Dr. Phil Oldham, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, announces that Dr. William Sutton has accepted the position of Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at UTC.
Dr. Sutton has served as Professor and Department Head of Mechanical Engineering (ME) at the University of Alabama since 2003. Prior to Alabama, Dr. Sutton was professor in the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma, where he also served a term as interim department head and as secretary of the Faculty Senate during his 21 years there.
Dr. Sutton received his BSME in 1973, his MME in 1975, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 1980, all from North Carolina State University. He is a licensed professional engineer in North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Alabama.
“I am very pleased that Dr. Sutton has accepted our offer to assume leadership of our College of Engineering and Computer Science,” said Dr. Oldham. “His extensive experience in automotive and alternative fuel research matches many of the research efforts underway here at UTC, and his success in recruitment of outstanding students to the engineering field will be of critical importance to us.”
During his tenure at Alabama, ME department undergraduate enrollment increased by 54 percent and PhD graduate enrollment more than doubled. The ME undergraduate students won national recognition from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Dr. Sutton led significant growth in funded research by his faculty; both new external awards and expenditures more than doubled on average during his 5 years.
Dr. Sutton is expected to assume his new duties at UTC in July. The UTC College of Engineering and Computer Sciences offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees as well as graduate certifications in a variety of disciplines.
“I want to thank Dr. Jim Cunningham for deferring his retirement plans this past year and agreeing to serve as interim dean of the college,” said Dr. Oldham. “Our campus is very grateful for his 30 years of dedicated service to UTC. His leadership has left the college in a good position for the future. I wish him well in his retirement.”
After receiving his master’s degree, Dr. Sutton worked in industry for several years and was licensed as a professional engineer in 1980. He worked as a design engineer at Rockwell International Flow Control Division, designing valves for nuclear and critical service applications. He subsequently worked for Carolina Power and Light (now Progress Energy) in Technical Services and then in Nuclear Plant Engineering.
“I am excited about the unique opportunities that exist at UTC. I really appreciate the leadership of the University and the College—the College is well positioned to make a strong impact nationally and regionally. The College of Engineering and Computer Science has some wonderful students and faculty,” said Dr. Sutton.
Dr. Sutton has taught mostly thermodynamics and heat transfer courses over his career. At both Oklahoma and Alabama, he also taught automotive engineering and design courses. Much of his early academic research was in radiative heat transfer and combined modes of heat transfer. Dr. Sutton spent a summer at Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma, modeling heat transfer of rocket exhaust, in the 1980s. He also consulted with Sverdrup in related work.
“I really felt, from visiting Chattanooga, that the administration and the community see how much Engineering and Computer Science can assist in bringing economic growth opportunities to the region. With the help of all those who care so much about the College and the University, I know we will make a positive difference. I am very honored to have been selected dean,” said Dr. Sutton.
In the late 1980s, Dr. Sutton became involved in automotive projects such as Mini-Baja at Oklahoma. His automotive experience led to a consulting assignment on thermal modeling of automotive interiors with General Motors. His work with General Motors led, indirectly, to a successful LNG entry in the 1991 Natural Gas Vehicle Challenge student project. This led, in turn, to significant funding of LNG research by the U.S. Department of Energy. One outcome of that work led to the development of new designer composite alternative fuels. A three-year research project, which resolved a number of issues to allow the commercialization of a class of alternative fuels, was partially funded by the Air Force and a private partnership in Bolivia. As a result of this research, Dr. Sutton’s department was selected Innovator of the Year, On the Brink Category (with R. Mallinson) for 2001, by the Oklahoma Journal Record Newspaper. Dr. Sutton has continued work on alternative fuels, with a funded project on hydrogen infrastructure at Alabama.
Because of his automotive work, Dr. Sutton has served as faculty adviser to two university student chapters of SAE and to the SAE Formula Student Design Series. The Student Design Series competitions draw teams from all over the world. At Oklahoma, as adviser, he led a student team to a top 25 finish in the Formula SAE international competition. At Alabama, his team finished eighth overall at the Formula VIR competition in April 2008.
Dr. Sutton was a founding Board member for the Alabama Section of the Society of Automotive Engineers. He also serves as a member of the SAE Sections Board, which oversees all sections of SAE International.