The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $20 million to the new Oak Ridge Institute at the University of Tennessee to expand the university’s partnership with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to train the next generation of American scientists and engineers, Sen. Lamar Alexander announced Wednesday.
“This $20 million federal grant is in support of an institute that is the culmination of 40 years of effort to merge the strengths of UT-Knoxville and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” Alexander said in a press release. “The Oak Ridge Institute will be a pipeline for a new supply of American-trained scientists and engineers, which our country sorely needs in this competitive world. It will also combine the resources and experience of the nation’s largest science and energy laboratory and a major research university.
“Already, the UT-Oak Ridge partnership has 250 joint faculty, five joint institutes, and 250 doctoral students in jointly administered energy and data programs. With such a strong foundation and such strong current leadership, I am betting that during the next 80 years, the Oak Ridge Corridor brand and the Oak Ridge Institute will be recognized as one of the most important science and engineering alliances in the world.”
For the past six years, Alexander has chaired the Senate’s Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee that provides funding for national laboratories.
U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, Alexander, UT President Randy Boyd, Gov. Bill Lee, UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman, ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia, Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann all participated in a video conference to discuss this announcement.