TBR Part of Statewide Coalition to Strengthen Tennessee’s Automotive Innovation Industry

Technicians working on Hybrid Electric Vehicle

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, announced the inclusion of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) in a National Science Foundation (NSF) Transforming Engineering and Management in STEM (TEAMS) Engine grant. This grant will provide TBR with additional resources needed to drive innovation, enhance student success, and promote collaboration between faculty and staff within the system.

Tennessee aims to become the #1 state in the country for the electric vehicle (EV) supply chain and is well on its way to meeting this goal, with four automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) producing EVs, and has success attracting almost $12B in capital investment in EV projects since 2017. 

NSF GrantThe $1 million Advancing Technology-Enabled Mobility Solutions (ATEMS) Regional Innovation Engines Development award will support research-based initiatives. This first-of-its-kind mobility coalition will prepare Tennesseans for good-paying jobs and create, recruit and retain the innovative automotive industries of Tennessee’s future. These initiatives are expected to increase the number of students pursuing engineering and management careers by increasing access to STEM education opportunities and developing learner-centered pathways to support the development, reskilling, and upskilling of workers.

“This grant provides us with an incredible opportunity to expand our efforts in advancing student success through innovative approaches in teaching, learning, and research,” said Dr. Tachaka Hollins, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. “It also allows us to create more pathways for students interested in STEM fields through experiential learning activities such as internships and research projects.” 

The ATEMS Regional Innovation Engines Development award encourages higher education to use a multi-institutional approach when developing innovative strategies for teaching engineering and management courses. "We look forward to leveraging this funding to continue making strides towards improving access and success within STEM fields in Tennessee," Dr. Hollins added.

In partnership with TBR and its colleges, the coalition is led by UT Knoxville. It includes Tennessee State University, Tennessee Tech University, the University of Memphis, UT Chattanooga, Vanderbilt University, the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development and Department of Transportation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Tennessee Valley Authority, economic development organizations and start-up incubators and accelerators, community organizations, and industry partners including AT&T, Bridgestone, Denso, FedEx, IACMI—The Composites Institute and Volkswagen. The coalition is actively recruiting new members.

The kickofNSF Logof for ATEMS-TN will take place in Knoxville on June 26, when NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan will visit UT. 


"These NSF Engines Development Awards lay the foundation for emerging innovation hubs and potential future NSF Engines," said Panchanathan. "These awardees are part of the fabric of NSF's vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere. They will build robust regional partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation in every part of our nation. Through these planning awards, NSF is seeding the future for in-place innovation in communities and growing their regional economies through research and partnerships. This will unleash ideas, talent, pathways and resources to create vibrant innovation ecosystems across our nation."


The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 24 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.