Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine Vol. 94 No. 2 Summer 2018

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TRANSCENDENT TEACHERS Meet six of the Institute's top faculty members who not only bring world-class wisdom and expertise into their classrooms and labs, but also a welcome dose of humanity.

“Giving back to Georgia Tech is a great honor for us. We wanted to leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren and help students have the same opportunities we had.” — Gary, IM 1981, and Carol Nikoukary Many Georgia Tech alumni have been known to say that the

The family gets together to attend Georgia Tech basketball

Institute becomes like family. For Gary, IM 1981, and Carol

and football games, and they especially enjoy tailgating

Nikoukary, that holds true by a factor of five.

prior to kick-off.

Gary and Carol began dating while Gary was a student at

Gary and Carol also teamed up for professional success.

Georgia Tech and she attended nearby Georgia State, graduating

Building on more than 20 years of experience and leadership

in 1982. They married in 1984 and now boast four successful

in the carpet industry, the couple founded Alliance Textiles,

children who followed in Gary’s footsteps as a Yellow Jacket:

a national carpet distributor, in 2002. In 2007, they started

Kristin, INTA 2009, now employed by the U.S. State Department;

another venture, Metro Carpet Delivery, a commercial freight

Mark, IE 2011, now employed by Qgenda; Greg, BA 2016, now

line for the flooring industry.

employed by Sogeti; and Alex, IE 2017, now employed by Premier, Inc.

“Georgia Tech has provided a solid foundation of success for everyone in our family,” Gary says. “The education, values, and

It’s not clear what might happen if Georgia Tech and Georgia

sense of community Georgia Tech instills in you is something

State ever meet on the playing field, but for now, sharing the

you carry with you for the rest of your life. We are proud to be

same alma mater makes for family solidarity on game days.

part of the Georgia Tech family!”

Founders’ Council is the honorary society recognizing donors who have made estate or life-income gifts of $25,000 or more for the support of Georgia Tech. For more information, please contact: 404.894.4678 • •




Online & On-site


Don’t lose your edge. Stay ahead with professional education for top performers.




Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine Vol. 94, No. 2

Great Teachers Make All the Difference DURING MY UNDERGRADUATE DAYS at Georgia Tech, I was fortunate to have many top-notch professors. But the two teachers who I’ll never forget are Sherman Dallas and Phil Adler. They taught me lessons that have truly lasted a lifetime. Dallas was a former professional arbitrator, and he was a Professor of Practice at Tech in the late 1970s. I had him for labor relations, and not only did he bring a career’s worth of wisdom and expertise into the classroom, but also a welcome sense of humor and non-traditional teaching techniques like role-playing different business scenarios. He came to class dressed in immaculately tailored suits, and part of me wanted to be just like him: smart, accomplished, polished and well-respected. And then there was Adler, who is renowned for being one of the toughest professors ever at Tech. He didn’t use books in his management courses, preferring to teach through the Socratic method. So that meant we students always had one hand raised to answer his tricky questions while the other hand was furiously taking notes. You had to pay close attention at all times or he’d find you in a weak moment and grill you in front of your classmates. His methods were like tough love—you didn’t much like what you were learning at the time, but later on you realized just how much he had taught you about life. He was truly transcendent. Many, if not most, of today’s faculty members at Tech are no different. The current generation of Yellow Jackets are some of the smartest kids in the world (incoming first-year student GPAs prove it), and rightfully they demand a lot from the Institute’s teachers. They expect to learn from some of the best minds in their fields, and to be challenged throughout their academic careers. They expect innovative teaching tactics, such as “flipped” classrooms and projects that tackle real-world

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problems. And they also expect some compassion and humanity from these mentors as they cope with the rigors of a Tech education. In this issue of the Alumni Magazine, we meet six transcendent teachers—each one nominated by their respective colleges—who deliver all on all of the demands above and more (page 48). Additionally, we are treated with some micro lessons that take complicated, often confusing topics (ranging from understanding dark matter to solving traffic congestion) and make them engaging and easy to understand (page 66). Meanwhile, given the complexity of the subject, it takes several Tech experts to explain what blockchain is—the technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies—and why it might have a bigger impact on the world than the internet (page 60). However, not everything in this issue involves putting on your deep thinking cap. The magazine catches up with 10 years of InVenture Prize finalists who are some of our most inventive and entrepreneurial young alumni (page 12), and also looks at 50 years of Tech’s radio station, WREK (page 100). And don’t miss the story of how legendary Yellow Jacket placekicker Harrison Butker broke into the ranks of the NFL last year (page 30). Happy reading and go Jackets!


On the Cover: Portraits by Ben Rollins

PUBLISHER Joseph P. Irwin, IM 80 VP MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Dawn Churi EDITOR Roger Slavens ASSISTANT EDITOR Melissa Fralick DESIGNER Joshua Baker | COPY EDITOR Rebecca Bowen STUDENT ASSISTANTS Rachel Morrison & Chandler Witucki EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE David Bottoms, Mgt 01, Chair Andrea L. Laliberte, IE 82, MS IE 84, Past Chair Bird Blitch, IE 97, Chair-Elect/ Vice Chair of Roll Call Sheri Prucka, EE 82, MS EE 84, Vice Chair of Finance Jeni Bogdan, Mgt 89, MS MOT 96, Member at Large Shan Pesaru, CmpE 05, Member at Large Tyler Townsend, IE 98, Member at Large Brent Zelnak, Mgt 94, Member at Large Joseph P. Irwin, IM 80, President & CEO BOARD OF TRUSTEES Michelle Adkins, IM 83; Dorothy B. Autin, ChE 80; Lee A. Baker, IE 90; Carlos Barroso, ChE 80; Trevor Boehm, ME 99, MS ME 04; Rita Breen, Psy 90, MS IE 92; Julian A. Brown III, Mgt 97; Frank T. Campos, EE 80, MS MoT 96; Catherine C. Davidson, Mgt 89; Samuel L. Gude III, MBA 08; Julie E. Hall, Phys 99; Scott Hall, ME 96; Cathy P. Hill, EE 84; Lara O’Connor Hodgson, AE 93; Tim Holman, MS EE 88, PhD EE 94; Keith Jackson, Mgt 88; Ronald L. Johnson, MS OR 85; Plez A. Joyner, EE 89; Garrett S. Langley, EE 09; Mark E. Ligler, ME 76; Robert D. Martin, IE 69; George R. Mason, IE 92; Angela Mitchell, PTCH 04; Alex Muñoz, Mgt 88; Thomas J. O’Brien, IE 81; Blake Patton, IE 93; Amy H. Phuong, IA 05, MBA 14; William J. Ready, MatE 94, MS MetE 97, PhD MSE 00; Bert Reeves, Mgt 00; John W. Simmons Jr., EE 88; Mayson T. Spellman, Mgt 05; Jocelyn M. Stargel, IE 82, MS IE 86; James F. Stovall IV, CS 01; Kristen M. Thorvig, STC 98; David P. Touwsma, IE 97; Brian Tyson, EE 10 ADVERTISING Joseph P. Irwin (404) 894-2391 GEORGIA TECH ALUMNI MAGAZINE (ISSN: 1061-9747) is published quarterly by the Georgia Tech Alumni Association, 190 North Ave. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30313. Periodical postage paid in Atlanta and additional mailing offices. © 2018 Georgia Tech Alumni Association POSTMASTER Send address changes to: Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, 190 North Ave. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30313. TELEPHONE Georgia Tech Alumni Association (404) 894-2391



Blockchain technologies may well be poised to alter mankind’s future as profoundly as the World Wide Web once did, say Tech experts.


Features 48






Meet six Institute instructors who bring innovation, inspiration, personality and passion into their classrooms and labs.

Georgia Tech experts demystify the key technology behind cryptocurrencies and discuss how it may well change the world.

We could really pick up a thing or two (or 10) from these engaging mini lessons created by Tech faculty, students and alumni.


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Georgia Tech kicking legend Harrison Butker, IE 17, made an impressive pro debut in the NFL last season.


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Steve Sanders/Kansas City Chiefs


10 Around Campus

36 In the World

12 Right On Target Find out who won the 2018 InVenture Prize Competition. 14 Celebrating 10 Years of the InVenture Prize We catch up with past finalists and budding entreprenuers to find out what they’ve done with their innovations. 18 Talk of Tech 26 Tech Research

38 Strangers in a Strange Land Soleen Karim, Arch 12, M Arch 15, M CRP 15, is dedicated to helping refugees at home and abroad. 42 A Model of Efficient Policy The Greenlink Group is helping the city of Atlanta convert to renewable energy. 46 Jacket Copy

The latest news and views from Georgia Tech

Ramblin’ Wrecks generating buzz beyond the Institute

74 Alumni House

28 On the Field

The scoop on Tech’s studentathletes and alumni 30 A Kick in the Pants Former Yellow Jacket kicker Harrison Butker, IE 17, shares his journey to the NFL.

All about what’s going on at 190 North Avenue 76 Together We Swarm 78 Gift to Tech Students voted to fund a new campus LGBTQIA Resource Center. 82 Alumni Events 84 Ramblin’ Roll 90 In Memoriam

100 Tech History

Memories and artifacts of Tech’s storied past 100 Fifty Years of WREK Radio A look back at Tech’s student-run station that’s still spinning ‘quality, diverse music.’ 106 Back Page

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Students from that time period all would have agreed with James Moses that there was no mothering going on. The consensus was that “Ma Tech” was a mean mother and you had to learn to survive and prosper on your own. This was because your real mother wasn’t there to baby you and look out for you.

Just finished reading the most recent issue of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine (Spring 2018, Vol. 94 No. 1) and, having recently visited Costa Rica, I thought the article by Rogers Slavens was very informative. I would like to point out that one of our classmates, Leo Ghitis, IE 80, owns Nayara Resort, Spa and Gardens near the volcano. It’s a wonderful hotel and has won accolades from many travel magazines. Well worth checking out.



RECOLLECTIONS OF “MA TECH” We received dozens of responses to the question posed by James Moses, ME 59, about where the personifying term for the Institute—“Ma Tech”—came from. What became abundantly clear is that the term is today used in a much more endearing and positive way than it was in the late 1960s/early 1970s when it appears to have first gained traction! [--Ed.] I followed James Moses 10 years after his time at Georgia Tech. I don’t remember any mothering either. I do recall when they were building an addition to the Price Gilbert Library someone, a nurtured student I presume, painted “Mother Tech Bites” in big white letters on the topmost beam facing the old Physics building. It really stood out on the structure’s red lead primer. I don’t think it was ever painted over. Things were different back then. The Robbery sold Tshirts with the silhouette of a chain gang and “North Avenue Trade School” on t h e f ro n t . T h e band played Dixie and we all stood. When they played the Alma Mater we only sang “Oh scion of the Southland, in our hearts you shall forever fly.” I bet they don’t

even publish The Rambler today. I have attached a scan of the cover of the one published in June 1967, which I presume is an artist’s sketch of Mother Tech. No, its contents were not politically correct. JOE BRYANT, ME 69 MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C.

The classic answer is that it comes from the term alma mater—Latin for foster mother. I found the term “Mother Tech” in my 1970 yearbook. It was also found on a 3-D art structure that the College of Architecture put up one spring day in the square next to the old shop building on the hill. They used a character drawing of someone who looked like Andy Cap’s wife from the funny papers as Ma Tech. The mothering, in a real sense, is that Tech took you as an 18-year-old kid and turned you into a man or woman who could stand on your own two feet. This was usually done with tough love. I always was able to use good work habits learned at her feet in every job I had. RICH GREGORY, BIO 71 CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.

I have no real idea of the origin of the term “Ma Tech,” however, I can definitively say it was used in the early 1970s.

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We didn’t have “Ma Tech” back in the late 1950s, but I remember a rather unflattering name we had for Tech at the time. It was “North Avenue Trade School for Boys.” The Alumni Magazine is great, by the way. Thanks from an older alumnus; it’s fun to relive some of the happiest days of my life from Georgia Tech, in spite of a few memories of after-midnight walks back to the dorm from the library thinking “this better be worth it.” It was. JOHN B ANDERS, ME 62 YORKTOWN, VA.

I don’t know the origin of the term “Ma Tech”, but I know it was in use as early as 1969. Back then, a concrete pedestrian tunnel under I-75 provided access to Stan’s Sandwich Shop for hungry RATS, as well as to the Crenshaw building which housed wrestling and winter workouts for football. The walls of the tunnel were of course adorned with colorful graffiti, including the epithet: “Ma Tech Eats Her Young.” PROCTOR ALLEN, GM 73 DALTON, GA.

We used the term in the early 1980s, particularly in how sweet Ma Tech was to students who studied all night for an exam only to find out that the exam covered knowledge we had no idea we should have studied! ALAN MITCHELL, ECON 85 SAVANNAH, GA.

DO YOU KNOW A YELLOW JACKET MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE? We’re always looking for great stories about Georgia Tech alumni making a positive difference in society—whether it’s through your professional pursuits or by serving those in need. Email the magazine at to share the stories of you or fellow Yellow Jackets doing good in the world. We may use them in a future issue!

The Georgia Tech Alumni Association partners exclusively with Liberty Mutual to help you save $782 or more a year on auto and home insurance.1

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©2017 Liberty Mutual Insurance Valid through February 28, 2018.

Around Campus

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INTO THE CLEANROOM The Marcus Nanotechnology Building serves as the headquarters for the largest cleanroom laboratory in the Southeast United States dedicated to making biomedical and semiconductor devices. But to get in, first you have to put on coveralls, hair nets, hoods, boots, safety goggles and rubber gloves—it’s a clean room, after all. Find out more about this facility and other hidden areas on campus at Allison Carter

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Right on Target 2018 InVenture Prize-winning inventions from Tech undergraduates include an advanced archery scope, an affordable guitar-effects pedal and an acid-reducing coffee filter. BY LAURA DIAMOND

KOLBY HANLEY won Georgia Tech’s 2018 InVenture Prize for his invention STARLIGHT, a first-of-its-kind aiming device that combines a lightweight scope with integrated light for competitive archery. His victory earned him $20,000 plus a free patent filing and a spot in Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech business accelerator. Hanley, a materials science and engineering student, transferred to Tech just last year. StarLight is the latest product developed by his company, UltraView. He started running the company from his dorm room. In total, six inventions and teams vied for this year’s InVenture Prize. PEDALCREATOR came in second and won $10,000, a free patent filing and a spot in Flashpoint. Their device, DISRUPTION, is an affordable guitar effects pedal that gives musicians the freedom to create distortion sounds. Professional musicians are already using the invention and offering feedback. The inventors are Dallas Condra, mechanical engineering; Jeremy Leff, mechanical engineering; and Vanya Padmanabhan, industrial design. The People’s Choice Award and $5,000 went to PHAM. These students designed a filter to reduce coffee’s



Undergraduate student Kolby Hanley developed the Starlight scope system out of his Tech dorm room.

acidity. They incorporated a mineral blend into the structure of the filter paper, which reduces the acidity of the brewed coffee without negatively affecting the taste. Four materials science and engineering majors—Michele Lauto, Tyler Quill, Aaron Stansell and Lucas Votaw—invented this product.

$12.8 Million

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The three other Georgia Tech InVenture Prize finalists included: MEMEOIS. This team designed an allmeme social media platform that crawls the internet for memes and uses machine learning to curate a personalized feed for meme lovers.

VALUE OF CONTRACT awarded to Georgia Tech cybersecurity researchers to improve detection and fixes of computer network infections



PedalCreator won second prize for designing an affordable guitar effects device.

The People’s Choice Award winner, pHam filters the acid out of your coffee.

Memois puts more meme power in the palm of your hands.

Tensionr is a strap-tensioning tool designed to reduce injuries.

The team behind Scal-Pal developed a safer and more efficient scalpel assembly system for medical workers.

SCAL-PAL. These students redesigned current blade packaging to make scalpel assembly safer and more efficient. The inventors said this design eliminates the threats posed by exposed


blades, which can put health care workers at risk for blood-borne diseases and connective tissue damage. TENSIONR. This team created an easy,

DAYS STUDENT-ATHLETES with Jackets Without Borders spent in Puerto Rico helping with recovery and reconstruction following Hurricane Maria


safe and effective strap tensioning tool for loads of any shape. It allows for the elimination of razor-sharp steel bands, which frequently cut workers on the hands, arms and face.

YEAR THE KENDEDA BUILDING FOR INNOVATIVE SUSTAINABLE DESIGN is projected to achieve Living Building Challenge 3.1 certification Volume 94 No. 2 2018 | GTALUMNI.ORG/MAGAZINE | 13


10 Years of InVenture Prize Innovations


Past finalists from Georgia Tech’s premier student invention competition prove that the path to lifelong entrepreneurship only takes that first step. This year, Georgia Tech celebrated its 10th annual

InVenture Prize competition for undergraduate innovators. We visited with 10 past finalists to learn how this early exposure to entrepreneurship at Georgia Tech changed them and their career paths.

FIRST OF MANY WINNING INVENTIONS ROGER PINCOMBE, CLS 11, tied for first place during the inaugural InVenture Prize in 2009. His invention, DialPrice, allowed consumers to check competitors’ prices on a wide range of products online. He built it for a hackathon, and then Merrick Furst, the founder and director of Flashpoint, convinced him to enter Georgia Tech’s new contest. “I built it as a cool technology and didn’t even think of the business side,” Pincombe says. “But exploring the startup side was an amazing experience.” He entered InVenture the second year and was a finalist again in 2011.



“InVenture Prize was the biggest thing I had ever won and it gave me validation,” he says. “It was great for my confidence and pushed me to try and compete more.” Since he left Georgia Tech, he started his own innovation company and his inventions have won more than 15 hackathons and other competitions. The Peachtree City, Ga. native now lives in San Francisco where he works a day job as lead software engineer at Capitol One. He says the InVenture Prize has had a huge impact on his life. “It forced me to think not just about the technology but also about the potential business,” he says. “To some


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extent, the InVenture Prize pushed me to go from just

BOOKS DONATED BY COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY to the Tech library when it first opened in 1907

building stuff to thinking of startups.”


MAJOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS underway or finished on Tech campus this summer





JOY BUOLAMWINI, CS 12, was the youngest finalist in that first 2009 InVenture Prize Competition. It was her first time inventing something at Georgia Tech, but it wouldn’t be her last. Through the InVenture Prize, she had the opportunity to showcase her ideas in Hong Kong, representing the United States in a Global Student Entrepreneurship Competition. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2012 and was a Rhodes Scholar in 2013. She also worked on improving access to education in Zambia as a 2013 Fulbright Scholar. “Having people around Georgia Tech who were affiliated with the startup community really inspired me,” Boulamwini said after being named a Rhodes Scholar. “The most valuable thing was the confidence I gained and realizing I could put something out in the world and make it become a reality.” Buolamwini, along with three other Tech alumnae, later founded a hair technology company called Techturized Inc. She also advises Bloomer Tech, a smart clothing startup addressing women’s health. She’s currently a graduate researcher at the MIT Media Lab, where she leads the Algorithmic Justice League to address bias in machine learning. She’s on a mission to show compassion through computation.


PATRICK WHALEY, ME 10, went from winning InVenture Prize to appearing before sharks. From his dorm room on campus his first year, Whaley designed weighted exercise clothing to help build strength after he was injured. The gear moves with the body, and the garments can be worn to increase intensity of workouts and assist with rehabilitation efforts. His invention, now called Titin, won

first place in the 2010 InVenture Prize competition, and after graduation later that year the mechanical engineer launched a startup company. “The InVenture Prize competition gave me the contacts and the network that I needed to make my invention a reality,” he said after launching the startup. That exposure increased exponentially when he appeared on the ABC show Shark Tank in 2014. Whaley went on the show seeking a $500,000 investment to grow the Alpharetta-based company. He ultimately made a deal with Daymond John, founder and chief executive of FUBU. Now Titin’s clientele includes professional and collegiate athletes. The weighted exercise clothing sells online and in retail stores.

WORKING TOWARD FDA APPROVAL AFTER ERIKA TYBURSKI, BME 12, won second place in the 2013 InVenture Prize Competition, the question became what to do with her innovation next. Her invention, AnemoCheck, screens for anemia in just a couple of minutes. It is a visual, color-based, ra p i d a n d d i sposable test for anemia. During the competition she said it had the potential to supplant standard lab tests. AnemoCheck is close to entering the clinical marketplace, having received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a 510(k) premarket submission. Shortly before Tyburski graduated from Tech, she approached Wilbur Lam, an assistant professor of pediatrics and biomedical

NUMBER OF GEORGIA TECH TECHNOLOGIES featured at the TechConnect World Conference— three of them winning a National Innovation World prize

engineering. Together, they figured out how she could continue developing and working on it. Since then, they’ve worked with the biomedical engineering and pediatrics departments at Georgia Tech, Emory University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. They’ve also received funding from the Atlantic Pediatric Device Consortium, the Georgia Research Alliance, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. AnemoCheck is currently a product of Sanguina, a startup created to develop and commercialize the invention. Tybursi is one of the co-founders and the chief operating officer. “I’ve learned a lot of things along the way,” she says. “For a class, you’re worried about getting your grade. This phase was more for, does this technology actually work? Can it do what I’ve been hoping it would do? It’s been an amazing journey and it keeps going.”


AVERAGE STARTING SALARY for Tech undergraduates

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AFTER WINNING THE 2016 INVENTURE PRIZE, Zack Braun, CmpE 17, and Tyler Sisk, EE 17, represented Georgia Tech in a new competition. At the inaugural ACC InVenture Prize, they won the People’s Choice Award. Braun and Sisk invented FireHUD, a device to improve the safety of firefighters. The realtime wearable system and heads-up display provides biometric and environmental data to firefighters on the job and officials on site. The device measures heart rate, body temperature and external temperatures that can help predict fatigue and prevent injuries. The company recently received a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research grant for $224,143 to conduct research and development work on a biometric Internet of Things system for first responders. The NSF grant will fund the company for a full year, says Braun, FireHUD CEO. “We’ve had so many opportunities,” he says. “We’ve been able to bring our ideas into the world and truly leave a mark.” The company will soon launch pilot studies with local fire departments and plans to deploy about 25 units.

A VISIT TO THE WHITE HOUSE WHEN PARTHA UNNAVA, CLS 19, entered the 2014 InVenture Prize he was looking for exposure among the Georgia Tech and Atlanta startup communities. He invented Better Walk as redesigned crutches that minimize underarm pain. “Competitions are fun but what matters is whether you’re fulfilling your personal mission,” he says. “Are you doing something that impacts the world?” The InVenture experience helped Unnava make that desired impact. He showed off his invention at the inaugural White House Maker Faire, where President Barack Obama tried out the crutch. Unnava was also named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list, which featured “gamechanging entrepreneurs.” He continues to grow the company, which is now a team of three people. While he sold directly to hospitals last year, he saw bigger growth through ecommerce sales directly to customers.

The Buckhead-based company, now called BWHealth, sells directly to its end users. One customer ran the New York City Marathon on the crutches. They’ve launched another product, Lasso, a targeted compression sock that was inspired by the science behind ankle tape. It reacts to motion and reinforces the ligaments and tendons in the ankle. “It’s lonely growing a business,” Unnava says. “But when you go through InVenture you get a family and a network. There’s an insider group of entrepreneurs that have Georgia Tech connections and that’s incredibly valuable.”

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR JASMINE BURTON, ID 14, was part of the four-member multidisciplinary team that won first place in the 2014 InVenture Prize. They invented SafiChoo, an inexpensive mobile toilet to address global sanitation problems. While the other original team members moved on to different endeavors, Burton continued working on the device and in 2014 launched a social organization called Wish for WASH, which stands for water, sanitation and hygiene. The group brings innovation to sanitation through research, design and education. “The InVenture experience was one like no other that immediately became a hallmark of my collegiate experience,” Burton says. “I think that the fact that we were able to research and create something in a classroom and then learn how to communicate about it to a diverse audience really solidified my love for research into

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use as it relates to global grand challenges.” Burton’s career path shows how entrepreneurs address global problems. After launching Wish for WASH, Burton moved to Lusaka, Zambia, for global health work and toilet testing in 2015. She also earned a master’s degree in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2017. “The InVenture Prize competition really taught me to believe in myself, which ultimately is a lesson that I have carried forward,” she says.




A WORLD OF INTERNS WHEN MURTAZA BAMBOT, IE 17, entered the InVenture Prize last year, he wasn’t thinking of turning InternBlitz into a company. He and his other co-founder thought the contest would be a good way to get students to check out their site, which streamlines the internship application process. But the experience, and winning second-place, convinced Bambot to keep working on the company. “InVenture gave me the traction that convinced me to do this fulltime,” he says. “I met people who are continuing to be mentors, and the past InVenture teams have been incredible, sharing advice and opening doors.” InternBlitz posts internships from about 12,000 companies and has about 15,000 users nationwide. The site finds internships for students, automatically fills in their personal contact information and resume, and then sends applicants the extra,

company-specific questions. Bambot is still growing the company and is preparing for a round of fundraising. An additional site, CareerBlitz, will post fulltime positions from the same companies using the intern site. He’s also participating in a year-long fellowship designed to help top student entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial-minded young leaders. The fellowship is through Future Founders and Bambot is gaining a new peer community, attracting additional mentors and attending entrepreneurship retreats.

FROM INVENTURE TO ATDC AS ELECTRIC VEHICLES BECOME MORE COMMON, a growing challenge is how to make it easier for drivers to charge these cars. That’s where TEQ Charging comes in. The startup makes it possible for multiple drivers to plug their cars into a charging queue. The company connects electric vehicle charging stations to the cloud at a low cost, guaranteeing the availability of charging stations for more drivers. TEQ Charging was a four-person team in the 2016 InVenture finale, and two of the original members—Dorrier Coleman, CmpE 15, and Isaac Wittenstein, ME 17— continue to work on the company. Their invention is used by drivers at nine properties in two states, including three sites in Georgia. “The InVenture process was good for

us,” Wittenstein says. “Going through the weekly pitch practices made us better. It forced us to structure our thoughts and think about the questions judges, and later potential investors, could have.” The company is currently part of Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center. “We’ve continued to be part of the Georgia Tech family,” Wittenstein says. “If there was no starup ecosystem, we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are today.”

SARTHAK SRINIVAS shows how students can continue to find success and new avenues for their inventions after the InVenture Prize competition is over. He was part of team PickAR, a finalist for the 2017 InVenture Prize. The team built an augmented reality application to help workers find and pick orders in warehouses. The invention streamlines the steps it takes to locate and handle items. After the competition, the team tested the technology at the Georgia Tech Library. Srinivas, a computer science major, and Charu Thomas, an industrial engineering major, are now working on the concept, which was renamed Oculogx. It is a mixed-reality application that uses a headset to combine barcode scanning for immediate inventory control with navigation that projects the optimal path through the warehouse to each item. Last September they won the Atlanta Startup Battle, which awarded the company $100,000. The application recently finished second in the Imagine Cup, a worldwide innovation competition sponsored by Microsoft. And it was a finalist for the 2017 Collegiate Inventors Competition, which honors the nation’s top collegiate inventors. “We have never forgotten how helpful our mentors and peers at Georgia Tech have been,” Srinivas says.

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Bright Lights, Big Letters BY VICTOR ROGERS

THE T-E-C-H LETTERS atop the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Administration Building, aka Tech Tower, have been replaced with new ones that use a new lighting technology and will be more durable and easier to maintain. But never fear: The new letters look and feel like the old ones, using neon to ensure that the color will not be any different than they were. “We are making the change because it was becoming harder and harder to find replacements for the old lighting technology,” says Fenella Bryant, construction project manager, Facilities Design & Construction. “Also, because of how the letters were wired, we were having to replace two different strands each time a single strand went out in order to maintain color consistency and clarity.” It was a tough decision to not completely revamp the letters to match the latest design styles and lighting technology, Bryant admits. “However, tradition won over trend, and we opted to ensure a consistent look and feel to our beloved and iconic Tech Tower letters,” she says. “We purposely chose a lighting system that would allow us to replicate visually what is currently in place.” The process to remove and replace the letters was a two-phase process: Phase 1 (on the west side of the tower) required a 60-ton crane, and Phase 2 (on the north side of the tower) required a 45-ton crane to facilitate this task. Some tree branches close to Tech Tower were removed to allow better access. Tech Tower was one of the original buildings when Tech opened its doors in October 1888. In 2015, the building was closed for more than a year to undergo a major renovation.

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Christopher Moore


FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE, the only real tool to find life on potentially habitable planets that are light-years away from Earth is to probe their atmospheres for biological fingerprints of life, called biosignatures. This approach has two drawbacks, according to Christopher Reinhard, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “Some biosignatures can be made by abiotic processes, leading to false positives,” Reinhard says. “Others can be masked by processes that consume biosignatures, leading to false negatives.” To overcome these problems, Reinhard and colleagues in the NASA Astrobiology Institute Alternative Earths and Virtual Planetary Laboratory Teams are proposing use of dynamic biosignatures based on seasonal changes in Earth’s atmosphere. The approach—described recently in Astrophysical Journal Letters—uses the seasonal variation of biologically important gases as a way to deal with false positives and false negatives, Reinhard says. SEASONALITY OF ATMOSPHERIC GASES As Earth orbits the sun, its tilted axis means different regions receive more rays at different times of the year. The most visible signs of this phenomenon are changes in the weather and length of the days, but atmospheric composition is also affected. For example, in the Northern Hemisphere, which contains

most the world’s vegetation, plant growth in summer results in noticeably lower levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The reverse is true for oxygen. “Atmospheric seasonality is a promising biosignature because it is biologically modulated on Earth and is likely to occur on other inhabited worlds,” says lead author Stephanie Olson, a graduate student in the Department of Earth Sciences of the University of California, Riverside (UCR). “Inferring life based on seasonality wouldn’t require a detailed understanding of alien biochemistry because it arises as a biological response to seasonal changes in the environment, rather than as a consequence of a specific biological activity that might be unique to Earth.” In the study—funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute and the National Science Foundation Frontiers in Earth System Dynamics—the researchers identify the opportunities and pitfalls in monitoring the seasonal ebbs and flows of oxygen, carbon dioxide, methane and ozone. They also modeled fluctuations of atmospheric oxygen on a life-bearing planet with low oxygen content, just as Earth was billions of years ago. “Based on these evaluations,” Reinhard says, “seasonal variations in ozone could be a sensitive biosignature on planets with undetectable levels of oxygen in their atmospheres.”

OZONE AS AN INDICATOR OF LIFE At Georgia Tech, Reinhard’s research group develops comprehensive models for the production and maintenance of robust atmospheric biosignatures on habitable planets, and it played a key role in developing the concept of ozone seasonality as a fingerprint for life on low-oxygen planets. The idea emerged in part as an answer to the “biosignature blind spot” problem Reinhard and colleagues posed in a 2017 Astrobiology paper. “We are particularly excited about the prospect of characterizing oxygen fluctuations at the low levels we would expect to find on an early version of Earth,” says Timothy Lyons, a professor of biogeochemistry in UCR’s Department of Earth Science and director of the Alternative Earths Astrobiology Center. “Seasonal variations as revealed by ozone would be most readily detectable on a planet like Earth was billions of years ago, when most life was still microscopic and ocean dwelling.” “Although we think the conceptual framework for this approach is robust, observing and quantifying seasonality represents a daunting challenge,” Reinhard says. “Research will need to take into account modulation of seasonal signals by the angle at which we observe a planet and the shape of its orbit, among other factors. Nevertheless, seasonality represents a potentially powerful approach toward finding life beyond our solar system.” —A. MAUREEN ROUHI

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Marder Receives Tech’s Top Teaching Award


SETH MARDER, REGENTS PROFESSOR and Georgia Power Chair of Energy Efficiency in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was honored this spring with the highest award the Institute bestows upon faculty members—the Class of 1934 Distinguished Professor Award. Instituted in 1984 by the Class of 1934 in observance of its 50th reunion, the award recognizes outstanding achievement in teaching, research and service. It’s presented to a professor who has made significant long-term contributions—contributions that have brought widespread recognition to the professor, to their college and school, and to the Institute. “I think this award is a reflection of the fact that the Institute values a faculty member’s contributions beyond teaching and research,” Marder says. “It’s very special to have that kind of recognition.” Marder is the third chemistry professor to receive the Distinguished Professor Award in recent years; Gary Schuster was the recipient last year, and Charles Liotta was honored a few years ago. “The School of Chemistry and Biochemistry is a special place,” Marder says. “There are a lot of people in the school who are really dedicated to working to make Georgia Tech a better place. They’re willing to invest the time to do so.” AN IMPACT IN SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY Marder joined the Georgia Tech faculty in 2003, coming to the Institute as part of a team of three other faculty members. “One of the things that was so attractive about Georgia Tech was that the place was on the move,” Marder says. “And I felt that people who have the desire to work to build a better place really could have the opportunity to do so in the environment that Georgia Tech fosters. Fifteen years later, that still proves to be true.” Marder’s research pertains to organic materials—essentially plastic-like materials—for photonics and electronics. Organic materials for photonics have applications in areas such as 3-D microfabrication and very high-speed data

Seth Marder (left) has been teaching chemistry at Georgia Tech since 2003.

processing and communication, as well as significantly in organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays, which are now ubiquitous in cellphones, computers and TVs. He is part of an interdisciplinary team that tries to understand from first principles how to design and synthesize materials that enable these applications. Marder attributes his success to working closely with many top researchers throughout the globe, including his Tech colleagues Joseph Perry, Jean-Luc Bredas, Bernard Kippelen and John Reynolds. His work has resulted in over 475 papers that have been cited more than 38,000 times, and he is an inventor on 39 issued patents, many of which were licensed. THE IMPORTANCE OF GIVING BACK In addition to his stellar record in teaching and research, Marder is known across campus for his tireless service work. He is often called upon to serve on committees and task forces, because of his reputation for offering a fresh approach, the ability to cut to the heart of a problem, and a communication style that is considered honest—and sometimes even blunt. He is also dyslexic, and he believes that it influences how he approaches problem-solving. “The mind thinks differently if you are

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dyslexic,” Marder says. “We see the world differently, and we see patterns that other people often don’t. Dyslexia makes it more difficult to do certain things that other people can do easily. But it enables us to make contributions that other people likely wouldn’t.” Marder says being a professor is a tremendous opportunity to learn and contribute to many facets of the Institute’s activities. He views his service work as a way to learn and get to know many extremely talented people on campus who work on areas pertaining to diversity, international affairs, staff development, industrial relations, and other topics. He has mentored more than 150 graduate students, postdocs and research scientists in his group over the years, many of whom are now leaders in industry and academia around the globe. He also serves as a mentor for staff and faculty members. “My job in my capacity as a professor, particularly at this point in my career, is largely to enable other people to achieve what they hope to achieve, and help them aspire to achieve more than they thought was possible,” he says. Marder says the award is, at some level, a testament to what one can do at a place like Georgia Tech. “We get to have an impact, and people pay us to do it. That’s a pretty good gig.”


For recent graduate Josh Ingersoll, AE 18, singing has been an integral — and unforgettable — part of his Tech experience.

Josh Ingersoll (far right) performed with the Georgia Tech Glee Club throughout his time as an underdgraduate, and plans to continue doing so during grad school.

IT WAS THE THIRD COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY Josh Ingersoll had attended. As a member and now outgoing president of Georgia Tech’s Glee Club, Ingersoll had sung the national anthem, the Georgia Tech Alma Mater and, of course, the Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech at many previous ceremonies. He sang once again at commencement on May 5, but this time he also picked up his diploma, shook President G.P. “Bud” Peterson’s hand, and celebrated a major life milestone. And he couldn’t have imagined a better way to mark the occasion. “Georgia Tech has always been my dream school,” says Ingersoll, a Caledonia, N.Y., native. He graduated from a small high school and was one of only three in his class to go to college out of state. “I knew that I wanted to do aerospace engineering since my first year of high school, and Tech had a highly ranked undergraduate program,” he says. Even as he pursued his academic dreams, Ingersoll was able to follow another of his

loves: singing. Since first joining a choir in fourth grade, he has been “singing my whole life.” He made the New York All-State choir in his senior year and was named All-County for seven years in a row, and was also active in musical theater. At Tech, he was immediately inspired to join the Glee Club after seeing them perform at New Student Convocation. “They seemed like a great group of guys who enjoyed singing and had a great time doing it,” he recalls. “I decided to show up to the first rehearsal on my first day of class.” Ingersoll never looked back. As a member of the Glee Club, which was founded in 1906 (two years before the Yellow Jacket Marching Band, he notes), he has traveled across the country, proudly representing Georgia Tech. Ingersoll says it “thoroughly enriched my undergraduate experience.” Between his studies and his singing, Ingersoll made the most of the opportunities that Georgia Tech has to offer. He traveled

everywhere from the historic Callaway family home in LaGrange, Ga., to the nation’s capital and Yankee Stadium. And he spent one summer studying in Ireland, and two summers working at General Electric in Cincinnati, where he helped design a new jet engine. “Coming to Tech, I had no idea what was in store for me,” he says. He has a better idea of what’s in store after graduation. He will be returning to Tech this fall to begin a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. Ingersoll is already looking forward to experiencing another Yellow Jacket football season and continuing to do meaningful research in the lab. He will also be serving as an officer in the Glee Club, overseeing recruitment and social media efforts. When asked what his most memorable Glee Club moment has been, he doesn’t skip a beat: “My favorite event was singing at my own Commencement. I loved singing Ramblin’ Wreck for all my fellow graduates!” —STACY BRAUKMAN

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Continuing the Conversation on Race With the installation of a new Rosa Parks sculpture on campus, art meets history to inspire learning—and courage. BY STACY BRAUKMAN

AN ALABAMA NATIVE and longtime resident of Detroit, Mich., Rosa Parks probably never set foot on the Georgia Tech campus. But her tireless activism for racial and economic justice cannot be confined to a single geographical location, decade or movement. As with all great heroes, her life and work are transcendent. On April 5, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., a new piece of public art was unveiled on Tech’s campus. Titled Continuing the Conversation, the sculpture depicts Rosa Parks at age 42—the year her courageous act helped launch the Montgomery bus boycott and sparked a movement that would reshape the nation—and at age 92, the year she died. They sit across from each other, an empty seat between them, inviting passersby to join in. Atlanta sculptor Martin Dawe came up with the concept a few years ago, and he shared it with Madison Cario, director of Tech’s Office of the Arts, and Rafael L. Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs and the K. Harrison Brown Family Chair. The piece, they agreed, would be a perfect fit for Georgia Tech. “It is important to keep this history alive, because the conversation that Rosa Parks carried, with herself and with the people of the United States, needs to continue,” says

Bras. “I think we are obliged to remind and educate our students of that history and challenge them to do the same.” A LESSON ALL CAN LEARN FROM Looking for philanthropic support to bring the project to fruition and the sculpture to campus, Bras reached out to dedicated Tech supporters and alumni Rod Adkins, EE 81, MS EE 83, Hon PhD 13, a former IBM executive, and his wife Michelle Adkins, IM 83, a retired certified public accountant and internal auditor. The couple said yes almost immediately. “It felt right,” Rod Adkins explains. “It felt like it integrated all of the things we stand for. We are really proud that it was going to be on the campus of Georgia Tech.” “She wasn’t tired, and she wasn’t old,” Michelle Adkins observes about Parks’s refusal in 1955 to relinquish her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala.—an act for which she was arrested and jailed. “She was tired of giving in. That lesson in itself is good for our young generation: It’s important to stand up for what you believe in. Fight to make a difference and to make your lives better. I think that’s something that Tech students and the Atlanta community—all people in general—can take a lesson from.”

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For Cario, the Parks sculpture “is remarkable, in that it allows the entire campus community to reflect on how the action of one person can have tremendous impact. It illuminates history and welcomes us to become a part of it.” Continuing the Conversation is located in Harrison Square, near Tech Tower and Cherry Street. The plaza was named for Tech’s sixth president, Edwin D. Harrison, who served from

Rob Felt


F a 1957 to 1969. During his tenure, in 1961, the Institute became the first major university in the Deep South to desegregate without a court order. “It is the right thing to do,” he said at the time, even as most whites in the city, state and region continued to cling fiercely to Jim Crow. AN ARTIST’S VISION Dawe, who owns Cherrylion Studios in Midtown Atlanta, has been a professional

sculptor since the early 1980s. Most recently, he created an eight-foot bronze statue of Martin Luther King Jr. on the grounds of Georgia’s state capitol building, an experience he describes as “amazing.” He notes with awe (and perhaps a touch of glee) that King is now sharing this powerful symbolic square footage with, among others, former governors John B. Gordon, a leader in the post-Civil War Ku Klux Klan, and

Herman Talmadge, a staunch opponent of desegregation in the 1950s and ’60s. He is happy knowing the Parks statue will live at Georgia Tech. Though a graduate of Georgia State University, Dawe apprenticed for eight years with Tech architecture professor and sculptor Julian Harris, since deceased, who also was a Tech alumnus. “My heart is there [at Tech], because that’s really where my career started,” Dawe says.

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16 Signs of Progress: Building a Bigger, Better Campus BY STACY BRAUKMAN

IN SPITE OF THIS SPRING’S ERRATIC—and at times volatile—weather, construction projects have continued across campus to build a new landscape for learning. With no fewer than 16 major projects in the works, here’s a summary of those that are just starting, fully underway or nearing completion: 1. Library Renewal The library complex is getting a complete renovation, with much of the tower’s exterior being replaced on the north and south sides to provide natural light and views. The interior is being reconfigured to provide ample study and collaboration space. Phase 1 wraps up this winter, and Phase II, starting in January, is expected to be completed in Spring 2020.

2. The Kendeda Building The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design has been under construction since March. The beginnings of the foundation have been poured, and work is expected to be finished in summer 2019, at which point the building will undergo the Living Building Challenge certification process. Follow the progress via webcam at livingbuilding. 3. Coda Building After months of digging, several floors of the Coda Building are now visible above ground at the corner of Spring Street and Armstead Place. Coda will include 645,000 square feet of office and retail space programmed to serve as the core of collaboration and the pinnacle of innovation in Midtown Atlanta. Georgia Tech

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will be the anchor tenant and construction of its space will begin this September, with the project scheduled for completion in spring 2019. Follow the construction at 4. Van Leer Interdisciplinary Design Commons Renovation continues for the two-story rotunda to create space for a new Interdisciplinary Design Commons, which will provide interdisciplinary education, collaboration, research and makerspace for student design and invention. The project is scheduled to be finished this summer. 5. Campus Safety Facility Construction began in February on the new 30,000-square-foot building at the corner of Tenth Street and Hemphill Avenue.

The new building will house the Georgia Tech Police Department and provide a new entryway into the Northeast sector of campus. 6. Boggs First Floor Renovation Renovation of the first floor of the Gilbert H. Boggs Chemistry Building continues. The latest phase of work will provide undergraduate instructional laboratory spaces for the School of Biology and the School of Physics. 7. Football Locker Room Renovation The players’ locker room, coaches’ locker room, equipment spaces, and circulation spaces in Bobby Dodd Stadium are getting a renovation and refresh. The work is scheduled to be finished in time for use in the 2018 football season. 8. Instructional Center: Classroom Improvement Phase II remobilized in May with an expected completion of August. Renovations include accessibility upgrades to the instructional space and supporting ancillary spaces, new

restrooms, completion of the elevator, and ADA access to the auditorium. 9. Dalney Building The Dalney Building project features a new parking deck that will house 800 spaces and an adjacent 54,500-square-foot office building. A photovoltaic array is planned for future implementation on the top level of the parking deck. Construction is set to be finished in August 2019. 10. Howey Physics Building This project began in February and includes a complete overhaul of Howey’s lecture hall spaces as well as restroom improvements. Full completion date is August 2020. 11. Nanotechnology: Cell Manufacturing Facility Construction is nearly complete on the new 2,930-square-foot cleanroom facility for the Marcus Center for Therapeutic Cell Characterization and Manufacturing. 12. Savant Building Renovation of the first floor of the Savant Building has just been completed and will accommodate the

dean’s office for the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. 13. Atlantic Promenade Phase I of this project replaced a steam line from the Bunger-Henry Building to Ferst Drive; phases II and III provided extensive streetscape and landscape improvements. The area is now fully open to pedestrians. 14. Eco-Commons Sector The overall Eco-Commons concept encompasses approximately 80 acres, with the portion under active planning consisting of eight acres and including a performance landscape, which will feature sustainable infrastructure components and green space for community use. The project will incorporate urban agriculture and a stream channel to mimic historic water flow while capturing stormwater for reuse. The Kendeda Building and Campus Safety Facility are part of the Eco-Commons footprint. 15. Campus Center In its early planning stages, the Campus Center project will provide a comprehensive renovation of Georgia Tech’s Student Center complex, transforming the current facility into a broadly focused center to better serve the needs of the entire campus. 16. ACC Network Production Center This summer, demolition and construction commenced to convert the building at 955 Fowler Street NW into a High Definition production facility for the launch of ESPN’s Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Network.

PETER SWIRE NAMED ANDREW CARNEGIE FELLOW GEORGIA TECH PROFESSOR Peter Swire has been selected to be part of the 2018 class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows, a prestigious program that supports significant research in the humanities and social sciences. Swire’s project focuses on the new era of “data nationalism,” the escalating actions by nations to control the flow of data, especially personal data, from one country to another. This ties into Swire’s core research areas of privacy and cybersecurity, including his ongoing research about the rules for government access to communications and other data.

“This award brings recognition to the crucial issues of how to govern cross-border flows of personal information,” says Swire, the Elizabeth and Tommy Holder Chair of Law and Ethics in the Scheller College of Business and the associate director for policy in the Institute for Information Security and Privacy. “I am humbled by the opportunity to try to help solve these global challenges before they turn into severe global problems.” Swire says the conflicts arising from data nationalism pose large risks to privacy and human rights. It also endangers the effectiveness

of legitimate law enforcement and intelligence activities, he said. Under President Clinton, Swire was the chief counselor for privacy in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the only person to date to have U.S. government-wide responsibility for privacy policy. Under President Obama, he was one of five members of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies.

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CybercrimeFighting Robot IT’S SMALL ENOUGH to fit inside a shoebox, yet the HoneyBot robot on four wheels has a big mission: keeping factories and other large facilities safe from hackers. Developed by a team of researchers at Georgia Tech, the diminutive device is designed to lure in digital troublemakers who have set their sights on industrial facilities. HoneyBot will then trick the bad actors into giving up valuable information to cybersecurity professionals monitoring potential attacks. “Robots do more now than they ever have, and some companies are moving forward with not just the assembly line robots, but free-standing robots that can actually drive around factory floors,” says Raheem Beyah, the Motorola Foundation Professor and interim Steve W. Chaddick School Chair in Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “In that type of setting, you can imagine how dangerous this could be

if a hacker gains access to those machines.” Internet security professionals long have employed decoy computer systems known as “honeypots” as a way to throw cyber-attackers off the trail. The research team applied the same concept to the HoneyBot, which is partially funded with a grant from the National Science Foundation. Once hackers gain access to the decoy, they leave behind valuable information that can help companies further secure their networks. “A lot of cyberattacks go unanswered or unpunished because there’s this level of anonymity afforded to malicious actors on the internet, and it’s hard for companies to say who is responsible,” says Celine Irvene, a Georgia Tech graduate student who

worked with Beyah to devise the new robot. “Honeypots give security professionals the ability to study the attackers, determine what methods they are using, and figure out where they are or potentially even who they are.”—JOSH BROWN

A MOUTHPIECE TO FIGHT HYPERTENSION FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE hypertension and certain other conditions, eating too much salt raises blood pressure and increases the likelihood of heart complications. To help monitor salt intake, researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a flexible and stretchable wireless sensing system designed to be comfortably worn in the mouth to measure the amount of sodium a person consumes. Based on an ultra-thin, breatha b le e l a s to m e r i c m e m b ra n e , t h e sensor integrates with a miniaturized flexible electronic system that uses Bluetooth technology to wirelessly report the sodium consumption to a smartphone or tablet. The researchers plan to further miniaturize

the system—which now resembles a dental retainer—to the size of a tooth. “We can unobtrusively and wirelessly measure the amount of sodium that people are taking in over time,” explains Woon-Hong Yeo, an assistant professor in Tech’s Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. “By monitoring sodium in real-time, the device could one day help people who need to restrict sodium intake and learn to change their eating habits and diet.” Details of the device have been reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The device has been tested in three adult study participants who wore the sensor system for up to a

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week while eating both solid and liquid foods including vegetable juice, chicken soup and potato chips.—JOHN TOON


SOAKING UP THE GENES BY TREATING LIVING CELLS like tiny, absorbent sponges, Georgia Tech researchers have potentially developed a new way to introduce molecules and therapeutic genes into human cells. The technique first compresses cells in a microfluidic device by rapidly flowing them through a series of tiny “speed bumps” built into the micro-channels, which compresses out small amounts of fluid—known as cytosol—from inside the cells. The cells then naturally recover and refill themselves, sucking up surrounding fluid and pulling in macromolecules or genes mixed into it. Though the abrupt collisions can reduce cell volume by as much as 30 percent, the cells rapidly rebound. The new technique is known as cell volume exchange for convective transfer, or cell VECT. It is believed to be the first compression process to prompt highly transient cell volume exchange by utilizing the ability of cells to lose and rapidly recover their cytosol. The research, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, was reported by the journal Materials Today. “We are taking advantage of an intrinsic mechanical property of cells,” says Anna Liu, a PhD candidate in the laboratory of Associate Professor Todd Sulchek in Georgia Tech’s Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. “When cells are compressed suddenly over a period of microseconds, they lose some of their volume. The cells are exchanging volume with the fluid around them, and that’s what allows them to convectively take up macromolecules from their environment.”—JOHN TOON

TWENTY-FOUR HOURS A DAY, seven days a week, analysts huddle around computer screens in U.S. Air Force facilities around the world scanning for information that might require immediate action. These analysts are part of the Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (AF DCGS), which is designed to sift through vast amounts of information—real-time video, geospatial intelligence, electronic signals and more—to find “needles in the haystack” critical to national security. Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) are supporting the mission of AF DCGS in a broad range of ways. GTRI is providing expertise from subject matter experts in an array of sensing areas in which GTRI researchers have extensive experience, supporting the development and prototyping of new services needed by the Air Force, conducting training and technology transfer activities for DCGS personnel, and providing advice on the information technology that underlies the DCGS to the programmers who maintain and enhance it. By modeling the flow of information

through the DCGS, GTRI is helping the Air Force continuously improve the system, boosting efficiency and enhancing its ability to bring together the massive data sets that quickly provide critical information. “For the Air Force analysts sitting at these workstations around the clock, we want to make sure they get the information they need as quickly, accurately and efficiently as possible,” says Molly Gary, a GTRI principal research scientist who has led the project for nearly five years. “We want to help the Air Force improve the fusion of data so the analysts can more quickly get an understanding of what it all means and provide actionable intelligence to the commanders.” The Air Force is adopting an open architecture strategy in which systems are more standardized and the connections between specialized areas are more transparent—with a goal of making the system modular, more efficient and less expensive to operate. GTRI is helping map out the full system and how it is connected to the flow of data from one part to another.—JOHN TOON

Want to read more about Georgia Tech’s cutting-edge research? Sign up to receive the Institute’s monthly research e-newsletter or twice-yearly Research Horizons magazine at

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On the Field

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Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

RACE TO THE RIBBON Jeanine Williams and Nahom Solomon were named the Georgia Tech Athletic Association’s Athletes of the Year. Williams won the 2018 ACC championship in the 60-meter hurdles and was a part of the women’s shuttle hurdle relay team that posted the ninth-fastest time in NCAA history. Solomon stood out in both men’s cross country and track and field, earning all-America honors in both sports while shattering numerous Tech records, including besting the outdoor 5,000 meters mark—which had lasted more than 46 years—by more than 10 seconds. Volume 94 No. 2 2018 | GTALUMNI.ORG/MAGAZINE | 29


A Kick in the Pants BY BILL CHASTAIN, IM 79

Losing the competition for his first NFL job helped Harrison Butker, IE 17, score one of the best rookie seasons ever for a pro kicker. ONE OF THE GREATEST MOMENTS in recent Georgia Tech football history involved a kick that didn’t even win the game. It came on Nov. 9, 2014, when then second-year hoofer Harrison Butker booted a field goal that would forever mint his legacy with the Yellow Jackets. On that day, Butker used his powerful leg to drive a football through the uprights for a 53-yard score against bitter rival Georgia, and sent a game most Tech faithful thought to be lost to overtime. “That could have been a difficult moment for me if I started thinking about the kick, but I didn’t check to see how far the kick was, and I didn’t think about anything else,” Butker recalls. “I just kind of focused on my technique and what I needed to do—what I could do. I got a great snap from [long-snapper] Trevor Stroebel and Ryan Rodwell

had a great hold. I kicked it. I wasn’t sure if it had the distance. When I saw the equipment managers celebrating, I knew it went through. I saw the referees put their hands up. I thought we’d won the game. That’s how oblivious I was to the whole situation. But instead we just went to overtime.” Tech went on to win the game 30-24. Jackets players pruned the hedges. And Butker became Tech royalty. By the time he played his final season for the Yellow Jackets in 2016, Butker had become Georgia Tech’s all-time leading scorer with 337 career points. In his final game, he went 4-for-4 in field goals—including a 52-yarder in Tech’s TaxSlayer Bowl win over Kentucky. Butker’s college career definitely earned him a chance to compete in the NFL. Whether he got to take advantage of that opportunity depended on how

“I couldn’t believe it—[the Chiefs] wanted me to take over as their starting kicker,” Butker says. “Only 32 kickers in the whole world start in the NFL, and I realized I was finally going to be one of them.”




TOTAL ACC TITLES won by the Yellow Jackets men’s golf team during the program’s history

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he performed in pro days and the NFL Combine leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft. There was no doubt that Butker had the talent to be a pro placekicker. Luckily, a unique friendship would help him refine that talent to position himself for a spot in the NFL. Butker wasn’t sure if any pro team would draft him. Lots of kickers get passed on during the seven-round NFL Draft and wind up having to sign as free agents to win a spot on a team. When the teams he thought showed the most interest kept passing on the chance to pick him as the draft unwound, he started to rationalize that becoming a free-agent signee wasn’t such a bad fate. But then the Carolina Panthers selected him in the seventh round, which totally confused him. After all, they already had Graham Gano, as talented a placekicker as there was in the NFL. “Graham Gano had been kicking in the pros for eight or nine years,” Butker says. “You hear about some open competitions in training camp [leading up to the start of the season], especially at the kicker position. But I knew they were only going to have one kicker on the team.” Almost all NFL teams only carry one kicker and one punter on their squads so they can carry more depth at other


SPORTS CAMPS held for K-12 students at Georgia Tech over the summer

positions where injuries are more likely to happen. “I’d heard stories about the veteran guy pushing the rookie to the side, not helping him,” Butker says. The rookie was surprised that Gano, the


consummate pro, turned out to be the complete opposite. “I felt like Graham was helping me and teaching me and encouraging me to be the best kicker I could be right from the start,” he says. “Even though it could

STUDENT ATHLETES participating in summer internships as part of the Fifth Street Bridge Program

Steve Sanders/Kansas City Chiefs


cost him his job. Graham even told me: ‘Bro, you’re a really good kicker—no matter how this competition ends up, at the end of the season, I know we’re both going to be starting kickers in the NFL.’ It felt really good to hear that from him.”

YELLOW JACKETS BASEBALL PLAYERS named to the allACC first team: Joey Bart, Wade Bailey, Tristin English and Connor Thomas Volume 94 No. 2 2018 | GTALUMNI.ORG/MAGAZINE | 31

ON THE FIELD Butker lost the competition with Gano, and was eventually cut from the team. He ended up on the Panthers’ practice squad waiting for an opportunity to spring up. Unfortunately, that usually meant someone had gotten hurt. He only had to wait a month. Longtime pro Cairo Santos suffered a groin injury, leaving the Kansas City Chiefs without a kicker. Next thing Butker knew, he was wearing a Chiefs uniform at Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 2 for a

Monday night game against the Washington Redskins. “I couldn’t believe it, they wanted me to take over as their starting kicker,” Butker says. “Only 32 kickers in the whole world start in the NFL, and I realized I was finally going to be one of them.” Butker’s nerves were under control by the time he got summoned for his first NFL field goal attempt, a 46-yarder. He ran onto the field, lined up the kick— and promptly missed.

“I think that calmed my nerves more than anything,” he says. He got his first miss out of the way right from the start, and he didn’t have to worry about it anymore. Butker then made his next 23 attempts, including the game winner in that first game against the Redskins. Even though he didn’t even play a full season, he set the Chiefs’ single-season franchise record with 38 field goals made. The Pro Football



Kicking field goals isn’t easy. But learning how to kick them doesn’t have to be a daunting task. You simply need to practice these basic steps to get the job done. And learn to be a robot about executing them time after time. 1. USE THE CORRECT PART OF YOUR FOOT. The first step is to make sure you’re kicking the ball on the right part of your foot. A lot of times guys who don’t know anything about kicking will come up to me and say, “Man, your toe must be really sore from kicking.” I’m like, “What? I’m not kicking on my toe, I’m kicking in between my toe and my ankle, on the hardest part of the bone on the top of my foot.” That’s where you should strive to make contact. 2. LEARN YOUR STEPS. I think once you start making good contact with the ball, to where it sounds good coming off your foot, then you can start working on your steps. The idea is to make sure you’re in the same position every time. The process goes

back to engineering. I’m trying to be like a robot. I can’t expect to be accurate with my kicks if I’m starting in a different spot every time. It’s critical to be consistent with your starting point and positioning if you want to kick the ball through the uprights. Kickers are all different, but I take three steps back and two steps over before every kick I try. And I’ve really had to make sure every step is the exact same to get me into that starting point. If my starting point is different, I’m going to be kicking the ball different on every single rep. Prior to the kick, the holder has his hand on the ground, and I’m standing there with him. I’ll take my three steps back, and I’ll take my right arm and I make it completely extended straight. I’ll close my left eye and I’ll line up my right foot with the spot where the holder’s hand is and where the ball’s going to go with the middle of the uprights. After I’ve done that, I take my two steps to the side to try the field goal. 3. MAKE SURE YOUR AIM IS TRUE. Some people think I’m going through the motions, like I’m using my arm for no real reason. But it’s deliberate. My freshman year, I

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didn’t do that. After the season, looking back on my missed kicks, I realized that even though my steps were consistent, my aiming point was off. If I’m taking my three steps back, and I’m aiming to the left or right of the middle of the upright, that’s not good because that’s where I’m going to kick it. I need to be certain that I’m aiming right down the middle of the uprights before I take my two steps to the side. So that’s why I started using my right arm to help with that. 4. REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT. Or practice, practice, practice. You want to repeat what you’re doing every time. Again, you need to be a robot. I have to be calibrated correctly before I kick the ball to give myself the best probability of a successful kick.

Harrison Butker graduated from Georgia Tech in 2017, leaving as the Yellow Jackets football team’s all-time leading scorer with 337 career points.

“Being an engineer definitely makes a difference,” Butker says. “As a kicker, you’re almost trying to be a robot. As an engineer, you take a problem, you find the issues, then you try to solve the problem.” Writers Association elected him to their all-rookie team. Butker credits Gano for helping him achieve the excellence he found. “I’m so blessed to have been able to train and be able to learn under him,” Butker says. “I don’t think I would be the same pro kicker that I am had I not been with him at Carolina.” Butker also credits the problem-solving mentality he learned while earning a degree in industrial engineering at Tech for helping him find the consistency needed to excel as a kicker.

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

“Being an engineer definitely makes a difference,” he says. “As a kicker, you’re almost trying to be a robot. As an engineer, you take a problem, you find the issues, then you try to solve the problem. With kicking, if I’m not hitting a perfectly straight ball, I have to figure out what went wrong. “I’ll film myself and look at every detail of my technique from when I begin my process to the ball until contact. Figure out what I need to fix and what do I need to work on. Once I pinpoint that, I’ll adjust the technique a

little and see how that goes for a few kicking sessions. And then, obviously, tweak that as need be.” Butker says he’s never satisfied with his performance, so he’s constantly improving his approach. “As kicker, what you’re doing is so fine-tuned that if you’re out of whack at all with your body alignment, or a muscle is tight, or whatever, that’s going to throw the technique off,” he says. “I guess being focused on the details has really helped me to keep progressing as the years have gone on.” Life outside football is also good for Harrison Butker. He married his high school sweetheart, Isabelle Tehrani, after the season. He loves living in Kansas City. And he likes the security of having a Georgia Tech degree in his back pocket. “I went to Georgia Tech to study and get smarter,” Butker says. “It’s definitely good to know I have my degree. But hopefully I don’t have to use it for a long time. I hope I can kick in the NFL for many more years.”

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ON THE FIELD YELLOW JACKET STUDENT-ATHLETES ACE APR—AGAIN TECH CAPTURES 17TH ACC GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP TYLER STRAFACI RODE A HOT BACK NINE to a final-round 68, and Chris Petefish dealt the clinching blow with a birdie at the 18th hole as Georgia Tech outlasted Clemson to win the 65th Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Golf Championship at the Old North State Club. Petefish, who teed off the 18th hole with the Yellow Jackets just one shot ahead of Clemson, hit his “best tee shot of the weekend” near the corner of the fairway on the par-5, then hit a low liner on his second shot, which came to rest in the middle of the green, some 2025 feet from the hole, which was in the back. The senior from Danville, Calif., calmly rolled his first putt to within two feet, then after the Tigers’ Doc Redman finished off his par, tapped in to give the Jackets a two-shot victory. The conference title was Georgia Tech’s ninth in the last 13 years, its 11th played at the Old North State Club, the 12th for men’s head coach Bruce Heppler, Hon 18, and the 17th overall in program history. “It’s a great conference with all these teams that are ranked, so any time you win here it means a lot, and this year is no different,” Heppler says. “We knew that Clemson would come charging up the leaderboard, they always do. It got close and exciting and this place brings that out. We’re just happy to walk away on top this time. They’ve all done that all year long. It’s good that you’ve got five in the game. Even down to the last hole, they’re always covering for each other, no matter what happens.”

GEORGIA TECH ATHLETICS continues to excel in NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR), according to spring data released by the NCAA. APR is an annual scorecard of academic achievement calculated for all Division I sports teams that measures eligibility, graduation and retention each academic term. In the latest APR data, four Georgia Tech teams—women’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s volleyball and men’s tennis—posted perfect multiyear scores of 1,000 and all 15 squads came in at 961 or higher. Twelve of Georgia Tech’s 15 programs boast multiyear APR scores at or above the national average for their respective sports, while women’s basketball was just one point shy of the national average. “Preparing our student-athletes for success after athletics is something we take a lot of pride in,” says Athletics Director Todd Stansbury. “This data illustrates a big reason why Georgia Tech student-athletes are so successful

five and 10 years after they leave campus.” Additionally, five Georgia Tech programs— the four previously mentioned with perfect APR scores plus women’s track and field—received NCAA Public Recognition Awards for ranking among the top 10 nationally in their respective sports. The Yellow Jackets men’s golf team earned its 13th-straight Public Recognition Award, continuing its streak of earning the honor every year since the inception of the APR program in 2006.

ATHLETICS UNVEILS PLAN TO UPGRADE FACILITIES GEORGIA TECH ATHLETICS ANNOUNCED THIS SPRING ITS ATHLETICS INITIATIVE 2020, which aims to raise $125 million for athletics facilities, endowments and operations. These funds include: $88 million for facilities, including renovations of the Edge/Rice Center, Russ Chandler Stadium, and locker rooms for football and basketball; $25 million for endowments and $12 million for operations. The Initiative has earmarked $70 million for a new Edge/Rice Center that will continue to house Georgia Tech athletics’ academic services, athletic training, nutrition centers, coaches and administrative offices and more. It will serve as the hub for Tech athletics and its student-athletes on a day-to-day basis. The building will stand in the footprint of the current Edge/Rice Center at the corner of Techwood Drive and Bobby Dodd Way— adjacent to the northeast corner of Bobby Dodd Stadium. “The goals of Athletics Initiative 2020 are

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simple: to ensure that we can recruit the special type of student-athlete that can excel both athletically and academically at Georgia Tech, provide the tools and technology needed to build a better student-athlete once they’re here and to reach our expectations of winning at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics,” says Georgia Tech Athletic Director Todd Stansbury. “Excellence and innovation are in our DNA. Athletics Initiative 2020 will help us stay true to those standards for years to come.” For more information on the Athletics Initiative 2020, including facilities renderings, visit:

In the World

FINDING REFUGE Children play in a community center in a refugee camp in the Kurdish region of Iraq. The structure was built by Design4Refugees, co-founded by alumna Soleen Karim, Arch 12, M Arch 15, M CRP 15.

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Courtesy of Design4Refugees

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Helping Strangers in a Strange Land



Alumna Soleen Karim co-founded Design4Refugees to assist displaced families in finding better lives at home and abroad.

MILLIONS OF PEOPLE around the world have been forced from their homes due to violence and persecution— around 5 million from the ongoing war in Syria alone. For Soleen Karim, Arch 12, M Arch 15, M CRP 15, the refugee crisis is more than just news from the other side of the world. She’s drawing upon her personal experiences and Georgia Tech education to help make life better for refugee communities. Together with her sister, Kurdeen Karim, she founded Design4Refugees Corp. to provide for the needs of people living in refugee camps in their family’s native Iraqi-Kurdistan, as well as those already working to rebuild their lives in America. “We had a desire to apply the skills we had attained at work and in school to help refugees,” Karim says. “We felt a very close connection to that issue being refugees ourselves.” In 1988, Karim’s family fled Iraq in the time leading up to the Gulf War. Karim was born at a refugee camp in Iran, and then moved again to Pakistan for eight years until the family was

granted asylum and resettled in Clarkston, Ga. While still in graduate school at Tech in 2014, Karim started Design4Refugees with the intention of building shelters that could be implemented in the Iraqi camps serving the flood of refugees leaving war-torn Syria. Soon after beginning the organization, Karim says she realized that the idea of mass-produced shelters felt dehumanizing to the people living in the camps, and she and her sister decided to go in a different direction. First, she made a connection with a small refugee camp in Chamchamal, in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Then in May 2016, Karim visited the refugee camp, getting to know the 48 families who lived there, to learn first-hand what would improve their quality of life. “We went there, we conducted interviews, we tried to create a personal connection rather than telling them ‘We’re going to make this for you and that’s it,’” Karim says. Karim says she found what would be the most beneficial to everyone was a multi-purpose community center that could serve as a school house as well as a place for the children to gather and play sports. They identified a space and “literally started drawing in the sand,” Karim says. From there, a community center began to take shape through a process of collaborative design and labor. With a modest crowdfunding budget of $4,000, everyone contributed. “It wasn’t me watching and directing—it was me in the dirt with them laying brick,” Karim says. “From that, they developed a trust and connection with us.” Though modest, the multipurpose space provided much-needed shade and shelter from the elements. “It’s so hot outside in the summer. We used some passive cooling and heating strategies so they could play basketball and soccer inside,” Karim says. The good news is that the facility did not need to be used for long.

“We had a desire to apply the skills we had attained at work and in school to help refugees,” Karim says. “We felt a very close connection to that issue being refugees ourselves.”

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Kaylinn Gilstrap

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This community center built by Design4Refugees was located in a small refugee camp in the Iraqi city of Chamchanal.

“It’s so hot outside in the summer. We used some passive cooling and heating strategies so they could play basketball and soccer inside,” Karim says. The refugees in that particular camp were able to return to their homes in the city of Mosul, Iraq, which was liberated in July 2017 after three years under the control of the Islamic State. Though this story had a happy ending, there are still many more refugees living in poor conditions. “There are still camps with thousands of people in Iraqi Kurdistan,” Karim says. Though she’d like to continue her volunteer building work with refugees in Iraq, political turmoil in the area, coupled with a lack of available funding for refugee organizations, has made it difficult at this point. She hopes that Design4Refugees will one day again be able to provide more safe places for children to learn and play and just be kids—as much as possible in

a refugee camp. “In the future, we’d like to focus on alleviating problems experienced by kids the camps,” Karim says. Currently, Design4Refugees is focusing its efforts on the needs of refugees who have been resettled in Clarkston. The small town just east of Atlanta is home to refugees from all over the world. The U.S. refugee asylum program designated the town as a good location for refugee resettlement in the 1990s, and since then, it’s become a first stop for many families looking to rebuild their lives in America. Design4Refugees’ program focuses on providing computer training and English language lessons for women over age 17. Karim’s sister, Kurdeen, who works in the information security field, is spearheading the technology

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aspect of the mentorship program. By teaching refugee women about computers, they hope to make them candidates for better jobs, as well as giving them skills to use in their daily lives, like filling out forms online or assisting their children with homework. The program is small, to allow for personal connections that help them assist each woman individually. “We go to their house and interact more personally, learn their story, and engage with them more than what’s offered in the class,” Karim says. “By visiting their residence, we can understand what they’re struggling with beyond what the program offers.” For example, Karim says one woman in the class was living in an apartment without any furniture. Another family of seven is living in a two-bedroom apartment. They were able to help by furnishing the apartment and providing information on Habitat for Humanity for housing assistance. Karim says for busy women with children who are working and trying to get settled in a foreign country, making time to attend a class can be difficult. So Design4Refugees tries to remove as many barriers as they can. “We accommodate their kids and have them come to the class with us so the mothers can actually attend,” Karim says. “Transportation is also a barrier. A lot of them don’t know how to drive. So by me picking them up, it ensures they get to the class.” Karim was 9 years old when her own family moved to Clarkston. She says her mother was a teacher in Iraq, but worked long hours at a factory when they moved. As she and her sister got older, they were able to teach their mother how to use a computer and have more conversations in English. “My mom was in that situation, and I remember how hard she worked when we came to the U.S.,” Karim says. “It was pretty difficult for her, and I can definitely relate to these women.”

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Modeling Efficient Policy


Through his company, The Greenlink Group, and a one-of-a-kind AI modeling platform, Tech alumnus Matt Cox is helping the city of Atlanta and others convert to renewable energy.

MATT COX WANTS NOTHING LESS THAN TO CHANGE THE WORLD. B u t f i r s t , t h e Georgia Tech alumnus is working on changing the city of Atlanta. Cox, MS PP 09, PhD PP 14, is the founder of energy policy consulting firm The Greenlink Group. The company is playing a major role in the city’s ambitious effort to transition the entire city—from the tiniest light bulb to the world’s busiest airport—to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. It’s an outsized goal, but one Cox has been preparing to take on since he was an undergraduate at the University of Dayton, where an advanced ecology class set him on the path to becoming a data-driven advocate for clean energy. “The whole course was about how humans are screwing everything up,” Cox says. “Here’s soil. Here are all the ways we’re messing that up. Now air. Here’s all the ways that’s a disaster, too.” Most of the students would leave class everyday depressed, he says. But of few of them would leave with their brain on fire with ideas. Cox was one of the latter. Today, Cox runs a company that’s trying to tackle the clean energy problem in its own special way—through ATHENIA, an AI-driven modeling platform that can produce an hour-by-hour simulation of a city’s energy grid with astonishing accuracy. How accurate? While other models routinely run annual errors of 8 to 15 percent, Cox says, ATHENIA clocks in as accurate to within 0.1 percent on average, when compared to historical data. “I think Matt’s modeling is perhaps the only one that I

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know of that can get to that level of accuracy and detail that resonates with local decision makers,” says Kimi Narita, the deputy director of the City Energy Project for the Natural Resources Defense Council. BORN OF FRUSTRATION The Greenlink Group grew out of work Cox and fellow students Caroline Golin, PhD PP 17, and Xiaojing Sun, PhD PP 16, were doing at the School of Public Policy’s Climate and Energy Policy Lab, under the guidance of Professor Marilyn Brown. Cox was interested in energy demand and efficiency, Golin was looking into water use aspects of energy consumption, and Sun was focused on solar energy. Concerned that existing models didn’t accurately characterize the benefits and costs of renewable energy to the power grid, he decided to try building a new model. “It was just really clear these models did not have the resolution required to really understand what it would mean economically to allow more distributed technologies to come online,” Cox says.

“I think Matt’s modeling is perhaps the only one that I know of that can get to that level of accuracy and detail that resonates with local decision makers,” says Kimi Narita, with the City Energy Project for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

take two days to return an answer, Cox says.

The result was ATHENIA. Named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, with an extra “I” to differentiate it from the plethora of companies and products already called “Athena,” the program uses a machine-learning algorithm to model the energy grid from both the supply side and the demand side. ATHENIA is capable of taking 50,000 data points from every power-generating unit in the country, including details on weather, fuel price information and other factors. It can also capture the impact of energy-efficiency programs, as well as measure the effects of a wide range of scenarios on public health and the environment. The model can be extremely granular, even tracking the impact on energy use—and the change in water needed to produce that energy—made by switching out a single traditional showerhead with a low-flow model. Because it deals in so much data, once set to run, it can

Gary W. Meek

EFFICIENCY GETS A SPOT AT THE TABLE Traditionally, the models used by utility planners have incorporated all sorts of variables—including such things as plant construction costs, fuel costs, economic growth and environmental regulations— in determining how to meet future power needs. But they haven’t given as much attention to energy efficiency. The process usually goes something like this: Planners use broad economic factors to determine how much electricity will be needed over the next few decades. They add in a fixed amount of efficiency improvements, then run a model to decide what kind of power plant they need to build to best meet the needs they have predicted. ATHENIA is different in that it treats efficiency improvements on the same level as building new power plants in deciding how best to meet future demand. Instead of building a new plant, the model might find that scaling up energy efficiency efforts could replace the need for a new plant altogether. “The traditional process historically leaves a tremendous amount of cost-effective efficiency on the table, resulting in new power plants being approved and built,” Cox says. “That increases bills for everyone and causes more emissions, producing more inequity, more public health damage and more climate change.” MAKING A REGIONAL IMPACT Cox and Golin founded Greenlink in 2015 after Golin won $10,000 in a poster competition at the 2014 Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Awards sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Golin, who left Greenlink in May 2017 for a job with the environmental advocacy group Vote Solar, used the money to get Greenlink set up as a corporation. The company scored an early success with its first customer, the Southern Environmental Law Center.

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The Greenlink Group can create hourly simulations of energy usage to help utility companies identify areas where clean energy investments could save money.

The group wanted Greenlink’s help proving the benefits to the South Carolina Public Service Commission of new legislation requiring utility companies to increase the amount of energy generated by renewable sources like solar, wind or biomass. “We showed that when accounting for the timing of solar generation, the cost of operating the utility system as a whole declined, as did customer bills, producing lower power bills for the average customer in South Carolina,” Cox says. “We also showed net benefits of about $2 billion to the state and a societal benefit-cost ratio of about 4.5:1. So basically, it was good economically for the consumer and for society.” Greenlink since has been involved in dozens of other projects across the Southeast. Now, it’s helping lead the city of Atlanta’s ambitious effort to convert to 100 percent clean energy for municipal operations by 2025, and for all energy users by 2035. The Atlanta City Council adopted the plan in 2017, pledging a mix of wind and solar power, energy efficiency improvements and other methods to meet the goal. That includes the power needs of the city-owned Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which Cox said consumes somewhere between 310,000 MWh and 340,000 MWh each year—enough to power more than 28,000 homes for a year.

“We showed that when accounting for the timing of solar generation, the cost of operating the utility system as a whole declined, as did customer bills, producing lower power bills for the average customer in South Carolina,” Cox says.

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The company has helped provide stakeholders with detailed data about the impact of various policy choices, coming up with about 40 options to help the city get where it wants to go, Cox says. Environmental advocates like the NRDC’s Narita say Greenlink’s ability to provide everyone from residents to policymakers with eye-opening, highly accurate details on energy use can be a game-changer. “Greenlink has great potential to move the entire environmental field forward when it comes to being able to holistically view the impacts and opportunities that our work can provide,” Narita says.

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In this entertaining book, the brainchild of Piled Higher & Deeper Comics creator Cham and particle physicist Daniel Whiteson, the authors team up to explore and explain everything we still don’t know about our strange and mysterious universe. These aren’t just tiny little gaps in our understand of how the universe works, but instead are huge, gaping chasms that boggle the mind. Using engaging infographics and humorous cartoons, Cham and Whiteson set out to amuse readers while also giving them a better understanding of science’s biggest unanswered Science questions. Why does the universe have a speed limit? Why aren’t we all made of antimatter? And why is Earth constantly being attacked by tiny, superfast particles? As it turns out, while science can explain a great deal about the cosmos, there’s still a lot of weird things that don’t make any sense. Throughout this fully illustrated guide, Cham and Whiteson make a compelling case that the questions we can’t answer are as interesting as the ones we can.


training or leading the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series victory in 108 years, Maddon is always one to watch. In Try Not to Suck, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers and MLB. com’s Bill Chastain fully explore Maddon’s life and BILL CHASTAIN, IM 79, career, delving behind the scenes and dissecting AND JESSE ROGERS that mystique which makes Maddon so popular with players and analysts alike. Packed with insight, With his irreverant anecdotes and little-known facts, this is the definipersonality, laid-back aptive account of the curse-breaker and trailblazer at proach, and penchant for BASEBALL the helm of the Cubs’ new era. the unexpected, Joe MadChastain, a frequent contributor to the Alumni don is a singular presence Magazine, covered Maddon closely as Major among Major League Baseball managers. WhethLeague Baseball’s correspondent for the Tampa Bay er he’s bringing clowns and live bear cubs to spring Rays. He’s also written numerous sports books over the years, includAre you an author? Send details about your book and a book ing Jackrabbit: The Story of Clint cover image to Editor, Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, 190 North Castleberry and the Improbable Ave. NW., Atlanta, GA 30313 or 1942 Georgia Tech Football Season.

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LIZ LAZARUS, IE 90 This psychological legal thriller by Liz Lazarus is full of twists and turns, including the way it’s told: in alternating viewpoints of a paralegal in pursuit of justice and a terrifying killer with treacherous cyber skills. Set in Atlanta, the novel follows Jackie Siegel as she is contacted from prison by an estranged friend, who has been arrested for one of the most notorious murders in recent history. Labeled by the media as “The Snapchat Killer,” he is accused of posting videos on social media of a college student before brutally murdering her. While he swears innocence and begs for Jackie’s help, she uncovers conflicting information and bizarre clues that compel her to keep digging, uncovering questions of trust, self-protection and fate. As she closes in on the truth, she’s unsure if she’s helping an innocent man or being played for a fool.

STEM and Business Education for the Working Professional


These six Georgia Tech faculty members are renowned experts in their respective fields. But what makes them beloved by students is the inspiration and innovation, personality and passion, humility and humanity, that they bring into their classrooms and labs. PROFILES BY KELLEY FREUND & TONY REHAGEN PHOTOGRAPHY BY BEN ROLLINS


TEACHERS It’s not easy being a teacher at Tech. After all, today’s Yellow Jackets rank among the smartest, most driven students around the globe. And since they worked so hard to get into the Institute, they demand the best from their instructors. And rightfully so. But the same holds true for the Institute’s faculty. They stand at the top of their profession, and they’re more than up to the challenge of shaping Tech’s top young minds. In fact, it was nearly impossible for the six colleges to single out just one teacher each. Inevitably, what set these teachers apart wasn’t necessarily their supreme subject knowledge or keen reputation with their peers and

school administrators. No, it was the so-called soft skills—their caring and kindness, their commitment to creativity, their need to fully engage their students in the learning process—that put them top of mind and the first to be recommended. It’s one teacher tossing out her text books and “flipping” the classroom upside-down to generate more “light-bulb” moments. It’s another using artificial intelligence, not just as the subject of his class, but as a tool to free up more time for student-teacher interaction. What all six have in common is they will be long remembered by generation of Ramblin’ Wreck students for the understanding they fostered and the impact they made on their lives.

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ASHOK K. GOEL PROFESSOR OF COMPUTER SCIENCE DIRECTOR OF THE DESIGN & NTELLIGENCE LABORATORY COLLEGE OF COMPUTING ASHOK GOEL MADE NATIONAL HEADLINES in 2016, when he revealed that his teaching assistant (TA) Jill Watson wasn’t human, but instead was an IBM-powered artificial intelligence (AI) that had been seamlessly answering online questions from unsuspecting students taking his knowledge-based AI class. But any undergrad, grad student or fellow faculty member who has ever worked with Goel or sat in one of his classes knows that the last thing the professor would ever want was for cold, calculating computers to completely replace humans in the teaching equation. In fact, what was often buried or omitted from the news stories about Jill Watson was the reason Goel implemented her in the first place: to free up his time and that of his flesh-and-blood graduate assistants from the mundane tasks of making announcements and reminders so they could spend more time engaging face-to-face with the students. Despite his internationally renowned expertise in AI, one of his greatest assets as a faculty member is his humanity. Goel is a third-generation teacher. His grandfather was a primary school instructor in India, and his father was a college physics professor. “I saw how my father, through teaching, was able to influence people,” Goel says. “I always relished that idea. I always knew that I would be a professor someday and somewhere. What could be more interesting than the growth of knowledge and sharing that knowledge?” Christopher Cassion, a master’s student in computer science who has twice served as one of Goel’s teaching assistants, has witnessed Goel’s passion for teaching and compassion for young learners first-hand. “He cares a lot about his students,” Cassion says. “When you’re his TA, you see how much care he takes in making sure students are not overloaded, how he tries to design the grading and assignments in a way that maximizes student learning.” Goel’s consideration of Tech students’ bandwidth extends beyond his own classroom. When Cassion met Goel in 2016, he was a first-year grad student who had unknowingly overburdened himself with four core classes in his first semester. Goel stepped in and gently suggested Cassion spread the work out over two semesters. “I don’t think he generalizes the student experience,” Cassion says. “If he gives a student advice, he takes into account the student’s situation, performance, past relationships. It’s not just blanket advice. He tries to personalize it, to tune it to the student.”

Despite his capable AI creation of Jill Watson, Goel is not worried about computer intelligence replacing humans on campus. “The things that make us human—empathy and passion and social relationships—those are the things that will become even more dominant in teaching because AI will take over the rest of the tasks,” Goel says. “Technology can rescue teachers from the drudgery of teaching and let them focus on what’s important. The empathy, the passion and the excitement— I don’t know of any AI that has one iota of that.” —TONY REHAGEN Volume 94 No. 2 2018 | GTALUMNI.ORG/MAGAZINE | 49

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SHANA KERR, BIO 02 SENIOR ACADEMIC PROFESSIONAL AND DIRECTOR OF UNDERGRADUATE ADVISING FOR THE SCHOOL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES COLLEGE OF SCIENCES SHANA KERR DIDN’T ALWAYS WANT TO BE A TEACHER. In fact, after completing her undergrad in applied biology at Tech, she chose to attend grad school at Emory University partially because it required the least amount of hours as a teaching assistant. “I wanted to be a lab rat,” Kerr says. But midway through her PhD program, Kerr found her days spent buried in her own research unfulfilling. A fellow grad student urged her to try being a teaching assistant (TA) in a lab. Kerr did—and was instantly hooked. “It was the light bulb going off in students’ minds when you help them grasp an idea they didn’t see before,” she says. “Sharing that joy is one of the things I love most about teaching. Kerr got her doctorate in biochemistry at Emory and, in 2012, promptly returned to Tech, where she teaches introductory and upper level biology classes and, ironically, the TA development and pedagogy course. Still, at first, Kerr found those “light bulb” moments with students relatively few and far between. “I had so much fun putting together these PowerPoints with all the details and I thought my students would get it and it’d be magical,” she says. “But then I’d grade their quizzes and see they hadn’t gotten it.” This sent Kerr, ever the researcher, in search of alternative teaching methods. The result is what is called a “flipped” class, in which the focus is on the student and not the instructor. The traditional method was to assign long readings in advance of class—“which no one does,” Kerr says. As a result, students would be introduced to the material for the first time during her lectures. “Under the traditional lecture approach, some students will take good notes,” she says. “But most won’t. The next time they see the material in their homework, it’s when they’re alone and can’t ask for help. And then they’re tested.”

To make her classes more effective for students, Kerr has thrown out the text book (and in doing so eliminated a cost for students). Instead she assigns short readings, online videos and practice quizzes before the class, and then uses class time for students to work through activities—essentially testing themselves on the subject. Then she poses an after-class assessment to give the pupils one more chance to think about what they’ve learned. All of this before they are given a midterm exam. The approach has proven so successful and well-received by her pupils that Kerr was recently given the 2018 Class of 1940 W. Roane Beard Outstanding Teacher Award. “She put in the work to design each class and lab to tell a coherent story,” says Alicia Lane, one of Kerr’s former students and now a research specialist at the Emory School of Medicine. “It was so much easier to learn and retain that material. We did have a lot of work to do outside of class, but it was all related to the course. Whereas sometimes other classes’ assignments just feel like busy work.” “The first year is challenging for students not used to it,” Kerr says. “But Tech students care about learning and being better at learning. Yes, they want the grade. But by and large, when we tell them why we’re teaching class this way, they appreciate it.” —TONY REHAGEN


MICHAEL SALOMONE PROFESSOR AND ASSOCIATE CHAIR FOR THE SAM NUNN SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS IVAN ALLEN COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS BY THE TIME HE GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL, Michael Salomone had read every James Bond novel. In them, he discovered a world entirely different from that of his small, rural Pennsylvania hometown. It was through these literary adventures that he was inspired to leave home and head off to college. While he didn’t find fast cars or high-stakes casino games, Salomone had the opportunity to study international affairs at the height of the Cold War, which set up the rest of his career. Over the years, Salomone has res e a rc h e d t h e c a p a b i l i t i e s a n d vulnerabilities of military organizations, conducting studies for various Department of Defense organizations. He joined the faculty at Georgia Tech in 1989, when a former colleague, then Georgia Tech President John Patrick Crecine, approached Salomone with the idea of helping to start a school of international affairs at Tech. “Rarely in academia do you get to stand up a new operation,” Salomone says. “And you’re rarely put into an environment where you’re told, ‘Do what you want to do. Just make sure you do it well.’” Salomone says that “the freedom to do” is still the culture within the Nunn School. “That’s the thing Georgia Tech has to offer—the freedom to explore your intellectual life. And that’s where innovation comes from.” That autonomy allowed Salomone to bring two new courses to Georgia Tech: scenario writing and path gaming, and modeling, simulation and military gaming. The latter began as an independent study, with two students writing a computer simulation on a World War I battle. Today, alumni and experts in the field visit Tech at the end of the course to view the student projects. Salomone and international affairs assistant professor Jenna Jordan are currently working on research that uses a scenario-writing approach to

explore the possibilities that a cyber conflict among nuclear arm states could escalate into a nuclear war. Jordan has also worked closely with Salomone as she prepares to take over his scenario writing and path gaming course. “He’s one of the most engaging professors I have ever seen,” Jordan says. “He can discuss the nuances of a World War I battle while keeping the students interested and teaching them a larger theoretical point. Students love these classes—they have fun while developing skills they can use in a number of careers.” Salomone is 73. While he used to stand during lectures, health issues have forced him to change his teaching style. Now he has to sit. But Salomone finds the posture better for storytelling, and he likes using more multimedia and stories during class to drive points home. And he isn’t letting any of it slow him down. “I don’t realize how old I am because I’m around young people all the time,” Salomone says. “My body might tell me otherwise, but my brain still thinks I’m young.”—KELLEY FREUND

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NISHA BOTCHWEY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF CITY AND REGIONAL PLANNING COLLEGE OF DESIGN THIS MAY, WHEN A GROUP OF BOYS & GIRLS CLUB middle-school kids in Hawaii made a presentation to their county council about fixing up a local park, they walked away with $80,000 for improvements. Thousands of miles away in Atlanta, this was also a victory for Nisha Botchwey. These kids were part of a program led by Botchwey that taught them how to identify and eliminate barriers preventing them from being physically active. This program has grown out of the P h ys i c a l A c t i v i t y R e s e a rc h C e n t e r (PARC), a national organization which Botchwey co-directs. Botchwey’s work examines the intersection of health, environment and engagement in order to develop communitybased interventions that improve wellbeing by revitalizing neighborhoods into healthy places. “Our communities offer healthy and unhealthy choices to residents in the kinds of food available, as well as in quality housing and jobs,”


Botchwey says. “Over time these choices lead to either long life and wellbeing, or chronic disease and death. Unfortunately, some of these communities have better choices than others,” Botchwey says. These choices have an impact on longterm health, and Botchwey believes the key to change lies with kids. “It’s not about adults doing it for them, but equipping kids with the resources they need to be advocates for themselves and to shape their own environment.” For Botchwey, who came to Tech in 2012, an aspect she enjoys about the institution is the opportunity to partner with organizations to have a bigger impact. In addition to PARC, she has served on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Council to the Director. And she collaborates with the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization on data dashboards that have been used to improve Georgians’ health. Botchwey has earned several distinctions during her time at Georgia Tech, including a National Science Foundation (NSF ) ADVANCE Woman of Excellence Faculty Award, College of Design Outstanding Faculty Award and the Georgia Power Professor of Excellence Award. In 2016, she was a Nominated Changemaker by the Obama White House Council on Women and Girls. “As a mentor, Nisha is outstanding,” says assistant professor Anna Joo Kim, Botchwey’s colleague in Georgia Tech’s School of City & Regional Planning. “She thinks holistically about the learning process, which is critical to urban and regional planning. In our field, theories are necessarily tested in real places.” And Botchwey not only talks the talk of being healthy, but walks the walk. Rather, she swims, bikes and runs. She completed her first triathlon last October, after learning to swim at the YMCA. Despite the challenges of learning how not to inhale gallons of water through her nose, she committed herself to getting back in the pool and improving. “If I’m swimming, it’s the time I spend in the pool that makes the difference,” Botchwey says. “And if I’m doing my research, it’s time invested in reading, reflecting and writing that makes the difference. I try to apply the discipline that I have in academics to what I do recreationally.” —KELLEY FREUND

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JAMES DAHLMAN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING FACULTY MEMBER JAMES DAHLMAN’S FIRST STUDENT WAS HIMSELF. As an aspiring scientist growing up in Dayton, Ohio, and then as an undergrad in biomedical engineering at Wright State University, Dahlman says he always had a tough time remembering the details from the dense lectures of his classes. “My memory isn’t very good,” he says, modestly. “ I f I h a d t o memorize a table for an exam, I couldn’t remember it. Most things I researched and taught myself.” Dahlman developed a system of breaking things down to the basics, focusing on two or three key concepts, and then using his own reasoning and research to master the problem. The bare bones approach soon proved so intuitive


that Dahlman found it easy to share with his classmates. “I didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher,” he says. “But I always enjoyed mentoring and helping others understand things.” This nascent interest in teaching blossomed into a full-blown passion while Dahlman was a doctoral student at MIT, leading him to an assistant professorship in the Institute’s Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2016. Just two years later, this spring, Dahlman won the 2018 Women in Engineering Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. At Tech, Dahlman’s learning method has proven ideal for his larger classes. “When you have a class of 120 undergrads, some of whom don’t know any of the material, it’s best to start at the most basic point,” says Cory Sago, second-year PhD student and a former Dahlman pupil and teaching assistant (TA). “You can teach something super complicated and the students are not going to know what’s going on. But if you take it in steps, the students get so much more out of it.” Dahlman runs his TA meetings the same way. “No one is going to get offended if they know something and hear it again,” Sago says. “When you have differing levels of experience, starting over is going to help everyone keep up with the conversation.” Dahlman also likes to be sure his students approach his courses with a solid psychological foundation. His wife is a clinical psychologist at Emory and students’ mental health is a priority for Dahlman. “He talks about mental health in class,” Sago says. “He doesn’t want it to be attached to the stigma. We’ve had students come up to us saying, ‘I’m smashed with projects, can I have an extra 12 hours on an assignment?’ He gives that. It’s not that he’s a pushover—it’s him respecting students. And they don’t abuse that because they respect him.” “If someone’s heart is malfunctioning, you act a certain way,” Dahlman says. “But if someone’s brain isn’t working, we do something completely different. That’s idiotic. If I can at least convince a few students that their mental health matters, that can provide a long-lasting effect on their lives.” —TONY REHAGEN

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JACQUELINE GARNER LECTURER IN FINANCE SCHELLER COLLEGE OF BUSINESS WHILE WATCHING THE MACNEIL/ LEHRER REPORT ON TV as a kid and discussing stories in The Wall Street Journal with her father, Jacqueline Garner became fascinated by financial news and stock tickers. Combine that with trips to her father’s business meetings and her knack for math, it was no wonder Garner went on to work as a financial analyst. But her early work building financial models was just part of a bigger plan. Garner knew that she wanted to go into higher education, and these jobs were a way for her to earn what she calls “street cred.” “I was 21 when I finished undergrad, and I looked 14,” Garner says. “I had a Southern accent, and I knew that I might not be taken seriously. But if I got work experience, no one could argue with that.” She topped off that street cred with a position as a financial economist at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) before moving on to teaching appointments at universities on the East Coast and in the South. During her time at these schools, Garner was the recipient of several teaching awards, including being voted favorite professor at two different institutions. The reputation of the Scheller College of Business was one of the things that attracted Garner to Georgia Tech two years ago. But she says the innovation of her students is now what makes her smile every day. “So many students come to me with ideas about starting a program for undergraduates,” Garner says. “They’re very engaged in their own education, and that makes them a joy to be around.” For students, that feeling is mutual. According to finance student Matt Hill, Garner makes learning enjoyable by getting to know students on a personal level. “I spent time with her after almost every class, chatting with her about everything,” Hill says. “She’d tell funny stories about growing up in Alabama. For me, that led to a great studentteacher relationship that only helped me learn more.” Most of Garner’s research delves into corporate governance, and she has published in a number of academic

“SHE’D TELL FUNNY STORIES ABOUT GROWING UP IN ALABAMA,” HILL SAYS. “FOR ME, THAT LED TO A GREAT STUDENTTEACHER RELATIONSHIP THAT ONLY HELPED ME LEARN MORE.” journals such as The Journal of Finance and Financial Management. From 1999 to 2007, she regularly contributed to The Wall Street Journal Finance Educators Review. Garner is currently working on a paper discussing sports coaches’ compensation and its effect on team performance. According to Garner, it’s similar to studies on CEO compensation that show if a CEO is overpaid, a firm’s performance goes down in subsequent years. Outside finance, Garner likes to run, sometimes with her dog, Miles. While Miles doesn’t always allow for the most productive workout—he likes to chase chipmunks —Garner herself is a great training buddy. According to her two-legged friends, she can talk for an entire 20-mile run. —KELLEY FREUND

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Blockchain, Bitcoin & Beyond BY ELLIS BOOKER THE DAILY DELUGE of news reports about the volatile, meteoric rise of the value of a single Bitcoin—up more than 250,000 percent in the last seven years—can obscure a much larger truth. Blockchain, the distributed, immutable ledger that powers Bitcoin and a host of other cryptocurrencies, is poised to alter the world as profoundly and permanently as did the World Wide Web a quarter century ago. That’s not mere hyperbole: It’s a commonly held opinion at Georgia Tech. Faculty and student researchers in the College of Computing, College of Engineering and Scheller College of Business are working feverishly on ways to enhance and extend blockchain technology, as well as formulate real-world uses for it—from streamlining global

supply chains to conducting real estate transactions to sharing and validating college transcripts. It’s also an opinion that’s shared among many Tech alumni who’ve emerged as key players in the exploding blockchain-cryptocurrency space. “We envision lots of blockchains— m i l l i o n s—a n d eve r y d a t a b a s e converted into a blockchain database and interconnected,” says Stephen Pair, CS 94, co-founder, president and CEO of BitPay, the largest blockchain payment processor in the world. Founded in 2011, Pair’s company currently handles $1 billion a year in blockchain payments, and for the past two years has quadrupled its revenues and transaction volumes year over year.

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By definition, a cryptocurrency is a digital currency that uses encryption techniques to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a centralized bank or administrator and with transactions often taking place directly between users. Bitcoin is the first and largest cryptocurrency in the world, and it uses blockchain as the public ledger of these transactions. Since Bitcoin was launched in January 2009, more than 1,500 other cryptocurrencies have been created, and they hold an immediate and special interest to Georgia Tech computer scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. After all, the Institute sits right at the doorstep of one of the nation’s largest hubs for financial technology, or fintech as it’s widely known. Atlanta sees roughly 70 percent of U.S. financial transactions travel through the city. IN THE CLASSROOM Given its increasing importance, there should be little surprise Bitcoin and blockhain are the subjects of multiple classes at Tech. “This year, I’ll be opening my class to undergraduates,” says Sudheer Chava, who started teaching a Bitcoin course three years ago in the Scheller College of Business. As the Alton M. Costley Chair and Professor of Finance, Chava directs both the Quantitative and Computational Finance Program and the Financial Services Innovation Lab on campus. Although he thinks blockhain technology is still in its infancy and changing rapidly, Chava believes it’s important for corporations to be involved early. “I don’t think businesses can wait,” he says, adding that groundbreaking technologies like this can be both overappreciated and un-

derappreciated in the short-term. “People overestimate what can happen in two years, but underestimate what will happen in 10,” he says. (See “Blockchain 101: A Matter of Trust” on the facing page.) One key area of inquiry for Chava and other researchers at Tech are non-public, or so-called permissioned blockchains. This variant limits the parties who can transact on the blockchain, as well as who can serve the network by writing new blocks into the chain. “If you share a distributed ledger across 30 to 40 players, it keeps the costs down, and makes security easier,” Chava says. For companies with big supply chains, like Walmart, this would dramatically streamline how items are tracked. Ultimately, such networks will layer on “smart contracts,” whereby as soon as an entry is made and verified, a payment is executed, automatically. Smart contracts not only define the rules and penalties around an agreement in the same way that a traditional contract does, but also automatically enforce those obligations. MORE THAN CRYPTOCURRENCY It’s understandable why so many people conflate—and confuse—cryptocurrencies and blockchain, since the two arrived together with the launch of Bitcoin more than nine years ago. But automatically associating the enabling technology with one instance (Bitcoin) is a mistake, says Rich DeMillo, PhD ICS 72, Charlotte B. and Roger C. Warren Chair of Computing at Tech. He is also the co-inventor of the field of differential fault analysis, a cryptanalysis technique that has been applied to many encryption systems. DeMillo returned to his alma mater in 2002 as the John P. Imlay Jr. Dean of Computing after a career in industry and government that included serving as Hewlett-Packard’s chief technology officer. He now spends much of his time working as executive director of the Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U), Tech’s living laboratory for fundamental change in higher education. Among other projects, C21U is currently looking at how blockchain can be used by colleges and universities to share and verify transcripts and degree certificates. For Georgia Tech, with its rapidly growing offering of top online degree programs, this could solve a very practical problem. “Right now, managing 100,000 online degree candidates would be overwhelming,” DeMillo says, adding that pathways for managing such a volume of agreements, services and certifications “don’t exist right now.”

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Blockchain 101: A Matter of Trust AS BILLY JOEL SINGS, “It’s always been a matter of trust.” Nearly every transaction in the modern world involves trusting some governing central authority: a bank, an insurance company, a stock market, a government. But with blockchain technology—the decentralized, distributed, immutable ledger secured by consensus and cryptography— these traditional, centralized, trust-based entities aren’t required. Trust isn’t necessary; blockchain is a peer-to-peer, trustless mechanism. The disruptive, revolutionary idea of blockchain is that the network, not a centra l ized govern in g au th o r i ty, i tse l f establishes trust. In the case of the digital currency Bitcoin, for instance, currency ownership is recorded by the blockchain itself, not by an external entity like a bank. And while originally promulgated for Bitcoin, researchers and startups are now exploring how to use decentralized, cryptographically secure databases to handle an array of transactions beyond currency, from real estate and stock trades to tracking pharmaceutical products through a supply chain to online voting. “There’s another way to think about blockchain, and that’s as a decentralized database,” says Rich DeMillo, the Charlotte B. and Roger. C. Warren Chair of Computing and executive director of the Institute’s Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U). This is game-changing because it promises to free people from working on “stovepipe” databases. HOW IT WORKS A blockchain is a digital and distributed ledger of transactions, recorded and replicated in real time across a network of computers or nodes. The ledger consists of batches of information (blocks) that are linked chronologically (a blockchain) and shared with every node of a network. This provides an indelible and transparent record of each transaction in the chain. Blocks use a 256-bit number, a hash, created by an algorithm. Each block contains a header, a reference to the previous block’s hash, and a group of transactions. Changes are recorded as a new block at the end of the chain, and every change is available to every network node. Only a valid block can


TRANSACTION A transaction involves two contracting parties exchanging a given digitally recordable asset such as data, contracts or money between themselves.




VERIFICATION The transaction is either executed immediately or transcribed in the protocol and added to the outstanding transactions.





STRUCTURE Each newly verified block receives a numerical code for identification, known as a hash, which also contains a reference to the preceding block.

04 VALIDATION Each block must first be validated before being added to the blockchain. Blocks in the Bitcoin blockchain are validated according to the “proof of work” concept. 05 BLOCK N


BLOCKCHAIN MINING The “proof of work” solution is found by making changes to one variable until the network accepts the solution. This is carried out by miners.



THE CHAIN After being validated successfully, the block is added to the chain at each node.

INTEGRATED PROTECTION The security mechanism makes it impossible for nodes in the network to alter blocks that have already been validated.

be added to the chain. There are two requirements for block insertion. First, each transaction contained in the block must be valid. This can be easily checked by verifying the signature and transaction history. Yet this is not sufficient as several valid blocks may be simultaneously considered (e.g. containing different transactions) by the blockchain, and only one block must be chosen. To admit a valid block into the chain, a cryptographic puzzle must first be solved. Nodes compete to complete this step, satisfying network-wide rules for which they are rewarded. This solution, called a Proof of Work (PoW), is then shared throughout the network. Once the network confirms the solution by consensus, the block is added to the chain. This mechanism ensures trans action serialization and integrity; in particular, fraudulent blocks will lack network consensus and will be rejected.

IMPACT ON INTERMEDIARIES Blockchain’s most ardent proponents say it will wrench control of data sharing and value exchange out of the hands of middlemen, such as banks and brokers, as well as internet titans like Facebook and Google. As Wired magazine wrote in February: “The idea of creating tamper-proof databases has captured the attention of everyone from anarchist techies to staid banks.” But the reality is a little more nuanced, says Eric Overby, an associate professor in Tech’s Scheller College of Business. “The blunt narrative is you don’t need mediators,” he says. But these intermediaries do other things, such as a bank knowing its customers aren’t criminals. “ You have to think about how [middlemen] are providing value beyond record-keeping, They do stuff you can’t eliminate with a technological solution.”

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CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES That’s not to say there aren’t interesting technical problems left to solve—and opportunities left to exploit—in the blockchain field. Vladimir Kolesnikov, an associate professor in the College of Computing, is researching the use of blockchain and other technologies to achieve cryptographic and privacy goals, an area of study called “secure computation.” “I want to share some key data with you, so I’ll share a special encryption of my [larger] dataset that allows you to see or compute just one function,” Kolesnikov explains. This would be a boon for scenarios in which two or more parties want to share information and obtain insights from a calculation, while keeping other aspects of the data private and secure. Today, a blockchain is open, in the sense that all participants can verify everything in the chain and add to the block. But that means every participant knows, for instance, the value of an account. “This is good and bad,” Kolesnikov says. “You might want to hide the value of the

account—but if you hide this, many of the existing blockchains won’t work.” Kolesnikov is working on ways to generate a computation that will prove, for instance, that a certain blockchain wallet has enough to fund the transaction at hand, but not the value of the account or, even, the value of the transaction. “At the coffee shop, you and they know how much money is involved, but the rest of the world doesn’t need to know the amount of the transaction,” he says. SCALING THE DEMAND This work could also help increase the efficiency of blockchain processing, a critical issue as the number of transactions and participants scales into the millions and beyond. In April, the average “confirmation time” for a Bitcoin transaction ranged from a low of 12 minutes to a high of 24 minutes, according to metrics compiled by Blockchain Luxumbourg S.A., a Bitcoin wallet provider and software developer. Although 12 minutes would be an exceptionally long time to wait for a payment to go through for a cup of

Bigger Than The Internet? GEORGIA TECH ALUMNI involved in the commercialization of blockchain products and services say those oft-heard comparisons to the early days of the commercial internet are apt. “It’s directly analogous,” says Kell Canty, CS 93, co-founder of cryptocurrency accounting and audit company Verady. And just like the mid-1990s when the internet exploded on the scene, there will be hype, over-valuations and memorable business failures. “But it doesn’t diminish the seismic shift,” he adds, noting how the seeming chaos at the time produced successful giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook. Canty’s company is housed at the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Tech, and is among the first recipients of funding from Engage Ventures, an independent, early-stage venture fund. Announced last May, Engage’s founding partners include AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation Inc., Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco Ltd., The Home Depot and UPS, as well as ATDC and Tech Square Ventures. Stephen Pair, CS 94, cofounder, president and CEO of BitPay, the largest blockchain payment processor in the world, goes even further in comparing the

technology’s importance to the internet. “Yes, blockchain is important, but maybe times 10,” Pair says. “The innovation we’re talking about is a computer science breakthrough as significant as the printing press.” Such hyperbole isn’t universal, of course. In April, both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates scorned investment in cryptocurrencies. But Buffett and Gates missed the internet wave, remembers Alan Meckler, chairman and CEO of MecklerMedia, an early investor in the commercial internet and now a

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venture capitalist focused on blockchain. “If you go back, there were naysayers about the internet,” says Meckler, who feels the same vibe today about blockchain. Besides, with the likes of Amazon, Google, Goldman Sachs and IBM rolling out their respective blockchain plans, “it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple,” Meckler says. “If it’s only 50 percent as good as the pro-blockchain and crypto people say, it will [still] be bigger than the internet.”

“It’d be great to see more students [learning blockchain],” Canty says. “There’s a huge shortage in talent, with one viable candidate for every 15 to 20 jobs out there.” coffee at a neighborhood cafe, “this would be crazy fast for buying a house,” says Eric Overby, an associate professor at Tech’s Scheller College of Business. Overby has been teaching a class about Bitcoin since 2013—a class that now routinely attracts 40 to 50 students each semester it’s offered—and sees great potential in blockchain systems and Bitcoin. “There is a huge opportunity to track things other than currency, from real estate to medical records,” he says. A related issue is that the computationally intensive nature of blockchains require a lot of computer horsepower—see the spike in GPU prices as individuals around the world set themselves up as “Bitcoin miners”—as well as energy consumption. A report by financial economist and blockchain specialist Alex de Vries indicates that Bitcoin power consumption worldwide is currently equal to the energy demand of the island of Ireland, and growing at an alarming rate. But walling off blockchains breaks the fundamental proposition and innovation of open participation, says BitPay’s Pair. “You already have a platform that’s open, that works and builds trust,” he says. “Relying on private parties is PayPal, and we already have that.” Besides, he says, scalability isn’t an issue—he notes the Bitcoin network currently handles 300,000 transactions per day—because capacity can be added with additional blockchains. “All the companies working with us are aware of blockchain,” says fintech analyst Jeff Gapusan at the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), the startup inc u bato r at G e o rg i a Te c h t h at h e l p s te c h n o l o g y entrepreneurs. He adds that established financial leaders like Goldman Sachs have responded to blockchain’s promise. “There are a number of consortiums, including R3 and HyperLedger, and a lot of public and private partnerships being put together.” Ensuring a steady flow of trained and talented workers for these initiatives is where Georgia Tech and other schools come in, Gapusan says. “The real question will be: Will there be the amount of talent required to continue developing blockchain for startups and industry?”

“It’d be great to see more students,” says Kell Canty, CS 93, co-founder of Verady, a cryptocurrency accounting and audit technology services company formed in 2016. “There’s a huge shortage in talent, with one viable candidate for every 15 to 20 jobs out there.”

BLOCKCHAIN’S FUTURE So universities like Georgia Tech that have invested in not only the research of blockchain, but also the teaching of it to students—from undergraduates to post-docs to the entrepreneurs in ATDC and other Institute incubators—are playing a huge role in charting its course. While some industry analysts have concerns that blockchain technology might fail or be impeded by governments wary of the anonymity afforded by its core cryptosecurity, the Tech faculty and alumni interviewed for this article held a very optimistic view of blockchain’s future. “People need privacy and security, but there’s this issue of when bad people get hold of these tools,” says Alexandra Boldyreva, an associate professor in the College of Computing. “Finding the right balance [between security and opportunity] remains an interesting, important and difficult question.” Cautious corporations, for the most part, are waiting on the sidelines for now. Only 1 percent of CIOs say their companies have blockchain projects currently underway, according to a recent survey by Gartner Research. But that doesn’t mean blockchain isn’t worth investing in now. Gartner analyst and fellow David Furlonger says that forward-thinking organizations should be at least setting aside some resources to explore the technology now so they’ll be ahead of the curve when mass adoption takes place. “It is critical to understand what blockchain is and what it is capable of today, compared to how it will transform companies, industries and society tomorrow,” Furlonger says. Others are doing much more than that. The use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies shows no signs of slowing down, and companies like BitPay are capitalizing on its growth. Even bureaucracies are getting into the act. The City of Dubai, for one, plans to put its entire government on blockchain-based systems by 2020, says Verady’s Canty. Provided that governance standards are eventually worked out and no vendor holds this immensely promising technology hostage, DeMillo says, blockchain will have a profound impact on the world—and sooner rather than later. And when it happens, you can be sure that Yellow Jackets will be among the vanguard, helping to leading the way.

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Nine enlightening lessons from Tech faculty, alumni & students

Curve Explaining how the digestive biome works. Calculating the financial value of a business. Investigating ways to fix urban traffic problems. It’s not easy turning dense, complex topics into dynamic learning experiences. Yet that’s exactly what Institute instructors are tasked to do, and wielding subject-matter expertise alone isn’t enough. To grab and keep the attention of today’s students, Georgia Tech faculty members have to deploy all the educational weapons in their arsenal, from unorthodox teaching techniques to pop culture analogies

to a healthy dose of humor. Judging by the results—record retention rates, top university rankings, increasing alumni success—they’re among the best in the world at it. Want to see for yourself? Here are nine quick lessons that give you a peek at what’s going on inside the classrooms and labs at Tech—as well as outside in the real world. We could really learn a thing or two from these Ramblin’ Wrecks.

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YOU ARE SITTING IN TRAFFIC—taillights as far as the eye can see—and the first thing that comes to mind is “Why aren’t there more lanes on this road?” Sure, anything can be paved over, but it isn’t going to make that traffic move any faster. Our desire to travel comes from a need to participate in some activity, not from the sheer displeasure of weaving in and out of



traffic. This is what transportation planners call derived demand. Our demand for travel is derived from our need to eat at the Waffle House, shop at Lenox Square or eventually, go to work. The nature of travel means that things like congestion are a result of economic activity. This is a good thing, until it’s not. In major cities around the world, drivers spend well over two full days per year just sitting in congestion. While the quick “solution” to this growing problem may seem obvious—build more roads—it’s a misguided approach that has brought us to where we are today. When we add lanes to already-congested roads, three changes in travel behavior lead to even worse traffic. First, drivers change their route to the newly expanded road. Drivers will come from all around, including some who previously left the road in search of faster routes, to take advantage of the new road capacity. Second, drivers who previously decided to travel at less convenient times, say at 9:30 a.m. rather

than 8:30, will switch back to their old travel time. Finally, those that abandoned driving and moved to public transportation will, in many cases, revert back to driving. We saw this in Atlanta with the recent I-85 bridge collapse and the sudden rise, then fall, in MARTA ridership. This phenomena is called triple convergence or more academically, the PigouKnight-Downs paradox and it is the reason that building more roads only adds to congestion. A more salient approach, though often politically undesirable, is to ignore or even encourage congestion. The more our roads clog with traffic, the more attractive become alternative modes of transportation like walking, biking and maybe even public buses and trains. People work harder to optimize their travel. Politicians move to fund non-auto infrastructure and better public transit. Congestion is a sign of a robust economy. We can either address the issue by providing meaningful alternatives to driving or we can put everyone out of work. Either one can effectively reduce traffic.


PICTURE THIS: James Bond has snuck onto a transport plane in midflight and finds the plane’s belly loaded with bad guys. Despite his skills at armed combat, 007 is vastly outnumbered. He raises his Walther PPK… and uses it to push the button that opens the rear loading door. As every last bad guy is sucked out of the plane, we cut to Bond relaxing alone against the wall, seatbelt fastened. Now imagine that this is a real life thriller and the bad guy has 007’s tricks up his sleeve—and all the characters are microbes. Our bellies (guts) are loaded with trillions of health-promoting “good” microbes that can sometimes be overrun by small numbers of harmful ones that enter our bodies in food or drink. One such invader is Vibrio cholerae. In

fact, over 1 million cases of cholera disease have been reported in Yemen alone since 2015, when their civil war began and sewer system damage forced people to drink unclean water carrying this dangerous microbe. To control these and other infections, scientists need to understand how unwanted visitors kick out our bodies’ protective microbial partners. Simple studies on “2-D” petri dish surfaces show that Vibrios and many other microbes can pierce neighboring cells with a spear and kill them. This weapon is called a Type 6 Secretion System, and is an apparatus for delivering toxic proteins into cells. Georgia Tech is becoming a leader in research understanding the dynamic

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interactions of microbes important in human and environmental health. The Type 6



Puppies Make People Happy: A Memorable Introduction to the Scientific Method

BY SHANA KERR, BIO 02 | SENIOR ACADEMIC PROFESSIONAL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD is fundamental to the process of science, but it’s often misunderstood and almost universally received with groans from students. Here’s a fun way that I like to approach it in my laboratory courses. Let’s say you’re taking a much-needed break from class, strolling through Piedmont Park, and you notice that a lot of people have their dogs with them. And then you notice that all the dog-walkers seem to have these relaxed smiles on their faces. You’ve just made an observation. “Hey,” you think to yourself, “maybe puppies make people happy.” And now you’ve articulated a hypothesis to explain that observation. But how do you know if your hypothesis really explains what you just observed? Maybe something else is going on, so how could you figure it out? At this point I would ask the students in my class to pair up and come up with as many ways as they can think of to test the idea that puppies make people happy. After polling the teams, I’ll typically hear answers such as: • Survey dog-owners and non-dog owners for happiness level (an observational study), or • Give one group of people some puppies to play with and another group no puppies, and then see how happy they are (a manipulative study). We’ll collect these ideas on the board and then choose one to flesh out. How many

people will we sample? Are 10 enough, or do we need a hundred, or a thousand? How long will they interact with the puppy? Is it one puppy, or many puppies? How will we measure “happiness”? Will it be self-report, the number of smiles in a given time period, endorphin levels or cortisol levels, activity in different regions of the brain? When will we measure happiness? While the person is playing with the puppy, an hour later, a day later, a week later? What is the right negative control? No puppy, a picture of a puppy, a toy puppy, a different type of animal? What if it’s not puppies per se, but any type of pet? Should we test kittens, hamsters and goldfish too? All these details are the experimental design, or the specific way that you choose to test the hypothesis. We could test this single hypothesis with thousands of different experimental designs, and each of them will result in a different prediction, or the specific outcome we would expect to see using that particular experimental design. For example, “people who own dogs will report higher levels of happiness than those who do not own dogs,”or “people who interact with a puppy for half an hour will have lower cortisol levels than those who do not

interact with a puppy.” And if many different experimental designs with different predictions yield similar conclusions, we can become more confident in our hypothesis that puppies make people happy, and perhaps integrate it into larger theories to explain human happiness. This exercise may seem like a silly, simple approach to explaining the scientific method, but I’ve had multiple students recall it as a memorable experience well after the class is over. So while I have not designed a robust experimental design to test my hypothesis that this exercise helps students master then scientific method, my preliminary observations suggest that it helps. [Shana Kerr is one of our “Transcendent Teachers,” profiled on page 50.]

weapon is one of many factors being studied by microbial researchers at Tech and elsewhere using a combination of experimental and computational methods. One important question is to determine if and how this Type 6 weapon is being wielded by bacteria in the complex “3-D” human gut. One major challenge for scientists is our inability to directly see microbes during an infection. Humans are not see-through after all—but baby zebrafish are. Since Vibrios also thrive in the guts of

fish, scientists have begun infecting zebrafish larvae with glow-in-the dark versions of bacteria to view live microbes in live fish with a microscope. My lab (the Hammer Lab) in the School of Biological Sciences, with help from a group at the University of Oregon, recently discovered that this nasty Vibrio does use its Type 6 spear to rapidly and effectively eliminate gut residents. But it does so in an unexpected way. Rather than directly killing each of the many

resident microbes, Vibrio pokes the lining of the gut. The fish responds to this irritation with massive contractions that squeeze good residents from the gut and leave the Vibrios behind. As it turns out, the T6 weapon is more like a Swiss army knife, and in this case the corkscrew—and not the poison-coated blade—is the essential tool for the job. Despite no help from Q, 007’s master of gadgets, my group and others are working to repurpose this germ’s weapon to use it as a tool against other body invaders.

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JORGE CHAM, perhaps best known for his nationally syndicated comic series Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD), teamed up with physicist Daniel Whiteson to create a new book We Have No Idea: A Guide



to the Unknown Universe and website (, an irreverent but educational look at many of the universe’s mysteries. Here’s a sample:

Calculating the Value of a Company Using Finance and Football BY JACQUELINE GARNER | LECTURER OF FINANCE

EVER WANTED TO COMBINE FINANCE WITH FOOTBALL? Now you can! First, let’s tackle the finance. Ever wondered how a firm is valued by analysts or other market participants? One way is based on discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis. Suppose a money machine (you know, those magic boxes that just appear for all of us, ha!) gave out $110 one year from now. If your required return is 10 percent (your next best alternative in terms of returns), that money machine is worth $100 today (by simply taking $110 and dividing it by (1+.10).

Valuing a firm is very similar. First we need to estimate the cash flows that the firm produces, called “Free cash flows from the firm” or FCF. Then we need to discount them by the firm’s required return. The firm is a sort of “money machine”—the assets of the firm produces cash flows. Simply put, we need to do this: Value of Firm = FCF1/(1+r) 1 + FCF2/ (1+r)2 + FCF∞/(1+r)∞ What is the firm’s required return? It’s a weighted average of what debt-holders and

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equity-holders require (with some other adjustments for taxes). The cells below capture the relation between the cash flow producing assets and the required returns of the claimants. ASSETS


Produce the cash flows (FCF’s)

Gives the capital to buy the assets

We then discount FCFs at the required return of the claimants to obtain the value of the firm’s assets.




MANY EVERYDAY OBJECTS have symmetry: butterflies, ceiling fans, faces, vases and more. Finding symmetric objects and describing their symmetries is a favorite activity of mathematicians. We especially like it when very different looking objects turn out to be symmetric in the same way, like a rectangle and a diamond (fig. 5A). We also like to understand how symmetries of an object interact with each other. For example, if you flip a rectangle left-right and then flip it up-down, the end result is the same as if you had rotated it a half turn. Mathematicians call an interacting collection of symmetries a group. I’ve just finished my third year in Georgia Tech’s math PhD program. My advisor is Professor Dan Margalit. We study the symmetries of surfaces like those of a donut or of FIG. 5A a pretzel. The surfaces we study can be described by the number of holes they have. A donut has one hole, while a pretzel has three (fig. 5B). The technical term for these symmetries is the mapping class group of the surface. Some of the symmetries of surfaces are easy to see: they’re flips or rotations, just like for the rectangle and the diamond. Other symmetries of surfaces are more hidden and involve twists and stretches. Now for any object, certain collections of symmetries can be used as building blocks to create all of the object’s symmetries. For instance, we can use only flips to create all of the symmetries of a rectangle, since we have seen that a rotation can be formed by doing one

Once we value the firm’s assets, we can deduct debt, and obtain a per share price for equity. Using sensitivity analysis, we can obtain a range of per share prices, based on changes in assumptions. Other ways to value a firm’s equity include using a competitor’s ratio such as the price-to-book (P/B) ratio or price-to-earnings (P/E) and applying it to the firm of interest. Suppose a competitor’s P/E ratio is 25, and your firm’s earnings per share are $2.35. Then the implied equity share price for your firm, based on your competitor’s P/E ratio is: P/$2.35 = 25. Solve for P and obtain P = $58.75. Of course, we can compute several implied prices

flip and then another. Any building-block collection is called a generating set for a group. Professor Margalit and I recently proved that there are many ways to build special generating sets for mapping class groups where all of the included symmetries look the same. Notice that our generating set for the symmetries of the rectangle does not have this property, since it includes a “short” flip and a “long” flip. There were only a few look-alike rotation generating sets for mapping class groups known before, and there were no known look-alike stretch generating sets. We built lots of examples of each. Our results shed light on the structure of the symmetries of surfaces and open the door to new questions about how these symmetries interact. Symmetries of surfaces are rich and mysterious. They are still surprising mathematicians after nearly 100 years of intense study. Surface symmetries also connect to many other parts of mathematics, like constructing and classifying three- and four-dimensional objects. And while these ideas may at first seem removed from the “real world,” they in fact are just a few small steps away from the planning that goes into optimizing mixing rates in industrial processes and even into designing quantum computers. You can read more about our results in our paper, “Normal generators for mapping class groups are abundant.” You might enjoy flipping through it while noshing on a donut. Flipping the donut is optional, but strongly recommended. Bon appetit! FIG. 5B

based on many competitors. Now, are you ( finally) ready for some football? Once we have our stock prices, we can graph them in a “football field,” a chart that, when graphed, appears like a gridiron. This gives a visual picture of the range of prices obtained from various models. Now we have a range of prices for different valuation techniques (often, we will utilize more than three techniques). The techniques/models utilized here all agree on a price between around $50 and $60, yet the range of prices is quite large. [Jacqueline Garner is one of our “Transcendent Teachers,” profiled on page 58.]




P/E $





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Pop Quiz: Can You Tell a Human Teaching Assistant from a Virtual One? BY ASHOK K. GOEL | PROFESSOR OF COMPUTER SCIENCE

IN MY ONLINE MASTER’S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE CLASS ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, we have a message board where students can ask questions. Below are two sample questions paired with answers from my teaching assistants. Q1: Is it the case that only basic problems have the problem text data available? A1: There are no verbal representations of Challenge problems. They’ll only be run as visual problems. But you’re welcome to write your own verbal representations to try them out! Q2: Is it permissible for Project 3 to be in a different language than our Project 1 and 2 submissions? (from Java to Python). A2: Yes, you may switch between the two languages from one project to the next with no problem.



Now, the answer to one question was given by a human teaching assistant, while the answer to the other was produced by the AI teaching assistant Jill Watson. Which answer do you think Jill provided? It’s not easy to pick out, is it? That is the point: Jill can produce answers of a quality that make it hard to identify that Jill is a virtual agent. In fact, many students have difficulty in detecting Jill’s true identity. (By the way, these examples indicate the types of questions Jill can answer.) Not that it matters very much, but Jill produced the answer to the first question above. Why doesn’t it matter much? Because a human teaching assistant actually wrote both answers. In the case of the second question, the human wrote the answer in real time; for the first question, a human wrote the answer, my research team

stored the question-answer pair in Jill’s memory, and she then reproduced the answer at the right time. Does that make Jill any less interesting? [Ashok Goel is one of our “Transcendent Teachers,” profiled on page 49.]


BEING A REFUGEE from an oppressive or wartorn nation can literally turn your world upside down, but at the same time you move forward with a much greater sense of hope than you could ever face in a war zone. I should know: My family were refugees who sought asylum and settled in Clarkston, Ga., and my sister and I eventually benefited from the opportunities we found in the United States. However, finding asylum in a new country isn’t a given, not even if you land in the most liberal of democracies. In fact, it’s becoming more difficult as the refugee question has

become an increasing hot-button of nationalist politics. Asylum is a drawn-out, difficult process filled with obstacles and uncertainties all along the way. Fleeing your home is the first and scariest journey, and this is usually done by finding people who will smuggle you out of your home nation. It’s a true test of survival. If you safely make it—and many don’t—to a United Nations country, your next step is to register with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to begin the process of resettlement. The wait times can

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be anywhere from two to 20 years. Refugees do not decide where they are resettled. Instead, this is based on a lottery system of countries that accept refugees. During this waiting period, interviews and medical examinations are conducted. While this is happening, you do not have any rights in their host country and often live in poor conditions (refugee camps or a spare room in someon’s home) with limited access to shelter, food, employment and medical care. Even once you’re accepted to a new host country, numerous challenges remain. During




WOULD YOU CHANGE your genetic code if you could? Such a question used to be nothing more than a fantasy or interesting conversation starter. But for Georgia Tech students in biomedical engineering and related fields today, it’s a reality they’re studying closely. For almost two decades, ever since the Human Genome Project was completed, we have had the ability to “read” our own genetic information. In fact, it’s become quite commonplace: Services such as, 23andme and other companies offer inexpensive home genetics tests that tell us about ourselves and our ancestors. The Human Genome Project also paved the way for administering new types of precision therapies. Think about cancer treatments. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery were long the only major options. Today, gene therapies are being designed to pinpoint specific mutations. Reading the genome is one thing. Re-writing the genome at will is another. Fifteen years ago, the idea of editing the genome was the stuff of science fiction. Now it’s easy. Cuttingedge technologies enable scientists to take a genetic sequence and change it. Gene editing has already been used to treat some liver diseases, as well as HIV/AIDS in humans. Clinical trials for cancer, blindness and other diseases will be initiated soon.

So how does gene editing work? There are a few ways to edit the genome, but we will focus on CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats). Think of CRISPR as a bacterial defense system. Bacteria and viruses have been fighting each other for billions of years. Viruses attack bacteria by injecting their DNA into the bacteria. So the bacteria evolved a way to 1) remember the sequence of the viral DNA, and 2) delete that sequence if the bacteria was attacked again. Think of it as a virus-attacking vaccine designed by the bacteria to protect itself. Genome engineers like myself have taken the system out of the bacteria and reengineered it so it deletes mutated DNA sequences in human cells. We use this to treat cancer and other diseases. If you want to delete gene X or Y, we can remove either or both. You may have heard of CRISPR already. It’s been on the cover of Time magazine and The Economist, featured on TV’s 60 Minutes and headlined numerous news stories. The attention-grabbing focus of many of these pieces is on editing human embryos to create so-called “designer babies.” This sounds alarming on the surface, but to make a long story short, it will simply not happen. Why? If you have a genetic disease in your family (like Huntington’s), you don’t need gene editing to erase the disease. Techniques like in vitro fertilization with

the resettlement process, very little support is provided. For example, today in the U.S., there is an eight-month welfare and food stamp assistance period, which ends when one household member finds employment. To keep costs down, refugees are usually resettled into low-income, affordable housing. The apartment complexes are often overcrowded, unsanitary and poorly maintained. Despite such conditions, refugees lose all government benefits if they move out of the jurisdiction they are placed in within the first eight months of resettlement.

To be sure, it is difficult leaving your home, your family and your friends for an uncertain future. Refugees leave their war-torn regions for a better life and often the “American Dream” they see in films. But this dream is extremely hard to attain for that first generation, and it’s still difficult to navigate for the second generation trying to straddle dual cultures. Many are not afforded the opportunities to reach the dreams. But their perseverance and grit to strive toward it every day, despite the obstacles they face, make this country stronger.

pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (IVF with PGD) is already a proven way to ensure your child will not have it. So what kind of genetic world will current Georgia Tech students inherit? A world where we can easily read and re-write the genome. A world where CRISPR is used to study and treat genetic mutations. And a world where scientists have a responsibility to discuss this technology openly and publicly with everyone it will affect. Thankfully, Tech students will become some of the foremost leaders in this field—they are intelligent, thoughtful and virtuous, and they will help reshape medicine for the better. [James Dahlman is one of our “Transcendent Teachers,” profiled on page 56.]

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Alumni House

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BIPEDAL FOR THE MEDALS The 46th Annual Dean Griffin Pile Mile 5k Road Race drew a record 1,600-plus runners who enjoyed racing through Tech’s blooming springtime campus with fellow alumni, students and friends on April 21.

Ross Bucherati

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Together We Swarm (and Crowdsource)


Georgia Tech alumni and friends made a big impact during our second annual GT Giving Day. IT WAS A DAY OF INFINITE GENEROSITY. On March 14—also known as Pi Day for the date’s abbreviation of 3.14— the Georgia Tech Alumni Association celebrated by rallying Yellow Jackets for the second annual GT Giving Day. In just 24 hours, 1,410 alumni and friends—from a total of 46 states and 15 countries—joined together to raise $154,685 for Roll Call, Georgia Tech’s Fund for Excellence. For 71 years, Roll Call has provided funding for student scholarships, top-notch instructors, state-of-the-art facilities, and world class programs at Georgia Tech. For the second year in a row, our Georgia Tech family did not disappoint. This was an amazing effort and a true representation of the impact we can have as a unified community. Georgia Tech students also took part in this year’s Giving Day festivities. The Georgia Tech Student Foundation ran a fun, on-campus event to educate students about the importance of philanthropy. Students learned about Roll Call, made their own Giving Day donations and wrote thank you letters to alumni donors. We’re confident that the future of the Institute is in good hands with these Yellow Jackets. This year, we also added a new twist to Giving Day with four crowdfunding challenges throughout the day. So in addition to raising money for Roll Call, there were four worthy causes on campus that got a boost from Giving Day: an emergency scholarship for students from Puerto Rico and the

Students on campus (top), alumni and even Tech-loyal pets helped drum up support for Giving Day.

Virgin Islands; assistance for homeless students at Georgia Tech; Jackets without Borders, a program for student-athletes to perform community service abroad; and a new program for the Veterans Resource Center at Tech. We’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who answered

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the call and helped make this day an outstanding success. On the opposite page, check out all the details about this year’s Giving Day—a new tradition to showcase our love for Georgia Tech that will make a lasting impact on future generations of Yellow Jackets.


Students Back New Home for LGBTQIA Resource Center


SAA’s $35,000 Gift to Tech to will help provide inclusive space and support for vulnerable students and staff on campus. GEORGIA TECH STUDENTS have voted to award the 2018 Gift to Tech to the LGBTQIA Resource Center. The center will receive a donation of more than $35,000 to use toward programming and furnishing for its new space on campus. “I think I speak on behalf of all our LGBTQIA students, faculty and staff when I say we are so honored and humbled to be the recipients of the Gift to Tech this year,” says Aby Parsons, director of the center. “It reminds us that there are many people who value us and who want to affirm our right to have a safe and positive experience here on campus.” The Gift to Tech is a joint effort of the Georgia Tech Student Foundation (GTSF) and the Student Alumni Association (SAA), the largest student organization on campus with nearly 7,000 members. When students join SAA, they pay a $10 membership donation—$5 goes to Roll Call, Georgia Tech’s Fund for Excellence, and $5 goes toward the annual Gift to Tech. Campus organizations submit proposals to be considered as the recipient of the Gift to Tech. This year, Tech’s student body voted to pick the top three finalists out of eight projects, while members of SAA voted to decide which campus project would receive their membership dollars. The LGBTQIA Resource Center

LGBTQIA Resource Center Director Aby Parsons (center) celebrates the Gift to Tech with students.

bested two other finalists for the Gift to Tech—Buzz’s Backyard, a recreational structure intended to encourage playfulness and mental wellbeing; and a student financial advising program to give students one-on-one consultation with a financial planner. Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson says that the Gift to Tech serves an important function of informing the administration about students’ priorities. “From an institutional perspective, it helps us to understand what the student body feels is important,” Peterson says. “That’s certainly true this year. There’s a message that’s been sent by

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the SAA and by the students that voted on this particular decision that we need to focus as an institution on vulnerable populations. “We need to work to try to improve conditions to make sure we have a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our students, with a particular focus with this gift on the LGBTQIA initiatives that are underway here on campus.” Since it was re-launched in 2010, the Student Alumni Association has provided $260,000 to campus causes through the annual Gift to Tech. Peterson says the first Gift to Tech, which went to the Office of Solid Waste and Recycling in 2010, seemed

odd to the administration at first, but revealed an area that students wanted to prioritize. “That was really a focus and an enthusiasm by the student body to support sustainability and recycling efforts on campus,” Peterson says. The LGBTQIA Resource Center was founded in 2014 to serve as an inclusive space for people of different gender and sexual identities on campus. In 2016, the LGBTQIA Resource Center finalized a 5-year strategic plan to grow and develop programs, resources and space. The goal is to create a multi-room center with space for two staff offices, as well as an office for community partners to host drop-in hours with wellness services such as HIV testing, counseling, peer coaching and ministry. Plans for the space also include a reception area with student assistant workspace, a study area with work stations, a resource library, a lounge area and a group meeting space. “With the Gift to Tech, we can transform that space, those empty rooms, into a welcoming, vibrant community hub,” Parsons says. “We can also expand our programs in the critical areas of faculty engagement and queer health and wellbeing, we can build a library of resources, and host campus educational events for the whole campus community, discussion groups, workshops and so much more.” Savannah Holcomb, the vice president of philanthropy for the Student Alumni Association, says the LGBTQIA Resource Center received overwhelming support from the student body. “This project was chosen as the top project in a year where we literally had a record number of students vote, ensuring that the students’ voice was heard,” Holcomb says. Parsons says the support from Tech’s student body comes at an important time as the LGBTQIA community has experienced major challenges and tragedies this past year. “Our queer and trans students and employees need a place where people can access resources, get


GRADUATING FROM GEORGIA TECH is a big accomplishment, but one way to commemorate it is very, very small. After commencement, graduates eagerly check their mailboxes as they wait to receive their official degree for framing and display—but they can also get a pocketsized version of that prized piece of paper. In fact, the Georgia Tech Alumni Association has issued these diminutive degrees since the mid-1970s. “It’s sort of in lieu of a membership card,” says Len Contardo, the Alumni Association’s VP of outreach. “Alumni can take out their mini diploma and flash it when they meet another Tech graduate. Most people keep it in their wallet.” For Kyle Coogan, a two-time Tech graduate, the tiny versions are perfect for displaying his Tech pride. “After graduating, I moved around quite a bit, and I have never gotten

support, expand their knowledge, feel safe and build community with one another,” Parsons says. Past recipients of the Gift to Tech are: Tech Ends Suicide Together, a suicide prevention training program; Excel at Georgia Tech, which provides a college experience for developmentally disabled students; Student Mental Health, to increase counseling

around to framing my full-size degrees,” says Coogan, EE 12, MS ECE 14. Instead, he framed the wallet versions. “I figured this was a more practical way to spruce up my home office with not only some Tech love, but also a bit of humor,” Coogan says. Contardo has even heard of the miniature diplomas coming in handy overseas for alumni to verify their education credentials. But, perhaps most important, it helps graduates to keep their Tech ties close. “It’s a great sense of nostalgia, and our alumni have a great sense of pride about having graduated from Georgia Tech,” he says. While new graduates receive mini diplomas as part of the perks of becoming alumni, past graduates can order them online for $10 each at —KRISTEN BAILEY

services available to students; Klemis Kitchen, an initiative to provide meals for students who are struggling financially; the Georgia Tech Band, to purchase a new equipment truck; the Dean Dull Endowment, for upkeep and maintenance on the Ramblin’ Wreck; and the Office of Solid Waste and Recycling, to improve recycling resources on campus.

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A Roundtable of Reform BY MELISSA FRALICK

The Georgia Tech Alumni Association’s networks and affinity groups depend on volunteers who donate their time and effort to organize events and projects. A BIG THANK YOU goes out to the Yellow Jacket volunteers who served on the inaugural Network Leaders Roundtable. The Network Leaders Roundtable was created as an advisory committee to provide insight to Georgia Tech Alumni Association staff as well as to support alumni network leaders around the country. The roundtable featured seven alumni network leaders from across the country who volunteered a year of their time—on top of their regular responsibilities as network leaders— to help improve programming and strengthen connections among Tech alumni. “Their advice has been important this year, as we worked through developing four critical focus areas for increasing network support and success,” says Janet Kinard, TFE 97, MS ME 99, director of alumni networks and groups. The members of the Roundtable were selected to represent a mix of new and experienced leaders from a variety of different networks to help identify the diversity and challenges of networks in different locations. Members of the first Network Leaders Roundtable will end their year-long terms at the end of June.

Alumni network leaders help organize gatherings for Yellow Jackets in their local communities, like service events and new student send-off celebrations, pictured above.


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Fred Carlson, CE 01, MS Mgt 04 Suncoast Robert Daniel, Mgt 01 NYC Metro Stephanie Deaton, IE 97 North Alabama

Kimberly DeCarrera, Mgt 03 N. Metro Atlanta John Hanson, IE 11 DeKalb County

Gaurav Nagle, AE 07, MS AE 09 Northern California Roxanne Westendorf, ChE 81 Cincinnati


The Leadership Circle is the cornerstone of Roll Call Georgia Tech’s Fund for Excellence

Georgia Tech’s commitment to education has produced tremendous success and leadership giving plays a key role in academic programming, research, and student support such as our mentoring programs. “The Georgia Tech experience became the foundation for my professional success and some of my greatest friends and memories. It is my privilege to invest in the institution and in current and future Yellow Jackets, to give back a little of what we gained.” - Betsy Wallace, ARCH 96 Former GTAA Board Member Mentor

“Your gift to Roll Call makes a huge impact on the education that future generations of Yellow Jackets receive. Having donors who give back at the Leadership Circle level is crucial to helping Georgia Tech always stay one step ahead of the game.” - Ria Banerjee, BA 16 Former SAA President Mentee


a gift of $25,000 $10,000 - $24,999 $5,000 - $9,999 $2,500 - $4,999 $1,000 - $2,499

Please send your gift or pledge to: ROLL CALL, GEORGIA TECH ALUMNI ASSOCIATION 190 North Avenue | Atlanta, Georgia 30313 or call (404) 894-0778


Save These Dates




Join the Student Alumni Association on campus for the largest membership event of the year! Alumni volunteers are needed to connect with students and talk with them about the importance of staying involved and giving back to Tech after graduation.

This four-day intensive program— offered in partnership with the Scheller College of Business—is designed to help professionals develop new leadership skills and perspectives. It will challenge you to think more strategically about managing your business and career.

Registration is now open for Homecoming and Reunion Weekend—always a fun opportunity to reconnect with fellow Yellow Jackets. Check out this year’s roster of events, like the keynote address, campus tours, reunion parties and the all-alumni tailgate hosted by the Alumni Association. Go Jackets!

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Continue the tradition and make a difference for outstanding students, world-class programs, and the value of your Georgia Tech degree.

The 71st Roll Call ends June 30, 2018, but you still have time to make your gift at ROLL CALL, GEORGIA TECH ALUMNI ASSOCIATION | 190 North Ave, Atlanta, GA 30313 | 404-894-0756


Tech President Receives Top Honor from Kansas State GEORGIA TECH PRESIDENT G.P. “Bud” Peterson received an honorary doctorate from Kansas State University—the highest honor the university can give. “Since earning his bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics and a master’s degree in industrial engineering from K-State, Dr. Peterson has gone on to distinguish himself nationally both as a scientist and as an educator,” says April Mason, the university’s provost and senior vice president. In 2008, Peterson was appointed by President George W. Bush to the National Science Board. In 2014, he was reappointed to the board by President Barack Obama, who also appointed Peterson to the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership 2.0 Steering Committee. In addition, he was appointed to serve on the U.S. Council on Competitiveness and the National Advisory Council on Innovation

1970s Tom Jones, EE 71, has been awarded the prestigious NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award by the National Association of Broadcasters. Jones is the president of Carl T. Jones Corp. He has been a consulting engineer for nearly 40 years and managed hundreds of complex broadcast engineering projects, served on industry and government advisory committees, and has been heavily involved in the AM radio revitalization effort.


Richard Jackson ChE 80, was awarded the 2018 Engineer of the Year award from the Richmond Joint Engineers Council. Fred Robinson, ME 86, received a doctor of science degree in information systems & communications from Robert Morris University on May 3.

and Entrepreneurship. Peterson’s national service also extends to intercollegiate athletics. He is chair of the NCAA board of governors and is a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. His research interests have focused on the fundamental as pects of phase-change heat transfer. Peterson was appointed the 11th president of Georgia Tech in 2009.

George Shields, Chem 81, MS Chem 83, PhD Chem 86, has been named one of three Cottrell Scholar TREE Awards recipients for 2018 by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. He currently serves as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Furman University.

Richard Adams, Mgt 94, was promoted to senior vice president at Kimley-Horn and Associates in Raleigh, N.C.

appointed by the Turnaround Management Association to serve on the Atlanta Chapter NextGen Board. The TMA is a global nonprofit organization that works with companies to improve performance, manage disruption, restructure, work through insolvency, preserve equity and drive significantly improved results. The NextGen Board presents the next generation of turnaround and corporate restructuring professionals with networking and educational opportunities tailored to those in the early stages of their career. Levesque is a CPA and consulting senior associate at Moore Colson.



Daniel R. Crook, PP 03, was named a 2018 Georgia Rising Star. This honor is presented to no more than 2.5 percent of lawyers in the state. Crook works at the law firm of HunterMaclean.

Marco Gomez, ME 11, AE 11 is the project manager of Irazu, the first satellite developed in Central America to monitor forest growth in Costa Rica. The satellite was launched on April 2 from Cape Canaveral onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Gomez is a researcher at Costa Rica Institute of Technology.


Amanda Levesque, BA 12, has been

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5 YELLOW JACKETS PERFORM FLYOVER IN HONOR OF ASTRONAUT JOHN YOUNG ON MAY 14, NASA held a memorial service and tree dedication ceremony at Johnson Space Center in Houston for astronaut and Georgia Tech alumnus John Young, ME 82, who died in January. During the event at the Astronaut Memorial Grove, five Tech alumni participated in a flyover tribute: (as pictured,

left to right): Chris Condon, ME 96; NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock, MS AE 92; Ray Heineman, IM 84, AE 01; Brett Pugsley, ME 97; and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, MS OR 98. They flew a four-plan “missing man” formation in a final salute to the legendary test pilot and space pioneer.

HENDREN HEADS ENGINEERING DIVISION OF CORPS OF ENGINEERS DISTRICT TRACY HENDREN, CE 94, MS CE 06, has been named to lead the Engineering Division of the Savannah District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Hendren assumed responsibility for planning, directing, coordinating and executing the engineering components of the Savannah District’s military construction, civil works, and hazardous, toxic and radioactive waste programs in March. Among his responsibilities, Hendren oversees engineering designs for the $973 million Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, which will deepen the nation’s fourth busiest container port an additional 5 feet. The Savannah harbor is a major contributor to the Georgia economy. Before taking over the senior engineering post, Hendren headed the hydrologic and hydraulic engineering branch, which dealt with

the civil works portion of district’s engineering program. Now he will also oversee engineering of military construction projects at Army and Air Force installations in Georgia and North Carolina, such as firing ranges, barracks, runways and other support facilities. Hendren is a registered professional engineer in Georgia. After working in the private sector, Hendren joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1998 in Jacksonville, Fla., where he worked as a water manager, dam safety officer and as the geotechnical engineer serving as the lead for several projects including the Herbert Hoover Dike System. Following his tour in Jacksonville, he spent 10 years working at the South Atlantic Division in Atlanta. He moved to the Savannah District in 2014 to lead the hydrologic and hydraulic engineering branch before being promoted to his current post.

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1. Justin Deadwyler, PTFE 08, and Rolieria Deadwyler, Bio 08, welcomed son Justin Deadwyler Jr. on Dec. 14, 2017. Justin works at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as a facility manager, and Rolieria is a health scientist at the CDC. 2. David Golz, Chem 03, Bio 03, and Laura (Watson) Golz, Mgt 03, HTS 03, welcomed son Henry Golz in February. He joins big sister Eleanor Golz. The family lives in New Orleans, La.




3. Bobby Fiorentini, Mgt 10, and Christi (Nesmith) Fiorentini, ME 10, MBA 15, welcomed Rocco Alexander Fiorentini on Jan. 15. The family lives in Woodstock, Ga.

Praachi works at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office as a patent examiner, and Mihir works at Stack Overflow as senior vice president of corporate strategy.

4. Katie Lubke, MSE 99, and Dave Lubke welcomed Maggie Lowetta on Feb 7. She joins brothers Noah and Joey and sister Jessica.

6. Meredith Orr Bruce, Psy 98, and Beau Benjamin Bruce, Chem 98, welcomed daughter Lillian Rose on Oct. 1, 2017. Beau is a physician. Meredith is a physical therapist. The family lives in Decatur, Ga.

5. Mihir Pathak, ME 08, MS ME 10, PhD ME 13, and Praachi Pathak, ME 10, welcomed Asmi Pathak on March 28, 2017. The family lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., where

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7. Adam E. Coker, AE 01, MS AE 03, and wife Jill welcomed Jackson

Charles Coker on March 16. 8. Kelly (McCann) Hartzell, Bio 03, MS Bio 04, and husband Jeremy welcomed Korra Kay Hartzell on Aug. 29, 2017. The family lives in Raleigh, N.C. 9. Nicholas Petrus, IE 07, and Andrea Zaplatynsky Petrus, Psy 06, welcomed Calvin “Minitron” Petrus on Dec. 11, 2017. Nicholas is a director at Prism Healthcare Partners. Andrea is pursuing a master of arts in professional counseling.



The Wealth Manager Alumni Are Buzzing About JOHN A. HANSON, CFA 11 Industrial Engineering PH: 404-822-1370



1. Kathryn Grob, ME 14, and Lukas Grob, ME 14, in Lake Keowee, S.C, on May 27, 2017. The couple lives in Simpsonville, S.C.

15, and Marc Hedglin, IE 14, on Nov. 11, 2017 in Detroit, MI. Marc is an engineer with Toyota. The couple now lives in Nagoya, Japan.

2. Christopher Brazell, CE 01, MS CE 04, and Gillian Catherine Elizabeth Cairney, at “A Little White Wedding Chapel” in Las Vegas on Feb. 3.

4. Claire Woodring, MS PP 14, and Thomas Burtle on June 24 in Marietta, Ga. Claire is the director of collaborative services at Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The couple lives in Atlanta.

3. Amanda Francis, EnvE

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IANA TASSADA, CE 05, was named a 2018 honoree of Engineering NewsRecord’s Top 20 Under 40 national competition. Tassada is vice president and aviation project executive for JE Dunn Construction. Tassada was selected from more than 400 entries, which began with each of ENR’s 10 regional editions recognizing up-and-coming industry leaders with its Top Young Professionals competition. An independent panel of industry judges then reviewed entries of the regional winners to select honorees for the national Top 20 Under 40 list. Tassada was among 20 winners in the ENR Southeast competition. She was a key factor in JE Dunn’s successful entry into the aviation market sector. Under her leadership, JE Dunn has contracted nearly $200 million in projects at HartsfieldJackson Atlanta International Airport since 2013. Tassada also assists other offices around the country in aviation pursuits and strategy. She has spent her 13-year professional career with JE Dunn, advancing through the operations ranks. She is involved in the outreach and development of MWBE firms both internally and outside JE Dunn.

ROBERTSON HALE RECOGNIZED FOR SUCCESS IN FOOD SAFETY KIS ROBERTSON HALE, BIO 99, was recently selected to be one of the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Faces of Food Safety for her dedication to preventing food-related hospitalizations and deaths in the United States and abroad. Hale is the deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Public Health Science and the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Chief Public Health Veterinarian. Hale now works with Office of Public Health Science Assistant Administrator Dr. David Goldman in overseeing the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s science program. Their team consists of approximately 300 microbiologists, chemists, pathologists, toxicologists, epidemiologists and risk assessors located in Washington, D.C., and at three field laboratories in Athens, Ga.; Albany, Calif.; and St. Louis, Mo. Hale’s team plays a critical role in limiting consumer exposure to foodborne illnesses

a n d h a z a rd s . These specialists conduct laboratory analysis of pathogen and chemical contaminants in product samples, identify and evaluate potential foodborne hazards, determine estimates of human health risk, coordinate foodborne illness investigations, and design sampling programs. Besides her new role as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Public Health Science, Hale is also a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. She is proud to wear the uniform and hopes to continue to reflect the honor and integrity that goes along with being in the uniformed service.

FOSTER JOINS CREATE-X GREG FOSTER, ME 95, has been named associate director of CREATE-X and professor of the practice in Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering. CREATE-X was established four years ago as a faculty-led, student-focused initiative to instill entrepreneurial confidence in Georgia Tech students, enabling them to launch real startups. Foster will be responsible for Startup Launch, the final phase of CREATE-X, where students receive mentorship, $20,000 in seed funds and other program resources to take their startups to market. Foster, an Atlanta business leader and venture capitalist, brings experience in both creating and investing in startups, which will provide a unique perspective to students hoping to start their own companies. He has more than 20 years of industry experience working at Fortune 500 companies such as Deloitte, Turner Broadcasting and

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Cox Enterprises. Foster has built multiple startup companies, including Silverpop, Southern Direct and BrightWhistle, all of which saw early success that led to acquisition. “Greg brings energy, passion and a wealth of business knowledge to the CREATE-X program,” says Raghupathy Sivakumar, founding director of CREATE-X and Wayne J. Holman Chair Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “I am confident his experience building successful companies from the ground up will serve our students well. With Greg on board, we hope to elevate CREATE-X to the most competitive startup program in the country.”


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J. Paul Raines

IE 85, of Southlake, Texas, on March 4 RAINES WAS A RENOWNED BUSINESS EXECUTIVE and active supporter of

Georgia Tech. As the CEO of GameStop, Raines diversified the video game retailer into digital businesses and expanded it into other retail technology stores through acquisitions. In 2013, GameStop started buying AT&T and Cricket stores, becoming the largest AT&T store operator. Later, GameStop also purchased collectibles retailer ThinkGeek and Apple-authorized reseller Simply Mac. Raines was determined that Ga m e S to p wo u ld l ea r n f ro m the mistakes of other retailers affected by the internet. He bristled at comparisons to now-defunct Blockbuster Video and always took the time to explain why GameStop was different. In 2014, Raines had a brain tumor removed and later resigned as GameStop CEO following a medical reoccurrence. “Paul was a brilliant man and r e m a rk ab l e v i s io n a r y, a s we l l as a compassionate, caring and

Editor’s Note: For this issue of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, we have changed the format for the In Memoriam section. We will include an abbreviated version of each obituary in print, while publishing the full obituaries on our website. To read more, please visit

inspirational community leader who was beloved by many,” says GameStop CEO Mike Mauler. Raines came to GameStop in 2008 as chief operating officer from Home Depot, where he spent eight years in various management jobs that included executive vice president and president of the more than 2,000-store Southern division of the Atlantabased company. Before joining Home Depot, h e s p e n t fo u r yea r s in global sourcing for L.L. Bean and 10 years with the Kurt Salmon Associates consumer products group. His career included stints in Mexico, as well as Central and South America. Raines also served on the board of J.C. Penney until he resigned in January.

1940s M. R. “Andy” Anderson, EE 47, of Fuquay-Varina, N.C., on Jan. 9. Gilbert Bachman, ME 46, of Boca Raton, Fla., on March 4. William Edward “Bill” Counts, CerE 43, of Orange, Calif., on Feb. 2.

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He is survived by his wife, Claudia, and children Victoria, BA 16, and Julian, Cls 20.

Marvin William Blumberg, IM 40, of Dallas, Texas, on March 12. Philip I. Emmer, CE 49, of Gainesville, Fla., on March 12. Robert Ferd “Bob” Engeman Sr., IE 48, of McDonough, Ga., on March 6. Alden C. “John” Flint, MS IM 48, of Charleston, S.C., on March 13.

Walter Hamilton Foster, Jr., EE 49, of Forest Park, Ga., on Feb. 4. Sam N. Glass, EE 45, of Atlanta, on Jan. 18. Jean Raymond Dietrich Hecht, Cls 45, of Toms River, N.J., on Jan. 23. Charles Edwin Hodges, ChE 45, of Portland, Maine, on Jan. 14.

Stephen Leslie Johnston Sr., EE 48, MS EE 49, of Huntsville, Ala., on Feb. 14. George Clifton Kelley, IE 49, of Webster Groves, Mo., on March 7. Robert “Bob” Wilson Paden, EE 43, of Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 13. Isaac Alvin Scott, IE 48, of Plano, Texas, on Jan. 4. George F. Smith Jr., GE 45, of Atlanta, on Feb. 19. Samuel Tipton Tinsley, IM 46, of Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 25. Clifford Walker Rackley, ChE 49, of Houston, Texas, on Jan. 28.

1950s Lloyd Barnard Jr., IE 52, of Atlanta on April 6. William Hawes “Bill” DeBeaugrine, CE 55, of Tallahassee, Fla., on Feb 1. Robert Boyd Bogle III, Arch 58, of Nashville, Tenn., on Jan. 25. Bernard George Butler, IM 58, of Cartersville, Ga., on March 23. Charles Button “Charlie” Coulbourn Jr., EE 56, of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., on Feb. 14. Eugene Albert “Gene” Cutright, ChE 57, of Macon, Ga., on Jan. 24. Ronald David Dickson, CE 59, of Tomball, Texas, on Feb. 16. Joseph Lee Edwards Jr., Phys 56, PhD Phys 70, of Atlanta, on Jan. 9. William Brewster Erb, IE 50, of Atlanta, on Feb. 12. Sam J. Franklin Jr., IE 54, of Pineville, N.C., on Feb. 10. Thomas Gemmey Fudge, ChE 55, of Cary, N.C., on Feb. 25.


IM 78, OF ATLANTA, ON MARCH 1 F U L L E R WAS A P RO U D A LU M N A o f Georgia Tech who devoted her life to supporting her alma mater. Fuller graduated from Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga., in 1974. After graduation, she attended Georgia Tech, where she was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. She graduated in 1978 with a degree in industrial management, though she never really left the Institute. She loved everything about Georgia Tech and spent her entire 39-year career as one of the school’s most dedicated employees. From 1979 to 2018, Fuller’s life was Georgia Tech. After working for a brief time in development research, she served as director of reunion giving until 1993, when she was named director of regional development, working with alumni and friends across the Southeast. She assisted in the development and execution of three Institute wide capital campaigns, helping to raise millions of dollars for her alma mater. Her extensive knowledge of

William Theodore Gary III, IE 56, of Augusta, Ga., on Jan. 28. Donald H. Gore, EE 52, of Melbourne, Fla., on Feb. 4. Herbert O. Hamby Jr., IE 58, of Dacula, Ga., on Jan. 15. Herbert “Herb” Gosa Hicks, CE 54, of Baton Rouge, La., on Jan. 6. Homer Scott Howell, TE 51, of Birmingham, Ala., on Feb. 2. Anthony Rudolph Klaas III, IE 57, of Mobile, Ala., on March 10. Robert L. Lanier Jr., EE 55, of Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 2.

Georgia Tech made her a trusted contact with prospects and donors who were interested in giving back to the Institute. Her love and abiding commitment to Georgia Tech were felt by all who knew her. Fuller truly cared about her family, friends, and colleagues. She was known to leave messages and send heartfelt notes to let her loved ones know she was thinking of them. It wasn’t until after her passing that her family truly realized how many people she had touched during her short lifetime.

George Clark Lindsey Jr., Text 53, of Miramar Beach, Fla., on Jan. 31. Richard Allen Morrow, ME 57, of Dallas, Texas, on Jan. 11. Thomas Lee Newberry, IE 54, MS IE 58, PhD IE 61, of Atlanta, on March 9. Reverend Dr. John Thomas Newton, Jr., EE 51, of Black Mountain, N.C., on Jan. 28. Clarence Alton Peavy, IM 53, of Mount Airy, N.C., on Feb. 3. Richard B. Pool, MS CE 52, of Columbia, S.C., on Jan. 3. John “Jack” Francis Rogers Jr., IM 51, of Macon, Ga., on Jan. 27.

Hugh Mouillaud Saint, AE 56, of Cape Coral, Fla., on Jan. 29. Glenn Robert Sills, Cls 54, of Evans, Ga., on Jan. 12. W. King “Sky King” Sims, Phys 58, of St. Simons Island, Ga., on March 24. Guy Smith, EE 59, of Melbourne, Fla., on Feb. 12. John M. Spencer, EE 52, of Smyrna, Ga., on March 2. Frank Andrew Summers, IE 52, MS IE 55, of Marietta, Ga., on March 29. Jesse Thomas Traywick III, IE 58, of League City, Texas, on Jan. 7.

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MGT 02, OF ATLANTA, ON MARCH 1 LOZANO WAS A PROUD ALUMNUS, Yellow Jacket supporter, and longtime staff member of the Georgia Tech Athletic Association. He died at age 38 following a brief illness. Lozano graduated with honors in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in management. He joined the Georgia Tech Athletic Association staff in 2004, where he served in several areas, including in student services, compliance and communications. He was also one of the Yellow Jackets’ biggest fans and was a staple at Georgia Tech athletics events for more than two decades. Most importantly, he was a true friend to the many Georgia Tech athletics staff members, student-athletes and fans that he came in contact with over the years. “Thomas was a huge part of our GTAA family. His dedication to Tech as an alumnus, a staff member and a fan

James Blair Trimble, CE 54, MS CE 55, of Atlanta, on Feb. 2. Alfred Dorrah Thruston Jr. Chem 57, of Atlanta, on Feb. 4. Bert Harden Wells Jr., ME 55, of Sandy Springs, Ga., on Jan. 12. William Brooks “Bill” Whalley, CE 50, of Bluffton, S.C., on Jan. 30. Lawrence Thomas Williams Jr., EE 51, of Birmingham, Ala., on Jan. 15. James R. Willis, ChE 51, of West Grove, Pa., on Jan. 5.

was unrivaled,” says Director of Athletics Todd Stansbury. “He leaves behind an enduring legacy of great courage and character that has touched everyone he has ever come in contact with, including all of the student-athletes and athletics staff that were fortunate to know him.”

1960s James Lamar “Jim” Bass, ME 64, of Atlanta, on Jan. 21. Benjamin L. Brown, Cls 60, of Marietta, Ga., on Jan. 19. Charles Thomas “Tom” Brown, Phys 64, MS Phys 66, PhD Phys 72, of Dahlonega, Ga., on Feb. 15 Harcourt “Butch” Bull III, ChE 61, of Edgefield, S.C., on Feb. 7. Homan Lamar “Scutter” Cox, IM 69, of Franklin, Tenn., on Feb. 15.

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Thomas Richard Daniel Jr., IM 68, of Atlanta, on March 22. J. Gordon Davis, PhD IE 67, of Atlanta, on March 6. Donald Dowdle, IM 61, of Charlotte, N.C., on Feb. 19. Harry Clay Draughon Jr., Phys 60, of Atlanta, on March 7. William “Bill” Felts, CE 60, of Kennesaw, Ga., on Jan. 22. James David Gould, Phys 62, of Fullerton, Calif., on Jan. 8. Roy Arthur Herwig, CE 68, MS SanE 70, of Dunwoody, Ga., on Dec. 17, 2017.

F. Dean Hilliard Jr., IM 69, of Tifton, Ga., on Jan. 26. Gerald Maurice “Jerry” Johnston, ME 65, MS ME 70, of Dallas, Texas, on March 26. Jake William “Billy” Martin, IM 69, of Cumming, Ga., on March 14. William Michael Maloof Sr., IM 69, of Decatur, Ga., on March 3. John M. “Marc” McLean, IE 63, of Oviedo, Fla., on March 26. George Ernest Miles, EE 61, of Salisbury, Md., on March 7. William Rolf “Bill” Moseley, ChE 66, of Greensboro, Ga., on Feb. 10. Heidt Fortson Neal III, IM 60, of Columbus, Ga., on March 11. Edwin Quattlebaum Rainey Sr., CerE 60, of Hilton Head Island, S.C., on Feb. 12. Thomas Benjamin Roper Jr., IM 66, of Atlanta, on Jan. 3. Jerry Dale Sawyer, CE 64, of Hurricane Mills, Tenn., on Jan. 28. Patrick Thurlow Spence, MS EE 65, of Cumming, Ga., on Jan. 5. John Steinichen III, CE 53, MS CRP 63, of Marietta, Ga., on Dec. 30, 2017. Steven Thompson, AE 69, MS NRE 70, PhD NRE 74, of Portland, Ore., on Oct. 29, 2017. James K. Williams, ME 66, of Rogersville, Ala., on Feb. 9. William Clarence “Bill” Wilson, IM 64, of Charlotte, N.C., on Feb. 11. W. Carlton Wood, ChE 63, of Harrisburg, N.C., on Jan. 15.



1970s William Joseph Baer, Arch 79, of St. Paul, Minn., on Jan. 14. William Theodore “Ted” Bennett, MS IM 78, of Richmond, Va., on March 21. Robert David Bennewitz, CE 76, of Duluth, Ga., on March 14. Dale Alan Gaines, ME 74, of Atlanta, on Jan. 15. Raymond Donald “Donnie” Jones, 72, of Canton, Ga., on Feb. 22. Robert B. Holland, NRE 76, of Buchanan, Tenn., on Nov. 26, 2017. John Beeman “Jac” Kirkpatrick III, BA 74, of Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 26. John Fenton Rollins, MS ME 74, of Maryville, Tenn., on March 14. John Theodore “Ted” Schmidt, CE 79, of Harper Woods, Mich., on Feb. 17. William L. Turner, CE 70, of Columbia, S.C., on Jan. 9. Stephen Walter Westbrook, IM 73, of Fairfax, Va., on Feb. 9. Joseph Whitaker, IE 70, of Fairfax, Va., on Dec. 22, 2017.

1980s Becky Ford Brazier, MS IM 83, of Franklin, N.C., on Feb. 4. George Balfour Gelly II, EE 82, of St. Paul, Minn., on Feb. 24. Darren E. Morris, IE 81, of Raleigh, N.C., on March 16. Joseph John “Joe” Palasak Jr., CE 84, MS CE 85, of Rogers, Ark., on Feb. 15. Steven L. Ruwe, ME 85, of Chesterfield, Va. on Jan. 20.

W I L L I A M S WA S A P R O U D N AT I V E ATLANTAN, i c o n i c b u s i n e s s m a n , visionary and real estate mogul. Known as the “Apartment King,” he lived for work and took two successful companies public, shaping the multifamily industry into what it is today. At 26, Williams was working for Georgia Power selling power to apartment complexes in metro Atlanta when he had a vision to transform traditional apartment communities by improving landscaping, security and professional management. In 1970, he founded Post Properties Inc., a company that became the most recognized apartment brand in the industry at its time. After leaving Post Properties, he founded another company, Preferred Apartment Communities, where he served as chairman and chief executive officer, taking the company public on the New York Stock Exchange. Over the course of his career, John directed and coordinated the development, construction and management of more than $15 billion in real estate development. Williams was a national leader in the urban development concept and was widely credited with coining the phrases “Smart Growth” and “Live, Work, Play.” Williams received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including: the prestigious Four Pillar Award; “Entrepreneur of The Year,” by both Stanford Business School and Ernst & Young; The Wall Street Transcript “CEO Award for Commercial Real Estate”; “CEO of The Year,” by Financial World; National Real Estate Investor’s list of “The 20th Century’s Most Influential Developers”; Atlanta Business Chronicle’s award for “Atlanta Residential Developer of The Decade”; Harvard Business School’s “Community Leadership Award”; and Cobb County’s “The Mack Henderson Public Service Award.” Williams was inducted into the

Multi-Housing News Hall of Fame; the Georgia State University J. Mack Robinson College of Business Hall of Fame; and the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Management Hall of Fame. Williams was the chairman of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce twice and chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. He served as the president of the Homebuilders Association of Metropolitan Atlanta, chairman of the Metro Business Forum, and chairman of the Regional Business Coalition. He also served on the board of the Atlanta Falcons, of which he was a minority owner. He was the driving force in the creation of the Cobb Galleria Center and the transformation of Marietta Square. He was particularly proud of the completion of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, a 2,800-seat theater and ballroom. Williams’ generosity was as legendary as his work ethic. He was heavily involved with Georgia Tech, The Lovett School, Piedmont Hospital and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, his children and grandchildren.

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IN MEMORIAM SAMUEL BYRD LEDBETTER JR. ME 34, OF ATLANTA, ON JAN. 20 LEDBETTER WAS GEORGIA TECH’S oldest living alumnus before he died at the age of 105. After graduating from Decatur High School, he attended Georgia Tech, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1934. He then went on to the Georgia Evening College (now Georgia State University), where he earned a degree in commerce in 1936. A child of the Depression, he paid for his education by carrying newspapers from the time he was 12 years old. During WWII, he served in the Quartermaster Corps with Patton’s Third Army in North Africa and was a member of the committee that planned the invasion of southern France. He continued his devotion to his country by staying in the Army Reserves, eventually becoming the commanding officer of the 474th Quartermaster Group with the rank of colonel. Ledbetter was very proud to be awarded the Legion of Merit for his 38 years of service. He worked for Jervis B. Webb Co. for 30 years, where he was an inventor and a consummate salesman. After retiring, he began his employment with Imperial Grease and Oil, becoming one of

the company’s top salesmen at the age of 75. A member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, he served as both the junior and senior warden. He was also a founding member of Cherokee Country Club. Dancing with his adored wife, Jane, was



Matthew Bryant Mabus, MBA 12, of Atlanta, on Feb. 26.

Dr. James Edward “Jim” Brittain, of Hendersonville, N.C., on March 8. Woody Durham, of Chapel

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his favorite pastime. Among his many hobbies, he enjoyed woodworking and clock repair, which he taught for many years. He was still repairing clocks at the age of 100. He is survived by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Hill, N.C., on March 7. Geoffrey G. Eichholz, of Atlanta, on Jan. 8. Laura W. McCullough, of Duluth, Ga., on Jan. 8. James Carlton “Jim” Owens, of Newnan, Georgia, on

March 7. John Caleb Childs Sr., of Timonium, Md., on March 4. William Eugene Hollis, Sr., of Macon, Ga., on March 13. Alexander O’Neal “Alex” Hubbs, of Atlanta, on March 15.



HIRSCH WAS BORN IN FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY, and was a child survivor of the Holocaust. He eventually settled in Atlanta and attended Georgia Tech, where he graduated in 1958 with a degree in architecture. He was the architect of the Memorial to The Six Million at

Greenwood Cemetery in Atlanta, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The memorial, which was dedicated in 1965, was the second Holocaust memorial in the United States. Hirsch was a well-known architect in Atlanta, specializing in religious architecture, and was the

recipient of several design awards. He also designed the Holocaust exhibit at Atlanta’s William Breman Heritage Museum. He was a prominent member of the Atlanta Jewish community, serving as president of Congregation Beth Jacob and of Yeshiva High School. Hirsch was a founding member of EternalLife Hemshech, the Atlanta Holocaust Survivors organization, where he also served as president for several years. Hirsch also authored two autobiographies recounting his experiences during the Holocaust as a child survivor and making a new life in Atlanta. He is survived by his wife and children, along with 23 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.Â


CLS 44, OF SPARTANBURG, SC, ON APRIL 15 WARDLAW SERVED IN THE NAVY as a destroyer escort communications off icer during World War II. He wo rke d w i t h M i l l i ke n a n d Co. , Kentucky Woven Label Co., Bo-Buck Mills and later founded Wardlaw Sales in Spartanburg before retiring in 1995. He was actively involved in the Spartanburg community, serving as president of the Spartanburg Rotary Club, the Spartanburg County Foundation Board of Trustees and Investment Advisory Committee. He also served on the Spartanburg Music Foundation Board, Friends of the Spartanburg County Library Board, the Spartanburg Housing Authority, Total Ministries Board, Habitat for Humanity Board and the Narrow Fabrics Institute, and was the founder, chairman, director and board chair emeritus of The

Adult Learning Center. Wardlaw was a devoted member of The Episcopal Church of the Advent, where he served on the vestry as senior and junior warden. His service and commitment to Spartanburg has been recognized with multiple civic and state awards. He received the SC Order of the Palmetto from Gov. Mark Sanford; the Neville Holcombe Distinguished Citizen award presented by the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce; the Wofford College Algernon-Sydney Sullivan Award for public service; the Mary Black Foundation Dr. Sam O. Black Jr. Health Promotion Award for Leadership; the 2014 Kiwanis Club of Spartanburg Citizen of the Year; the Dean Griffin Public Service Award from Georgia Tech; and the National Service to Mankind Award from the

Sertoma Club. Wardlaw is survived by his wife, daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.

Volume 94 No. 2 2018 | GTALUMNI.ORG/MAGAZINE | 95


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The Alternative to Alternative Radio


Georgia Tech’s WREK celebrates 50 years of ‘Quality, Diverse Music.’ ON THE NIGHT OF APRIL 7, the students who operate WREK—Tech’s longrunning radio station at 91.1 FM—were replaced. The regular programming was swapped for a show called WAVES Redux, run by a group of adults who took over the control boards from 9 p.m. to midnight. The takeover wasn’t hostile, but rather a welcome return to the DJ Booth for a few of the Tech alumni who helped develop the station in its early years on the air. “It’s been 50 years since we twisted knobs and turned buttons,” says Eric Roberts, IE 72. “Here’s two aging alumni from the olden days running this 100,000 watt station with no student supervision. They trusted us to run everything.” The program was a revival of a show called WAVES, featuring the kind of music they played on Saturday nights in the early 1970s. The WAVES Redux cameo was just one part of the 50th anniversary of WREK, celebrated during the weekend long WREKtacular festival April 6-8. W R E K a l u m n i f r o m a l l e ra s gathered for reunion events and offcampus concerts as part of WREKtacular. There were happy hours and trivia and dinners, a tour of the WREK studio, and the WREKtacular Music and Arts Show, which featured visual art and performances by 15 musical acts. WREK has been a force on campus for 50 years, providing students the opportunity to go on the air and broadcast their own unique programs

Sheena Ganju, IE 18, in the booth at the WREK radio station. Ganju got started at WREK as a freshman, and served as the station’s general manager before graduating in May.

and music, as well as work behind the scenes on all the engineering and computer coding for the radio station. Unlike many college radio stations, WREK is completely student run and non-commercial. At 100,000 watts, it broadcasts at the maximum power for an FM station, and can be heard in a 70-mile radius throughout metro Atlanta, in places like Kennesaw, Fayetteville and Duluth.

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A n d u n l i ke o t h e r u n ive r s i ty stations, WREK isn’t an extension of a communications or broadcast program. For most students, WREK is purely an extracurricular activity. Mac Pitts, director of student publications and media for Georgia Tech, says being part of WREK helps students to develop communication skills outside the classroom. “WREK is a way for students to be

Students from WREK and other college radio stations in Atlanta gathered together to take part in the Little Five Points Halloween Parade.

WREK can be heard on 91.1 FM in all or part of 17 counties in the metro Atlanta area.

There are around 25,000 vinyl albums, in addition to countless tapes and CDs , in the “vault” at the WREK radio station in the Georgia Tech Student Center.

creative and step outside their academic rigor and schedule and express themselves,” Pitts says. “Being on the air builds confidence.” WREK’s official motto is “Quality, diverse music” while the unofficial motto is “Music you don’t hear on the radio.” WREK’s weekly schedule is organized into blocks of music by genre, punctuated by specialty shows.

Students from the executive staff of WREK gathered for a group photo during WREK’s 50-year celebration.

“Things have changed in 50 years but certain things haven’t,” Roberts says. “They still have the same passion and love for radio that we did back then. And it comes through on the air.” Volume 94 No. 2 2018 | GTALUMNI.ORG/MAGAZINE | 101


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LIVE FROM GEORGIA TECH Alumni from WREK’s early years, 1968-1978, call themselves the Van Leer Alumni in reference to the radio station’s first home at the electrical engineering building. This collage features posters and photos of Van Leer era alumni working and having fun at the radio station during that time.

Volume 94 No. 2 2018 | GTALUMNI.ORG/MAGAZINE | 103


From left: Mark Goldsmith operates the control board while Mike Caldwell, EE 73, MS EE 75, and Glenn Sirkis, IM 74, host WAVES Redux on April 7, 2018.

From left: Glenn Sirkis, IM 74, and Geoffrey Mendenhall, EE 70, joined student David Garcia at WREK as part of the station’s 50th anniversary.

WREK BY THE NUMBERS First Day on the Air: March 25, 1968 First Song Played: “Ramblin’ Wreck” Second Song Played: “Spooky” by the Classics IV First Live Concert Broadcast: The Grateful Dead and New Riders of the Purple Sage in 1971 Original signal strength: 10 watts Current signal strength: 100,000 watts Number of vinyl albums in the WREK “Vault”: 25,000

Eric Roberts, IE 72, returned to the booth at WREK for the station’s 50th anniversary celebration in April.

Depending on when you tune in, you’ll hear DJs spinning a wide variety of music, including reggae, bluegrass, ska, shoegaze, dreampop, punk, new wave, math rock, psychedelic rock, rockabilly, death metal— and on and on. It’s different from what you might expect from university stations, which typically play a rotation of alternative and indie rock. Charlie Bennett Econ 98, STC 00, is a librarian at Georgia Tech and an advisor for the station who co-hosts a weekly show called “Lost in the Stacks” with several other librarians and archivists. To illustrate the station’s tradition of being an alternative to alternative music, he points to a long-running program called “Destroy all Music,” which since 1984 has featured very unusual, avant

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garde music. “WREK isn’t concerned about audience metrics or fitting a mold,” Bennett says. “You have to stay true to a value rather than a genre or sound—something beyond a marketed college radio sound, or the expectation of what you’re going to hear. There’s a belief in the usefulness of of challenging music.” Sheena Ganju, IE 18, who graduated in May, served as the most recent general manager of the station. She first came to WREK in her freshman year and held a number of positions at the station throughout her time at Georgia Tech. She says working at WREK has changed the way she thinks about music. “I came in with a strong interest in music, but not a strong awareness of what’s out there. I found exposure to all

these different, crazy genres I had no idea existed before college but I’m honestly so glad I found,” Ganju says. Through WREK, she says she’s gotten involved in the Atlanta arts scene—something she likely wouldn’t have otherwise done as an engineering major. Ganju says getting exposure to arts and music in Atlanta was an important part of her college experience. “I don’t think you can really separate them. I consider both to be crucial parts of my learning at Tech,” Ganju says. While WREK attracts many selfdescribed “music nerds” who delight in broadcasting obscure music from across the spectrum of sound, the station’s powerful signal is an equally strong draw for students interested in radio engineering. “I’d say the majority of people join WREK because they care about the music,” says Daniel Smith, EE 11, MS ECE 12. “That wasn’t me—I was always all about the engineering. I liked making cool stuff.” Smith was the chief engineer for WREK as a student and now serves as a technical advisor for the station. During his tenure, he had the unique experience of helping to build a new antenna to upgrade the station from 40,000 to 100,000 watts—the maximum power for an FM station. Most university stations hire professional engineers to handle the technical work. But at WREK, there are engineering students like Smith who have the knowledge and pluck to do it themselves. “I didn’t know anything about FM antennas before becoming chief engineer,” Smith says. “I was taking antenna courses, but the actual application of designing an FM antenna was not something I had studied. “Using WREK to apply my knowledge was pretty awesome.” The station has always been on the forefront of changing technology. It was one of the first to stream its

programming online. It had a website by the early 90s, long before most people even knew what the Internet was. And in its early years, WREK became the first to broadcast a baseball game in stereo. While much has changed over the last 50 years, the ethos of the station has remained the same. The 50th anniversary celebration provided an opportunity for WREK’s earliest alumni and current students

electrical engineering building where WREK was first housed. The Van Leer alumni have remained good friends over the years, and have been getting together every five years for reunions since 1995. They also maintain a website with old photographs, letters and fliers from their time at WREK. They’re fiercely protective of the station as well, keeping an ear out for anything that could threaten the its

“You have to stay true to a value rather than a genre or sound— something beyond a marketed college radio sound, or the expectation of what you’re going to hear,” Bennett says. to interact and compare notes. “It’s definitely the same, the culture of the station,” Ganju says. “Their personalities were pretty similar. I was surprised by how much I got along with everyone and how much we had in common despite the 50-year age difference.” Ganju says it was really heartening to see the early station alumni come to g e t h e r fo r t h e W R E Kta c u l a r anniversary. “They were all legends in our eyes,” Ga n j u says . “ Bu i ld i n g o u r f i rs t transmitters, sharing history and sharing their experiences—it was so cool to meet them all.” Roberts echoed Ganju’s sentiments a b o u t t h e c o n t i n u i ty b e twe e n generations of WREK students. “Things have changed in 50 years but certain things haven’t,” Roberts says. “They still have the same passion and love for radio that we did back then. And it comes through on the air.” The radio station’s early alumni, from 1968-78, call themselves the “Van Leer era” alumni in reference to the

status as an independent, student-run operation. As it turns out, an independent, student-run FM station with a powerful signal in a major metropolitan area is a valuable and increasingly rare thing. Just a few years ago, Georgia State University’s popular radio station WRAS was bought by Georgia Public Broadcasting, relegating student prog ra m m i n g to t h e e v e n i n g a n d overnight hours. “College radio stations are vulnerable,” Bennett says. But with a history of strong support and investment from the campus community, there’s optimism about the future of WREK. Pitts says plans are now in the works to build the radio station’s next home: a freestanding “shed” on campus with a window into the DJ booth, giving passing students a view into the world of WREK. Pitts thinks this future visibility will entice curious Tech students to stop in and get involved, whether it’s for the music, the technology or the camaraderie of WREK.

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Giving Voice to a Genius BY ROGER SLAVENS

THE PASSING OF PHYSICIST Stephen Hawking reverberated around the world a few months ago, with the news of his death hitting the Georgia Tech community particularly hard. So many faculty members, researchers, students and alumni owe an incredible debt to the brilliant mind who helped conceive a better understanding of how the universe works. Alumnus Hari Vyas, MS EE 69, shared a special connection with the legendary scientist that lasted for decades. In 1963, at the age of 21, Hawking was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and his motor functions deteriorated until he was left almost completely paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. In 1983, Vyas was a hardware engineer at Speech Plus, where he worked with a team of engineers, scientists and linguists to design and build text-to-speech synthesizer boards that, in tandem with state-of-the-art software and firmware of the time, made up the Speech Plus Calltext 5010 device. This technology helped give a voice to those who couldn’t speak—such

as those who were paralyzed or who had throat cancer—as well as enabled blind programmers at companies like Hewlett-Packard and IBM to verify their work, Vyas says. Since the Calltext 5010 device was not designed specifically for Hawking, what would transform into his trademark computer vocalization was actually the default male voice called “Perfect Paul.” It was based on the speaking voice of MIT speechand-hearing scientist Dennis Klatt. But Hawking liked it so much, even though it was decidedly American in intonation, the famed British physicist never changed it, despite advances in the technology. It became forever part of his larger-than-life persona. Vyas built each text-to-speech board by hand-drawn schematics since schematic capture did not exist at the time. The board’s architecture consisted of an Intel 8008 central processing unit, erasable programmable

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read-only memory (EPROM) chips, random access memory (RAM) chips, a telephone interface, a serial interface or personal computer interface, and an audio amplifier, Vyas says. The boards delivered real-time text-to-speech with unlimited vocabulary. Hawking used the device for almost 30 years before it stopped working properly. In 2014, Vyas heard about the problem from Jonathan Wood, Hawking’s graduate assistant at the University of Cambridge. Vyas was surprised that the scientist was still using the board he designed, but jumped at the chance to help a team of engineers get the device working again. Like so many others, Vyas was saddened when he found out about Hawking’s death on March 14, 2018. For decades, the engineer had enjoyed being able to hear his work help Hawking spread his scientific wisdom to the world through a voice that has tragically fallen silent.

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