By Scott Robertson
With classrooms in which students on the Johnson City campus can receive instruction from professors at Tennessee Tech, the much-anticipated engineering program at East Tennessee State University is about to welcome its first students. Two synchronous classrooms, funded by a $250,000 donation from Eastman Credit Union, will allow the partnership between the two institutions to flourish.
Dr. Keith Johnson, chair of the Department of Engineering, said, “ETSU is responsible for teaching 50 percent of the curriculum and Tennessee Tech the other 50 percent. When Tennessee Tech is teaching a class, we need to be able to receive live streaming so our students can interact in those classes. So these synchronous classrooms will allow interactions between the classrooms.”
The two schools have spent more than three years ironing out the details of the partnership. It was in a December 2013 article on bjournal.com that Linda Garceau, then-dean of the ETSU College of Business and Technology, first acknowledged talks with TTU.
“Tennessee Tech’s president, Phil Oldham and I sat down together,” ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland said Thursday. “He outlined challenges they faced in the Upper Cumberland; I outlined challenges that we faced here and essentially we agreed to partner. We’re taking the Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner or DNP program to Cookeville. They’re bringing engineering here.”
The joint degree in general engineering offered by ETSU and TTU is the only one of its kind in Tennessee and one of only four such programs in the nation. Students may apply at either ETSU or TTU and will receive diplomas reflecting graduation from both schools.
ECU announced it will fund the audio and video conferencing equipment for the two synchronous classrooms in Wilson-Wallis Hall to allow ETSU and TTU to broadcast interactive classes for students at both campuses.
“We’re honored to support this program. We have a long-standing relationship with ETSU that’s built on a common desire to help make our local economies as strong as possible. ECU is proud of that partnership,” said Olan Jones, CEO and president of ECU.
“This gift from ECU is important because it’s the first gift,” said Dr. Dennis Depew, dean of the ETSU College of Business and Technology. “We’d like to be able to say, ‘Look what Eastman Credit Union has done, it’s time for others to step forward and help us as well.’”