Monthly Archives: September 2015

September 2015 Technical Society Programs

September 7: Labor Day – No meeting

On September 14, 2015 Allen Coggins will be the Technical Society of Knoxville speaker. The topic of his presentation will be “Some Intriguing Sylvan Factoids – some little known facts about Tennessee woodlands.”

Allen is a naturalist who studied Biology and Natural History at Middle Tennessee State University. He worked as a natural hazards planner with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA)(he did not plan the disasters-just what to do if they occurred) and developed a history of state disasters for the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan. He has worked as an Emergency Management Specialist at Oak Ridge Associated Universities and he has been with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Allen wrote a book “Tennessee Tragedies: Natural, Technological, and Societal Disasters in the Volunteer State.” based on what he has learned during his career and he spoke to the Technical Society about disasters in January of 2012. His career has taken him to many places and has learned much about Tennessee as a naturalist with an eye for interesting things.

Allen served as president of the Technical Society of Knoxville in 2005.

On September 21, 2015, 2015,  Soren Sorensen will speak on the topic  “What Everything Is Made Of.”

 Dr. Soren Sorensen is a  Professor at University of Tennessee and  head of the UT Department of Physics and Astronomy. He has been at UT since January 1985. Dr. Sorensen, professor of experimental nuclear physics and program manager for the USA ALICE collaboration, leads UT’s ALICE (Large Ion Collider Experiment) team.  He is investigating the properties of nuclear matter at high densities and temperatures with special emphasis on detecting the Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP), which is a postulated new phase of nuclear matter where quarks and gluons are deconfined over a large volume. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland, is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. The ALICE research team studies matter as it existed immediately after the Big Bang.  UT’s involvement is a great opportunity for selected students – an intensive hands-on experience in an atmosphere of global collaboration.

Dr. Sorensen was educated in Københavns Universitet, Niels Bohr Institutet.  (This is probably not an East Tennessee school).

On September 28, 2015 Robert G. Farrell and Holly B. Oswald of TVA will speak on: “Floating Houses Review”.

TVA began a policy review of floating houses after identifying more than 1,800 of the non-navigable structures on 16 TVA reservoirs. Unlike traditional watercraft, floating houses are primarily designed and used for habitation, creating unique safety and environmental issues that must be considered. Robert G. Farrell has been with the TVA Office of Environment and Research (OE&R).

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Posted by on September 7, 2015 in Meetings


August 2015 Technical Society News

Jack Neely, Contributing Editor at the new  Knoxville Mercury was the Technical Society of Knoxville speaker on August 3, 2015. He served as associate editor at Metro Pulse for much of its existence, and as author of the weekly column Secret History he has become one of Knoxville’s most popular writers and its unofficial historian. Beyond his column, he is well known for his thoughtful, well-researched, and provocative pieces of long-form journalism, not to mention his books, speeches, and other public appearances. Plus, he’s the director of the Knoxville History Project.
His father, John Neely , an industrial engineer who worked in management at Rohm & Haas,  was a member of the Technical Society of Knoxville and his grandfather also was a member. Jack said he is the family “black sheep” since all the other male members of his family have been or are engineers.

Jack obviously enjoys the history of Knoxville and he informed us we were meeting on “hanging hill” and he gave us some stories about our surroundings. He talked about some Knoxville outstanding men including Weston Fulton- one of the founders of the Technical Society.

I , secretary Bob Scott, recommend everyone read his weekly articles in the Knoxville Mercury.

Our August 10 speaker had to cancel and instead one of our Technical Society members Steve Hillenbrand, spoke about one of Knoxville’s noted personalities- the late Cas Walker. Steve Hillenbrand has talked to the Technical Society in the past about insurance claims, sinkholes, air pollution and cutting jewels so he may be one of Knoxville’s more colorful characters also. And he arrived for the talk wearing a Cas Walker t shirt and ready to tell a number of Cas Walker stories.

On August 17, 2015, Harold A. Black, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville was speaker. His title was “The crisis of 2008, the Fed, and its consequences.” Among many other recognitions, he has served as a Director and Chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He is able to speak with authority on economic subjects. Listening to Dr. Black I, secretary Bob Scott, learned that the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board (FED) has the power to induce a recession and to determine the response of the economy to the recession. In the recent recession the FED started buying “commercial paper” and “short term financial paper” to prevent a collapse.

The FED can set the interest rate charged between banks and can make it easy or difficult for banks to get money. The current rate is low to increase borrowing and spending.

The FED has killed the subprime housing which let minorities buy houses. None of the things said about subprime mortgages are true. The subprime mortgages- which comprise a small part of the mortgages and have a high default rate built into them- did not cause the last recession, instead it was the rest of the real estate market. The normal mortgages have a 4 to 5 percent default rate built in to them and the actual default rate of about 8 percent was disastrous. Derivatives spread the risk but the entire market collapsed.

The FED can set rules that strongly effect the economy. The FED has to look at the longer term economy- looking at current economic conditions results in poor policy.
Dr. Black writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News Sentinel and blogs at

The Technical Society did not meet on August 24 but toured Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus on August 27, 2015. The new building is nearing completion and it is a very impressive place. Our host was Cliff Hawks, President and CEO of the Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus.

On August 31, 2015 Jennifer Tyrell was the speaker. Her topic was “The Tennessee Science Bowl.” The 2016 Tennessee Science Bowl needs volunteers for the event on Saturday, February 28, 2016.  Jennifer Tyrell is the new event coordinator and is open to working with and recognizing the existence and relevancy of organizations to the event. The 2016 Tennessee Science Bowl (TSB), a regional competition sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE) and Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), will need volunteers to serve as moderators, scientific judges, rules judges, scorekeepers, timekeepers, runners, civility award judges, and to help with volunteer registration and crowd control on Saturday, February 28, 2016, at the Blount County Campus of Pellissippi State Community College in Friendsville. Jennifer described how volunteers are trained and used and all of us can help. Volunteers will also be needed to help with team registration and crowd control on February 27, 2016, at the Hilton Knoxville Airport in Alcoa. This is an opportunity for Technical Society members to help our community in a direct way.

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Posted by on September 7, 2015 in News