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Message from the department head

Photo of Ekici in suit, leaning on railing in ZEC

Welcome to the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering (MABE) website. I’m glad you’re taking a look around. Whether you are a prospective student, alumni, or visitor, I hope the information and news you’ll find throughout this site is useful.

If you haven’t visited our department, I invite you to do so. We’re located in the heart of Knoxville, Tennessee, a wonderful place, full of growth and opportunity, great weather, friendly people, outdoor activities in the Smokies, and some of the most energized and connected alumni in the country. In 2021, Knoxville was ranked the 41st best place to live by the U.S. News and World Report based on desirability, value, job market, and quality of life. We are in close proximity to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the largest multi-program science and energy research lab in the U.S. Our students and faculty have unique opportunities to work with ORNL, and many of our graduates go on to have careers there. Several of our faculty members are located at the UT Space Institute (UTSI) in Tullahoma, Tennessee, which isn’t far from Nashville—the country music capital of the world.

Great things are happening in our department. In the last fiscal year, we had record-breaking new external funding exceeding $20 million between UT and UTSI’s MABE faculty. Our external research expenditures were around the same level as the previous fiscal year exceeding $18 million. With strategic new hires and potential growth in the faculty lines in the next few years, we expect these numbers to go even higher. Such growth will place us near the top of peer institutions in the country. The 2023 U.S. News and World Report graduate school rankings were announced and our ME program rose to 37th, placing it in the top 29th percentile among public universities. Our AE program is 28th, and our BME program rose seven spots to 51st among publics this year. These rankings would not have been possible without the hard work of our students and faculty.

If you are a potential graduate student, now is a great time to consider joining the department. With so many new faculty and facilities, and a top national laboratory down the road, opportunities abound to pursue cutting-edge research in interesting areas such as energy storage, bio-inspired propulsion, human-robot interaction, and much more. Our alumni are employed in top positions throughout the world in academia, industry, and national labs. I invite you to explore our faculty webpages and research programs and get in touch with people working in areas of interest to you.

If you are a potential undergraduate student or parent looking at the MABE department, the growth isn’t just in research activities. We are committed to enhancing the undergraduate education and future job opportunities for our students. The atmosphere is energetic, and there are numerous opportunities to become involved in student organizations, work in research with faculty or at ORNL, work on a co-op assignment almost anywhere the world, or carve your own unique path.

Undergraduates are trained in a new Advanced Prototyping Laboratory, equipped with computational engineering software and hardware, including 3-D printers and other state-of-the-art equipment. Senior design projects with industrial sponsorships from leaders such as Boeing, NIH, NASA, DOE, DENSO, and many others help prepare our students for the “real world” and establish job pipelines. Like our graduate program, our undergraduate alumni are employed in top positions all over the world in academia, industry, and national labs.

Thanks for your interest in MABE, and I hope to see you on campus soon!

Go Vols!

Kivanc Ekici