June 2015 Technical Society News

25 May

 On June 1, 2015. Craig Fischer spoke on “Genomes and Medicine – Ancestral, Predictive, and Therapeutic” Genomics is an area within genetics that concerns the sequencing and analysis of an organism’s genome. The genome is the entire DNA content that is present within one cell of an organism. Experts in genomics strive to use genetic mapping to help understand disease.

Prior to 1953 genetics was almost at the Gregor Mendel stage of understanding. The change in technology is comparable to the change from an abacus to a computer. In 2003 the first human genome was published at a cost of billions of dollars. The technology and its implications are moving rapidly. Today the genome for a  person can be obtained for $100.  I, secretary Bob Scott, have had my genome mapped by 23andMe based on the information given by Mr. Fischer. (They say I am 2.8 % neanderthal- my wife thought it would be more). Currently genealogy information but not medical information is given by 23andMe. There are other companies that do genetic testing.

This is an area where technology, science, medicine and ethics will be impinging on public policies and it is an area where the Technical Society of Knoxville needs to be able to offer informed position papers.

On June 8, 2015 our speaker was Alexandra Brownfield, the Executive Director of Volunteer Knoxville. The Knoxville volunteer center- which is one of only four in Tennessee- was started by Ms Brownfield in 2014. The Technical Society is moving to increase its effectiveness in serving the technical community by providing opportunities for community service and this is an organization that is working toward a similar goal.

The Volunteer Center manages a community-wide volunteer website,, and mobilizes volunteers to meet local volunteer program needs. People interested in volunteering can go to the website

On June 15, 2015, Robert G. Campbell PE , who is currently completing a four year term as a member of the Tennessee State Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners (State Board), was the speaker. Mr. Campbell is a consulting engineer with Robert G. Campbell and Associates, a firm founded by his father. The State Board is concerned with engineering not being contracted on the basis of competency but instead being contracted based on price and on projects being designed by non licensed engineers.

On June 22, 2015, Gabriel J. Bolas PE , KUB Manager of Environmental Programs and Assistant to Chief Operating Officer was speaker. KUB handles water, waste water, gas and electricity and has 445,000 customers. KUB started in 1939 and it is managed by an independent board appointed by the mayors, KUB has 925 employeesand is the fourth largest TVA distributor. They have 130,000 electric poles to replace by 2060. The lines between substations are 68,000 volts. Substations are connected by optical fiber. KUB has 2300 miles of gas lines. Waste water overflows have been cut 75%. KUB is a very busy place.

On June 29, 2015 Maria Crowe, a mathematics teacher at the Career Magnet Academy spoke on the topic “The importance of STEM education, especially as it relates to East Tennessee”. Ms. Crowe recently arranged a tour of the Career Magnet School for the Technical Society. She coached a successful robot team in the FIRST competition and she is enthusiastic about the robot building as an educational tool. Robot teams need volunteers of almost any kind- but especially ones with technical experience- to interact with the students. Several STEM educators who have joined the Technical Society were in attendance including some who need help with FIRST robot building.

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