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Written by Dr. Paul H. Jennings, UT CIS Executive Director
The UT Center for Industrial Services is celebrating our 60th birthday in 2023. The Tennessee General Assembly established UT CIS in May 1963 as one of the first 2-3 industrial extension services in the country. At the time, UT CIS consisted of an executive director and three field engineers. Our business model was simple. Field engineers called on manufacturers in their region, worked with them to define production problems, and secured faculty to help solve their problems.
UT CIS has grown significantly over the years. We gradually began adding programs and people, including the Procurement Technical Center (PTAC) in the mid-1980s; Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) in the early 1990s; and Health and Safety, including hazardous waste assistance, in the late 1990s. As we entered the 21st century, we added our OSHA Training Institute and a few years later, our EDA University Center, including the Tennessee Certified Economic Developer program. Most recently, in 2022, we added the East Tennessee American Job Center One Stop Operator as part of our growing emphasis on workforce development.
UT CIS continues to innovate and grow to meet the changing needs of the Tennessee economy and our customers. This includes adding service lines to address specific customer needs. For example, our MEP program recently added training and technical assistance in automation, cybersecurity, workplace development and supplier development, while improving longstanding services in lean manufacturing and quality systems. Every part of UT CIS develops new and innovative services year after year.
So, in 2023 we’ll spend a little time celebrating our history, but our primary focus will always be the future, ensuring that we are prepared to help our customers achieve their goals.