Skip to content
Richard Bennett and Rachel McCord Ellestad

Ellestad to Serve as Interim EF Director as Bennett Returns to Teaching

Professor Dick Bennett, long-time director of the Stoneking engage Engineering Fundamentals program is stepping down to return to teaching full time. Senior Lecturer and Research Assistant Professor Rachel Ellestad is stepping up to serve as interim director, effective May 1.

“It has been an honor to have been director of Engineering Fundamentals for the past 13 years,” said Bennett. “One of the highlights for me has been working with such a good team and the camaraderie we have had. The best thing, though, has been all the good and fun students. I have really enjoyed being able to help and guide them through their first year.

“I am pleased to turn the leadership over to Dr. Rachel Ellestad. She has been involved in all parts of our program, from a student to a graduate teaching assistant to the faculty. She brings an incredible knowledge of the program, a strong background in engineering education, and a real passion for students. I am confident the program will continue to grow under her leadership.”

Ellestad said she is very grateful for the opportunity to step up and serve.

“EF is full of passionate faculty, staff, and student helpers whose primary goal is to support the success of engineering students in the college. I am excited about the opportunity to support our culture of innovation in the education of future engineers. As we move into the Zeanah Engineering Complex in the fall, I am looking forward to seeing the creativity and innovation our unit will bring to our EF classes and student support systems.”

Bennett has served as director of the program since 2008. Under his leadership, the program nearly doubled the number of students it serves as well as incorporated a large number of educational innovations that have led to continual improvements over time, including the EF Study Room, the flipped classroom approach many of the EF courses now use, and, along with Distinguished Lecturer Will Schleter, the initial development of the Innovation and Collaboration Studio.

“I look forward to continue to teach in Engineering Fundamentals and to have more time to interact with the students,” Bennett said. “Moving to the Zeanah Engineering Complex is very exciting and it will be fun to teach in the space that we spent so much time designing.”

Bennett oversaw a dramatic growth in both student population and faculty and staff numbers in the program over the last 10 years. He was also instrumental in the design of the Engineering Fundamentals space in the Zeanah Engineering Complex.

“I want to thank Dick for his years of leadership and service in EF and am grateful he will be continuing to serve as an integral part of our teaching staff,” said Ellestad.

engage was developed after an intensive study of methods to improve the first-year student experience and increase student retention rates. The program has won national acclaim, including recognition by the National Science Foundation as one of the best and most innovative engineering education programs in the nation.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.

View our Privacy Policy.