The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Nation's Leading Computational Engineering Program Established at UT Chattanooga

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga received approval today to move forward with what some outside evaluators have called "the most advanced computational modeling and simulation center in the nation."

The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees unanimously passed a proposal for UTC to begin offering a doctorate in computational engineering, the first Ph.D. program for the campus. The new doctorate will draw upon the resources of the UTC College of Engineering and Computer Science, the UTC Graduate School in Computational Engineering, and the UTC SimCenter.

"We are very grateful for this vote of confidence in our campus and our community," said UTC Chancellor Bill Stacy. "We have been deliberate in every step in this process to ensure that the first Ph.D. program in Chattanooga is of top quality, and I believe that this vote is a recognition of the attention to those details."

The field of computational engineering encompasses practical engineering analysis and design problems that require supercomputer simulations. It is multidisciplinary employing engineering, mathematics, and computer science. Examples of its application include hydrodynamics, aerodynamics, propulsion, heat transfer, and structure and it is used to support activities of government agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency and their industrial partners.

The UTC SimCenter conducts research with a high-speed connection to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Candidates in the Ph.D. program will work with SimCenter faculty as they explore research projects. It was announced earlier this week that the SimCenter will support the federal government's FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program with a $250,000 effort to model and enhance air flow for new hydrogen-powered buses.

In a recent evaluation of the proposed doctorate conducted for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Dr. L.S. Fletcher, a NASA mechanical engineer on the faculty of Texas A&M University, wrote that the UTC SimCenter "is the most advanced computational modeling and simulation center in the nation, with outstanding teaching and research faculty."

Only a handful of computational engineering programs exist in the world, and Fletcher said that with the establishment of the new program, UTC "will be leading the development of a new doctoral program that other institutions will emulate."

The program will be housed in a new $40 million Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science building on the UTC campus. The UTC SimCenter will be located in the campus's first dedicated research facility when renovations are completed later this fall.

“The Ph.D. in computational engineering will significantly advance the College of Engineering and Computer Science and provide us the opportunity to be on the forefront of a new dimension of engineering design and simulation,” according to Dr. Phil Kazemersky, Acting Dean of Engineering and Computer Science.

The UTC SimCenter and the associated Ph.D. program have received tremendous support from the Chattanooga community and are seen as vital elements in the city's efforts to establish itself as the center of a high-tech research and development hub.

"Today's accomplishment is a very important milestone not only for UTC, but for our entire region," said Mayor Bob Corker. "This opens up significant science and research possibilities that have the potential to lead to the creation of new business and new jobs for our citizens. We appreciate the decision of the UT Board of Trustees and congratulate the SimCenter, Dr. Stacy, and his entire staff for the hard work they have devoted to making this Ph.D. program a reality."

UTC currently offers a clinical doctorate in physical therapy and a master's degree in computational engineering, among other graduate programs. For more information on the UTC College of Engineering and Computer Science and the Graduate School in Computational Engineering, call (423) 425-4363.