MURFREESBORO, TN – Middle Tennessee State University held their groundbreaking event for their new Applied Engineering Building on Tuesday morning. Scheduled to open in the summer or fall of 2025, the soon-to-be-built structure will be nearly 90,000-square-feet in size at an investment of $78.4 million. The new building will be home to the renowned Mechatronics Engineering program and other Engineering Technology concentrations, providing students with the space, equipment, and education to prepare for ever-changing careers.
It will be located next to the Concrete and Construction Management Building on the east side of campus and replace the Voorhies Engineering Technology Building and space now utilized in the Davis Science and Midgett buildings. “It’s going to be fabulous,” Engineering Technology Chair Ken Currie told Andrew Oppmann, “Out of the Blue” host and vice president for Marketing and Communications, discussing the building before revealing news about the acquisition of valuable new and donated equipment valued at more than $2 million.
We’re going to have an entire ground floor that’s going to have Makerspace and we’re going to have a new robotics and automation lab, and that leads into other big news that we’re going to have probably close to $1.2 million of new equipment that’s been gifted or bought that we’re getting right now, that’s going to go into the new building, so, we’re really excited about this,” Currie added.
Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Engineering Technology and School of Concrete and Construction Management will be next-door neighbors on the east side of campus in 2025 after sharing space in the Voorhies Engineering Technology Building for nearly 30 years.
MTSU officials welcomed special guests, including state legislators, to campus to break ground on its new Applied Engineering Building on Tuesday, June 20, during a special ceremony led by President Sidney A. McPhee. Because of rain, the ceremony was held in the new School of Concrete and Construction Management Building.
Scheduled to open in summer or fall of 2025 at a cost of $78.4 million, the nearly 90,000-square-foot Applied Engineering Building will be the new home to the renowned Mechatronics Engineering program and other Engineering Technology concentrations, providing students with the space, equipment and education to prepare for ever-changing careers.
McPhee said the opening of the new facility in 2025 “will be the finishing touch to what we’ve named the Science Corridor of Innovation that began in 2014 with the opening of our $147 million Science Building, the single largest investment by the state of Tennessee for an academic facility.”
Last October, MTSU officially opened the new $40.1 million School of Concrete and Construction Management Building, a 54,000-square-foot facility that serves as an integrated and experiential learning laboratory.
“MTSU is an institution on the rise and is no longer the state’s best-kept secret in higher education,” McPhee said. “We take pride in preparing ready-to-work graduates who become engaged citizens. Our academic offerings have grown not only in quantity but also in quality to better serve the needs of the Middle Tennessee region and support the state’s economic growth and development.”
Once completed, “it’s going to be fabulous,” said Ken Currie, Engineering Technology chair, adding that features in the new Applied Engineering Building will include a Makerspace area and new robotics and automation labs.
Combining legacy (past hard-working leaders Edwin S. Voorhies, Richard “Dick” Gould and James Lorenz) and the future, Currie “challenged the faculty to think differently about space and equipment in the new building and with the help from our generous donors, we have created a vision and plan to attract the next generation of engineers and technologists.
“This building signifies a bridge across generations that is represented in the lives of current students and recent graduates — a bridge that is being forged by an active advisory board that is supporting state-of-the-art technology to ensure students can navigate a changing technological landscape.”
Currie and McPhee shared about nearly $1.2 million in new equipment that’s been gifted or bought that’s eventually going into the new building or utilized sooner. Currie said the new building and gifts like the Dexcom/Automation Nth FlexBases (equipment), the Gould Mechatronics Robotics lab and the Co-Bot Workplace Development Center (two robots on order) “will start to bridge the gap between industry and education.”
College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Greg Van Patten said the new building “represents a new phase in the life of the department — a progression into a new era of possibilities for our faculty and students … it will completely alter how the faculty in the Engineering Technology Department will teach and how our students will learn.
“Its welcoming spaces will increase students’ interactions with each other and with faculty outside of class. The cutting-edge facilities and new equipment will provide opportunities for our faculty to pursue research projects that are not possible at MTSU today. Those benefits will, in turn, help us continue to attract and retain the very top-talented students and faculty.”
Alumnus and MTSU Board of Trustees Chairman Steve Smith also shared remarks, saying “this building represents a wealth of opportunities for our students to pursue successful careers while transforming the world that surrounds us.”
Representatives from Wold Architects & Engineers of Brentwood, Tennessee, and Denark Construction of Knoxville, Tennessee, joined MTSU students, faculty, staff and other guests at the event.
A student’s viewpoint -Introduced by Currie, rising MTSU senior Gibson Young will graduate well before the completion of the new building, but said “it will be exciting for all future engineering students to use all the technology and resources to adapt to the constantly changing engineering world.”
Young, 19, an electromechanical engineering major with a 3.91 GPA from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Oakland High School graduate, said the current “technology we have is very present and viable, and hasn’t hindered my education.”
Taking a summer class in technical project management and soft skills to help students be better project managers, Young is in his second internship with Qubits Energy, with locations in Murfreesboro and Colombia, South America. It’s an opportunity that’s “helping me a little ahead of the curve,” he said. Currie added that Young is “learning firsthand the difference between textbook and real life as an engineering technologist.”