Rhodes College Dedicates Glen Davis Machine Shop

individuals standing in front of an automation machine
Glen Davis (center) in machine shop with guests who attended the dedication ceremony

The Rhodes community and invited guests gathered April 11 for the dedication ceremony of the Glen Davis Machine Shop, located on the first floor intersection of Robertson Hall, Frazier Jelke, and Rhodes Tower on campus. Thanks to the vision and generosity of Dr. Charles Robertson Jr. ’65, the shop was renovated and named in honor of Glen Davis, technical associate in the Department of Physics. Davis has managed the shop for 20 years, teaching students and others on campus machining, fabricating, and welding, as well as making and repairing items for college instruction, research, and maintenance.

“We expect this space to be used by our science faculty and staff, but also by other students who have a passion for learning how to use the equipment and to become makers themselves,” said Rhodes College President Marjorie Hass at the ceremony. “With this renovation, we are seeing a significant leap in technology, with modern computer-controlled equipment that works in conjunction with CAD software. Certainly equipment and technology are not the essence of a lab . . .  It’s the people who make use of the labs who are the soul and the core of what we do, and using this equipment would not be possible without the dedication of Glen Davis.”

Prior to coming to Rhodes in 1998, Davis was an engineering technology professor at The University of Memphis. In his remarks, he mentioned his work as a classroom desk fabricator and finisher for the Memphis Board of Education in the 1950s and his work as a blacksmith for the Memphis Light, Gas, and Water Division in the 1960s.

“I am humbled and appreciative having the shop named after me,” he said, also thanking family and those at Rhodes who have supported and worked with him. “I was able to get into a situation where all the experiences, and everything I have ever done, I have used in the shop. It seems like it all came together, and it has been a real joy for me.”

Dr. Brent Hoffmeister, chair of the Department of Physics, said historically the shop has been dedicated to the department, but now it will have a broader impact. “We have had several students to work with Glen on various types of fabrication techniques and a large number to go into STEM careers and in education. The skills that they have developed with Glen I know for fact have served them very well in their professional lives.”

Following the dedication ceremony, a reception, and tour, Rhodes seniors Jo Ankersen and Thomas Cullom made presentations about their work. Ankerson has been developing ultrasonic techniques to detect changes in bone caused by osteoporosis.

Cullom presented his research on manipulating micro-particles with magnetic fields. He said, “This past summer, Mr. Davis greatly assisted our research group by engineering key hardware components for our microscope. His assistance was instrumental in moving the research project from the planning phase to a functioning level. Mr. Davis was always more than willing to help, and it was a pleasure to work with him.”