Letter to the Editor
I just wanted to inform you that the basketball tradition my grandmother [Sarah Beauchamp (home economics '29)] started some 70 odd years ago is still flourishing through her grandson, Evan Beauchamp, and his daughter, Jordan Beauchamp. I live in Indianapolis, Indiana, and have been coaching girls' high-school basketball for about eight years. I also played in high school and college. My wife, Haley Beauchamp, also played in high school and college and coaches a rival high-school team here in Indianapolis. Our daughter, 11, plays on her school team as well as an AAU team in the spring and summer. I was not aware of my grandmother's background until I read your article. I now understand why she always has taken such an interest in our seasons.
Evan A. Beauchamp
Road rage experts say that the pressures of ordinary living are causing some drivers to use their automobiles as weapons. One recommendation: just don't make eye contact with other drivers.
But Virginia Tech psychologist Scott Geller and Jerry Beasley (philosophy '73; M.S., Ed.D.), a violence-prevention expert at Radford University, have come up with another solution, an inter-vehicular communication device they call a Road Rage Reducer. They plan to field-test the device on an entire community soon.
The device, now in patent review, employs a small, unobtrusive system of light codes to give messages to other drivers. The team is now researching which works best, a flash of a color that means "Sorry," another color that means "Please," and so forth, or one color flashed a certain number of times for each desired message.
"Widespread dissemination of the meaning behind the code will result in the Road Rage Reducer's requiring only one to two glances to receive the messages. We think a code will work better than words in getting the message across," Geller says.
A new research center at Virginia Tech will help businesses develop expertise in electronic commerce and promote research and education in this rapidly growing field.
The center has a threefold mission: to respond to the need for training in implementing and managing e-commerce businesses; to promote interdisciplinary research on business and the Internet; and to design a curriculum for e-commerce education. It will hold regular seminars for businesses, conduct customized strategic planning and plan implementation, and develop online resources. Sample topics may include "development and maintenance of customized electronic commerce systems," "electronic marketing assistance," and "legal, regulatory, and ethical awareness."
The Center for Global Electronic Commerce comprises a diverse group of faculty members at the university's Pamplin College of Business whose expertise ranges from information technology systems to the legal, managerial, accounting, and marketing aspects of e-commerce.
The center is directed by business law professor Janine Hiller, an expert in Internet law and regulation. She and other faculty members proposed starting the center more than a year ago to share information about their research in e-commerce and to respond to growing business demand for assistance.
Businesses are turning to e-commerce, Hiller says, because of large cost savings, speedier processing of orders, and better information flow inside and outside the business.
The Choices and Challenges public forum project at Virginia Tech, started in 1985 to explore the humanistic components of science and technology, was one of six receiving awards from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) for promoting the humanities.
Choices and Challenges forums have covered a wide spectrum of topics, from scientific studies that probe the nature of microscopic cells to space technologies that can explore the expanses of the solar system. Topics have ranged from "New Reproductive Options" to "Limits to Care of the Terminally Ill" to "Nuclear Power and Space Science" to "Designer Children." The forums constitute a form of national outreach through a partnership with PBS, which sends the programs to nearly 700 U.S. sites.
Professor Doris Zallen, who initiated and coordinates the program, was recognized in the award.
Carilion Health System will contribute $20 million to help establish the Carilion Biomedical Institute in Roanoke, Va., in partnership with Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia. The program establishes a research center at each universitythe Optical Sciences and Engineering Research (OSER) Center at Virginia Tech and the Medical Automation Research Center at the University of Virginia.
OSER will investigate advanced laser surgery optics, bio-compatible materials for implants, diagnostic patches, and other diagnostic and drug delivery tools, such as a method that would replace needles for administering insulin to diabetics, according to OSER center director Richard Claus.
"Optics is providing new biological research tools for visualization, measurement, analysis, and manipulation," he says.
Examples of such work are adapting methods used in fiber-based communications to create a less expensive surgical laser that is capable of much finer incisions using lower power; using thin-film self-assembly technology to create biocompatible materials and surfaces for medical implants; using multi-spectral imaging technology for noninvasive diagnosis; and developing molecular devices that will release medicines only at specific locations when activated by an optical signal.
The Carilion Biomedical Institute will be a biomedical science, engineering, and technology research and development organization. The institute's goals are to improve health care worldwide and to improve economic development opportunities in Southwest Virginia. The institute will be primarily responsible for prototype development, commercialization, and spin-off of technology created by research centers at the universities.
Including funding by the universities, the total investment over five years will be in excess of $30 million.
Chad Burchett (mechanical engineering '01) lives and breathes car stereos. In fact, he's set five world records for car stereo loudness. He's been interviewed by a Swedish film crew and a Brazilian newspaper, as well as by writers for numerous audiophile magazines.
While cranking car stereos to new volumes may seem frivolous, Burchett is actually doing research on sound-wave patterns and sound absorption that will help in efforts to reduce the noise level of jet engines, rockets, and cars. The Virginia Tech Vibrations and Acoustics Laboratory where he works is conducting related research for NASA, the U.S. Navy, and Ford.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has endorsed the dissemination of electronic theses and dissertations as a facet of technology transfer that will spur economic and social growth in developing counties.
Virginia Tech led the nation three years ago when it required its graduate students to post theses and dissertations on the Internet. Since then there has been a growing movement in academia to follow Tech's lead.
NDLTD, the Virginia Tech initiated Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations, has been growing steadily in the United States since it was launched by Virginia Tech in 1996 (see www.ndltd.org and www.theses.org and http://etd.vt.edu). Although Tech electronic theses and dissertations receive hits from around the world, contributions of documents from international institutions face challenges relating to language, character sets, and policies.
Virginia Tech is a member of a team, led by the University of Tennessee and Battelle Memorial Institute, that has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to be the Management and Operating Contractor of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The team, which also includes Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Duke, UVA, and Florida State, replaces Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation as the lab subcontractor.
ORNL has special competencies in six research areas: neutron science and technology; advanced materials synthesis and characterization; energy production and end use; biological and environmental sciences; computational science and advanced computing; and instrumentation, control, and measurement science. The lab also operates 15 user facilities for DOE (the largest number of any national laboratory) and hosts a large number of visiting scientists and engineers. Each of the universities will have special input into the lab's management and programs.
Virginia Tech management professor Jerry Robinson built an international academic bridge by establishing ties between Tech and the University of Maribor in Slovenija. For his efforts, he received Maribor's Silver Medal in November for contributions to the university's development. Robinson is the first foreigner to receive the medal, which is similar to Tech's Ruffner Medal.
Each year Robinson organizes a visit by Maribor's faculty and MBA students to Tech and businesses in the U.S., such as Boeing and Microsoft. Maribor is also a stop for Pamplin College of Business students who participate in Robinson's annual summer European study-abroad, which compares various aspects of U.S. and European work places.
Robinson also leads Pamplin MBA students on an annual international business-consulting program to Slovenija during spring break. The group has consulted for 14 Slovenian businesses, including a bank, a large multi-line insurance company, a steel foundry, an aluminum foundry, a hotel chain, a winery, a municipal water company, a flour and pasta company, a cotton textile producer, and a silk producer.
Steeped in graphic fantasy movies, two boys at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killed 13 people and then themselves. According to communications professor Stephen Prince: "Social science shows that for a small number of viewers, violent films do help instigate aggressive thoughts, ideas, and behaviors."
Movie producers in the '60s and early '70s had good intentions in trying to show death realistically, hoping to cleanse audiences of any violent inclinations. But the opposite occurred. A fraction of the audiences became stimulated by the violence and demanded more.
For those spectators who have trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality and who harbor aggressive thoughts, media violence can stoke those kinds of fantasies. About 40 years of social science studies have corroborated that effect, Prince says.
Virginia Tech's residential and dining programs has started a new program that allows students to take Tech faculty members to breakfast, lunch, or dinner, free of charge, in one of the university's dining centers. "This is an opportunity for students to meet with faculty on their own turf, away from the classroom in a more informal setting," says Edward Spencer, director of residential and dining programs and assistant vice president for student affairs. "Students and faculty can discuss academic issues, career opportunities, and other mutual interests to enhance the overall educational experience."
Four months after G.V. "Jerry" Gibbs's retirement, the American Geophysical Union, the largest organization of earth scientists in the world, honored Gibb's by hosting a special symposium in San Francisco in December. Scientists from around the globe presented papers related to some aspect of Gibbs's research over the decades.
The symposium, organized by Monte M. Boisen Jr., professor of mathematics, and Michael Hochella, professor of geological sciences, both at Virginia Tech, covered various aspects of the earth and materials sciences.
Gibbs's work has attracted considerable attention both nationally and internationally. In 1984, the mineral jerrygibbsite was named in his honor.
The university has just been profiled in the Templeton Guide, a publication listing colleges and universities that encourage character development.
Virginia Tech earned this distinction for its Service Learning Center that in 1998-99 coordinated the work of more than 900 students doing 17,393 hours of volunteer work through nonprofit and social-service agencies, schools, and local governments. Tech was also lauded for its residential WING program, in which students in the same living unit take a credit course that involves group projects guided by peer mentors.