TTU and UTC should use their two best assets - their young enthusiastic faculty and their curious and bright students. These, and laptops, are all you need these days to perform first-class research. OK, some experimental equipment is useful too, but they have that of course.
I've always been of the opinion that research success is built from the grass roots upwards (this is why ORNL and UTK REALLY need to work together better to greatly increase the student participation in research at ORNL). This means that the faculty need to integrate research into undergraduate curricula earlier than at present, and need to encourage materially faculty who are doing productive research. With a solid foundation of lively undergrads performing research under faculty supervision, TTU and UTC will quickly increase their research profiles, and everyone will benefit from it.