A new, state-of-the-art engineering building on the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was dedicated this weekend by alumnus and Strongwell Corp. founder John D. Tickle. The five-story, 110,000-square-foot John D. Tickle Engineering Building, built by Messer, opened to students this fall, and anchors a new gateway to campus while providing a new link between campus’ Neyland Drive and The Hill – a historic division on the east side of UT’s campus.

Tickle and his wife, Ann, joined UT President Joe DiPietro, Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek, Dean of Engineering Wayne T. Davis, and other officials this weekend to celebrate the dedication of the Tickle Building. A gift from the Tickles significantly aided the funding of the building.

“This building is a beautiful addition to campus,” Tickle said at the dedication. “This is a constantly forward-moving campus, and it’s going to continue moving forward.”

The $23.1 million project began in Dec. 2009, and has produced a new home for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. The College of Engineering is UT-Knoxville’s fastest-growing college, and the Tickle Center now serves as a symbol of that growth.

Since 2007, undergraduate enrollment at UT-Knoxville’s College of Engineering has increased by 40 percent, while doctoral enrollment has increased by more than 60 percent. Mirroring that growth is the ever-increasing prestige of the college, as both the undergraduate and graduate programs rank 37th overall among doctoral-granting public universities by U.S. News and World Report. Furthermore, the college’s nuclear engineering graduate program ranks sixth in the nation among all public and private universities.

The building includes 24 laboratories, three conventional classrooms, one lecture hall, three student work spaces and 63 faculty and graduate student offices. Among its most notable features is a pedestrian bridge that connects the building to The Hill. The bridge includes fiberglass-reinforced large I-beams manufactured by Strongwell, Tickle’s company.

Tickle, who graduated from UT in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, purchased the Bristol, Va.-based Strongwell in 1997, overseeing the evolvement of the company into a worldwide operation. Ann Tickle also graduated from UT with a degree from the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. Though she is now heavily involved in philanthropic work, she is famous for hosting the popular children’s show “Romper Room” from 1969-76.


See more in the Knoxville News Sentinel: http://bit.ly/1cfTAFQ