TSU, UT, Motlow State Sign Agreement to Make Advanced Degree Program More Accessible

Program will allow Motlow State Community College students to take classes leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering

By Emmanuel Freeman

NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee Knoxville are partnering to create a program that provides pathways for Motlow State Community College students to take classes leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering.  

Students in the program never have to leave home, and all classes are offered at Motlow State in face-to-face, online and hybrid formats.  

A Memorandum of Understanding recently signed between the three Tennessee institutions states that students participating in the 2+2+2 program will complete the applied associate degree at Motlow, the Bachelor of Science degree in applied and industrial technology at TSU, and a research-based curriculum leading to the Master of Science in industrial engineering from UT. 

Matthew Terry and Daniel Luis Campos, now in their last semester at TSU, are among the first in the program who will receive their bachelor’s degree when the university holds its May commencement. Terry and Campos, of McMinnville, Tennessee, who will receive their TSU degrees in applied and industrial technology, with concentration in mechatronics, have full-time jobs. They say the quality of the program is outstanding and convenient for working students, and those who may have a problem driving the long distance to TSU each day. 

“Initially, I was going to go to a different college that would require me to travel every day or possibly move away,” says Terry. “With this educational experience here, I have been able to stay home, keep my job, work around my class schedule and not miss any coursework.  It’s been a blessing.”

Campos says in addition to the convenience the program offers, professors are also very helpful and thorough.

“The quality of the program is really good, and all my professors have helped me every step of the way,” says Campos. “Overall, it’s been a blessing and a great experience to expand my education like I have.” 

Terrance Izzard, TSU associate vice president for admissions and recruitment, says TSU is excited about the partnership between the three institutions. 

“This partnership gives Tennessee State an opportunity to impact industry with talented students, who are interested in the field of mechatronics,” says Izzard. “We have some of the best and brightest students that have come from that program already and we are looking forward to expanding our efforts to continue to build the program and impact our community.” 

Larry Flatt, executive director of Motlow’s Automation & Robotics Training Center, says creating partnerships with educational institutions and industry furthers the Motlow mission of student success. 

“Our partnership with TSU and UTSI provides a new and exciting pathway for Motlow students,” says Flatt. “The opportunity to earn an associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees without leaving Tullahoma (Tennessee) is cost-effective and convenient for potential students from that area. Additionally, partnerships increase our ability to ensure access and inclusion for all students.” 

In addition to the new pathways program, TSU also partners with Motlow to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural sciences in Fayetteville, Tennessee, and another in elementary education and criminal justice at Motlow’s main campus in Tullahoma. Also, the university is partnering with several other community colleges across the state to expand its educational initiatives around Tennessee. For instance, TSU’s College of Engineering recently received $1 million from the National Science Foundation to recruit minority transfer students from regional community colleges in Middle Tennessee who are interested in pursuing degrees in engineering, mathematical sciences, or computer science. 

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering at TSU, says with the growing need for industrial engineers to work in manufacturing and the automotive industry, the new agreement with Motlow State “allows practice-based technologists” to proceed with a four-year degree, and further validate their experience and credentials with an advanced degree. 

“We are extremely excited about providing an opportunity for students to obtain multiple degrees from three institutions in Tennessee,” says Hargrove.  “The academic pathway demonstrates a partnership of one of our outstanding community colleges, Nashville’s only public university, and the state’s flagship institution, to prepare and produce engineers for the production industry, logistics, manufacturing, and operations for Tennessee’s workforce.” 

Dr. Carlos D. Beane, assistant professor of applied and industrial technology, is one of the TSU instructors in the pathways program. He says that in addition to flexibility, the program is very cost effective. And, with scholarship opportunities, and TSU having the lowest tuition of any university in the state, a full-time student in the program can possibly attend school tuition free. 

“The benefit is that the student never has to leave the McMinnville area. So, the program comes to them,” says Beane. “The only time they will ever have to come to TSU will basically be to graduate.” 

For more information on the TSU College of Engineering, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/moreaboutus.aspx