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VOL. 43 | NO. 34 | Friday, August 23, 2019

NSF gives Maryville College $1M

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The National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $1 million grant to Maryville College to its Scots Science Scholars program.

The program also known as S3 is now in its seventh year. It is a four-year program with a goal of increasing the number of students graduating with a major in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at the school.

Dr. Maria Siopsis, associate professor of mathematics, and Dr. Angelia Gibson, chair of the Division of Natural Sciences and associate professor of chemistry, are the co-directors of the program.

“We were experiencing a trend at Maryville College that was also going on nationally: students were enrolling in college, intending to major in the sciences and math, but only a fraction of those students were completing them, often changing majors in their first or second year. At the same time, the need for STEM professionals was increasing and continues to do so,” Siopsis says, adding that in Tennessee alone, STEM-related occupations will account for 11% of all new jobs over the next three to five years.

“The program was developed to meet the needs of the students and the local and national community. By addressing student needs and supporting them to succeed in their selected majors, they can be the at the forefront of technological and scientific advances that will benefit our community and our nation.”

In the last six years, 97 students have participated in the program.

This is the fourth NSF grant Maryville College has received in the last 10 years.

RDI Tech ranks No. 33 on Inc. 5000 list

Knoxville-based RDI Technologies has earned a spot on the annual Inc. magazine 5000 list.

The publication also ranks RDI as the No. 1 manufacturing company on its list and the No. 2 company in Tennessee. The firm was named No. 33 on the 5000 rating.

The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent small businesses. Microsoft, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees on the Inc. 5000.

“When we started this company a few years ago, we knew the technology was a game-changer,” says Jeff Hay, founder and CEO of RDI. “We also recognized that great technology alone doesn’t necessarily make a great company.”

RDI utilizes the millions of pixels in today’s modern cameras to measure deflection, displacement, movement, and vibration not visible to the human eye. The company’s proprietary products and software convert those millions of pixels into individual data points, measuring extremely small motion with a high degree of accuracy. It then displays the results in a video that brings the problems to life in a visual form.

“Our products discern what is moving from what isn’t and convert that motion to a level visible to the human eye,” Hay says. “By detecting subtle motion and enhancing it, we show users where issues are developing and help them understand the interrelationships between the machinery that creates the motion. It quickly takes you from seeing the problem and moves you to a solution to fix it.”

UT launches medical physics program

The University of Tennessee’s Tickle College of Engineering will offer medical physics programs this fall, with the Department of Nuclear Engineering offering both an MS and a graduate certificate in medical physics.

The field is an applied branch of physics concerned with the application of the concepts and methods of physics to the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. Medical physicists are a specialized category of physicists who work in radiotherapy, nuclear technology, or medical imaging.

“We have been holding off starting this new program until we developed relationships with local medical facilities that will provide our students with internships and our graduates with residency opportunities,” says Wes Hines, department head Wes Hines. “Now, we have partnerships to ensure student success.”

The Medical Physics MS program is designed for undergraduate students in engineering, physics, or a closely related field who would like to become certified medical physicists and/or conduct research in medical physics. The graduate certificate program is designed for students who have already earned a PhD in a related field such as physics, nuclear engineering, biomedical engineering, or other closely related science or engineering discipline and who would like to become certified medical physicists and/or conduct research in the field.

Covenant Health gets

behind new Medicare rule

Covenant Health executive leadership, its board of directors and others in healthcare in the East Tennessee area are lauding the passing of a change to the Medicare Wage Index.

The federal government has passed a new rule stabilizing the payment structure that controls a hospital’s compensation from Medicare payments. The new rule, which will go into effect Oct. 1, will assist rural and other low-wage hospitals in attracting and maintaining a highly skilled workforce.

Many Covenant Health employees contacted legislators or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services themselves alerting them of this issue.

“Congratulations and thank you to everyone for your engagement and submitting a letter of support on this issue,” says Jim VanderSteeg, president and CEO of Covenant Health. “I especially wish to thank all of our employees who personally advocated for this important change.

“There is still the potential for delays; however, this is very positive and creates the additional momentum necessary to make this much needed change. It is estimated that Covenant Health provided approximately 75% of all the letters submitted in support of this.

“As the region’s largest employer, Covenant Health has member hospitals across East Tennessee and provides more than $66 million in charity care each year.’’

In its statement, the agency noted that rural areas are seeing hospitals close at an alarming rate, saying there have been more than 100 hospital closures since 2010. Tennessee has seen the second highest rate of hospital closures in the nation.

Visit Knoxville, Holston Hills to sponsor Korn Ferry Tour

Visit Knoxville, partnering with the PGA tour and Tour Vision Promotions, will serve as the title sponsor for the Korn Ferry Tour’s longstanding event in Knoxville.

In addition to the sponsorship, the newly named Visit Knoxville Open will move to historic Holston Hills Country Club beginning in 2020. A five-year agreement is in place through 2024.

“We are excited to partner with Visit Knoxville and Holston Hills Country Club to continue building on the incredible tradition this tournament has built over the last 30 years,” says Korn Ferry Tour President Alex Baldwin. “The Visit Knoxville Open has received tremendous community support from the fans and businesses throughout the region, and we are eager to amplify those efforts leading into 2020 and beyond.”

Visit Knoxville currently has contracts with Knox County and the City of Knoxville to conduct destination marketing efforts on behalf of these municipalities and is the official and primary provider of visitor information for Knox County and the City of Knoxville.

“Hosting the Visit Knoxville Open is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the historic Holston Hills Country Club in East Knoxville,” says Kim Bumpas, President of Visit Knoxville. “This partnership with the City of Knoxville, Knox County, and the Korn Ferry Tour provides a true community celebration of this longstanding tournament, inviting visitors for years to come.”

Transfer Station

announces new rates

Rates at the Transfer Station, 1033 Elm St., are going up.

The Transfer Station collects a wide variety of solid waste materials, including tires, building materials, construction/demolition debris, household trash and other materials not permitted in Waste Connections’ daily garbage collections.

Effective Sept. 1, 2019, rates for disposal of solid waste materials at the station will increase from $50 per ton to $60 per ton. Shingles or mixed loads that contain shingles will increase from $60 per ton to $70 per ton.

About 700 tons per week – or nearly 37,000 tons per year – are collected at the Transfer Station.

“Forty percent of all the waste that the City manages comes from the Transfer Station,” says Patience Melnik, city solid waste manager. “We are fortunate to have such a centrally located facility, making it quick and convenient for so many residents and businesses to discard their refuse.

“These new rates will enable us to cover the recent rise in the cost of landfilling the waste collected at the Transfer Station,” Melnik adds. “City ordinance requires the Transfer Station to maintain operations under a break-even budget, and this rate change helps us meet that goal.”

The Transfer Station will maintain its current schedule.

KKB set to for North Knoxville cleanup day

Keep Knoxville Beautiful will host the second annual North Knoxville Community Cleanup on Saturday, September 7.

The event, 9 a.m.-noon, will begin at Edgwood Park, 3109 Ocoee Trail.

KKB is now seeking groups and individuals to participate in the 2019 cleanup. Volunteers can register at .

Leaders from various North Knoxville neighborhoods and local community organizations will collect cleanup supplies at Edgewood Park, then return to volunteers waiting at their designated locations to pick up litter. Participating neighborhood associations include Fountaincrest and Oakwood Lincoln Park. Other clubs and groups that are participating are UTK’s American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter, Veterans Heritage Site Foundation, Tennessee Track and Field, and the Knox County Youth Health Board.

CICS unveils Knox Re

Knoxville-based CICS Services, LLC, has launched a new reinsurance pool for property and casualty coverages.

Knox Reinsurance Company Inc., referred to as Knox Re, is licensed and regulated by the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

Designed for small and mid-market businesses, Knox Re is a homogeneous pool that provides more predictable underwriting results with features designed to stabilize costs long term, simplify administrative burdens and help participating businesses gain greater control of their insurance programs.

“Access to appropriate risk distribution and collateral has long been a sticking point for captives looking to write more traditional lines of coverage,” says Nate Reznicek, director of operations at CIC Services. “With the formation of Knox Re our best in class clients are now able to easily access A+ carrier programs and take risk and retain underwriting profit in their property and casualty coverages.”

Knox Re is open to insureds from almost all industries and trade classes and helps ensure smooth losses and predictable results for program participants. “Knox Re also provides great benefit to our carrier and broker partners,” Reznicek says. “Our strict underwriting methodology helps ensure that our carrier partners and client advisors can have great comfort in the quality of the captive participants, their underlying risk management practices, and repeatable underwriting results.”

Brown to speak at Endeavor Summit

The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Endeavor Summit with Stephen Brown of Glitterville Studios as the keynote speaker.

The event is Sept. 5 at The Mill & Mine in the Old City. Planned by a committee of young professional volunteers, the full-day experience is designed to empower the region’s young professionals and emerging leaders to evolve in both their personal and professional growth.

Brown of Glitterville Studios is a Roane County native who has worked with personalities such as Tori Spelling and Oprah Winfrey. The keynote address is sponsored by the University of Tennessee.

Breakout sessions and loud table discussions will take place throughout the day, with topics focusing on diversity, leadership, makers, entrepreneurs, community engagement, time and wealth management, life in Knoxville, economic development, work/life balance and more.. Attendees will have the opportunity to connect with hundreds of local peers and community leaders through facilitated networking sessions hosted by Leadership Knoxville.

Individual tickets and special student and group rates are now available. Registration includes access to all keynote and breakout sessions, activities, breakfast, lunch, networking opportunities, and the Endeavor networking happy hour.

To learn more and register for the Endeavor Summit, visit

Karl’s 300-foot-long mural now on display

Mayor Madeline Rogero recently officially unveiled Knoxville’s newest and largest piece of public art.

The artist is Addison Karl whose massive creation is a 300-foot-long mural on the wall of the Market Square Garage. It portrays six faces from among the 70 that he sketched during his time meeting people in and around Knoxville. The sketches are on display on the window of a Market Square storefront.

The Public Art Committee chose Karl’s design from 13 finalists, narrowed down from a total of 40 proposals received.

Rogero says Knoxville has invested $1.7 million in public art projects that inspire awe and conversations. In addition, the City has budgeted over $3.8 million in grants to arts and cultural groups.

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