MTSU Joins host Scott Walker to talk about new plans at the Department of Engineering Technology, a $1-million grant to reduce opioid abuse and MTSU Write

Sep 20, 2021 at 08:55 am by WGNS

SEGMENT ONE – 8:10 a.m.

GUESTS: Dr. Ken Currie, professor and new chair of the Department of Engineering Technology

TOPIC: His new role and plans for the department

Currie assumed his new role Aug. 1. Prior to that, he was the chair of the Industrial & Management Systems Engineering Department at West Virginia University between 2014-21 and before that was director of the Center for Manufacturing Research at Tennessee Tech.

He has taught numerous courses during a 34-year academic career and spent 25 years of service conducting manufacturing research at local Tennessee industries such as Saturn (GM – Spring Hill), Schneider Electric, Nissan, Aerostructures, and others. Prior to pursuing an academic career, Currie also held positions as an industrial engineer at ALCOA and Honeywell.

Currie hopes to continue the growth in the department’s Mechatronics Engineering and Engineering Technology degree programs through renewed partnerships with advisory board members, new markets for graduates, and a complete renewal of laboratories.

Within the next few years, he hopes to develop two separate workplace development centers focused on helping small to medium sized companies:

1.      A Collaborative Robotic Development Center to bring innovative strategies for implementing these “helper” robots to work alongside humans in an efficient and safe manner...

2.      A dedicated research and development space in integrated sensor systems as a means to implement smart manufacturing methods for machine and/or system prognostics.

MTSU has a new Advanced Engineering & Technology Building in the works, so Currie also hopes to build a collaboration with local industries and the community at large to open up an Innovation Maker Space. This space will help local innovators and K-12 students opportunities to make minimally viable prototypes to spur economic development.

SEGMENT TWO – 8:25 a.m.

GUESTS: Cynthia Chafin, associate director of community programs for the MTSU Center for Health and Human Services, and Michael Ayalon, Rural Communities Opioid Response Program coordinator

TOPIC: $1 million federal grant to address opioid abuse and misuse in rural communities in nearby Wilson County

A Middle Tennessee State University center and Wilson County nonprofit coalition have partnered to address opioid abuse and misuse in the rural communities of the Midstate county thanks to a $1 million federal grant.

The Center for Health and Human Services at MTSU, in partnership with DrugFree Wilco, has received the funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is part of a three-year grant that follows completion of an 18-month HRSA-funded planning grant to address the opioid epidemic in rural Wilson County communities.

The Rural Communities Opioid Response Program is supported by HRSA to address barriers to access in rural communities related to substance use disorder, including opioid use disorder.

DrugFree Wilco is a coalition of volunteers seeking to prevent and reduce drug addiction among youth and adults in Wilson County. In addition to that organization, the Center for Health and Human Services is working with MTSU’s Department Health and Human Performance public health faculty, its Data Science Institute and other on- and off-campus partners.

As part of the planning grant, needed services, programs and dollars will be brought to Wilson County. Transportation for those in need of treatment; development of a comprehensive data dashboard to track cases; enhancement of the existing Naloxone distribution program; jail-based programming; increasing scope of medication assisted treatment; providing business and school education; development of a stigma reduction campaign and more are part of the strategic plan that will be implemented through this grant.

Learn more:

SEGMENT THREE – 8:40 a.m.

GUEST: Amie Whittemore, English lecturer, new director of MTSU Write and Murfreesboro Poet Laureate

TOPIC: Her roles as MTSU Write director and laureate and her plans for both

MTSU Write has a number of events scheduled for Fall Semester:

•       In Process Workshop Series: In partnership with the MTSU English Department's In Process Reading Series and with generous support from the Virginia Peck Trust Fund, MTSU Write is excited to offer classes with three of this semester's In Process readers. Each workshop will take place from 2-4pm in the MT Center in the Ingram Building, directly preceding the reading. First up is “Pleasure & Pain” with poet Ciona Rouse on Thursday, September 9. Click here for details & to register.

•       Fall Creative Writing Conference, Friday, October 22 (virtual) 12-3pm and Saturday, October 23, 9-4pm (on campus): Please join us for “Write to Heal” as we explore various modes of writing with sessions by acclaimed regional and national writers such as Fred Arroyo, Meg Wade, Rochelle Hurt, Melissa Jean, and Joshua Moore. Saturday’s meeting will feature a keynote from MTSU Write alumna and award-winning poet Tiana Clark! Learn more and register HERE!

•       Fall MTSU Write Session: Working on a creative writing project and want some guidance? Interested in preparing materials for an MFA (or looking for a more affordable, less time-consuming alternative)? Then MTSU Write’s mentoring program is for you. This three-session certificate program allows you to work one-on-one, via email exchange, with a skilled writer in the genre of your choice. Registration for fall is open until September 25. Open to anyone who wants to improve their writing. Find out how to apply here.

The Murfreesboro Cultural Arts Laureate Program, part of the Cultural Arts Murfreesboro program of Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation, began in 2017 and chooses at least three local artists for a year of service to the community.

Whittemore is in her second year as Poet Laureate. Her acclaimed poetry collection, “Glass Harvest,” was published in 2016, and her award-winning poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Blackbird, The Missouri Review Poem of the Week and Cold Mountain Review.

The laureates receive a stipend and extensive opportunities through their yearlong appointment to educate, advocate for and represent the community through their own creative initiatives.

Learn more at