State allocates $100 million for two major building projects on Tech campus

The Advanced Construction and Manufacturing Engineering building at Tennessee Tech would be located at Wings Up Way and Stadium Drive.

COOKEVILLE – Two new major building projects – the total renovation of Johnson Hall, coupled with the demolition of Foster Hall and another new engineering building – will be coming to the Tech campus. The total budgeted cost for both projects is more than $100 million.

“As part of this year’s historic budget for higher education, Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly invested heavily for Tech’s future students,” said Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham. “On behalf of the entire Tech community, our faculty, staff, students and alumni, I am grateful for this support and appreciate how it will enable us to continue to serve students.”

Funds for the state’s portion of the project costs were included in the state budget for 2022-2023, and with the arrival of the new fiscal year July 1, both projects will begin the multi-year path to completion.

 The Advanced Construction and Manufacturing Engineering building, the second new engineering building at Tech funded in the last two years, will be cross-disciplinary within the College of Engineering and will provide Tech students with applied skills called for directly by industry partners. 

“The Tennessee Tech College of Engineering prides itself on graduates who are trained not just in the classroom but also in environments and with equipment that matches what employers use,” said Joseph Slater, dean of the College of Engineering. “This facility will ensure our students experience real-world manufacturing and construction while they are students, instead of relying on industry to complete their education post-graduation.”

The new building provides a modernization of Tech’s manufacturing facilities to better house its already modernized manufacturing equipment, Slater said. The project includes a state-of-the-art foundry, along with replacing older spaces for concrete manufacturing and materials testing. 

At more than 2,600 students, the College of Engineering is Tech’s largest college, with nearly 27% of Tech’s total student body. 

Construction on the Ashraf Islam Engineering Building, funded by the state in last year’s budget along with donations including a major gift from Tech alumnus Ashraf Islam, began last year.

“Hand-in-hand these two new buildings show prospective students the entire path from concept to analysis, collaborative design, further analysis, and testing of ideas in the lab,” Slater said. “Students who experience both buildings will be able to see and understand the entire process of creation that engineering represents.”

The project budget for the Advanced Construction and Manufacturing Engineering building is $62.4 million, with the university having to supply nearly $5 million (of which nearly $1.7 million must be from private giving). The initial project timeline is for nearly four years. Upon completion of the new facility, the college will vacate its space in the East Stadium structure, and Lewis Hall and the Foundry building will be demolished.

Johnson Hall, home of the College of Business and built in 1970, will undergo a complete renovation, which includes updating the building’s systems and equipment (such as HVAC), along with reallocating its space utilization with regards to classrooms, labs, student collaboration spaces and office areas.

“The newly designed Johnson Hall is configured to accommodate the way students learn today while providing flexibility for future growth,” said Thomas Payne, dean of the College of Business. “Spaces are included in the design to provide students opportunities for collaboration, group presentations and experiential learning,” 

The design will expand the Heidtke Trading Room, Bloomberg Suite, IT Forensics and Networking Labs, making those technology-focused spaces focal points for the new Johnson Hall.

“All students earning a degree in business need to engage in experiential learning activities to prepare for the professional world,” Payne said. “The remodeled building will allow us to showcase these opportunities and to collaborate with our business partners in new and exciting ways.” 

Tech’s College of Business has more than 1,300 majors (nearly 14% of students), and serves many other students on campus through minors and general education courses. 

The project budget for the Johnson Hall renovation and Foster Hall demolition is $37.6 million, with the university match being $1.5 million. The university anticipates Johnson Hall re-opening for the fall 2025 semester. 

Both the engineering and business building projects were identified as the top priorities in the university’s new master plan, which was approved earlier this year. The plan provides a comprehensive facilities plan for the campus, creating a vision of what the Tennessee Tech of tomorrow will look like. It identifies needs and opportunities that guide future development.

Along with funding for the two major construction projects, Tech received funding $1.7 million in capital funding for maintenance at the Appalachian Center for Craft.

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