in the business any more, but some of them still are and are doing well.” In the ever-evolving world of technology, Schabert’s job was continually enhanced by new ways of doing things. Keeping stats by hand and calling media outlets after games morphed into updating websites, downloading stats and emailing box scores. “What we do now at Tennessee Tech is about 175 degrees different than when I got here,” Schabert said. “Not 180 degrees, because a little bit is the same, but almost everything is

by Buddy Pearson

different. We couldn’t have even imagined back in the ’80s the things we do today.” While Schabert adapted, he used his creativity to promote Tech’s student-athletes and athletic events. “I had no direction,” admitted Schabert. “I came up with the male and female athlete of the year, man and woman of the year, presidents awards, and athletic directors honor roll. “I saw things at other schools and said ‘we can do that here,’” continued Schabert. “I was the first one in the conference to do a lot of things and then they picked it up. I created a lot of the in-game promotions and my philosophy was ‘the crazier, the better.’” Schabert’s creativity wasn’t just limited to athletics. As a husband to his wife, Joan, and father to his son, Matt, and daughter, Kristin, Schabert also was involved in some groundbreaking community groups, which are still active today. “I was the charter member of just about everything in town — the Clean Commission, Save the Depot, Putnam County Crimestoppers — everybody knew me and I was willing to do all of those things,” Schabert recalled. “That was all before the internet. Once technology hit, I made a conscious effort to quit everything because the job became so time-consuming.” Since his retirement at the end of May, however, Schabert has adapted to a more relaxed pace while coming up with creative ways to stay busy. “I have worked in my yard in the

heat almost every day. It is almost caught up, so now I have to go find something else to do,” joked Schabert. “I can’t turn off the ideas in my head. I’m still thinking of stories, promotions and ideas that are all sports-related.” Whatever new things Schabert has to adapt to in retirement or whatever creative path he chooses, he reflects with pride on what he accomplished at Tennessee Tech. “When I look back, I can honestly say I’ve given all that I could,” he said. “I could not do one more thing.” V







ATHLETICS | 2016 / 2017

31 33

Class Notes 1969

Subrata Saha, M.S. mechanical engineering, was selected as a distinguished lecturer for the IEEE Society in Social Implications of Technology. He was also invited to be a keynote speaker at the 32nd Southern Biomedical Engineering Conference in Louisiana. He is currently the director of musculoskeletal research and professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.


Steve Pearson, mechanical engineering, retired from his position as Aerospace Testing Alliance general manager with the Arnold Engineering Development Complex after 24 combined years of service. He accepted a position as an interim general manager at Jacobs Aerospace and Technology. Steve has also served as the program manager for the Chrysler Scientific Test Facilities for 10 years, program director for the construction of the Department of Energy’s National Ignition Facility at Lawrence National Laboratory, and is a member of the TTU Advisory Board for the Dean of the College of Engineering. He was selected as a TTU Alumni Engineer of Distinction in 2005.



Hany J. Farran, civil engineering, ’75 M.S., retired after teaching civil and structural engineering for 40 years. He taught for 10 years at West Virginia University and 30 years at Cal Poly Pomona. Hany has six siblings, each of whom has at least one degree from Tech, either in engineering or business.


Mike Burnette, industrial engineering, retired from his position as a supply chain executive for Procter and Gamble after 33 years of service in July 2013. Mike now works as a faculty member at the University of Tennessee’s Supply Chain Management School. He teaches, manages and writes businessbased applied research for the university’s business partners.


Jeraldine Marasco Kohut, M.A. secondary education, is working as the community liaison at Cathedral Village, a Presbyterian Senior Living community in Philadelphia. She is a former faculty member and coordinator of continuing

education at Tech’s WhitsonHester School of Nursing. Jeraldine recently celebrated 50 years in the healthcare profession.


Kim Blaylock, accounting, was appointed Rhea County Finance Director. Kim is a certified public accountant who has worked for the state for nearly 10 years. She has worked in both the private and public sector, has served on the Putnam County School Board, and as Putnam County Executive. Kim is a native of Monterey, Tennessee.


Norman Harris, chemical engineering, was the recipient of the 2016 Allen A. Copping Excellence in Teaching Award from Louisiana State University. Norman joined the physiology department at the school’s health science center in 2004. In addition to teaching physiology course at the LSU Health Shreveport schools, he also serves as graduate student advisor. His microvascular research has been funded by the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, the National Institutes of Health, the Whitaker Foundation, the American Heart Association, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. The award is the most prestigious award given by the university for teaching.


Randy Wilson, wildlife fisheries

science, was inducted into the Soddy Daisy High School Hall of Fame Class of 2016. He works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Migratory Bird Field Office. He is a regional migratory bird biologist.



Craig Terry, music, was honored for his outstanding performance as a pianist and for his role as assistant conductor of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. His hometown of Tullahoma recognized June 12 as “Craig Terry Day.” Craig is the music director for the Ryan Opera Center of Chicago. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2000 and has performed with some of the world’s leading singers and instrumentalists.

1997 Brian Hoover with the Gallatin High School Academic Bowl team are joined by Tech professor Brian O’Connor, who served as moderator of the event.

Brian Hoover, secondary education, ’02 M.A. instructional leadership, ’08 Ed.S. instructional leadership, coached a team of Gallatin High School students to win the 2016 Upper Cumberland Academic Bowl. Brian’s team competed against a field of 12 to claim first place. He is a teacher at Gallatin High School and the school’s academic bowl sponsor.

David Turner, business management, was hired as the Cleveland High School athletic director. Previously, David served as principal at Copper Basin High School, worked for Eaton Corporation and Duracell, and taught at Bradley Central High School.



Erik Lehnhoff, M.S. civil and environmental engineering, is working as a weed ecologist at New Mexico State University; he recently completed his second semester as an assistant professor. Erik earned his bachelor’s degree from Clemson University in civil engineering before coming to Tech for his master’s. After spending time as an environmental consultant, Erik earned his doctorate degree in ecology and environmental science from Montana State University.

Sinem (right) accepted the honor with hotel owner Hatice Kurtural (center). Both will both travel internationally to present their best quality practices.

Sinem Kurtural, business, accepted the Quality Ambassador designation on behalf of Guzel Izmir Hotel in Turkey, where she is the general manager. The award, presented by Spain’s Bid Group at its international quality summit convention, recognized the hotel for its commitment to excellence.

Audrey Copeland, chemical engineering, ’01 M.S. chemical engineering, was elected 2nd vice president of the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists. This honor comes after Audrey was elected to their board last year as a director-at-large. AAPT is a leader in the advancement of paving technology. They serve as an authoritative source for the latest developments in the field and as a hub for communicating with fellow professionals.


Jeremy Davis, biology, was appointed assistant commissioner for legislative affairs for the Tennessee Department of Health. Jeremy joined the health department in 2011 after serving as executive assistant for policy and research for Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris. He has also served as a research analyst with the Tennessee General Assembly’s Senate Environment, Conservation and Tourism Committee and as an executive staff member for Senator Ward Crutchfield. The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee.

CLASS NOTES | 2016 / 2017



Regan Ingram, exercise science, physical education and wellness, was hired as the new softball coach at Friendship Christian School. Regan previously worked as the head coach at Donelson Christian Academy and was named the 2014 Softball Division II A East/Middle Coach of the Year. During his time at TTU, he served as a student assistant for the softball team. Regan lives with his wife, Katie, and daughter, Anna, in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.


Doug Capella, Ed.S instructional

leadership, was chosen as the new principal of Whitthorne Middle School. He previously taught and coached at middle schools in Rutherford and Williamson county. Doug is a veteran of the United States Army where he served as a military police officer.

Frank Davis, physical education and wellness, ’13 M.A. physical education and wellness, was named to Under Armour’s 30-under-30 2016 team, recognizing the nation’s top assistant coaches under the age of 30. Frank is an assistant coach with the Tech men’s basketball team. The National Association of Basketball Coaches announced the honor at their annual convention last spring in Houston. First Farmers and Merchants Bank has promoted Race Wilson, finance, to assistant branch manager at the bank’s Lewisburg branch. Race will oversee the dayto-day bank operations and serve as a loan officer. He is an advisory member to the Lewisburg Community Development Board.


Debbie Byrd, MBA, was named the dean of the Gatton College of Pharmacy at East Tennessee State University. Debbie is a licensed pharmacist in Tennessee and Alabama, a member of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the American Society of Health-system Pharmacists, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and the Tennessee Pharmacists Association. Zachary Thompson, civil engineering, joined Gresham, Smith and Partners as a transportation support engineer intern. Gresham, Smith and Partners is a Nashville-based consulting and design firm.


Hunter Oldham, secondary education, is now teaching Physical Science at Lebanon High School and assisting with the Blue Devil baseball program. He will primarily be working with Lebanon’s freshman class.

Own a piece of Tech’s history post office box doors available for limited time A perfect gift for any Tech alumni, these are original mail doors from the Roaden University Center. Student and departmental doors available. Display banks featuring a door also available.


Michael Suman leads a clinic for Tech music students.




f you’ve enjoyed music on a cruise ship, there’s a good chance Michael Suman, ’83 music education, played a role in providing it. Suman is president of Suman Entertainment Group and former music director for Norwegian and Celebrity Cruise Lines. He has roughly 35 years of administrative and music experience. Last April, Suman visited Tennessee Tech University to speak with students about how to succeed as performers and administrators in today’s entertainment and music industry. He delivered two lectures in Wattenbarger Auditorium and two clinics with students in the Haste Rehearsal Hall. “The most rewarding thing about coming back to Tech for me is getting to speak with all the music education majors,” said Suman. “They’re all heading in different directions. I just hope the advice I give them here helps them succeed out there.” In his two days at Tech, Suman presented attendees with real-world knowledge on how to prosper in the music entertainment world, specifically on a cruise ship. Most contracts for musicians at sea are four to six months long. Typically, a workweek is performing four 50-minute sets a night, Monday through Sunday. It’s rare that shows change, so once the selected compositions

are rehearsed enough, preparation for a show becomes minimal. “A strong ability to sight read music – to pick up a piece and play it right off the bat – is extremely important in this industry,” said Suman. “Don’t be fooled by the number of sets a cruise ship musician has to perform. Even with its perks, it’s still a demanding job.” His senior year, Suman was a student leader of the Troubadours, a jazz ensemble formed at Tech in 1948. He remembers when the band would regularly perform lawn concerts. He also recalled living at the corner of W 12th St. and N. Dixie Ave., a lot that is now empty. He has personally backed up notable clients including Bob Hope, Ben Vereen, Davy Jones of the Monkees, Chuck Berry, Michael Feinstein, Diana Ross, Paul Anka and Rich Little. When the Miami Heat played their first game, musicians from Suman’s group provided the entertainment. For three years after that, they provided music at every home game. Suman said his group has hired several TTU music graduates in the past, and a handful of students were invited to audition. “We look for younger musicians with musical maturity above all else. I’m always happy to help a Tech musician break into the industry.” V

CLASS NOTES | 2016 / 2017




fter wondering whether or not she could find a job that was in her field, Megan (Foster) Fielden, ’10 housing and design, is living her dream in Knoxville. “Every single day I get to create and imagine and put my skill to work. It doesn’t feel like a job!” said Fielden. Megan works for Laws Interior Design, as well as Charles Atkins, Inc., a custom homebuilder. In 2016, one of Megan’s homes was featured in the Knoxville Parade of Homes. After assisting with the designs and furnishings the year before, Megan got a chance to showcase her own abilities and talents during last year’s parade. The Knoxville Parade of Homes features around 50 custom home designs across various price ranges. It is organized by the Home Builders Association of Knoxville.


Megan (Foster) Fielden ’10 works on an interior design project.

Megan said that her professors demonstrated so much passion, devotion and commitment to their students; they pushed them to do their very best. “While I was at Tech, Dr. Jeff Plant was my professor and advisor. He was so passionate about everything he taught. He really encouraged all his students to work hard and always had great advice,” said Fielden. “Another professor I will always remember is Dr. Lizbeth Self-Mullens. She pushed us to do our very best and was tough, but also felt like a best friend.” She credits them with creating the family atmosphere she found at Tech that helped her stick with her career. V



lison Piepmeier, ‘94 English, an accomplished feminist scholar and TTU alumna who was born and raised in Cookeville, died in August 2016. Alison authored the books Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism and Out in Public. In addition to her academic publications, Alison contributed to a column for the Charleston City Paper and maintained a personal blog, The following is a tribute from fellow TTU alumna and current College of Business staff member Lelia Gibson.

Cool, hippy, feminist, intelligent, funny - these are just a few words that come to mind when I think of TTU alumna Alison Piepmeier. Over 25 years ago, I read a local editorial about Generation X and Tiananmen Square. The author expressed his pride in being in the same category as those protestors and other amazing Gen Xers … including Alison Piepmeier. A few years ahead of me in high school and at Tech, Alison was larger than life in my mind, and the embodiment of what I wanted to be when I grew up. In the fall of 1993, I took an honors colloquium on race relations, which was controversial at the time. I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of my other classmates was the great Alison Piepmeier. During that semester, I had an awakening to the world and the need to give a voice to the voiceless and representation to the underrepresented. It was my honor and privilege to have Alison along on my journey, and Alison and I soon took different paths in life. She went on to Vanderbilt for her Ph.D. and then to the College of Charleston to head their Women’s and Gender Studies program, while I remained at TTU. A few times our journeys intersected, but for the most part we lost contact. Thanks to social media, we reconnected in a superficial way on Facebook and her blog. I witnessed her marriage, the birth of her special needs daughter, divorce and remarriage. I also learned of her health struggles. Alison was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In late spring, I was shocked to find out that her medical professionals had informed her that no viable treatment was left. During her final days, she authored an elegant letter thanking the world for “her beautiful life.” Her work was featured in an array of media platforms including the New

York Times, Yahoo, ABC News and US Magazine. It pained me to read how this brilliant person was not able to walk, say the right words, teach her daughter to ride a bike and so much more. She passed away on August 12, 2016. As I penned this article, I was preparing to teach my Freshman Connections classes. I remembered a long ago conversation I had with Alison— an English major— about her belief that the written word was meant to be read aloud. I concluded my next classes by asking a student to read Alison’s final column and talking about what Alison taught me in college and more recently. My final statement was this: “Alison embodied happiness and I hope that one day you find true happiness like my friend Alison.”

This article originally appeared in Tech Women Center’s Attune newsletter. Tech’s Honors Program is establishing an internship fund in Alison’s memory. If you would like to donate to this fund, please contact University Development at 931372-3206.



FRIENDS REMEMBERED A list of alumni and friends of Tech who have passed away since the last issue of Visions.

Carleen Alexander, ’69 Foreign Language, ’71 M.A. English | March 29, 2016; Hixon, Tennessee Debra J. Allen, ’70 History | Jan. 9, 2016; Pflugerville, Texas Raymond Barnes, ’58 Business Management | March 2, 2016; Signal Mountain, Tennessee Bill Barnett, ’56 Mechanical Engineering | Feb. 5, 2016; Millington, Tennessee Donald C. Bivens, ’53 Agriculture | Dec. 23, 2015; Brentwood, Tennessee Jerry D. Blevins, ’65 Electrical Engineering | Feb. 29, 2015; South Pittsburg, Tennessee Jim L. Bohannon, non-degree alumnus Animal Husbandry | May 3, 2016; Crossville, Tennessee Marjorie Bonner, Feb. 12, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Tommy C. Bracey, ’61 Electrical Engineering | May 22, 2016; Perry, Georgia Hirotaka Bralley, May 7, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Stanley R. Brumfield, ’49 Accounting | Dec. 22, 2015; Nashville, Tennessee Robert A. Bunn, ’59 Mechanical Engineering | May 26, 2016; Nashville, Tennessee Juanita E. Carr, ’42 Human Ecology | Feb. 26, 2016; Hendersonville, Tennessee David L. Clift, ’66 Industrial Technology | Dec. 6, 2016; Smyrna, Tennessee Noble Cody, ’56 Curriculum and Instruction | Jan. 4, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Catherine R. Compton, ’44 Human Ecology | March 24, 2016; Oak Ridge, Tennessee Steve Davis, Jan. 23, 2016; Decatur, Tennessee John Diamantakos, ’50 Health and Physical Education | Feb. 19, 2016; Birmingham, Alabama Dillard Dycus, Dec. 12, 2015; Cookeville, Tennessee Margaret Beaty Echols, ’48 Health and Physical Education | Feb. 27, 2016; Madison, Tennessee Joe Elmore, ’58 Agricultural Science | Nov. 17, 2015; Baxter, Tennessee Donald N. Ervin, ’53 Business Education | Feb. 13, 2016; Cleveland, Tennessee Mona G. Evans, Nov. 16, 2016 Joe M. Ferrell, ’67 Social Sciences | May 23, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Thomas B. Fitzgerald, ’53 Industrial Arts | March 22, 2016; Rossville, Georgia Lowell Flatt, May 9, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Clyde E. Flynt, ’59 Industrial Management | Jan. 28, 2016; Versailles, Kentucky Darrell H. Garber, March 29, 2016; Murrells Inlet, South Carolina* Portia Garrett, March 21, 2016; Monroe, Tennessee Mary L. Gibson, Feb. 25, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Mary Gowing, Feb. 9, 2016; Livingston, Tennessee Margaret R. Greer, non-degree alumnus Secretarial Science | Feb. 24, 2016; Nashville, Tennessee Truman J. Grubb, ’63 Industrial Technology | Jan. 9, 2016; Norcross, Georgia Amy Gwilt, ’82 Human Ecology, ’98 M.A. Curriculum and Instruction | March 28, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Frank O. Hadlock, Jan. 23, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Sean M. Harding, May 23, 2016; Lafayette, Tennessee Dorothy Heidtke, Nov. 14, 2015; Nashville, Tennessee Baxter M. Henson, ’71 Chemical Engineering | Nov. 17, 2015; Mount Pleasant, South Carolina Dennis L. Hix, Nov. 24, 2015; Lafayette, Tennessee Ronald B. Hobson, ’66 Mathematics | Oct. 9, 2016; Smithville, Tennessee Noah Hughes, ’53 Curriculum and Instruction | March 4, 2016; Huntsville, Alabama William O. Jarvis, ’43 Agriculture | Feb. 28, 2016; Sparta, Tennessee Barbara Johnston, March 7, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee C. Cooper King, April 4, 2016; Leighton, Alabama Charles J. King, ’66 Industrial Technology | Jan. 22, 2016; La Fayette, Georgia

* Visionaries Society


Mary K. King, ’64 Business Education | April 15, 2016; Dickson, Tennessee Mary E. Kissell, Dec. 17, 2015; Memphis, Tennessee John D. Koger, ’66 Agricultural Economics | Jan. 15, 2015; Sparta, Tennessee Michael A. Kuley, Nov. 20, 2015; Cookeville, Tennessee Glenn L. Leddy, April 20, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Stephanie C. Lee, ’05 Interdisciplinary Studies | Dec. 30, 2015; Cookeville, Tennessee Dot Levin, ’48 Human Ecology | March 31, 2016; Oak Ridge, Tennessee Paul J. Long, ’50 Physics | Dec. 5, 2015; Louisville, Tennessee Pat Malone, ’61 Elementary Education | May 15, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee* Herschel W. Marshall Jr., ’72 Industrial Technology | May 23, 2016; Snellville, Georgia James B. McWilliams, Dec. 9, 2015; Cookeville, Tennessee Dorcas E. Minchey, ’40 Human Ecology | May 26, 2016; Knoxville, Tennessee Tommy L. Moredock, ‘Business Management | Dec. 17, 2015; Denver, Colorado Charlene Groce Mullins, ’50 Human Ecology | Nov. 19, 2015; Cookeville, Tennessee Robert M. Newman, ’54 Industrial Arts | March 21, 2016; Decatur, Alabama Laurie L. Noblit, ’04 Journalism | Nov. 30, 2015; Spring Hill, Tennessee Mildred C. Norman, ’51 Accounting, ’74 M.A. | Nov. 27, 2015; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Elbert Owens Sr., Nov. 30, 2015; Brighton, Alabama Nancy Padfield, ’45 Human Ecology | Dec. 31, 2015; Springfield, Tennessee Marilyn Freeman Pearson, ’53 Human Ecology | Nov. 27, 2015; Tiptonville, Tennessee Janice Peddieson, ’72 English | Jan. 7, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Jim Perdue, ’54 Electrical Engineering | Dec. 17, 2015; Gallatin, Tennessee Jim Perry, Jan. 10, 2016; Lebanon, Tennessee Valerie Lattimore Phillips, ’01 Business Management | May 13, 2016; Nashville, Tennessee Herman Pinkerton Jr., ’47 Chemistry | Dec. 5, 2015; Raleigh, North Carolina Paul E. Ramsey Sr., ’62 Mathematics | June 4, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Jean M. Reagan, May 26, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Arliss L. Roaden, former Tech president | April 10, 2016; Brentwood, Tennessee James R. Ross, ’79 Business Administrat on | Jan. 27, 2016; St. Petersburg, Florida Ronald H. Sampsell, ’64 Marketing | June 19, 2016; Knoxville, Tennessee David L. Schwab, Dec. 13, 2015; Brentwood, Tennessee Robert D. Sims, ’55 Business Management | May 2, 2016; Columbia, Tennessee Creig J. Soeder, April 23, 2016; Fairview, Tennessee Thomas C. Solomon III, ’67 Accounting | Jan. 20, 2016; Palm Harbor, Florida Clarence L. Stewart, ’47 Accounting | Nov. 18, 2015; Cookeville, Tennessee Kala Sundaram, Nov. 16, 2015; Cookeville, Tennessee Elenore Wallace Suter, ’52 Curriculum and Instruction | Jan. 22, 2016; Nashville, Tennessee Arthur Thompson Jr., ’55 Curriculum and Instruction | Feb. 4, 2016; Baxter, Tennessee Gerry Turner, ’50 Electrical Engineering | Dec. 14, 2015; Huntsville, Alabama James E. Walker Jr., ’53 Business Management | Dec. 23, 2015; Monterey, Tennessee Oda R. Weaver, ’75 Biology | March 28, 2016; Braselton, Georgia George E. Weicker, Feb. 21, 2016; Arrington, Tennessee Pete Whitehead, ’62 Business Management | Jan. 1, 2016; Franklin, Tennessee Rubye Wilson, ’56 Human Ecology | Nov. 12, 2015; Cottontown, Tennessee Bruce Womack, May 14, 2016; Cookeville, Tennessee Katie A. Worley, ’09 Marketing | Nov. 27, 2015; Silver Point, Tennessee





DAVID & SHERRI NICHOLS In addition to being a member of the President’s Club, Sandlin is the single longest continuing donor “We give because Tech to Tech, giving for 42 consecutive years. In 2007, was such a meaningful he was recognized as an Engineer of Distinction place for launching by the university and has served on the Chemical us to the life we have Engineering Advisory Board since 2005. He is also a now. The opportunities member of the TTU Friends of Music.


we had at Tech to work “Giving back to the Tennessee Tech Diversity closely with professors Scholarship program allowed mewith to establish an and be involved endowment that honorsgave the cardinal principles of research us the my fraternity, Manhood, Scholarship, experience and the Perseverance and Upliftconfidence for which it’s named “The to go onChi toLambda Chapter Omega Phi Fraternity, Inc.”,   while a top Psi graduate school.”

assisting future generations of students to obtain a great academic education and life experience at Tech. This will also support the continued flow avid (’80 electrical engineering) and Sherri (’84 physics) Nichols want to make sure that Tech well-prepared African American students to undergraduates have the opportunity to of conduct research. To help, they established the Nichols Tennessee Technological University to leverage Undergraduate Research Fund Endowment their of giving. Their funds annual embers of the President’s Club come fromwith all walks life with oneendowment common pledge to Tech’s the continuation their unique experience to contribute to the success Student Research and Creative Activities which gives students a competitive place to of Tennessee Tech’s rich traditions andDay, to help further theTech university’s commitment to future of the university initiatives. and the community as they are present their original along other research-based generations. Theyresearch, understand the with importance of higher education and the impact the university has on being prepared to beforfuture It the myuniversity great in its students, the community and the economy. And they recognize the need privateleaders.  support of honor to build this bridge for future generation of its drive educational “Wefor want to make excellence. sure that Tech continues to be an affordable option for students to receive an Tennessee Tech Students.”!”



education out of classroom,” said the“And that allows them to pursue the same Tennessee Techinisand pleased to the be able to offer certain courtesies members of the President’s Club. Things such opportunities studentsuniversity at larger publications, institutions.”recognition in published donor lists, along with discounts at as campus parking as privileges, FRED M. LOWERY the university bookstore and on-campus dining or catering are just ENGINEERING some of the ’71) courtesies extended to members. (????CHEMICAL There are increasing amounts of courtesies for members as you move up the club’s five societies. HOWABOUT DO I JOIN PRESIDENT’S CLUB? THETHE PRESIDENT’S CLUB Memberseligibility of the President’s Club come from all walks of life,gifts, pledging their support the continuation Membership may be attained through either cumulative pledges or the sum oftocumulative gifts Tech’sIn rich and to help pledges further must the university’s commitment to future generations. plusof pledges. all traditions cases, the gifts and/or meet the dollar values required within a 10-year period. Membership may be attained through cumulative gifts or pledges. Matching gifts count toward membership eligibility. CLASS NOTES




Visions PO Box 5111 1000 N. Dixie Ave. Cookeville TN 38505-0001

Tech launches ‘cosmouse’ in 1970 On May 18, 1970, Professor Elmo Dooley led a team of students in biology and engineering to launch a mouse from the football field into the upper atmosphere in order to gauge the effect on its respiratory and cardiac systems. Dooley earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Tech in 1952. After serving in the U.S. military, he worked for NASA as one of the handlers for Able and Baker, the first monkeys to be launched into space and survive. By the way, “cosmouse” survived as well.

Visions 2016/2017  

Visions is the university magazine for Tennessee Tech University. This issue focuses on research and innovation efforts of students, faculty...

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