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New Positions Highlight Eastman’s $2 Million UT Engineering Commitment



The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Engineering and Eastman have built upon the momentum of their partnership by naming two new professors of practice.

Yan Xu, of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Matthew Young, of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, received the designation as part of the company’s $2 million-plus commitment to the college.

“Eastman’s collaboration with the College of Engineering is an excellent example of a successful partnership between business and education,” said Etta Clark, Eastman’s vice president of global public relations and policy.  “By developing a strong foundation, we are enabling students to be successful in the workforce.”

Professor of practice positions are set up so that faculty can provide detailed hands-on education in specific areas.

Young’s research is paving the way for advances in manufacturing that encourage innovative and productive critical thinking and problem solving— important skills in the modern business world.

Thanks to his selection, Young said, he has been able to give students practical instruction from his own experiences, train them in the latest tools of the trade and offer advice when asked about curriculum or career choices.

Yan-Xu copy


“I can focus on content selection, material delivery and assessments of selected courses at a level not possible before,” said Young. “I have been able to offer courses that emphasize computer-aided design (CAD) packages and techniques, helping our graduates become better equipped to make new contributions to their field and answer immediate industrial needs.”

For Xu, whose expertise lies in the realm of power systems, her classes and research will help educate students about the most up-to-date ways of ensuring companies have their energy and electricity needs met.

“Eastman’s partnership with our college continues to be valuable to students and faculty alike,” said Leon Tolbert, head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “Having someone like Yan Xu on our faculty to provide real-world examples from her industrial career helps students to relate the theoretical material they are learning in class with practical engineering issues they will face in their careers.”

For the departments and the college as a whole, Eastman’s contributions continue to prove invaluable.

Matthew Mench, head of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering, pointed out how the impact of Young’s selection is felt throughout the department.

“He’s developing a style, a prototype of applying basic practical knowledge that can be used in other classes,” said Mench. “Having that helps our students know that they will graduate with a particular set of skills that place them ahead of people they are competing with for jobs.

“This opportunity came along at the perfect time and really fit in well with a need we had.”

In addition to the two positions—and a third on the way in the Department of Chemical Engineering—the company has funded a total overhaul of lab space in the Nathan W. Dougherty Engineering Building, the refurbishment of additional lab space, a new student lounge and summer programs. Eastman also continues to be a strong provider of paid co-op and internships for engineering students.

For Eastman, a Fortune 500 company based in Kingsport, Tennessee, the decision to partner with UT came naturally.

“Eastman is committed to securing the best and brightest engineering graduates, and the entire region benefits from the economic impact of students graduating with advanced degrees and securing local jobs,” said Clark. “Combining our efforts helps us both succeed.”

For more on the College of Engineering, visit

For more on the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, visit

For more on the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, visit

For more on Eastman, visit

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683,