The suspension bridge linking the John D. Tickle building to the engineering campus is more than just an aesthetic choice.
The bridge, a staple of civil engineering, connects the current headquarters to the new facility, tethering past and future.
Although students and faculty moved in the building at the beginning of the semester, the ribbon cutting and official dedication for the Tickle building will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday.
Funded by John and Ann Tickle, the state of Tennessee and other UT alumni, the building provides a much-needed upgrade for the College of Engineering. The 40th anniversary of the College of Engineering's Diversity programs, and the 175th anniversary of the offering of engineering courses, will also be celebrated.
William Dunne, associate dean of the College of Engineering, voiced his excitement towards the new infrastructure.
"The ... new building primarily provides replacement space for the inadequate space, particularly in Estabrook Hall and East Stadium that CEE and ISE have been forced to use because other space was not available," Dunne said. "The undergraduates and graduate students of both departments are now all learning and working in space purpose-built for their educational needs, as opposed to operating in spaces that were never really intended to serve the educational needs of engineering students in the 21st century."
The building features flexible classrooms that allow students to convert from standard lecture style to break out groups during the class, a high bay area that provides testing of large structural beams and asphalt materials, state of the art hydraulic, hydrology and geotech laboratories and laboratories related to industrial engineering and manufacturing.
Dayakar Penumadu, head of the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, emphasized how the new facilities will aid the Top 25 goal.
"This is going to transform our program," Penumadu said. "We finally have the right infrastructure that is needed to propel the Top 25 vision we have. The ... lab facilities, coupled with the high bay area, and we also have fairly advanced computing connection ... for large database type projects ... that's going to provide us with a unique resource to tackle skill problems of importance to civil and environmental engineers."
The engineering students will benefit the most from the new building.
"(There is) a ... room for senior design projects, modern instructional laboratories for geotechnical, structural and environmental engineering and in informal work room that is located at the main entrance on the fourth floor on the bridge," Penumadu said. "The graduate students in ISE now have access to five research laboratories on the fifth floor that were purpose-built for the activities rather attempting to cobble functionality out of old 1930s era rooms in the stadium that even lacked sufficient electricity."
The ribbon cutting will also include demonstrations of the capabilities with each laboratory.