On the web

On the Web
Virginia Tech Magazine's online feature, "On the Web," gives web-savvy readers more news and stories about some of the exciting things happening at the university today. "On the Web" will be updated with web-only content on a quarterly basis.

by Jean Elliottt

Nikki Giovanni, a University Distinguished Professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, was nominated for the 2004 Spoken Word GRAMMY for her self-narrated CD, "The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection." Although she didn't win ("Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" took home the award), Giovanni was "surprised and thrilled" with the nomination. While this is her first GRAMMY nomination, Giovanni is no stranger to record industry accolades. Her first recorded piece, "Truth Is On Its Way" was a gold album, but there was no GRAMMY spoken word category then.

Nikki Giovanni

A review of Giovanni's work from audiofilemagazine.com, says, "Nikki Giovanni blends the personal with the political in this engaging collection of poems written over 40 years, from the 1960s through 2002. They are poems that make one laugh and make one think. 'Train Rides' celebrates the care received as a child from Pullman porters when she rode the train alone and sorrows over the generation of proud black men now in jail instead of on the job. 'Hands: For Mother's Day' applauds the comfort and care offered by women's hands while prodding conventional wisdom ... Throughout, Giovanni shares thought-provoking stories about what led to the poems."

Giovanni's poems first emerged during the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Arts Movements in the 1960s, and she immediately took a place among the most celebrated and influential poets of the era. Today, she is one of the most commanding, luminous voices to grace America's political and poetic landscape.

Poet, activist, mother, and professor, Nikki Giovanni attended Fisk University, the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Work, and Columbia University's School of Fine Arts. She has received 19 honorary degrees from colleges and universities. Her numerous awards include Woman of the Year from Ebony, Mademoiselle, Essence, and Ladies Home Journal magazines; Outstanding Woman of Tennessee Award; Ohio Women's Hall of Fame induction; McDonald's Literary Achievement Award for Poetry presented in the name of Nikki Giovanni in perpetuity; Outstanding Humanitarian Award from the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Kentucky; two Tennessee Governor's Award in the Arts and in the Humanities; the Virginia Governor's Award; and three NAACP Image Awards for Love Poems; Blues: For All the Changes; and Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea. Giovanni has been given the keys to more than a dozen cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, New Orleans, and Baltimore. Most recently, she was named the first recipient of the Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award.

Nikki Giovanni is the author of 16 books of poetry for adults and children, including the seminal Black Feeling; Black Talk/Black Judgement; Re:Creation; My House; The Women and the Men; Those Who Ride the Night Winds; The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni; Love Poems; Blues: For All the Changes; and her most recent unabridged, annotated book, The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-98.

"Nikki Giovanni has perceptively recorded her observations of both the outside world and the gentle yet enigmatic territory of the self," notes amazon.com. "Nikki Giovanni's poems embody the fearless passion and spirited wit for which she is beloved and revered. From the sublime 'Ego Tripping' to the tender 'My House,' Nikki Giovanni's mind-speaking, truth-telling poems compassionately evoke our nation's past, present, and future."

by Mark Owczarski

U.S. Sen. George Allen and Fifth District Rep. Virgil Goode today jointly announced $1,592,000 in funding for research at the Advanced and Applied Polymer Processing Institute (AAPPI), one of the research centers of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville. IALR will receive the funds via the Small Business Administration under the terms of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004.

In making the announcement, Allen stressed the importance of finding new ways to stimulate the region's economy and praised IALR and its partners for their work in harnessing the power of advanced polymer and other research for the benefit of Southside Virginia. Goode reflected on the power of collaborative efforts in effecting change, noting that federal funds can only strengthen the partnership.

"This federal allocation will accelerate our collaborative efforts to stimulate the growing polymer industry in Southside with new technologies, ultimately creating new jobs and prosperity," said Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger in thanking the two congressmen for their ongoing support for IALR. "This is an experiment in distributed research as a basis of economic development for the benefit of society, one in which everybody wins."

IALR Executive Director Tim Franklin said that polymer research scientist Ron Moffitt, director of AAPPI and associate professor of engineering at Virginia Tech "has been cultivating business and research contacts and now he will have funding for personnel and equipment to commence the research operation, given all the groundwork he has done. We are delighted that this AAPPI funding will enable us to launch one of the research centers in the very near future. It is exciting to inaugurate this effort targeting small and medium-sized businesses that will drive job growth in the Southside economy."

Virginia Tech faculty are developing six research initiatives, one of them AAPPI, to assist with and stimulate economic expansion. Building upon an existing cluster of polymer industries in Southside, AAPPI will develop new polymer processing technologies to license for local commercial development. The goal is to stimulate the economic revitalization of Southside Virginia through the development of entrepreneurial, new polymer-related businesses; to strengthen established polymer-based corporations in the region to create jobs; and to offer advanced educational opportunities within the industry. Virginia Tech has already announced that it would relocate polymer research equipment and intellectual property at AAPPI.

Other research efforts will focus on robotics, motor sports, biodefense, horticulture and forestry, and bioinformatics.

Danville Community College President Carlyle Ramsey stressed the college's ongoing commitment to support Virginia Tech's Southside polymer research through rapid prototyping and curriculum development at IALR. Other speakers were Ron Moffitt and Ben Davenport, chairman of the Future of the Piedmont Foundation.

IALR's mission is to develop and attract technology and talent critical to Southside Virginia's economic transformation through advanced learning, strategic research and technology transfer, IALR Conference Center activities, IALR outreach programs, and technology infrastructure development. The IALR will leverage the resources of Virginia Tech in partnership with Danville Community College, Averett University and regional public and private organizations.

IALR is part of a comprehensive strategy for Southside Virginia supported by Outreach and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. The institute will move into its new quarters at 150 Slayton Avenue, Danville, in January 2004.

by Jean Elliott

dream kitchen

"Explore Your Dream Kitchen," a two-day workshop offered in Virginia Tech's Center for Real Life Kitchen Design, will be offered twice in May to participants who want to learn about planning and designing a kitchen that really meets their needs. Attendees explore and experience kitchens with a wide variety of designs, products, materials, and technologies during this fun and interactive course. Participants are asked to bring plans, ideas, and questions about their homes and kitchens as everyone has the opportunity to discuss their personal needs during an individual kitchen consultation. Upcoming workshops are scheduled for May 21-22, 2004, and May 24-25, 2004.

When Virginia Tech set out to create a multi-station education center for its design students, it came up with not one, but five fully operational kitchens, a laundry area, and a home office. The Center for Real Life Kitchen Design reflects the combined effort of Virginia Tech and 25 other contributors, including manufacturers who donated a wide range of products. The goal was to create a teaching lab for kitchen and bath design students.

The result was the center, designed to not only give students the opportunity to learn new applications of products, materials and technologies used in residential kitchen design, but to also give researchers and industry professionals the opportunity to use the Center for training and continuing education. In addition, the Center also offers multi-media teaching capabilities for classes in housing and interior design.

The center's kitchens reflect a variety of price levels, lifestyles, and use of space. These include a gourmet kitchen, a contemporary kitchen, a family kitchen, a small starter kitchen, a laundry area, and a home office.

The workshop will be led by faculty members Kathleen Parrott, Ph.D. (540/231-4783), Joanne Emmel, Ph.D. (540-231-9259), and Julia Beamish, Ph.D. (540/231-8881). For more information, go to http://www.conted.vt.edu/dreamkit/.

by Karen Gilbert

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger and Technische Universitat (TU) Darmstadt, Germany President Johann-Dietrich Wörner have signed a five-year agreement for the exchange of students, faculty, and staff. The agreement will foster collaborative research between both universities, particularly in the context of the Partnership for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education (PACE) program.

The agreement establishes an exchange program that enables Virginia Tech engineering students to take all of their senior year courses at the TU Darmstadt and graduate on schedule. More information can be found at http://www.me.vt.edu/programs/international/TUD/.

Students interested in participating in this student exchange program must demonstrate proficiency in the German language. Virginia Tech offers a sequence of six German courses to enable students with no prior German language experience to attain this proficiency. In addition, TU Darmstadt offers a German language and culture summer school in Darmstadt the summer before the student's senior year to help enhance language skills. A Virginia Tech mechanical engineering student is already enrolled in the TU Darmstadt summer program for June 2004, and an electrical engineering student plans to attend TU Darmstadt for the 2004-05 academic year.

TU Darmstadt is one of Germany's most highly respected universities, offering programs in engineering, natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities to 19,000 students. In 2003, the university's Mechanical and Processes Engineering program was recognized as the best program in its field in Germany.

Virginia Tech has received more than $244 million in grants, software, hardware and training from the PACE program to date. PACE is a partnership of General Motors, Electronic Data Systems, UGS-PLM, Sun Microsystems, and 26 universities worldwide. Participating universities include Virginia Tech, TU Darmstadt, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Purdue University, and the University of Michigan. For more information about PACE, see http://www.pacepartners.org.