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Union University announces new engineering program

JACKSON, Tenn.May 7, 2001 – Jacksonians and area residents will no longer have to travel out of town to obtain an engineering degree. Union University has announced that a new engineering program will be launched for the Fall 2001 semester at its Jackson campus.

The first of its kind in Jackson, the university will offer a program in general engineering with emphases in mechanical, electrical and possibly industrial engineering.

“The Chamber applauds Union University's proactive approach to responding to a need within the business community,” said Bob Cook, president of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce. “As Jackson's business base expands into increasingly higher levels of technology, this new program will be one of the most significant factors for ensuring that this development is successful. Jackson's economic development efforts have been provided a powerful new weapon for its arsenal,” added Cook.

Union's new engineering program will allow students to take summer internships, or co-ops, with local industry.  Pictured is Union Senior Justin Kropf and Dr. Kyle Hathcox, Professor of Physics.

Union's new engineering program will allow students to take summer internships, or co-ops, with local industry. Pictured is Union Senior Justin Kropf and Dr. Kyle Hathcox, Professor of Physics.

Chairing the newly formed department is Don Van, whose professional experience includes 20 years of meticulous experience in energy and facilities engineering. Van received his bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois in Chicago, and a master’s and Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology where he has also taught while serving in the corporate field of engineering with the Pfizer Company.

Joining Van is James Kirk, a professor who is both a computer scientist and engineer. A graduate of Union, Kirk holds two master degrees from Indiana University and a Ph.D. from the University of Louisville in computer science and engineering.

“The additions of Don Van and James Kirk to the Union faculty are providential,” said Union University President David S. Dockery. “Both men bring stellar academic preparation to their new roles and Dr. Vann’s corporate experience will be extremely beneficial for our partnerships with industry in this region. The launching of the engineering program at Union is one of the most exciting ventures in Union’s history and will enhance the university’s strategic role in Jackson and West Tennessee,” added Dockery.

Bill Dement, president of Dement Construction and a graduate of the engineering program at Vanderbilt, is excited to see Union bringing a program to Jackson.

“Students and local industry are going to both benefit,” said Dement, explaining that the students will be able to interface with local industry and local industry will have a pool of young talent they can pull from in order to fill important positions within their companies. “There’s been a growing need in the community for this, specifically for mechanical engineers, and prospective students should be attracted to attending such a program with so many surrounding career opportunities within the community,” said Dement.

Bob Campbell, president of Panther Oil Company, agrees.

“We’ve heard from industries throughout the region of the need for engineers but it’s crucial to recruit at home so they’ll stay at home. It’s very difficult to get them to move from large urban areas after completing their degrees elsewhere, so I feel the engineering program at Union will be a very positive benefit for Jackson as a whole,” explained Campbell.

For more information regarding the new program and student registration, contact the Office of Enrollment at (731) 661-5210.

Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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