Building the Technology Talent Pipeline for America

The Oak Ridge Institute at the University of Tennessee (ORI@UT) will create a robust talent pipeline in areas of growing national need and demand. As a result, Tennessee will become the “go-to” destination for top-level talent development and discovery.

ORI@UT will address top-tier industry and workforce needs emerging from the introduction of automation and artificial intelligence. The institute will develop scientists and engineers, who will be locally relevant and globally competitive. Students will be prepared by teaching innovation and interdisciplinary problem-solving skills.


A University of Tennessee graduate student writing calculations on dry erase board


To strategically align the expertise and infrastructure of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to usher in world-class interdisciplinary research and graduate education.



To become the coveted home for convergent research and talent development, helping maintain U.S. prominence as a global innovation leader and provide tangible impact to Tennessee.



The overarching goals of ORI are to:

  • Establish robust partnership platforms that promote industry engagement, entrepreneurship and technology implementation for economic and community development;
  • Provide flexible mechanisms that promote discovery and innovation especially in, but not limited to, areas related to data science and technology, advanced materials and outcomes-based applications;
  • Build on existing joint programs to strategically integrate collaborative opportunities between UT and ORNL; and
  • Offer an enriched interdisciplinary educational and research experience for students.


The Summit supercomputer at ORNL
Photo by Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

To accomplish the mission and vision of ORI@UT, the institute must operate differently than past organizations.

On June 21, 2019, the UT Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution creating the Oak Ridge Institute at the University of Tennessee. The establishment of ORI@UT forges a path of increased collaboration and alignment, and will enhance Tennessee’s ability to provide top-tier talent in areas of national need. ORI@UT will maximize coordination of the many joint programs at UT and ORNL, bring together colleges and departments across UT campuses and ORNL and remove barriers to collaboration that will usher in world-class interdisciplinary graduate research and education.

As the University of Tennessee develops a business plan for ORI@UT, UT and ORNL stakeholders will have opportunities to provide feedback and ideas. UT and ORNL faculty/staff input is essential to the institute’s success. The goal is to present a business plan to the UT Board of Trustees by Nov. 8, 2019, that details timelines and goals. However, for ORI@UT to be successful, the plan will need to be flexible and responsive to opportunities as they arise over time.


Steering Committee

  • Moody Altamimi
  • Suresh Babu
  • Michelle Buchanan
  • Heidi Goodrich-Blair
  • Moe Khaleel
  • David Manderscheid
  • Jeff Nichols
  • Robert Nobles
  • Stacey Patterson
  • Soren Sorensen
  • Bobby Sumpter
  • Janis Terpenny
  • Brian Wirth
  • Xin Sun


Steering Committee Meetings

  • Friday, Sept. 13, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 25, 7 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 28, 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Sept. 30, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 8, 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 15, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 22, 7 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 5, 7 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 14, 7 a.m. – 10 a.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 4, 7 a.m. – 9 a.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 11, 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 18, 7 a.m. – 10 a.m.




Committee Member Presentation Dates

Previous presentations by Steering Committee members:

  • Open Forum for Knoxville Area Faculty – Oct. 31, 2019
  • Academic Council – Oct. 24, 2019
  • Office of Research and Engagement, Academic Leadership Retreat – Oct. 4, 2019
  • Physics Department – Sept. 27, 2019


Sept. 16, 2019 ORI@UT Information presentation

Audience: UT Knoxville Faculty Senate

Presentation slides (PDF)


Sept. 11, 2019 ORI@UT Information presentation

Audience: UT Research Council

Presentation slides (PDF)


Sept. 4, 2019 ORI@UT Ideation Session

Group discussion with ORNL researchers and employees.

Aug. 30 memo from the Office of the President re: Steering Committee


July 29, 2019 ORI@UT Ideation Session

Group discussion with UT faculty and staff.


June 21, 2019 Board Meeting


To offer your ORI@UT ideas and suggestions email

Check back soon for more information on benchmarking.