Page 1


College of Engineering Headlines is produced annually to present highlights of the past year as well as late-breaking December 2011 news, as they appeared in the general media. Due to limited space, many of the articles appear in excerpted form and are designated by ellipses. These 28 pages represent only a small sampling of news concerning the College of Engineering alumni, faculty, student, and events during 2012.

Published by the News Office, College of Engineering, Virginia Tech BOSTON GLOBE • August 30, 2012

Improved equipment may boost protection By Lisa Kocian No equipment is guaranteed to prevent a concussion. But manufacturers say innovative football helmets, soccer headgear, and mouth guards can reduce their severity. DOES SOCCER HEADGEAR HELP? Molly Caron wishes she had been wearing headgear when she got a concussion playing soccer in October. Now the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School senior is April 2, 2012

Can hi-tech helmets reduce football head injuries?

BOSTON - As Americans grow more aware of the risk of brain injury tied to football — the country’s most popular sport — players and coaches are experimenting with the latest technology in a bid to make the game safer. Advances in training have led to bigger, faster players who have made the high-impact sport more dangerous, particularly at the college and professional level…. REASON FOR CONCERN Research has shown that more than 4 million youth players are at risk. A 2011 See HELMETS, page 2

promoting the use of such protection by her peers…. But specialists say even the best-designed helmet won’t necessarily protect against dangerous play. “Don’t let people target each other’s head,” said Stefan Duma, head of the biomedical engineering department at Virginia Tech, whose research led to practice limitations initiated by the national Pop Warner youth football program….


Vol. 29 No. 1


As America grays, businesses help seniors age in place

By Olga Khazan Eileen Morrissey has always been independent. But at 91, she can no longer drive, which has made it hard for her to get to the grocery store. At least once a week, she calls SilverRide, a San Francisco transportation service that takes elderly clients on errands of their choosing. “When I went to do my Christmas shopping, they carried my packages to the car,” Morrissey said. “They’re easy to talk to and they keep you in conversation.” Morrissey is among those seniors who are eschewing nursing homes in favor of independent living. … At-home devices for

seniors have come a long way since Life Alert, the classic emergency-response system with its token tag line, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” Although fall prevention is still a big part of the senior market — tumbles are a leading cause of injury among older Americans — the newest devices are more discreet. Researchers at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia are developing a fallprevention device that can be worn as a piece of jewelry. It measures changes in gait or stability over time. “If a person decreases their walking velocity or is more prone to instability, we can use that information to identify health conditions

CHICAGO TRIBUNE • October 5, 2012

What’s the economic value of a college degree?

By Bill Sizemore Virginia students and parents now have a new source of information about the potential economic value of a college degree. It’s long been clear that higher education translates into higher income. But how much difference does it make which

school you choose? And which major? Potential answers to those questions are now available with a few clicks of a mouse. A huge database that went online Thursday reveals the wages earned by See DEGREE, page 10

and how that can influence the likelihood of falls,” says Thurmon Lockhart, Virginia Tech engineering professor….

USA TODAY February 22, 2012

East Coast quake a ‘teachable moment’ By Chuck Raasch Six months after an earthquake shook the East Coast, its lessons still reverberate through the emergency management, engineering and geological communities. The magnitude-5.8 quake, centered in the tiny town of Mineral, Va., demonstrated that earthquakes aren’t just a West Coast threat. Big quakes had hit the East Coast before but not recently nor with the frequency or ferocity of those in California.

See QUAKE, page 8

THE SUNDAY TIMES (United Kingdom) • October 15, 2012

New robot will fight fires, throw grenades A new robot inspired by C-3PO being developed for the US Navy will fight fires and throw grenades. The battery powered robot is being developed by scientists at Virginia Tech University. May the force be with the US Navy as they develop robotic help for their warships, able to read hu-

man gestures, climb ladders, throw grenades and fight fires…. The US Navy has developed a robot very similar to the popular robotic character from George Lucas’ Star Wars to work on their ships. ASH or Autonomous Shipboard Humanoid will have the capacity to oper-

ate in smoke-filled areas, climb ladders and react to human gestures with the help of infrared cameras and sensors on its ‘face’. ASH would also be able to throw PEAT (propelled extinguishing agent technology) grenades, and be able to use hoses and fire extinguishers. The battery-powered

robot is being developed by scientists at RoMeLa (Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory) at Virginia Tech University and is a follow on from a previous version called CHARLI or Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Learning Intelligence. The team is working See ROBOT, page 9


2 ESPN • August 30, 2012

Game-changers off the playing field By Kevin Van Valkenburg The people who just might be able to save the sport of football from its own self-destructive ways don’t wear whistles or hold clipboards. They don’t file lawsuits, and they don’t dole out suspensions for helmet-to-helmet hits. Instead, they tend to wear lab coats. They might spend their days poking and prodding mice, interviewing patients involved in a study, or gathering data and obsessing over it. Some of them are men, and others are women. Some of them follow football closely, while others couldn’t tell you the difference between Peyton Manning and Peyton Hillis. The Hit System Typically, though, they have a few things in common: They try to focus on facts, not emotion, when it comes to a debate about head injuries in football. And they tend to work at a research university. … In recent years, athletic departments have been increasingly willing to open their doors to the research departments on campus, hoping to find the right balance between prevention and properly diagnosing head injuries. Take Virginia Tech, for example. In 25 seasons under coach Frank Beamer, the Hokies have built one of the best football programs in the country. But the school’s highly regarded Department of Biomedical Engineering might go down in history as having made a more important contribution to the game. Since 2003, thanks to engineering professor and department head Stefan Duma, all Virginia Tech football players have been outfitted with sensors in their helmets that can measure the number of the collisions they are involved in during the course of a football game, as well as the severity of them. It’s technology that was originally designed for soldiers in the military, but Duma immediately recognized the potential benefits for football players as well, and made his pitch to the athletic department. “Coach Beamer was very receptive,” Duma said. “He was not a hard sell at all. I think it helps that we had such a successful and longterm coach behind us, because there is obviously a lot of stress over this issue.” The data is collected by the sensors, and then uploaded in real time to a computer on the sideline where it can trigger an alert, warning the team’s medical staff any time a player is involved in a major collision. The Hokies don’t pull players from the game based solely on the sensor’s readings, Duma says, but it does help them immediately look for signs of a concussion. Schools like North Carolina, Oklahoma, Dartmouth and Brown have already implemented the system, which costs between $50,000 and $75,000, and Duma said several

NFL teams have shown interest. “We know every single head impact that has happened to all of our football players in the last 10 years,” Duma said. “We know the exact exposure. We know how many times they’ve been hit, how hard, and what direction the hit came from. That’s much more powerful than talking about hits without knowing how many actual exposures there were, because exposure is the key. It’s like cigarettes. It doesn’t matter how packs of cigarettes are in your pocket, it matters how many you smoke.” The research data, as well as 2,000 crash tests done in the department’s 25,000-square-foot lab in Blacksburg, Va., also helped the school come up with a five-star rating system for all football helmets sold in the United States. The ratings,

the first of their kind, were so influential, according to Duma, the lowest-rated helmets -the Riddell VSR-4 and the Adams A2000 -- were taken off the market by their manufacturers. “When we switched from the VSR-4s to the Riddell Revolution, it was like a light switch,” Duma said. “Concussions were reduced by [more than] 31 percent.” Virginia Tech isn’t the only major program welcoming scientists into their locker room to study brain trauma. For the second straight year, Stanford football players will be wearing mouth guards that have tiny sensors implanted in them to measure the severity and frequency of hits they endure. The data is collected, stored and then studied in a hundred different ways by budding young scientists. …

IEEE SPECTRUM • May 4, 2012

Ratings for Football Helmets Help Improve Players Safety — But Not Before Another Tragedy By Willie Jones Earlier this week, Junior Seau, once one of the most respected and feared defensive players in the National Football League, committed suicide. As if the news were not tragic enough, whispers began almost immediately about whether the 43-year-

old Seau might have been suffering from depression and other symptoms of early onset dementia caused by the repeated blows to the head that football players endure over the course of their careers…. See RATINGS, page 4

HELMETS - study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital found football players aged 6 to 17 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for about 8,631 concussions each year. Many more concussions may go unreported…. The NFL has tweaked the rules intended to limit concussions. They range from changes in game play, including moving the kick-off line forward by five yards, to telling teams to keep players off the field if they show memory problems. “Over the past year to two years, there has been a dramatic change in how the game is played, what’s allowed, what’s called, what we do at practices,” said Stefan Duma, head of the Virginia Tech/ Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences…. Editor’s Note: Stories on youth helmet research also appeared in the following: PR Newswire, Associated Press,,, KLTV-TV, WSMV-TV, WTNZ-TV, WJAC-TV,, WHNS-TV,, Himalayan Times, Khaleej Times, Federal News Service, ScienceDaily, REdOrbit, WTLH-TV,, WCAX-TV, Morningstar. com, KAIT-TV, KWES-TV, Product Design & Development, KCAU-TV, WOIO-TV, WTRFTV,WSHM-TV, KUSA-TV,,

(Continued from page 1)

News & Messenger, The News & Advance, WDBJTV, KPHO-TV, Supercomputing Online, Burbank Leader, KDAF-TV, Digital Journal, iStockAnalyst, Buffalo News, WSLS, Atlanta Journal Constitution.) VIRGINIA TECH COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING

Headlines Dean, College of Engineering: Richard Benson Editor and Director of News: Lynn Nystrom Assistant Editor: Lindsey Haugh Designer: David Simpkins Public Relations: Steven Mackay

Virginia Tech does not discriminate against employees, students, or applicants for admission or employment on the basis of race, gender, disability, age, veteran status, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Anyone having questions concerning discrimination should contact the Office for Equity and Access.




THE NEW YORK TIMES • July 20, 2012

Pop Warner Weighing Research and Risks in Concussion Prevention Efforts

By Tim Rohan The unremarkable football career of Dr. Julian Bailes, who is now the chairman of the Pop Warner medical advisory board, ended quietly during his college days in the 1970s. He never sustained a concussion that he knew of, but he can recall a friend in high school who did. Confused and concussed, his friend started describing a car he had just bought; there was no new car, and Bailes found it hilarious. “We didn’t know any better,” he said. Now, his son is a 13-year-old football player who understands the risks, Bailes said, and still wants to play, so Bailes allows him to. For now, assuming the risk is Bailes’s choice, and his son’s. But the future of youth football may be determined by research that continues to redefine what the sport considers safe. On Wednesday, in an attempt to limit head injuries to young players, Pop Warner issued new rules that put restrictions on the amount of contact players can have

in practice. … Stefan Duma, the head of the biomedical engineering department at Virginia Tech, oversaw the research published in February that prompted Pop Warner to issue its rules changes. The study, the first of its kind for participants that young, placed sensors in the helmets of seven youth football players ages 6 to 8 during their 2011 season. Calling it a pilot, Duma expected the impacts to be too inconsequential to record. Results showed that about 95 percent of the impacts were between 15 and 20 g’s — what Duma likened to an “aggressive pillow fight.” The other 5 percent spiked to 50 to 100 g’s — what Duma characterized as a “car accident.” Duma noted that collegiate and professional football players had a low risk for concussions at 100 g’s. But research has shown that the damage from concussions can be cumulative, and that the brains of younger athletes may be particularly susceptible. So Pop Warner tried to lessen the num-

ber of impacts by reducing incidents in practice, when a majority of the “car accidents” took place, according to Duma. This fall, Duma will participate in a joint research project with Virginia Tech and Wake Forest that will more thoroughly evaluate six teams, about 300 players ages 6 to 13, as a follow-up to better understand the pilot project. Research has been difficult to quantify, Duma said, because “no one knows how many times or how hard players have been hit.” Until recently, it was common to hide or minimize concussions. “There has to be scientific data that makes that decision,” he said about making changes in football. “It can’t be a group of people telling stories of how they used to play football. You’ve got to actually quantify what drills are causing what level head impact, and target those, and minimize those.” … (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared on WSKG Radio, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and WXXY-FM.

RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH • September 25, 2012

Va. Tech at the forefront of football helmet safety By Mike Barber BLACKSBURG — Being protected by state-of-the-art equipment — from shoulder pads to helmets — can be empowering for college football players. With the right gear, “you just go out there and play ball,” Virginia Tech sophomore safety Kyshoen Jarrett said. “I guess the safety of the helmets and stuff like that helps us not worry as much.” Jarrett may not be thinking about concussions while he’s playing and practicing, but Vir-

ginia Tech’s training staff certainly is. During each Hokie game or practice session, about 25 players wear helmets outfitted with sensors to measure the impact of hits to their heads. It’s all part of the research of Dr. Stefan Duma, the department head of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, who last year released the first independent ratings for football helmets. Duma’s study put each helmet through 120 impacts at

varying forces and spots. The amount of head acceleration was measured and recorded, and the helmets that did the best job of reducing acceleration received the highest ratings. The idea for the ratings system came from a question posed to Duma by the Tech football program. “Several years ago, they asked us, ‘Hey, what helmets should we buy?’ “ he recalled. “There was no data out there to grade helmets.” Duma said there are two

main factors that affect how well a helmet protects. The first is the design of the outer shell, and the second is the use of padding inside the helmet. His study gave three helmets the highest possible rating of five stars: the Riddell Revolution Speed, the Rawlings Quantum Plus and the Riddell 360…. (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in: GoDanRiver. com, Stafford County Sun, Inside NoVA, and the Lynchburg News and Advance.)

VIRGINIA BUSINESS • December 29, 2011

Modeling and simulation industry wants to expand in the private sector By Richard Foster Rifle fire cracks intermittently like kernels of popcorn as you make your way hesitantly down a generic digital back street of a war-torn Middle East town. A wounded U.S. soldier lies on the street ahead. Townspeople run across the road, into the sights of your M-16 rifle. Then a message flashes on the screen below you: “Treat Person.” You drag the solider off the street, avoiding gunfire as you pull out your medic’s kit and choose from a menu of medical actions like “clear airway.”

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare this isn’t Welcome to CIRTS (Complex Incident Response Training System), a first-person-shooter-style video game developed by Portsmouthbased defense contractor MYMIC to train Army combat medics…. Some researchers already are finding mainstream applications for their military modeling and simulation work. Leigh McCue, an associate professor in aerospace and ocean engineering at Virginia Tech, created a free app

for Apple’s iTunes store called SCraMP (Small Craft Motion Program) that monitors a small boat’s motion and warns the operator if his or her craft is in danger of capsizing. “We were taking research we’ve been doing for the defense sector and with just a very simplified approach, you could boil it down and put in the hands of anybody,” she says. In about two decades, the modeling and simulation industry has gotten to the point that it can create portable technologies for smart phones.…


4 AVIATION WEEK • February 7, 2012

NASA’s push toward carbon-neutral airliners By Guy Norris To achieve sustainable growth in air travel, future airliner designers face challenges never seen by their predecessors. New concepts will not only have to meet unprecedented performance goals, but they must do so while striving for carbon neutrality. NASA’s goal to solve this conundrum takes on new significance in coming weeks as researchers across the U.S. begin a series of landmark tests under the next stage of the agency’s subsonic fixedwing program. Wide-ranging work will include refining a glider-like truss-braced wing and integrating it with a hybrid-electric propulsion system, wind tunnel

tests of a multirole wing leading edge and evaluation of a protective outer skin that could enable lighter structures…. As part of plans to cut operating empty weight by up to 25%, Cessna will begin the first test of a scaled multifunctional fuselage skin and structure panel in March. … Other weight-cutting efforts include work with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) to develop design optimization tools which can tailor structural designs and combine them with engineered materials. The result would be stiffeners made from new alloys that – unlike present-day straight, uniform units – would be bent and curved to reflect the


Just one day before Seau’s death, researchers at Virginia Tech released their second annual report rating the effectiveness of football helmets in reducing the likelihood that a player will exhibit signs of a concussion at some point during a season. The Riddell Revolution Speed, the only helmet to earn the highest rating of five stars last year, was joined atop the rankings by two new models: Riddell’s 360 helmet, and the Rawlings Quantum Plus. Two other new Rawlings models — the Impulse and the Quantum — received four stars. Overall, says the Virginia Tech team, seven helmet models earned four stars; five others — like the Xenith X2, which was introduced after the Virginia Tech helmet ratings were released last year — earned three stars or less. The makers of the models rated two stars and below have immediate cause for concern. “The three lowest rated helmets from last year are now all off the market,” says Steven Rowson, assistant professor of biomedical engineer-

(Continued from page 2)

ing at Virginia Tech. “It is encouraging to see this positive shift towards better head protection.”… Virginia Tech’s STAR (or Summation of Tests for the Analysis of Risk) Evaluation System was developed using a mountain of data in a national database comprising over 1.8 million head impacts collected over eight years with the cooperation of college players whose helmets were retrofitted with the HIT system. Now the researchers can simply drop helmets from a given height and strike them with foreign objects to assess the likelihood that players wearing them will suffer a concussion over the course of a season. But what they know relates specifically to adult helmets. The next order of business for the group is extending their research to the helmets worn by youth football players. It’s an important step, because of the possibility that mild brain injuries have begun to accumulate even before a player reaches the high school ranks. …

WVTF (RADIO) • November 11, 2012

New Earthquake Data

U.S. Geological Survey scientists are reporting that last year’s Virginia earthquake was felt over an area 20 times larger than previous research suggested. Robbie Harris has more. Reporter Script: It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt the August 2011 earthquake centered in Mineral, Virginia, making it one of the largest earthquakes in the last one hundred years. Shaking reports came all the way from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas. Virginia Tech Engineer Russell Green presented a paper on the

quake at last week’s U.S. Geological Society of America conference. Green: “And the reason the motion traveled farther is that the rocks here are much older and denser and less fractured and if you go out in the western U.S. they’re younger and more fractured. Green and other scientists are using this new information to update their previous assumptions about the impact of east coast seismic events and improve models for safety in building codes and practices. Green: “ And the VA earthquake certainly is going to add tremendously to that effort…

best shape for handling localized transverse, shear and in-plane loads. Similarly alloys would be tougher at the base of the stiffeners for better damage tolerance, and transition to metal matrix composites for increased stiffness and acoustic damping. … • February 2, 2012

Ross garners CAREER award to advance understanding of fluid flows

In engineering, a dynamical system has a multitude of meanings. Fluid flow in the human body is considered to be such a system, as well as pollution and pathogens that travel through the air. In fact, atmospheric and aquatic environments provide a dynamical system for a plethora of biological activities. Even the motions of a basketball team or the shuffle of dollars through the economy constitute a dynamical system. For the past eight years, since receiving his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, Shane Ross, now an assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Tech, has focused his career on determining these various types of behavior and how to more successfully predict what many once believed to simply be chaotic motion. Based on his activities and ideas, the National Science Foundation has awarded Ross one of its coveted 2012 CAREER Awards, valued at $420,000 over the next five years, to determine how to develop better engineering tools to understand and predict fluid motions….

GREEN CAR CONGRESS • December 5, 2012

VTTI team proposes optimization algorithm for driverless vehicles at unsignaled intersections

Researchers at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) have developed a heuristic optimization algorithm for driverless vehicles at unsignalized intersections using a multi-agent system (MAS). Their research, presented at the Intelligent Transportation Society World Congress in Vienna in October, won the Best Scientific Paper Award for North America. The system proposed by Ismail Zohdy, a Ph.D. student in civil engineering at Virginia Tech, and Hesham Rakha, director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility at the transportation institute and professor of civil

engineering at the university, models the driverless vehicles as autonomous agents controlled by the intersection controller (manager agent). ...Imagine that all running vehicles are unmanned and controlled by highly sophisticated equipment, there will be a need for innovative optimization algorithms for controlling these driverless vehicles. This research effort attempts to focus on optimizing the movements of the future intelligent (driverless/ autonomous/unmanned) vehicles at unsignalized intersections by controlling these vehicles as agents that have certain goals and limitations….





A Hard Hitting Story:

Young Football Players Take Big-League Hits To Head

(Transcript) JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, little kids and the danger of hard hits in youth football. There’s been growing awareness of the risks of head injury for those who play football at the high school and higher -- particularly at the professional level. But new research shows that young children may be knocking each other down with more force than many realize. Special correspondent Stone Phillips has the story. STONE PHILLIPS:

Growing concern about head injury in America’s favorite sport have focused a lot of attention on professional, college and high school football. But what about the estimated 3.5 million kids playing below the high school level? How much are they exposed to? How hard are they hitting? It’s easy to assume collisions involving the games’ youngest players aren’t that powerful. But last fall, a top researcher at Virginia Tech teamed up with a volunteer coach for the first study ever conducted

of head impacts in youth football. The results, reported here for the first time -information parents need to know. These 7- and 8-year-old boys played football for the Auburn Eagles, a recleague team in Montgomery County, Va. They’re watching highlights from a memorable season. Memorable, because last fall their team took part in a groundbreaking study -the first of its kind on head impact in youth football, which accounts for 70 percent of those playing tackle

football in this country. STEFAN DUMA, professor, Virginia Tech: If you look at the NFL you’re talking about 2,000 players, college 100,000, 1.3 million in high school, but 3.5 million youth 6- to 13-year olds. We know a lot about the adult. We don’t know much at all about this youth population. STONE PHILLIPS: Stefan Duma conducted the study. He’s a professor of Biomedical Engineering at Virginia Tech and a leading researcher in the field of injury biomechanics. The

testing he does is aimed at engineering better, safer designs for the auto industry, the military, even toy companies learning about the limits of human tolerance for impact, and injury. For years, Duma has also been focused on football helmets and player safety. His youth study with the Auburn Eagles began by providing the team with new helmets, seven of them outfitted with sensors to measure hits to the head. The technology isn’t new but applying it to kids as young as 7 and 8, is….

USA TODAY • October 11, 2012

Head games still persist in sports

By Staff During a week in which NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he had driven in at least five races with a concussion and NFL super-rookie Robert Griffin III was downplaying his concussion despite suffering memory loss after being knocked from a game with a vicious hit to the head, sports fans were again wondering if their favorite athletes not to mention their sons and daughters were so intent on being “tough guys” that they were risking brain damage. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took an opportunity Wednesday to take the issue directly to where many believe it is needed most: kids. After watching a group of youth football players in northern Virginia go through safe tackling drills, Goodell preached the message that good health takes precedence over being a tough guy….

Monitoring kids Stefan Duma, department head of biomedical engineering at Virginia Tech, found in a study last fall that some of the hits absorbed by youth football players equate to those seen in major college football. Duma, who has been using a sensor system placed in the helmets of Virginia Tech football players for the past decade, used the same system on 7- and 8-year-old tackle football players in Virginia. The sensors record G-force - the gravitational force associated with the acceleration of an object relative to a free-fall. According to Duma, the typical hit for Virginia Tech players is about 20 Gs, and any hit above 98 Gs is cause to check the player for a concussion. Among the youth players he monitored last fall, the strongest hit was measured at 100 Gs, with six

WTOP-FM • September 27, 2012

Quitting driving: Families key but docs have role

Doctors aren’t trained to evaluate driving ability, and the study couldn’t tell if some drivers were targeted needlessly, noted Dr. Matthew Rizzo of the University of Iowa. Yet he called the research valuable. “The message from this

paper is that doctors have some wisdom in knowing when to restrict drivers,” said Rizzo…. Identifying who needs to quit should be a last resort, said Jon Antin of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. He helps oversee data collection for a study that’s

enrolling 3,000 participants, including hundreds of seniors, in Florida, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington. The drivers undergo a battery of medical checks before their driving patterns are recorded for 12 to 24 months….

measuring 80 Gs or higher. A month after Duma’s study results were made public, Pop Warner football instituted national changes in its practice guidelines, decreasing contact drills. At all levels, however, athletes continue to be willing to sacrifice their own wellbeing…. (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in: Asheville Citizen-Times,, Battle Creek Enquirer, Baxter Bulletin, Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum, Burlington Free Press,, Chillicothe Gazette, Cincinnati Enquirer, Clarion-Ledger, Coshocton Tribune, Courier-Post, Daily Advertiser, Daily Journal, Daily News Journal, Daily Record, Daily World, Democrat and Chronicle, Des Moines Register, Desert Sun, Florida Today, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Fremont News Messenger, Great Falls Tribune, Green Bay Press-Gazette, Guam Pacific Daily News, Herald Times Reporter, Indianapolis Star, Iowa City Press-Citizen, Ithaca Journal, Jackson Sun, Journal & Courier, Kentucky Enquirer, KSDK-TV, KTHV-TV, KUSA-TV, Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, Lansing State Journal, Leaf-Chronicle, Louisville Courier-Journal, Mansfield News-Journal, Marion Star, Marshfield News-Herald, Montgomery Advertiser, Newark Advocate, Oshkosh Northwestern, Port Huron Times Herald, Press & Sun-Bulletin,, Times Recorder, Statesman Journal, Star Press, WMAZ-TV, WZZM-TV, WLTX-TV, WKYC-TV, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, and the Wausau Daily Herald.)


6 NEW YORK TIMES • May 8, 2012

Keep an Ailing Relative at Home, Almost Though many families are often forced to consider nursing homes under these circumstances, the Page family found another option. They ordered a MEDCottage — a prefabricated 12-by-24-foot bedroom-bathroom-kitchenette unit that can be set up as a free-standing structure in their backyard.

When her father became ill just before Christmas last year, Dr. Socorrito Baez-Page faced an increasingly common conundrum. Her aging parents wanted to stay in their town house, but her mother couldn’t handle the caregiving alone….

It’s more than a miniature house — it’s decked out with high-tech monitoring and safety features that rival those of many nursing homes. The floors, for instance: “It’s got special rubber floors, so even if you fall, you’ll be safe,” noted Dr BaezPage’s husband, Dr David Page.

Indeed, according to Kenneth Dupin, a minister and the founder of N2Care, the Virginia company that worked with Virginia Tech College of Engineering to design the MEDCottage, you can drop an egg from 18 inches onto the special flooring without breaking it. ….

AGING WELL • September 25, 2012

Innovative Sensor to Stop Falls

By Lindsey Getz Recent data suggest that fall accidents are on the rise among the older adult population. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year one in three adults aged 65 and older experiences a fall. Falls are now the leading cause of injury-related deaths among this population and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. However, researchers at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia are looking to change these disturbing fall statistics. With a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Smart Health and Wellbeing program, they are creating a portable fall prediction monitoring system for the early detection of fall risk that can provide diagnosis and treatment before a fall occurs. With the aid of the grant, a device is in the development stages that could be worn by older adults to measure potentially small declining changes in gait, posture, and mobility — all major indicators that can help point to a future fall.

The sensor will function for several days between battery recharging, collecting long-term data during everyday wear, explains Thurmon Lockhart, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Virginia Tech Grado department of industrial and systems engineering and a researcher involved with the grant. An early prototype of the sensor has already been built and tested under a previous National Science Foundation-funded project.… In-clinic studies have used a wristwatch-sized node worn on both the wrists and the ankles as well as the sacrum to collect data.… While the research is still new, the long-term hope is that this portable monitoring system will become widely available. With the technology, primary care physicians or gerontologists could make fall risk assessment a routine part of their patients’ care. “Down the road, this technology could be used in a variety of settings,” says Karen Roberto, PhD, a professor of human development at Virginia Tech and director of the Center for Gerontology and the Institute for Society, Culture, and Envi-

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE • October 5, 2012

Aging drivers:

Docs can help elderly to give up the keys

By Lauran Neergaard Washington • Families may have to watch for dings in the car and plead with an older driver to give up the keys — but there’s new evidence that doctors could have more of an influence on one of the most wrenching decisions facing a rapidly aging population. A large study from Canada found that when doctors warn patients, and tell driving authorities, that the older folks

may be medically unfit to be on the road, there’s a drop in serious crash injuries among those drivers. The study, in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, couldn’t tell if the improvement was because those patients drove less, or drove more carefully once the doctors pointed out the risk…. Identifying who needs to quit should be a last

resort, said Jon Antin of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. He helps oversee data collection for a study that’s enrolling 3,000 participants, including hundreds of seniors, in Florida, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington. The drivers undergo a battery of medical checks before their driving patterns are recorded for 12 to 24 months….

ronment, who is also involved in the research grant.… A Serious Silent Danger While modern medicine puts a lot of focus on disease prevention and has made many advances in that area, falls remain a huge problem, and the issue requires more attention. Lockhart has been involved in several lines of research regarding falls and has become passionate on the subject. In the US, as well as other countries, we are approaching such a significant portion of the elderly population experiencing falls that it’s on the verge of becoming a pandemic,” says Lockhart, who is also the director of the Virginia Tech Locomotion Research Laboratory and has worked with dozens of companies invested in preventing falls… Making Changes While the new remote monitoring technology is still in its early phases, there are other important intervention solutions that can be considered in the meantime. “There are prevention opportunities out there, such as strengthening programs and balance programs, that can help the patient with their musculoskeletal integrity,” Lockhart says. “Task has to be taught as well. For instance, carrying a pillow, even though it’s very light, still changes your gait. The patient can be taught safer ways to perform tasks, such as a better way to hold the pillow.” But Lockhart says it’s not just about exercise and balance training, as there’s more to falls than the musculoskeletal system. “Nutrition, the vestibular system, vision, and personal habits all also influence fall accidents,” he says. “So there has to be some risk assessment. We can test vision, and we can ask the patient some important questions.”… Lockhart says once a patient falls, the risk of falling again is very high. He believes this new technology will help reduce that risk and may even help reduce the risk of that initial fall. Lockhart says that result could be significant. “I believe we could really help some people, and that is the reason for this program: helping save lives.”



R&D MAGAZINE • May 29, 2012

7 WAVY-TV March 28, 2012

Robotic jellyfish could patrol oceans, Robotic jellyfish clean oil spills, and detect pollutants will aid Navy

Virginia Tech College of Engineering researchers are working on a multi-university, nationwide project for the U.S. Navy that one day will put life-like autonomous robot jellyfish in waters around the world. The main focus of the program is to understand the fundamentals of propulsion mechanisms used by nature, said Shashank Priya, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering at Virginia Tech, and lead researcher on the project. Future uses of the robot jellyfish could include conducting military surveillance, cleaning oil spills, and monitoring the environment. This isn’t science fiction. It’s happening now in a lab inside Virginia Tech’s Durham Hall, where a

600-gallon tank is regularly filled with water as small robotic jellyfish are tested for movement and energy self-creation and usage. A synthetic rubbery skin, squishy in one’s hand, mimics the sleek jellyfish skin and is placed over a bowl-shaped device covered in electronics. When moving, they look weirdly alive…. The idea for a robotic jellyfish did not originate at Virginia Tech, but rather the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the Office of Naval Research. Virginia Tech, is teaming with four U.S. universities on the multi-year, $5 million project… Virginia Tech is building the jellyfish body models, integrating fluid mechanics and developing control systems…. (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared on the Homeland Security News Wire.)


Robot jellyfish may be underwater spy of future By Thomas Claburn Scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas and Virginia Tech have built a jellyfish-inspired robot that can refuel itself, offering the possibility of perpetual ocean surveillance. Like Slugbot, a robot designed

to be able to hunt garden slugs and devour them for fuel, Robojelly, as the machine is called, is self-sustaining. It extracts hydrogen and oxygen gases from the sea to keep itself running. … “The only waste released as


Researchers experiment with robotic jellyfish By Justin Sorkin If the experiments passes, soon our nation can have underwater robots which can help serve the legal departments in certain rescue situations or reconnaissance ones. The experiment is ongoing by the team of researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas and Virginia Tech who, with the help of bio-mimicry concept, are trying to introduce an unusual robot of future with an aim to serve the

purpose of undersea surveillance and rescue vehicles. Researchers have started their experiment on a robotic jellyfish, which has been smartly designed to serve underwater till long hours by using hydrogen and oxygen gasses in water as its source of energy. Explanations of the experiment have been clearly mentioned in Smart Materials and Structures….


it travels is more water.” The robot offers one way around a problem that continues to vex researchers developing autonomous machines: operational limitations imposed by the need for frequent refueling. Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories and Northrop Grumman last year concluded that nuclear power would extend the capabilities of aerial drones but couldn’t be implemented due to political considerations. The U.S. government presumably would rather avoid the political outrage that would follow from a downed nuclear drone. …

Researchers at Virginia Tech have created robotic jellyfish to assist the Navy in their missions. The $6 million jellyfish are made of silicone and shape memory metal. The Navy footed the bill. According to researchers, the government will use the jellyfish to spy on enemies. But, Alex Villanueva, the creator of the jellyfish, hopes to see them used in civilian life tool. “Some of the reason, spying on enemies or surveillance, or also, blending in with schools of fish to monitor their behavior in the ocean. Those are all reasons why you would want to be bioneumatic, look like a natural fish,” Villanueva said. The jelly part of the robot is already complete. Researchers are now working to make it swim on its own.


Robot Jellyfish Could Patrol the Oceans Virginia Tech College of Engineering researchers are working on a multi-university, nationwide project for the U.S. Navy that one day will put life-like autonomous robot jellyfish in waters around the world. The main focus of the program is to understand the fundamentals of propulsion mechanisms utilized by nature, said Shashank Priya, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering at Virginia Tech, and lead researcher on the project. Future uses of the robot jellyfish could include conducting military surveillance, cleaning oil spills, and monitoring the environment….

NEW SCIENTIST • March 31, 2012

Robot jellyfish sucks up power from the water

By Jacob Aron, technology reporter Robojelly — a robot jellyfish that feeds on water — could aid in underwater search and rescue operations, say its creators. Researchers at Virginia Tech and the

Energy efficient, hydrogen-fueled robot can swim like a jellyfish

...of other new surveillance devices, it’s beginning to seem like the only place you can go for real is deep-sea diving. Well, guess again. Researchers (Shashank Priya of mechanical engineering) at Virginia Tech are working with the U.S. Navy to design Robojelly, a seagoing reconnaissance robot that…

University of Texas at Dallas built Robojelly from materials known as shapememory alloys, which return to their original shape when bent. Eight moving segments wrapped in carbon nanotubes and coated with a platinum powder replicate the jellyfish’s natural opening-and-closing method of propulsion…. (Editor’s Note: Articles on the robotic jellyfish also appeared in the Sunday Observer, Sub Sea World News, and the Times of India.)




Virginia Tech partners with government at research center Virginia Tech and a U.S. defense contractor on Friday christened a joint research center in Northern Virginia designed to foster tighter national security. Virginia Tech’s Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology teamed up with L-3 Communications to create the National Security Solutions Center. It is located at the 14-month-old Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington, which hosted about 100 visitors for an open house Friday.


U.S. to help India with energy needs

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 27 (UPI) – A research center set to open in India will work to refine and adapt windmills and solar panels for use in households in rural India, U.S. engineers said. The center, a collaboration between Virginia Tech and private-sector partner MARG Swarnabhoomi, will help release millions of people from poverty by helping India produce enough electricity for everyone, they said…. “India, with its big energy needs, can immediately begin to use these technologies and tell us how they work, what improvements need to be made, and guide us so that the windmills and solar panels are suitable to go to the marketplace,” said Shashank Priya of Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering.

(Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in Intrepid Report, iStockAnalyst, Online, Newstrack India,,,, Sri,, FirstPost, Economy, Asian News International (ANI), SYSCON Media, WNEM-TV Online, WSHM-TV Online, KCOY-TV Online, WRIC-TV Online, WBOY-TV Online, DNA India Online, KXXVTV Online, KWWL-TV Online, KPHO-TV Online, WTNZ-TV Online, KGWN-TV Online, WDSI-TV Online, WWTV-TV Online, WFSBTV Online, WTOC-TV Online, WIS-TV Online, WPFO-TV Online, WHNS-TV Online, WKRN-TV Online, Northern Colorado 5, The Herald, Green Technology,, Virginian-Pilot.)


But the Aug. 23 quake was felt by more people than any other in American history, said Marcia McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). … Geologists have discovered that the northeasterly direction of the shock waves and the ground in the Washington, D.C., region — sediment atop swamps and riverbeds — contributed to damage far from the epicenter. But some analysts say the Aug. 23 shake will cause designers and building code officials to pay more attention to eastern quake threats…. Russell Green, a Virginia Tech civil engineering professor, predicted that the quake will cause engineers to design buildings in the East to absorb more ground motion than previously anticipated. Green and others

(Continued from page 1)

at Virginia Tech are finishing a national study of the East Coast quake. James Martin, an environmental engineering professor who is directing the Virginia Tech study, said the quake was a “teachable moment” for scientists and the public. Among his study’s preliminary findings: “Areas such as Washington, D.C., are unprepared to deal with even a moderate earthquake, particularly with respect to communications, evacuation and transportation.”… (Editor’s Note: Other media outlets sharing same story above were Indianapolis Star, ClarionLedger, Guam Pacific Daily News, The Salinas Californian, Alexandria Daily Town Talk and the Great Falls Tribune.)

INDIA WEST • April 30, 2012

Virginia Tech Prof. Gets Five-Year Turner Fellowship By Staff Reporter Shashank Priya, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering at Virginia Tech, and director of the Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems, a partnership between Virginia Tech and the University of Texas at Dallas, recently received a five-year Turner Fellowship. Priya joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2007 and immediately received an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award. He became a

member of the university’s Center for Intelligent Materials Systems and Structures, and currently serves as its associate director. In 2008, Priya received the Office of Naval Research Multi University Research Initiative Award titled “Jellyfish Autonomous Node and Colonies.” This five-year program comprises of team members from Virginia Tech, Stanford University, University of Texas at Dallas, University of California at Los Angeles, and Providence College. …

WEBNEWSWIRE.COM • January 15, 2012

As earthquakes take their toll, Virginia Tech engineers look at enhancing building designs Finley Charney, a structural engineering associate professor in the civil and environmental engineering department, and Mahendra Singh, the Preston Wade Professor of Engineering in the engineering science and mechanics department, are developing new structural systems that are geared to perform optimally during earthquakes. Singh’s background is also in civil and structural engineering, and one area of his expertise is in earthquake engineering. It’s no secret that earthquakes

come in all sizes with varying degrees of damage depending on the geographic locations where they occur. And even a small one on the Richter scale that strikes in an impoverished nation can be more damaging than a larger one that occurs in a city where all buildings have been designed to a stricter building code. According to Charney, attaining acceptable structural performance is a problem even when the current building codes are used as intended for the structural design….

VIRGINIA BUSINESS • September 11, 2012

Virginia Tech to develop propulsion laboratory Virginia Tech plans to develop a $3.5 million propulsion laboratory in the expanding Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg. The proposed 8,100-square-foot facility, operated by the College of Engineering, will support propulsion research. That research will include nextgeneration fighter and commercial

aircraft engine technology plus power generation gas-turbine technology for the energy industry. Tech officials believe the specialized facility and equipment will distinguish Virginia Tech as a leader for this type of research…. (Editor’s Note: An article on this topic also appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch.)




CNN • March 13, 2012

Grenade-throwing robot to fight fires on ships

By Matthew Knight It might look like science fiction but the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) hopes to turn this humanoid robot into a seafaring fact in an effort to improve firefighting capabilities on board military vessels. Currently at the development stage, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (or SAFFiR for short) is intended to combat fires in the cramped conditions of a ship, saving lives and costly equipment. Armed with cameras and a gas sensor, the battery-powered SAFFiR will be “capable of activating fire suppressors” and throwing “propelled ex-


SUNDAY TIMES (UK) (Continued from page 1)

with the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC … The Navy hopes the robot will also be able to put our lethal fires which put the lives of the crews onboard. Professor Dennis Hong, from the university, told the Sunday Express: ‘‘It is walking now and will start testing on a Navy ship early next year but that does not mean that it is complete. ‘’It still needs a lot of things done, such as protection against heat and flames, sensors, navigation, fire-fighting behaviors.’’

tinguishing agent technology (PEAT) grenades,” says the NRL…. It is being developed in conjunction with researchers at Virginia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania, as a next step from Virginia Tech’s CHARLI-L1 (Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Learning Intelligence) robot. CHARLI-L1 is a five-foot tall humanoid robot built by students from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory.

The NRL says SAFFiR will be tested on board the ex-USS Shadwell — a decommissioned landing ship dock used for fire fighting experiments -towards the end of 2013. (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in numerous other outlets including: Pegasus News, WMAR-TV, WJW-TV, WPAX-TV, WTVQ-TV, WFMZ-TV, Fire Engineering, Press Trust of India - US Bureau, and Architecture Week. Occupational Health & Safety also ran a story.)

FORBES • March 26, 2012

RoMeLa’s Robots

CHARLI-L1 (Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Learning Intelligence-Lightweight) Meet CHARLI, perhaps the most photogenic of the 20 or so robots that have been developed at Virginia Tech’s Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa). Mechanical Engineering professor Dr. Dennis Hong founded the research lab in 2004 and continues to oversee it. Eventually, CHARLI could be used for domestic chores or elder care. CHARLI has attracted notice for being the first full-size humanoid robot that could walk (without a tether) that was developed in the U.S. If it looks familiar, it may be because it was modeled on the NS-5 robots from the film I, Robot and the industrial-looking bots that appear in Bjork’s 1999

“All Is Full Of Love” video. There are also hints of Iron Man, particularly in the shape of CHARLI’s chest cover. The robot measures about 4 feet 3 inches tall. CHARLI-H (Heavyweight CHARLI) The next generation of RoMeLa’s CHARLI robot is heavier and sturdier than the original and called Charli-H. It is yet to be finished; pictured is a leg prototype…. CHARLI-L2 (2nd Generation of CHARLI-L) The next generation of the “lightweight” version of CHARLI is known as CHARLI-L2. Like the original CHARLI, CHARLI-L2 will be able to play soccer. The benefits of creating a lighter CHARLI are lower cost of materials and safety (in case the robot falls)….


Star Wars robot joins the Navy? By Al Kamen After Tuesday night’s 12-4 pummeling in St. Louis, the Washington Nationals pitching staff looks like it may need some help if the team’s going to win the World Series. And it turns out that the Naval Research Laboratory, along with engineers and scientists at Virginia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania, is already working on something that might do the trick — though maybe not for this season. The Navy is developing a version of C-3PO, the lovable “Star Wars” robot who appeared on the big screen 35 years ago, to fight shipboard fires. The Navy robot’s name is

Autonomous Shipboard Humanoid (ASH). It’s hoped ASH will be able to walk in any direction, keep its balance at sea and go through narrow passageways and up ladders…. What’s more, ASH would be able to throw PEAT (propelled extinguishing agent technology) grenades, and be able to use hoses and fire extinguishers. The planned Navy robot is a follow-on version of Virginia Tech’s CHARLi-1 robot, which was developed by Virginia Tech’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) founded and directed by Virginia Tech professor Dennis Hong. And robots can play sports. Hong’s team won the RoboCup,

or robot world soccer cup, in Istanbul last year. (This is a huge deal amongst folks in that field.) When will it be ready? “It is walking now and will start testing on a Navy ship early next year,” Hong said in an email. “But that does not mean that it is complete — it still needs a lot of things done,” such as “protection against heat and flames ... sensors, navigation, fire fighting behaviors” and so forth. “It still has a long way to go until it can actually be deployed for fighting fires,” he said, “but it will one day.”… (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in Asian News International (ANI).)

ROANOKE TIMES June 29, 2012

Tech team dominates RoboCup again Virginia Tech’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory dominated RoboCup’s international humanoid robot soccer competition for the second year in a row, once again wining the adult- and kidsized humanoid soccer robot competitions. The robotics laboratory, part of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering, took first place finishes in the adult class with the 5-foot humanoid robot CHARLI-2 (short for Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Learning Intelligence). It won the kid class with the miniature-humanoid robots DARwIn-OP (short for Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligent). ...


10 NEW SCIENTIST • October 26, 2012

DARPA throws down gauntlet to human-style robots

By Hal Hodsen The DARPA Robotics Challenge, one of the most rigorous tests of robotic ability ever conceived, kicked off on Wednesday. The contest sets teams of engineers from around the US and the world a set of Herculean robot trials that promise to take automatons’ abilities far beyond anything that’s come before. The emphasis is on testing robots’ abilities to work in difficult situations in environments designed for humans. “It’s the grandest, the most exciting, and possibly the most important robotics project ever,” says Dennis Hong of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Hong leads a team that plans to field the humanoid THOR (Tactical Hazardous Operations Robot). THOR will be in training over the next year, learning tough skills like scrambling over debris, driving cars and climbing ladders. Previously, Hong’s team has worked on everything from firefighting to soccer-playing humanoid robots. “People might think it’s a waste of time building robots that play soccer,” he says. “But if a robot can’t play soccer, how would you use it to save people’s lives?”…

Entrants are split into four tracks. Hong and Virginia Tech are in Track A, along with six other teams, and will build robotic hardware and software for the challenge, with funding from DARPA. Track B competitors will also be funded, but will only make software, the best of which will be chosen to run a special version of the Atlas humanoid robot built by Boston Dynamics. (Virginia Tech is also part of a team participating in Track B.) Track C and D get no funding from DARPA, but can still win the grand prize of $2 million…. Hong describes the first step of the first task – opening a car door and getting into the car – as “practically impossible right now,” highlighting how much work his team must do if it is to get out of the starting blocks in the first round of the challenge in December 2013. The Virginia Tech team is in good company. Two teams from NASA will be building a robot for the competition, as well as a collaboration headed by Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a team from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, one from robotics company Schaft and another from defense contractor Raytheon.

GIZMAG • October 21, 2012

Virginia Tech’s CHARLI-2 robot dances Gangnam Style

By Jason Falconer Just in case you haven’t had your fill of PSY’s viral K-POP sensation, the researchers at Virginia Tech’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) have put out a new video of their robot dancing Gangnam Style. While the robot named CHARLI-2 doesn’t display any fancy footwork in the video, some of its walking and balancing technology is being implemented in the Navy’s Autonomous Shipboard Humanoid (ASH). Already the team at RoMeLa, led by Dr. Dennis Hong, have developed a pair of legs based on CHARLI-2’s lower half called SAFFiR (Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot), which will have to navigate in tight corridors and smoky environments later this year…. (Editor’s Note: Mention of the YouTube video also appeared on CBS, ABC, International Business Times, and received over one million hits within a week of its release.)

KDAF-TV ONLINE • September 19, 2012

York company, Virginia Tech partner to build flying robot

YORK – A soccer-ball sized flying robot could become the go-to technology for performing inspections of Navy ship tanks. York County-based aeronautics company AVID (Air Vehicle Integrated Design) LLC has partnered with Virginia Tech to make that technology a reality. The company has already built a flying prototype that is ready for testing. Virginia Tech received funding for the project from the Naval Engineering Education Center through the Naval Sea Systems Command to develop a robotic device that can perform ballast and fuel tank inspections on

Navy ships. Jon Greene, director for National Security and Program Development at Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, said the education center is providing $180,000 a year to fund the project which began last year. Greene said the Navy has a “large problem” with corrosion of tanks and spends billions of dollars a year in performing the inspections which involves opening the tanks and making them safe for people to enter, assess and repair. The goal of the project is to find a more efficient and cost effective way to perform the

NANOWERK NEWS online • July 25, 2012

inspections. A team of undergraduate and graduate students at Tech led by professor Dan Stilwell are developing sensors to help with the robot’s navigation system which will be paired with AVID’s vehicle prototype. “These tanks are often like

DEGREE - CHICAGO TRIBUNE - (Continued from page 1) recent Virginia college graduates, broken down by school and major. A few samples of what you can learn… – Psychology graduates from Virginia Commonwealth University make up the biggest single

NSF awards $1 million to improve the efficiency of DNA fabrication The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a three-year $999,531 grant to Virginia Tech to optimize the laboratory processes used to make custom DNA molecules with the tools and methods of industrial engineering.

mazes and the device has to be able to fly through serpentine paths and through openings in these tanks,” Greene said…. (Editor’s Note: A version of this article also appeared in: Newport News Daily Press, WXIN-TV, Stars and Stripes – Washington D.C. Bureau – Online.)

The interdisciplinary team led by Jean Peccoud, Associate Professor at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute also includes Kimberly Ellis and Jaime Camelio, Associate Professors in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, at Virginia Tech. ...

cohort of four-year bachelor’s degree recipients. There were 1,757 graduates from that program over the five-year period of 2006-10, and the median full-time wage 18 months after graduation was $27,527. – Another large degree program, mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, is almost twice that lucrative. For graduates from 2006 to 2010, the median fulltime wage 18 months later was $52,663…. (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the Virginian Pilot and the Baltimore Sun.)



BITS • October 24, 2012

In Contest for Rescue Robots, DARPA Offers $2 Million Prize

By John Markoff The Pentagon’s advanced research agency said on Wednesday that it will offer a prize of $2 million to the winners of a contest testing the performance of robots that could be used in emergencies like the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan. The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, which is responsible for helping the nation avoid unpleasant technological surprises, had previously announced its Robotics Challenge, but on Wednesday it added details and announced the selection of teams that will compete in separate “tracks” of the contest…. In one of the new Robotics Challenge tracks, the agency has chosen Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center, Drexel University,

Raytheon, Schaft, Virginia Tech, NASA’s Johnson Space Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to design their own systems. The robots are not required to be humanoid forms, and several of the competitors are creating machines that look anything but human. For example, a prototype from JPL has three legs and one arm. Teams from these organizations will be supplied with an advanced robot from Boston Dynamics and will be required to program it in the contest: Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Laboratories, RE2, University of Kansas, Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, TRAC Labs, University of Washington, the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Ben-Gurion University, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and TORC Robotics….

BLOOMBERG NEWS • June 10, 2012

Companies shape curricula in new university partnerships By Craig Torres and Steve Matthews Kevin Peterson, who helped General Electric Co. (GE) redesign a tool to speed up the disassembly of gas turbines last year, is listed on the patent application as one of the inventors. Now, at the age of 20, he is working on a rocket-launch system in Alabama for Boeing Co. (BA) Peterson, a rising senior at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, is one of the hottest new products in corporate America’s supply chain: a kind of futures contract on high-skill labor. … Faced with a wave of retiring engineers and scientists and the need

for precise expertise, U.S. companies – including GE, Boeing, United Technologies Corp. (UTX) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) – are reaching into colleges to make contact with students far earlier than they ever have. Their involvement extends to advising and shaping curricula so graduates can plug into jobs faster with less training time and cost. … The stronger focus on applied learning in public universities such as Virginia Tech and Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta also is driven by the harsh economics of state budget constraints. … Peterson, the Virginia Tech student, said he structured his course

ROANOKE TIMES • August 12, 2012

work toward specializations that Boeing and GE need. When he graduates with a mechanical engineering degree in 2013, he will have not only experience working at the two companies but also hands-on involvement with some of their top projects. Jobless Graduates He says he sometimes wishes his classes took time to focus on the theoretical underpinnings of engineering. Still, “it makes sense for universities to prepare their students the best way they can for the workforce,” he said, adding that he knows of graduates from other schools who aren’t getting offers. …

11 CHICAGO TRIBUNE March 27, 2012

Some profs let students skip class for job interviews By Menachem Wecker, U.S. News & World Report The attendance policy at Georgia Southern University is so strict that students can’t even miss the first session of a class for their own wedding without being forced to drop the course. The only excused absences the school extends for the first day of class are for serious illness, military order or loss of an immediate family member. Another commitment that the school also won’t usually excuse is a job interview. … Allison Hoyt, a fifth-year senior majoring in mining engineering at Virginia Tech, estimates that she has had about 40 job interviews as a student there. She typically tries to schedule interviews on holiday breaks or in between classes, so only about a quarter of the phone and in-person interviews have occurred during class. Hoyt advises students to notify professors at the beginning of the semester that their job hunt may require that they miss class. “Professors appreciate knowing this, especially since some classes have students ranging from freshmen to seniors — where freshmen don’t typically interview, but seniors are looking for permanent employment,” she says. Students should also remind the professor about their previous correspondence a few days before the interview, Hoyt advises. … (Editor’s note: This article also ran in the Orlando Sentinel.)

Virginia Tech residential program helps retain female students By Sarah Bruyn Jones As a freshman, Ashley Taylor joined a small mentoring group of women who, like her, were focused on becoming engineers. In a world where few women pursue engineering, the group offered her a venue to embrace what is often characterized as a hardship. “Sometimes you kind of feel a fish out of water, like a giraffe in

a pack of zebras,” said Taylor, 20, who is preparing to enter her junior year at Virginia Tech. “You just realize that it is actually a really good thing to have a different kind of mindset as a female engineer. The mentoring program reinforces that idea.” At the Virginia Tech College of Engineering 16.7 percent of undergraduate students were women in the fall of 2011. That’s

up slightly from a decade earlier when women made up 15.9 percent of the college’s undergraduate population. Where the Blacksburg program is making strides is in its enrollment and retention of freshman women, said Bevlee Watford, the college’s associate dean for academic affairs and the director of its Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity.

Last fall, 20.1 percent of freshman engineering students were female, up from 15.6 percent in the fall of 2005. And Watford said that applications among women have been steadily increasing, although she notes that overall applications are also increasing for admission to the nationally recognized program. She credited the uptick to marketing efforts aimed at attracting See PROGRAM, page 12



ROANOKE TIMES (Continued from page 11)

students, mentoring efforts and a residential program that began in 2001 to provide support to women engineering students. The residential program, named after the Greek philosopher and mathematician Hypatia, is a residential-based learning community for freshman women in engineering. It’s a dorm experience and includes other elements such as clustering the students into certain lab courses and offering a class that explores the issues surrounding women’s roles in a predominantly male field. In the first three years of Hypatia, 90 percent of women who participated were still pursuing an engineering degree. That equated to 17.5 percent more than those who had started in engineering but had not become members of Hypatia. Last year, a record number of female students applied to Hypatia, with slightly more than a third of the 300 women admitted into engineering participating. The program was seen as so essential to helping to retain engineering students that the college added a similar program for its men. Watford said adding the residential community for men has only served to improve the efforts of encouraging women to enter the field….

WDBJ-TV (Roanoke, Va.) May 29, 2012

Virginia Tech has a ‘dream’ vending machine By Orlando Salinas At college campuses all across the country, you’ll find loads of vending machines, spitting out sodas and snacks all day long. Virginia Tech has plenty of those, but the Hokies also have a pretty cool, one of a kind 3-D machine. This machine is called the “Dream Vendor” and it actually creates 3-D models of just about anything your mind can dream up…. “Basically this machine can print almost anything you can imagine,” said Chris Williams of Virginia Tech’s engineering department. “ Really you’re only limited by your own imagination and your design ability and this uses a plastic that’s identical to what a lego is made of.”… Many universities have industrial scale machines, but only Tech has this smaller version that anyone can use to create a dream. So how much would it take to build a dream vendor? I was told about $10,000 dollars and one semester…. (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the Burbank Leader.)


Getting the last laugh:

Once stereotyped as gearheads, engineering graduates are in great demand

By Gary Robertson Engineers sometimes feel stereotyped, pigeonholed and otherwise misconstrued as nerdy gearheads. But the pendulum is now swinging the other way. “There’s been a tremendous run-up of interest in engineering,” says Richard C. Benson, dean of Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. He attributes that newfound interest to the fact that engineers now are taking the lead in areas such as space exploration, biomedical research, cyber security and advanced technology, producing culture-changing consumer products such as the iPad and iPhone. Another reason for engineering’s rise in popularity, he says, is that engineers are doing very well in a tough economy. For example, the most recent “Best Undergraduate College Degrees by Salary” survey published by is dominated by engineering majors, which occupy seven of the top 10 spots. “I think this country is going to have an increasing need for engineers,” Benson says. “We’re not going to be economically prosperous by trying to make widgets cheaper than other countries — we are going to lose that battle. • September 8, 2012

“We’re going to become prosperous by being first with new technologies. That means engineers,” he says. Indeed, judging by the number of applications to Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, by far the state’s largest engineering school, with an undergraduate enrollment of 6,590, the message is getting through. When Benson became dean of the school in 2005, it received 4,800 applications for 1,200 slots in the freshman class. In 2010, the size of the engineering freshman class was increased to 1,300, but the number of applications kept coming in increasingly larger torrents. This year, there were 7,171 applications, a nearly 50 percent increase over seven years. “We’re turning away students who could do the work,” Benson says, noting that the competition is fierce for admission. He hopes the school will be able to grow even larger to accommodate qualified Virginia students. Toward that end, the College of Engineering is constructing a $100 million Signature Engineering Building, thanks to a $25 million anonymous gift — the largest in the college’s history….

Students help students navigate today’s digital technology era …When the (Virginia Tech) freshman and transfer engineering students entered this fall, they were expected to purchase the following items: a convertible tablet personal computer (PC) or alternative combination of devices meeting the minimum specifications, the university software bundle, and the engineering software bundle. To some, the choice is not easy. Enter the Student Technology Council The origins of the council started in 2004 when Glenda Scales, the associate dean of international programs and information technology for the College of Engineering, so-

licited the help of students to explore the opportunity of integrating Apple’s Power-book laptops into the heavily populated, Windows PC Virginia Tech engineering curriculum. Instructions were to test virtualization tools, such as Virtual PC, to see if they could effectively run programs like Autodesk Inventor and PSPICE to use in the classroom. After much debate and examination, they answered the question affirmatively. Concurrently, Scales tasked a second group of students to test the latest convertible tablet pc, a mobile computer running an adapted version of the Windows XP operating sys-

tem with a pen-enabled interface. The tablets looked to be promising technology at the time and were adapted by the college. In fall of 2005, the Student Technology Council was officially formed to provide the college their feedback, based on their own personal experiences of using certain technology devices. This feedback impacts the college’s decisions, and helps to determine the computer requirements ... Their faculty advisor, Dale Pokorski, director of information technology for the College of Engineering, has been with the group since 2009 and views herself as the facilitator. ...




HPCWire • January 10, 2012

Virginia Tech’s Feng Unveils HokieSpeed By Editorial Staff Virginia Tech crashed the supercomputing arena in 2003 with System X, a machine that placed the university among the world’s top computational research facilities. Now comes HokieSpeed, a new supercomputer that is up to 22 times faster and yet a quarter of the size of X, boasting a single-precision peak of 455 teraflops, or 455 trillion operations per second, and a double-precision peak of 240 teraflops, or 240 trillion operations per second.

That’s enough computational capability to place HokieSpeed at No. 96 on the most recent Top500 List (, the industry-standard ranking of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers. More intriguing is HokieSpeed’s energy efficiency, which ranks it at No. 11 in the world on the November 2011 Green500 List (http://www., a compilation of supercomputers that excel at using less energy to do more. On the Green500 List, HokieSpeed is the highest-

ranked commodity supercomputer in the United States…. “HokieSpeed is a versatile heterogeneous supercomputing instrument, where each compute node consists of energy-efficient central-processing units and high-end graphics-processing units,” said Wu Feng, associate professor with the Virginia Tech College of Engineering’s computer science and electrical and computer engineering departments. “This instrument will empower faculty members, students, and staff across disci-


The Unified Theory of Wu

By Logan Kugler Wu-chun Feng is way too busy. An associate professor at Virginia Tech’s Department of Computer Science, “Wu,” as he prefers to be called, is occupied on any given day with professorial duties, massive technology and computer science education projects, and babysitting the university’s resident supercomputer, HokieSpeed. Wu has adapted to his breakneck schedule accordingly. Longtime colleagues marvel at his ability to work independently on his latest grant or writing project, all while carrying on a high-level conversation without missing a single beat. During a chat, Wu admits he’s running on little sleep for days in a row – even though he recently had to cancel a talk on green supercomputing in Germany. While Wu often finds it hard to say “No” to demands on his time, the type of high-performance computers he works on don’t have to. Supercomputers like HokieSpeed and Green Destiny (another project of his) take advantage of parallel computing, or using multiple processing elements to perform tasks faster. This power – both on the part of Wu and his computers – promotes a significant cross-fertilization of high-performance computing ideas, which is probably

why Wu ends up being so busy. “That’s part of the beauty of computer science and computer engineering: the understanding of abstraction,” Wu says. “The way you can take some things you’re working on and apply them in other ways you might not have otherwise thought of doing.”… Wu is part of a team of Virginia Tech researchers that are turning the university’s math lab into a supercomputer by harnessing the power of ordinary computers anytime they lie dormant. Called Project Moon, the initiative could have serious commercial applications for companies that want a healthy middle ground option between using no infrastructure at all (the cloud)

and entirely local computing infrastructures. Not to mention the “altruistic” aspects of the project. “This type of supercomputing has the promise of being able to address some ‘grand challenge’ problems that have been difficult to address,” says Wu. “Things like doing reverse engineering of the brain and finding missing gene annotations in genomes.” Wu is already pursuing those higher-minded goals by playing a big role in the Nvidia Foundation’s Compute the Cure initiative, which leverages Project Moon-style desktop computer collaboration to change how cancer research is conducted…. (Logan Kugler is a freelance technology writer based in Silicon Valley. He has written for over 60 major publications.)

plines to tackle problems previously viewed as intractable or that required heroic efforts and significant domainspecific expertise to solve.” Still in the final stages of acceptance testing, Feng envisions HokieSpeed as Virginia Tech’s next war horse in research. … (Editor’s Note: Stories on HokieSpeed also appeared on NPR, WSLS, Science News Line, Charlottesville Daily Progress, Roanoke Times, EE Times of Europe, The Cutting Edge News.)

HPCwire • June 12, 2012

Virginia Tech doctoral candidate awarded $25K NVIDIA Fellowship

BLACKSBURG, VA, June 12 – Ashwin Aji, of Blacksburg, Va., a doctoral candidate at the Virginia Tech College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science, has received one of 12 fellowships awarded worldwide for 201213 by NVIDIA, a global technology company. The $25,000 fellowship will be used in Aji’s research, aimed at researching and developing next-generation supercomputing techniques and tools to tackle large-scale problems, such as epidemiology and genomic sequence analysis. Aji is an active member of the Systems, Networking and Renaissance Grokking Laboratory, known as the SyNeRGy research lab, directed by his Ph.D. advisor, Wu Feng, an associate professor of computer science who holds a Turner Fellowship…. NVIDIA Foundation is also supporting Aji’s adviser’s work as Feng received its first worldwide award for research in 2011 that they hope will compute a cure for cancer. … • October 3, 2012

NSF announces interagency progress on Big Data initiative The National Science Foundation (NSF), with support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced nearly $15 million in new Big Data fundamental research projects. These awards aim to develop new tools and methods to extract and use knowledge from collections of large data sets to accelerate progress in science and engineering research and innovation…. Genomes Galore – Core Techniques, Libraries, and Domain Specific Languages for High-Throughput DNA Sequencing • Iowa State University, Srinivas Aluru • Stanford University, Oyekunle Olukotun • Virginia Tech, Wuchun Feng The goal of the project is to develop core techniques and software libraries to enable scalable, efficient, high-performance computing solutions for high-throughput DNA sequencing, also known as next-generation sequencing. The research will be conducted in the context of challenging problems in human genetics and metagenomics, in collaboration with domain specialists….


14 NEW YORK TIMES • October 10, 2012

Those snowy slopes, sprayed with wastewater By Leslie MacMillan As I wrote in The Times recently, a ski resort in northern Arizona will become the first in the world to make artificial snow totally out of sewage effluent this winter. Last February, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the resort, Arizona Snowbowl, ending a 10year legal battle waged by environmental and Native American groups that warned that the wastewater snow would damage wildlife, human health and a mountain considered sacred by 13 Indian

tribes. Now, apart from longstanding concern about harmful chemicals in the water that will be used to make that snow – piped directly from the sewage treatment system of the nearby town of Flagstaff – new research indicates that the wastewater system is a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant genes. The genes were not detectable in the plant itself but “increased dramatically” at the point of use, meaning that they were found in

places like sprinkler heads, the study said. “This means bacteria is growing in the distribution pipes,” said Amy Pruden, the author and an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. The study has not been published or peer-reviewed, but Flagstaff officials are taking it seriously enough to have invited Dr. Pruden to serve on an advisory panel that the city formed last week. Antibiotic-resistant genes are an area of emerging concern to sci-

entists because they impede the body’s ability to fight disease. Dr. Pruden suggested that the next step would be to analyze the live bacteria that might be carrying those genes through the pipes. She said the initial findings were cause for concern but that such worries “would shift to alarm” if known antibiotic-resistant pathogens were found in the water. Bacteria can cause infections in broken skin, and there is a high likelihood of cuts and scrapes during skiing, she pointed out….

HUFFINGTON POST • May 10, 2012

Antibiotic resistance spreads through environment, threatens modern medicine By Lynne Peeples Waste from people, pets, pigs and even seagulls may be playing a significant role in the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a number of new studies warn. Widespread fear of diminishing returns for modern medicine is becoming amplified, scientists say, by the discovery of soils and waterways polluted with both traces of antibiotics and bacteria encoded with antibiotic-resistant genes, the information that tells a microbe how to evade drugs designed to kill it. And even if that fortified microbe isn’t capable of causing illness in humans itself, scientists add, its DNA could find its way into the more malignant microbes in the environment. “Antibiotic resistance is likely the biggest public health challenge that we’ll be facing this century,” said Amy Pruden, an expert on antibiotic resistance at Virginia Tech. “We’re in a state of complacency right now. We count on antibiotics working for us, but they

are slowly starting to lose their effectiveness.” While progress has been made in the clinical realm – limiting unnecessary uses of antibiotics, for example, and encouraging patients to

TIME • November 2, 2012

take the full course of their prescribed drugs – Pruden noted “mounting evidence that the environment is another important piece of the puzzle.”…

Why restoring New York’s power isn’t easy:

The trouble with salt

By Olivia B. Waxman …Con Edison’s East 13th street substation in Lower Manhattan was built to endure a 12.5-foot storm surge. But when Hurricane Sandy hit the Big Apple Monday night, a 14foot wall of seawater inundated the area, causing a short circuit and an explosion. As a result, more than 220,000 customers were plunged into darkness in

Lower and Mid-Manhattan – the area below 39th street on the East Side and below 31st street on the West Side. Across the system – that is, all five boroughs of the city plus Westchester County – 900,000 customers lost power. For comparison, 230,821 were plunged into darkness as a result of a 9.5-foot storm surge that flooded Battery Park during Hurricane Irene in August 2011….

Electricity and water – especially seawater – do not mix. “If you put two wires in normal drinking water, they may not short circuit as easily as when you have salt in the water because salt functions as a conductor,” said Dr. Saifur Rahman, the Joseph Loring Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. See SALT, page 15

HPCWire • April 18, 2012

IBM awards fellowship to Virginia Tech’s Min Li

Min Li, a computer science doctoral candidate in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, has received an IBM Fellowship, an intensely competitive worldwide program that honors exceptional Ph.D. students who have an interest in solving problems that are fundamental to innovation.

Li, of Blacksburg, Va., who holds a 3.95 grade point average, is advised by Ali R. Butt, assistant professor of computer science and a past recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER award. Li is originally from Shishi, Fujan Province, China…. “Min Li designed an efficient cloud adaptation platform for data intensive

analytic applications while she was at IBM. At the end of her internship, a patent application for the project was submitted,” said (Ali) Butt, one of her nominators for this fellowship. “Min Li has published her research at highly-selective conferences, such as Supercomputing 2010, at which the acceptance rate for papers is less

than 20 percent. We are very proud of her research achievements, especially of her receipt of this highly-selective IBM Fellowship award,” added Barbara Ryder, computer science department head and holder of the J. Byron Maupin Professorship…. (Editor’s Note: EE Times also carried an article on this fellowship.)





Levels of antibiotic resistance gene spike downstream of human activity By Laura Cassiday In river sediments, the level of an antibiotic resistance gene carried by bacteria increases when wastewater treatment plants and animal feeding facilities are nearby, according to a new study (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es302657r). These types of facilities could contribute to the spread of antibioticresistant bacteria into the environment, the researchers say. Most strategies to curb the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have focused on interventions at the clinic, such as urging doctors not to overprescribe antibiotics, says Amy Pruden at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. However, she says, increasing evidence suggests that antibiotic resistance also spreads from environmental sources. When humans or animals ingest antibiotics, they excrete both the drugs and bacteria resistant to those drugs. The antibiotics and resistant bacteria then can enter rivers through

wastewater-treatment plant effluents or runoff from livestock operations.… To stanch the flow of antibiotic-resistant bacteria into the environment, researchers first need to understand the sources of the resistance genes, says Pruden. With this goal in mind, Pruden and her colleagues looked for two antibiotic resistance genes, sul1 and tet(W), in bacteria along the South Platte River Basin, in northern Colorado. Sul1 confers resistance to sulfonamide antibiotics, while tet(W) makes bacteria resistant to tetracycline…. The South Platte River Basin is ideal to study, Pruden says, because it starts in a pristine region of the Rocky Mountains that is far from human-affected bacteria and antibiotics. She uses water sediments from this region as a baseline for natural levels of antibiotic resistance genes. The river system then flows past 89 wastewater treatment plants and 100 animal feeding operations….


Vanderhyde Dairy turning manure to energy in Virginia

By Rocky Womack, AFP Correspondent CHATHAM, Va. — A Virginia dairy has invested about $1.5 million to utilize manure from their cows and convert the waste into energy for consumer use. In 2010, Vanderhyde Dairy in Chatham had an anaerobic digester system installed on their farm, which was their way of figuring out what to do with the thousands of gallons of waste formed on their farm. … The anaerobic digester converts manure from an organic form to an inorganic form, Vanderhyde says. Before the digester was installed, the Vanderhydes would spread manure onto a field, but it would take two years for the soil to break it down into an inorganic form. With the help of the digester, he says the manure will break down and be available within the same year he spreads it. The

waste-to-energy product goes through a 21-day cycle, and as long as a dairy keeps feeding the digester manure each day during that cycle, then it will keep breaking down the waste. The farm generates 25,000 gallons of waste daily and pumps it to the digester at 1,600 gallons a minute, says Jactone Ogejo, an

Extension specialist and associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. He adds that 15 feet of the manure inside the digester is broken down to produce gas. During the 21 days, he says the manure is heated to about 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which is beneficial….



Virginia Tech researchers study new ways to use big data analytics

By Susan Trulove University and industry scientists are determining how to forecast significant societal events, ranging from violent protests to nationwide credit-rate crashes, by analyzing the billions of pieces of information in the ocean of public communications, such as tweets, web queries, oil prices, and daily stock market activity. “We are automating the generation of alerts, so that intelligence analysts can focus on interpreting the discoveries rather than on the mechanics of integrating information,” said Naren Ramakrishnan, the Thomas L. Phillips Professor of Engineering in Virginia Tech’s Department of Computer Engineering. He is leading the team of computer scientists and subject-matter experts from Virginia Tech, the University of Maryland, Cornell University, Children’s Hospital of Boston, San Diego State University, University of California at San Diego, and Indiana University, and from the companies, CACI International Inc., and Basis Technology. Within Virginia Tech, the team spans the departments of computer science, mechanical engineering, and agricultural and applied economics, the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, and the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. The project is supported by a potential $13.36 million three-year contract from the Open Source Indicators (OSI) Program of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), a research arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Three teams were awarded contracts, with continuation after the first year contingent upon satisfactory progress.... The Virginia Tech-led team calls its project EMBERS, for early model-based event recognition using surrogates....

(Continued from page 14)

“Salt water damages electrical equipment very easily.” … Rahman said that if Con Edison did not preemptively shut down power in Lower Manhattan, the company would have had to replace more cables instead of just repairing them and drying them out. … Dr. Rahman suggested that buildings in flood-prone Lower Manhattan could start putting generators higher up so that flood waters cannot reach them. “Many of these buildings in Lower Manhattan have their transformers and backup generator in the basement, in a secure underground space like a bank vault,” he said. “We put things in the basement for safety, but we never thought of the basement getting flooded.” He pointed out that the Goldman Sachs building never lost power because its generator is on top of the building – and suggests more buildings should do that in the future. “Lower

Manhattan, because of September 11th, has gone through a lot of safety and security upgrades but did not take into account flooding situations.”…

ROANOKE TIMES • June 18, 2012

Names and changes

Compiled by Danielle Dunaway Y.A. Liu, Frank C. Vilbrandt Professor of Chemical Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been named an Alumni Distinguished Professor by the board of visitors…. Stephen Edwards, associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, was named the W.S. “Pete” White Chair for Innovation in Engineering Education by the board of visitors.



THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER (California) • August 9, 2012

Homebuilders sue water districts over copper pipe leaks

By Chris Boucly SANTA ANA – Two homebuilders have filed complaints in Orange County Superior Court claiming drinking water provided by two South County water districts is corroding copper plumbing, resulting in leaks that require hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs…. Marc Edwards is a Virginia Tech civil and environmental engineering professor and a nationally recognized expert

on copper corrosion. Part of his work is to study the causes of pipe failures and how to stop them. He said several legal cases are emerging in California and he expects to be retained as an expert. “We’ve done probably over a million dollars of research over the last eight years,” Edwards said. “We’ve identified water chemistry, corrosive water, as a key instigator of pinhole leaks. “We know that other factors are often involved, including ex-

WATERWORLD May 1, 2012

Water-Saving Strategies for the CPI

Edited by Scott Jenkins By Y.A. Liu Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Chemical Engineering Reducing freshwater consumption and wastewater discharge at large petroleum-refining and chemical-production facilities can lower costs, while allowing plants to expand production capacities without having to secure additional freshwater resources and without having to enlarge their wastewater treatment plants. The key approaches to saving significant amounts of water are: improved water management, implementing process changes that maximize water reuse and minimize wastewater generation; and a corporate-wide focus on the “Four-Rs” - regeneration, recycling, reuse and replacement. This article describes the methodology used in several water-saving projects led by the author at large chemical and petroleum refining facilities in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as proven water-saving technologies implemented. In addition to improved water management and better use of water-saving technology, the ultimate success of water-saving projects at these large facilities depends on strong support from senior-level corporate executives and production managers, corporate-wide training of project teams and a broad effort to promote corporate-wide enthusiasm for water savings. …

cessive velocity in pipes and poor installation practices, and so each case requires fairly extensive forensic evaluation to try to diagnose the possible cause and cures,” he added. Edwards said the very standards implemented to make drinking water safe might be contributing to pinhole leaks. While disinfectants are needed, too much in some waters might be corrosive. He said research on chlora-

mine has shown it alone doesn’t eat holes in pipes, but “it is possible, even likely, that chloramine plus other factors in the water can be highly corrosive.” Well-intentioned changes to meet standards might be having unintended consequences, Edwards said. “There’s much we do know,” he said. “We’ve unambiguously proven that water can be a cause; not the only cause, but a cause. But there’s a lot we still don’t know.”

THE DAILY PROGRESS (Charlottesville, Va.) • July 4, 2012

Chloramine not the answer By Julia Whiting The recent public information session on chloramine, which the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority is planning to put in our water beginning in 2014, created several broad areas of agreement on both sides. The audience was overwhelmingly in favor of avoiding it, and seemed particularly concerned about its health and environmental effects. Perhaps more surprising was the consensus on the panel, which was created to represent differing viewpoints. There was general agreement among the panelists that granular acti-

vated carbon is the best available technology, because it takes impurities out of the water, rather than adding new chemicals that react with impurities to form even worse chemicals. Dr. Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech called it “holistic” technology. The World Health Organization and Environmental Protection Agency both find precursor removal (using GAC filtration) preferable to addition additional chemicals that reduce disinfection efficacy and increase toxic disinfection byproduct formation, which is what chloramine does…. • April 10, 2012

Tough task ahead for scientists in solving water shortage crisis By Mohit Joshi Washington, January 28: Scientists and engineers have said that they will have to face a host of obstacles over the next decade in providing clean water to millions of people caught up in a water shortage crisis. The statement was made by a panel of scientists and engineers at a briefing at the Broadcast Center of the National Press Building on the Final Report on the American Chemical Society’s Global Challenges/ Chemistry Solutions. According to Marc Ed-

wards, a panelist from Virginia Tech, the reality today is that the existing plumbing infrastructure is inadequate, and scientists have insufficient knowledge about how to overcome the challenges of providing safe water to people around the world. Although Edwards stressed the importance of water conservation in meeting those challenges, he also cited unintended consequences of such efforts. He noted, for instance, that reduced-flush toilets and other water conservation methods are allowing water to remain in household pipes longer. As

it stagnates in pipes, the water could develop undesirable characteristics and have unwanted effects on household plumbing. Edwards also detailed how a change in disinfectant from chlorine to chloramine caused leaching of lead into drinking water. A new study by Edwards and colleagues from Virginia Tech University and Children’s National Medical Center concludes that hundreds of children in Washington D.C. were introduced to high levels of lead from the city’s drinking water….



VIRGINIA BUSINESS • August 8, 2012

Rolls-Royce donates one of its jet engines to Va. Tech’s new engineering building Rolls-Royce has donated a Trent 1000 jet engine to Virginia Tech that will be the centerpiece of its new Signature Engineering Building. Construction workers recently positioned the engine into the foyer of the building where it will hang suspended 15 feet above the floor. The building is going up around the engine, and it will remain in a protective cover until the structure opens in spring 2014. Rolls-Royce said it plans to outfit the new building with interactive kiosks containing information on engine design and advanced manufacturing to inform students about careers in engineering. “We are honored and delighted to make this engine donation to Virginia Tech,” said Phil Burkholder, Rolls-Royce, executive vice president, engineering and technology. “Rolls-Royce enjoys a strong partnership in higher education with Vir-

ginia Tech that includes research and development programs, endowments and internships. We hope our Trent 1000 engine, a modern engineering marvel, will serve as a symbol of excellence and inspire generations of talented students to pursue careers in science and engineering.” The donated engine is one the company’s early test engines…. (Editor’s note: An article about this gift also traveled on the AP wire service, and was picked up by the following news outlets: WRIC-TV, WVVATV, the Republic, WVIR-TV, WVNS-TV, WWBTTV, WCBD-TV, Daily Journal, WTTG-TV, the Alexandria Gazette, Lynchburg News and Advance, WSLS-TV, Aerospace Industries Association, AeroNews Network, JustLuxe, Danville Register and Bee, the Petersburg Progress, Roanoke Times, and the Newport News Daily Press.)


Biz to Go:

Rolls-Royce jet engine donated to Va. Tech

By John Reid Blackwell Some university lecture halls are adorned with the likenesses of their founders, or the inspiring, engraved words of great thinkers. A school of engineering building under construction at Virginia Tech will have an inspiring monument all its own and one appropriate for its mission: a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 jet engine. Rolls-Royce, which makes

aircraft engine components at its Crosspointe plant in Prince George County, donated the engine to Virginia Tech to display in the atrium of the school’s Signature Engineering Building. “One of the reasons that I think it was important to make this donation is so the engineering students can be inspired by what they can accomplish,” said Phil Burkholder, Rolls-Royce’s executive vice president for en-

gineering and technology. Burkholder recalled being inspired by seeing gas turbine engines at the engineering school when he was a student at Virginia Tech…. At 155,000 square feet, Virginia Tech’s Signature Engineering Building will contain 40 laboratory instructional rooms, seven classrooms, an auditorium and offices. The building is expected to open in early 2014.

WRIC-TV (Richmond, Va.) • June 24, 2012

New water environment research project enables better communication among utilities The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) has recently launched WATERiD, an online liviad (sic) in managing the nation’s water infrastructure. Developed by Dr. Sunil Sinha, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, WATERiD will help the nation address the challenges associated with the aging and deteriorating wastewater and water infrastructure. “WATERiD is unique in that it allows utilities to share their “lessons learned” and thus avoid re-

peating mistakes,” explains Dr. Daniel Woltering, WERF Director of Research. This sharing is accomplished through a “wiki”like capability for utilities to submit their information on cost, performance, and capability of various technologies. Then, utilities can easily access all of the information necessary to assess whether a practice or technology is right for their application… (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in Water Online, Underground Construction, and in Remote Site & Equipment Management.)


Rolls-Royce coming here

By Times-Dispatch Staff On Tuesday, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced that Rolls-Royce was considering an expansion of its presence in Central Virginia. .... Rolls-Royce makes jet engines for some of the most advanced planes in commercial fleets. Its Virginia sites pay tribute to the state’s work force. Several years ago, executives briefed the Editorial Board about the company’s plans. They explained they chose Prince George in large part because of Virginia’s exemplary system of higher education. They cited aeronautical engineering programs at the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech…. The happy story suggests that higher ed in Virginia is, ahem, the Rolls-Royce of economic development.


Manufacturing research center nears completion

By John Reid Blackwell Construction is nearly complete on an advanced manufacturing research center in Prince George County, the center’s executive director told Chesterfield County Chamber of Commerce members Wednesday. The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, or CCAM, is on Rolls-Royce North America’s Crosspointe campus, where the company has an aircraft engine components plant. The 60,000-square-foot center will do research for a group of manufacturing companies with operations in Virginia under a partnership with Virginia Tech, Virginia State University and the University of Virginia. “Our job is to listen to these companies, and then use the technology and expertise and equipment that will be at our world-class research center, and that already exists at our world-class universities, to solve their problems, but to do it at business speed,” said David Lohr, CCAM’s president and executive director. Lohr said he expects the building will be ready for occupancy in early September….



INDUSTRY WEEK • April 18, 2012

AIRFRAMER • May 10, 2012

Brüel & Kjaer sponsors aerospace laboratory at Virginia Tech

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has opened their new Brüel & Kjær Laboratory for Aerospace Vibration and Acoustics. The laboratory is part of Virginia Tech’s new National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) Research and Innovation Laboratories in Hampton, Virginia. It contains state-of-the-art instrumentation and equipment for measuring and analyzing vibration and sound, and is sponsored by Brüel & Kjær. NIA’s labs are directed by Christopher R. Fuller, who is Virginia Tech’s Samuel Langley Distinguished Professor of Aerospace Engineering. Fuller is an expert in acoustics and noise and vibration control and is noted for his distinguished work on control of interior noise and vibration in aerospace applications, launch vehicle payload noise, and other related concerns in the automotive and marine industries…. (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in

INDIA-WEST • December 12, 2012

Career Moves:

Who’s Movin’ On Up

Virginia Tech mechanical engineering Professor Srinath Ekkad has been named Commonwealth Professor for Aerospace Propulsion Systems by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, a five-year appointment. His research focuses on high-resolution surface heat transfer measurements for complex geometries. Ekkad has a bachelor’s degree from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, a master’s from Arizona State University and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.

Want to Grow Your Company? Find Access to R&D

By Adrienne Seiko More than two-thirds of all private-sector research and development comes from manufacturers. Where do they get their inspiration? Partnerships between universities and manufacturers, such as the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Virginia, or CCAM, have played major roles in industrial R&D advancements. A number of major manufacturers, including founding members RollsRoyce (IW 100/229) North America Inc., Canon Inc. (IW 1000/86), Siemens (IW 1000/26), Newport News Shipbuilding, Aerojet and Sulzer Metco are already taking advantage of CCAM’s expertise. The consortium began research activities in 2011, and the facility is scheduled to open this summer in Prince George County, Va., at Rolls-Royce’s Crosspointe plant. CCAM members have the opportunity to work with institutions such as the University of Virginia, Virginia State University and Virginia Tech. … Rolls-Royce was the driving force behind CCAM’s formation. In 2007 the company was deciding where

to locate its new aerospace facility. Rolls-Royce had centers across the United Kingdom that provided cutting-edge research, and the company thought Virginia could provide the same setup. Rolls-Royce modeled CCAM after its Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Sheffield and Advanced Forming Research Center in Glasgow. “The goal is to create a center of advanced manufacturing that will attract the best and brightest talent,” says Lorin Sodell, plant manager, Rolls Royce Crosspointe. Bridging Research and Commercialization With competition so fierce, CCAM’s goal is to bridge the gap between research and commercialization. The group decided to focus on specific areas. “CCAM research attacks surface coating and manufacturing systems issues common to our members,” says David Lohr, CCAM’s president and executive director. “With members pooling R&D dollars and conducting research here instead of on their own production lines, CCAM translates laboratory innovation into business improvement faster and more cost effectively than ever before.” …

DAILY PRESS • March 14, 2012

Aerospace facility opening in Hampton Building will tie researchers with investors

By Robert Brauchle An aerospace research facility being built by Virginia Tech in the Hampton Roads Center North Campus will be unveiled during an April 12 dedication ceremony…. The Peninsula Technology Incubator located within the facility will allow private com-

panies participating in the program to have access to the institute’s faculty as well as potential private investors…. The aerospace institute is a $30 million non-profit research and graduate education program including more than 200 professors, researchers, staff and stu-

dents.… Virginia Tech is one of nine colleges and universities — including Hampton University, Old Dominion and William and Mary — in the research project that aims to be a research hub for aerospace and atmospheric studies.

AOPA PILOT online • October 4, 2012

Aircraft designers crafting more bird-like wings By Jim Moore Turns out, those bicycle mechanics from Ohio were on to something with those warping wings of theirs. The invention of ailerons and flaps relegated warping wings to the sidelines, but a growing number of aeronautical engineers are turning back to that page and developing wings that are more distinctly bird-like, able to change their shape to best suit a given phase of flight, or offer more precise control.

The various approaches hold promise to produce future aircraft that are more nimble, efficient, and quiet.… “I think of it as like a bird (that) moves its feathers independently,” said Daniel Inman, chairman of the aerospace engineering department at the University of Michigan.... Inman and a team of students from Virginia Tech got the concept to fly, demonstrating its potential in 2010 and producing academic papers –

and a video posted on YouTube. The aerodynamic advantages of this approach include better lift to drag ratios and increased roll moments. Controls of this type respond much faster than the traditional. Imagine how fast an Extra 300 might roll with this type of control, and it’s enough to scare a person.... One of his former Virginia Tech students, Onur Bilgen, who earned his doctorate with the wing morphing work and now teaches at Old Do-

minion University, said in an email – and has written in various academic articles – that he expects morphing wings and control surfaces will eventually become the standard for aviation in general. … The idea has come full circle in more ways than one: Kevin Kochersberger, another member of the Virginia Tech team who continues to research the next generation of wing morphers today, was also See WINGS, page 27




US NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Science • April 24, 2012

Researcher studies turbulence and chemical reactions By Marlene Cimons To the average person, the word “turbulence’” usually means a bumpy airplane ride. To a scientist, however, it represents one of the last great unsolved mysteries of classical physics. “The bottom line is that we don’t understand turbulence,” says Lin Ma, associate professor in the de-

USA TODAY • Apr. 8, 2012

De Vita wins NSF award to study pelvic floor disorders Raffaella De Vita, assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Science Mechanics at Virginia Tech, won a five-year $473,000 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award. Funds will go toward studying pelvic floor disorders…

partment of aerospace and ocean engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). “Turbulence is everywhere, but it is one of our last unresolved scientific questions.”… Ma is trying to better understand the interactions between chemical reactions and turbulence. “Turbulence and chemical reactions happen simultaneously all the time,” he says. “When a jet engine sucks air in, mixes it with fuel and burns it, you have a chemical reaction under very high speed. These two things happen at the same time. Turbulence by itself is hard enough to understand, and we are adding chemical reactions to it, which makes the problem even more challenging.” He believes that deciphering the fundamental interactions between chemical reactions and turbulence will provide insights into designing more efficient energy devices with reduced pollutant emissions and at a lower cost. This could mean bet-


Interdisciplinary research leads to reduced construction costs and multiple awards

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Mani Golparvar-Fard, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, has developed an augmented reality modeling system that automatically analyzes physical progress on large-scale construction projects. The system allows a contractor to determine whether a project is on, ahead, or behind schedule, leading to cost savings and reduction in project delivery time. Without the need for a Global Positioning System (GPS) or any other location tracking technology, the modeling system, named the 4 Dimensional Augmented Reality or D4AR, is able to geo-spatially store digital pictures of a building in 4D (3D plus time) and integrates the photos with Building Information Models (BIM) during any and all phases of construction…. The augmented reality system developed by Golparvar-Fard also gives the construction industry the ability to automate and remotely monitor the safety, See COSTS, page 23

ter and cleaner engines and power plants, he says. “If you make a car engine more efficient, then you can cover the same distance with less fuel,” he says. “When you burn less fuel, you emit less pollutants, and you minimize your carbon footprint.” Ma is studying turbulence and

chemical reactions under a $400,000 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award over five years, which began in 2009. These NSF grants support the research of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacherscholars through research and education….

WSLS, NBC Channel 10 • August 23, 2012

Wallops rocket to carry university experiment A rocket that’s set to launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia will carry experiments by students at four universities, including Virginia Tech. The launch is set for Thursday morning at Wallops Island. NASA says the four university experiments are being flown as part of an educational project called

RockSat-X, which is designed to provide students hands-on experience in designing, fabricating, testing and conducting experiments for space flight.... (Editor’s Note: A version of this story ran on AP and was in 7 other media outlets, including Community Ideas Stations, KWTX-TV, News Journal,, WAVY-TV)

WTOP-FM Online • August 8, 2012

Drones in region’s skies to forever redefine privacy By Paul D. Shinkman WASHINGTON — The Virginia governor’s enthusiasm for drones has been met with concern from legal experts to the average Twitter user, while others see a technological revolution that will sharply improve law enforcement and innumerable facets of commerce and agriculture. Whatever the outcome, it’s clear drones will redefine privacy in the Old Dominion and other jurisdictions nationwide. … (The) ability for public law to trump civil law, combined with rigorous FAA regulations, could be enough to keep drones under control, says Kevin Kochersberger, associate professor for mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech and director of its Unmanned

Systems Laboratory. The university is one of only a few in the country currently licensed to deploy drones. “It’s an exciting time for lawyers and judges to be involved, because I think this is all going to come down to case law,” Kochersberger says. Most of the UAV research conducted at Va. Tech applies to humanitarian use, which he says will be typical of how the aerial vehicles are used. Existing Safeguards The process for acquiring an FAA license to operate a drone makes the use of them safer, Kochersberger says. In 2006, insurgents in Iraq allegedly hijacked a drone using only a piece of $26 software, The Wall Street Journal reported, leading some to speculate a similar crisis could occur over American soil.

However, to obtain a license, operators must first prove their drones’ “lost-link procedures” for how the device will operate if it loses its control signal. And most drones are very light, don’t fly very quickly and can only operate for 30 minutes, Kochersberger says. Much of the general concern stems from the proliferation in the media and in the public of the word “drone” itself, he says, which has historically been associated with the military and weaponry. … “Really, all this push to get more unmanned aircraft into the national airspace is not for military purposes, not for purposes to enhance defense,” Kochersberger says. “It’s really to expand commercial opportunities.”


20 VIRGINIA BUSINESS • August 31, 2012

New Role For Drones:

Virginia could become a testing area for civilian use

By Richard Foster Earlier this year, the Internet was abuzz with stories about Tacocopter, a Silicon Valley startup that aimed to deliver tasty Mexican fare directly to hungry, customers via small, remote-controlled helicopters. That idea never got off the ground, so to speak, but within the next decade people could be seeing a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, in U.S. skies. They could perform tasks ranging from finding lost hikers to improving your cellphone reception or even writing you a speeding ticket…. “The public historically has been a little timid about new technology — airplanes, fast cars, whatever, you know?” says Kevin Kochers-

MEDICAL NEWS TODAY September 14, 2012

berger, director of the Unmanned Systems Laboratory at Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. “It’s human nature to be a little skeptical of technology, but there are many upsides to this technology that people aren’t seeing.” During the last decade, Virginia Tech has received clearance to test a variety of small UAVs for the Department of Defense at Tech’s Kentland Farms experimental agriculture site, about eight miles away from the main campus in Blacksburg. Kochersberger’s researchers worked on a $1 million-plus contract for the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, adapting a 200-pound, 6-foot-long Yamaha RMAX unmanned helicopter to locate radiation sources or to sur-

Breast Cancer Risks Acquired in Pregnancy May Pass to Next 3 Generations Chemicals or foods that raise estrogen levels during pregnancy may increase cancer risk in daughters, granddaughters, and even great-granddaughters, according to scientists from Virginia Tech and Georgetown University. Pregnant rats on a diet supplemented with synthetic estrogen or with fat, which increases estrogen levels, produce ensuing generations of daughters that appear to be healthy, but harbor a greater than normal risk for mammary cancer, the researchers report in today’s Nature Communications. … “We have shown for the first time that altered DNA methylations modulated by specific diet in See RISKS, page 21

vey damage and monitor radiation levels in U.S. cities after a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb attack. Tech also is researching civilian applications for UAVs. For example, one professor has been using a UAV to collect airborne mold spores to study the spread of pathogens that can harm wheat crops. UAVs already are being used in Japan for targeted irrigation and crop dusting, and Virginia Tech is examining similar agricultural uses. Search and rescue operations and law enforcement applications are other areas Tech is examining. A team of undergrad engineering students will travel to Australia this year to compete in the UAV Outback Search and Rescue Challenge. In this competition, teams build

UAVs that can locate a dummy in a 50-square-mile search area and drop a payload of water bottles to the “lost hiker.” UAVs are extremely valuable in disasters such as forest fires, Kochersberger says. While manned vehicles are restricted from flying over a forest fire at night, UAVs can fly surveillance missions over a forest fire for 24 hours in a row, collecting valuable data on changing burn patterns. … In law enforcement, UAVs can “look around buildings and investigate large areas that are hazardous without putting anybody in harm’s way,” Kochersberger says. “They do the dirty, dangerous jobs that nobody else wants to do.”… Managing Editor Paula C. Squires contributed to this report.

ROANOKE TIMES • October 20, 2012

Tech team plugs into the future

at ‘EcoCAR 2’ competition

By Mike Shaw Members of the Virginia Tech Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team spent Thursday afternoon in front of the Squires Student Center showing off their latest project, a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. Tech’s team is part of a competition called “EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future” which is a North American competition spon-

sored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy. The three-year collegiate engineering competition, currently in its second year, features 15 collegiate teams from North America. The only other ACC school participating is N.C. State. Plugging In to the Future helps educate future automotive engineers through a handson, real-world experience. Their ultimate goal is to reduce

the environmental impact of a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, donated by General Motors, without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability. Tech’s Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team Communication Manager Virginia Hyer, a senior, said the team is trying to promote sustainable energy by making a car that’s more environmentally friendly….


EcoCAR competition drives student employment, if not innovation By Paul Basken Four years ago R. Jesse Alley was just another mechanical-engineering student searching for purpose when a friend at Virginia Tech opened up a laptop and changed his life. It was his sophomore year, and he was watching football on TV in the apartment of Kurt M. Johnson, his roommate’s cousin. Mr. Johnson was working on

a continent wide competition to design environmentally friendly cars, and during a break from the game, he showed Mr. Alley page upon page of the computer code needed to guide the electronics of a modern automobile. Instantly, Mr. Alley was hooked…. Over the 25 years of its Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions, the U.S. Department of Energy has drawn more than 16,000 engineering stu-

dents like Mr. Alley and Mr. Johnson at 89 North American universities. A new set of beaming faces shined this past week at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel and Spa in Los Angeles, where undergraduates from 15 campuses brought their initial designs before judges evaluating first-year work in the latest three-year competition, See EcoCAR, page 21



WIRED • June 26, 2012

Weaning people onto the idea of letting the car do the driving

By Doug Newcomb What will drivers do when autonomous cars become a reality: text or tweet while behind the wheel, relax and take in the scenery, catch up on some reading or even some sleep? While you may be able to kick back once the car takes over, don’t expect to check out. And letting go of the wheel – and full control of the car – will likely happen in stages

to better prepare drivers for when cars inevitably switch to autopilot. In anticipation of autonomous vehicles hitting the road – and with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance already taking some control from drivers – the US government and General Motors worked with the Virginia Tech Transportation Insti-

tute (VTTI) to conduct a study of driver behavior when they aren’t actively driving. The goal of the Limited Ability Autonomous Driving Systems study, conducted in 2011 in a driving simulator at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis and with VTTI on a GM test track in Michigan, was to learn how drivers react when a car takes over primary tasks they’re used to performing….

MOTOR TREND • July 5, 2012

Schools Design, Build Chevy Malibu Plug-In Hybrids in EcoCAR 2 Competition

By Alex Nishimoto The future of the automobile seems in constant flux, with internal-combustion tech, alternative fuels, and electric propulsion systems continuing to advance. These developments make predicting what we’ll be driving in a few years a tall order. But the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has given a group of college students the


MEDICAL NEWS TODAY (Continued from page 20)

normal development are heritable and transgenerational,” said Yue “Joseph” Wang, the Grant A. Dove Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech Research Center - Arlington. “We also identified key methylation alteration sites that may be involved or responsible for increased breast cancer risk, which may serve as novel biomarkers for scientists to develop novel and targeted prevention strategies.” ...

chance to explore our future’s automotive options through the EcoCar 2 competition. We headed to Hollywood to see what they developed. EcoCar 2 is a collegiate automotive engineering competition that gives students from 15 universities across North America the chance to show what they can do in the field of automotive technology. Though this is only the second competition to bear the EcoCar name, the Department of Energy has hosted similar 3-year programs for the past 24 years, each with the goal of pushing the envelope of transportation and training young engineers. The criteria for entry were simple: Build a highly efficient plug-in hybrid vehicle and use renewable energy sources.Teams were encouraged to think big for their projects; there were no restrictions on the types of components to be used…. Virginia Tech University had a handle on the presentation aspect of the competition. As the winner of the first EcoCar competition that wrapped in 2010, Virginia Tech had high hopes that their E85-fueled plug-in would earn them another victory this time around.

THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN • November 13, 2012

Sensors to help drive new road safety bid

Virginia Tech, known as the world leader in real-life driving studies, will correlate Australia driver behavior data. Australia will undertake its first “naturalistic” driving study when 400 cars are equipped with state-of-the-art technology to capture driver behavior. The data will be transferred to the US’s Virginia Tech University, the

world leader in naturalistic driving studies, which will keep a duplicate copy of the data. The three-year study will mark a major shift in the way road safety data are collected The driver project, being led by the University of NSW, is expected to start late next year or early in 2014 and run for six months....

21 TORONTO TELEGRAPH October 2, 2012

Automatic braking systems on autos will help save lives, researchers predict The second highest cause of automobile crashes is rear-end collisions – 17 percent. Thousands of people die. The solution? “It is simple,” said Clay Gabler, professor of biomedical engineering at Virginia Tech. “Slow the striking vehicle.” The concept is simple. Execution is complex and expensive. But in a life-and-death scenario, it is worth the investment, agree Gabler and Kristofer Kusano of Herndon, Va., a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering. In affiliation with the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest Center for Injury Biomechanics and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, they are conducting research on the potential benefit of a suite of collision avoidance systems now available as options on some new cars. Their research, which has been published in peer-reviewed journals, predicts that the use of three systems may reduce serious injuries by 50 percent. Gabler and Kusano are looking at three systems that can operate independently or in sequence to prevent or mitigate a front collision. … “These systems require radar and sophisticated computers. So there is a lot of interest in See BRAKING, page 22


CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION (Continued from page 20)

known as EcoCar2. “Once you get into it,” Mr. Alley said during a break in the competition, “there’s so much stuff, and it’s so fascinating, and there’s so much depth to it.” He is serving this year as student leader of Virginia Tech’s team…. For the current competition, EcoCar2, each of the 15 teams will be given a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu – a midsize sedan – and asked to re-engineer it to reduce its environmental impact while maintaining or even improving its performance, safety, and consumer acceptability. The teams are due to receive their cars this summer from General Motors, the lead industry sponsor of EcoCar2. … Ohio State University, which finished second to Virginia Tech in the first EcoCar series, … The university teams are made up mostly of undergraduates, assisted by a few graduate-level advisers such as Mr. Alley and guided by mentors from General Motors. They may not be inventing new technologies, Mr. Rizzoni said, but they are innovating through the adaption of existing technologies….


22 USA TODAY • April 24, 2012

Hamlin returns to Richmond as NASCAR conquering hero

By Nate Ryan Basking in the afterglow of his second Sprint Cup victory this season, Denny Hamlin naturally will be heading to Richmond, Va., early this week. Denny Hamlin’s win at Kansas Speedway on Sunday gives him two victories entering one of his favorite tracks — Richmond International Raceway, where he has finished in the top five in seven of his 14 Cup starts…. The No. 11 had only one top-10 finish in the next five races, but Hamlin attributed some of that to the building of a relationship with crew chief Darian Grubb, who joined Joe Gibbs Racing in the offseason. Grubb adjusted how the team builds its Toyotas,

and it might be until mid-summer that Hamlin’s fleet fully reflects the crew chief ’s new philosophy…. Grubb, who guided Tony Stewart to five wins and the championship last year, said the communication between the Virginia natives improves each week. “I know what the inflection in his voice means,” said Grubb, who grew up in Floyd and graduated from Virginia Tech with an engineering degree that has become a valuable tool for head mechanics in NASCAR. “We’ve made our cars better, we’ve made the engine program better, (and) the communication is getting better. All those things add up to a good possibility of a performance, but then the guys on the team did a great job.”


Hokies plentiful in NASCAR By Mike Barber There’s little doubt that Virginia Tech is known more as a football school than king in NASCAR, motorsports might be ranking higher on that ladder, too. The sport’s rising star crew chief, Darian Grubb, is a product of Virginia Tech’s engineering program. But Grubb, who helped Denny Hamlin win Sunday at Kansas, is far from the only Hokie around the NASCAR circuit. “A lot of engineers have an interest in racing,” said Kevin Kidd, a crew chief for Joe Gibbs Racing at the Nationwide Series level and another Virginia Tech graduate. “Racing’s a prevalent sport in the state of Virginia. It’s just natural that that connection exists.” Kidd, a Tazewell native, went to Virginia Tech seeking a career

in racing. When David Wilson went to Virginia Tech to study engineering, he wasn’t eying a career in motor sports. “I didn’t have racing in my sights professionally,” Wilson, now the senior vice president of Toyota Racing Development, said this week. Wilson, a 1984 Virginia Tech graduate, has been with TRD since 1989. In his current role, he is responsible for its day-to-day operations. Todd Meredith, who graduated from Tech in 1992 with an accounting degree, is currently the vice president of operations at Joe Gibbs Racing…. On campus, Tech’s Ware Lab is home to a variety of engineering competition teams, including the school’s Formula SAE and Baja

BRAKING - TORONTO TELEGRAM (Continued from page 21)

determining how efficient they could be to guide development,” said Kusano. He and Gabler looked at collisions from the National Automotive Sampling System/Crashworthiness Data System for 1993 to 2008. … (Editor’s Note: A version of this article also appeared in: ScienceDaily, Newswise, United Press International, Product Design & Development, R&D Magazine,, PHYS. org, BioPortfolio, Electronic Component News,, IEEE Spectrum.)

SAE teams. On the Baja team, about 20 Virginia Tech students work to build and race an off-road vehicle designed to be rugged enough to handle roll-overs on dirt tracks and keep going, said Professor Dewey Spangler, the Ware Lab’s manager. On the Formula team, the aim is to design a racer built for speed. Both programs compete with other schools. The BAJA team recently competed in Alabama, and the Formula team is preparing for an event at Michigan International Speedway. Spangler isn’t surprised so many Tech graduates find their way into NASCAR garages considering the proximity of the school to NASCAR’s North Carolina home and the fact that racing puts to use innovative engineering in an exciting, competitive environment. “It’s the largest engineering school in the state of Virginia. We produce more graduates than all the other engineering schools in the state combined,” Spangler said. “And there’s a lot of engineering that goes into NASCAR.”… (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in Inside NoVa, Lynchburg News and Advance, WSLS, Charlottesville Daily Progress, Danville News, and Bristol Herald Courier.)


Electric Vehicles the Focus of Upcoming IEEE Conference By Chris McManes The recent IEEE Power & Energy Society’s Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Conference in Washington, D.C., featured a number of paper and panel sessions on electric vehicles. It offered a preview of what to expect at the upcoming IEEE International Electric Vehicle Conference…. IEEE Fellow Dr. Saifur Rahman, the Joseph Loring Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia campus, was a panelist at the Smart Grid conference and will be chairing a session on electric vehicle infrastructure at IEVC. It is a subject he knows well. Rahman, a member of the IEEE-USA Energy Policy Committee, said that adding a million EVs spread around the country would not disrupt the grid at the transmission level because excess capacity exists. “The problem is if you put two electric vehicles on the same transformer on the same street feeding my house, your house and another neighbor’s house, then you’ve got a problem — just two,” Rahman said…. Rahman is conducting research to see how these other loads can be managed so that charging an EV “becomes invisible to the power company.” …

TORQUE NEWS • July 26, 2012

Virginia Tech goes TTXGP with home built electric motorcycle

By Nicolas Zart Going up against MotoCzysz, Brammo and Zero Motorcycles on the TTXGP is no small task. A team from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering will bring their home-built electric converted motorcycle to the North American TTXGP eGrandPrIx competition. Technically Speaking The 2009 Honda CBR600RR was converted to electricity and weighs in at 385 lbs. The bike, designed, built, and painted by students at the Joseph F. Ware Jr. Advanced Engineering Laboratory will be raced by Matt Kent, an engineer at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and professional racer…. As for the future of racing for the Virginia Tech College, it looks pretty clear. The college anticipates more races and has already begun to work on a new bike for the 2013 season. The new bike will also a use newer version of the Honda CBR600RR....


Researchers rack up miles testing ‘quiet pavement’ By Shirley S. Wang MANASSAS, Va. – On a recent sunny spring day, two researchers from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Edgar de Leon Izeppi and Billy Hobbs, began the meticulous and costly process of sound-testing pavement. The state of Virginia, which

launched a quiet-pavement project last year, is collaborating with Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute to collect detailed sound measurements of all experimental quiet roadways. The goal is to observe how the salt and sand used to treat roads in winter would affect the new pavement over two years…




Tire testing facility boasts breakthrough technology By Tara Bozick ALTON – When specialized machines arrive at the National Tire Research Center at Virginia International Raceway, the region will offer a full suite of tire testing not available anywhere else, the center’s new leader said…. Executive Director Frank Della Pia aims for the center to be operational by October after machines de-

GIZMOCRAZED • November 15, 2012

Shake ’n Charge: A new way to power your cellphone We’ve seen the Shake-Weight become a huge infomercial success, either as a gag gift or for actual exercise. But what if there was a more practical use for shaking something repetitively? Well, a few scientists created a cell phone charger to solve such a predicament. It was a team of researchers at Virginia Tech, led by Shashank Priya, that created an emergency charging device that is powered by the movement of your phone.

It uses what is called piezoelectric force to create this energy, and this force can be caused by typing on the phone’s keyboard, speaking into the phone, and (more efficiently) shaking it like a Polaroid picture. Their prototype device is made of a common piezoelectric material, zinc oxide. The pseudo-phone was then subjected to 100 decibels of sound waves and generated about 50 millivolts from the vibrations caused by the sound….

veloped by MTS Systems Corp. are installed in the building undergoing renovation at VIR’s Virginia Motorsports Technology Park. Della Pia expects to employ 10 to 12 people by December, with machines running tests in 2013. The $14 million center is the result of a partnership between General Motors, Virginia Tech and the Virginia Tobacco Commission…. GM is committed to the center for 20 years and will require all its tire suppliers to test at the facility, said Kenneth Ball, head of the Virginia Tech mechanical engineering department…. (Editor’s Note: A version of this story also appeared on WSLS, and the Roanoke Times ran the article.)

BIO-MEDICINE September 11, 2012

Yellow lights mean THE VIRGINIAN DAILY PILOT • March 14, 2012 drivers have to Car technology on collision course with safety regulators make right choice – if they have time between commerce, consumers and By Phil Rosenthal mercial drivers found the likeli…Distracted driving is not new. The head of the National Transportation Safety Board has said it’s “been around since the Model T,” but it probably dates back to right after the invention of the wheel. As the vehicles have grown more powerful and gained momentum, so, too, has the demand for and supply of consumer technology that – enticing and useful, though it might be – also threatens to distract from critical duties in the driver’s seat. The result is a collision course

government … phones are just the most obvious form of distraction…. A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute research on com-

hood of danger increased more than 100 times when a driver is texting, emailing or accessing the Internet….


San Diego Gets Smart

By Chris McManes Twice this year San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has been recognized for its Smart Grid network. So it was fitting that it served as host utility for the 2012 IEEE


STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING & DESIGN (Continued from page 19)

quality, and site layout. His modeling environment allows the “integrated visualization of as-built and as-planned models,” he explained…. At the 2012 Construction Research Congress, Golparvar-Fard received the award for best journal paper from the American Society for Civil Engineers’ Journal of Construction Engineering and Management for his work on D4AR. … (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in Laboratory Equipment.)

Power & Energy Society General Meeting…. IEEE-USA, which works closely with PES on congressional briefings and workforce initiatives, had its exhibit on hand. At least four members of the IEEE-USA Energy Policy Committee attended the 22-26 July conference: Dr. Saifur Rahman, Stan Klein, Dick Wakefield and Dr. Massoud Amin, who coined the term “Smart Grid” in 1998. Rahman, an IEEE Fellow and founding director of Virginia Tech’s Advanced Research Institute in Arlington, Va., thinks SDG&E’s Smart Grid work could See SMART, page 24

A couple of years ago, Hesham Rakha misjudged a yellow traffic light and entered an intersection just as the light turned red. A police officer handed him a ticket. “There are circumstances, as you approach a yellow light, where the decision is easy. If you are close to the intersection, you keep going. If you are far away, you stop. If you are almost at the intersection, you have to keep going because if you try to stop, you could cause a rear-end crash with the vehicle behind you and would be in the middle of the intersection anyway,” said Rakha, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. He’s not trying to defend his action. Rakha, director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility (www. at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (, is describing his research. Since 2005, his research group has been studying drivers’ behaviors as they apSee DRIVERS, page 24


24 • February 19, 2012

Easing communication with cognitive radio In the wake of the season’s most devastating hurricane, a major metropolitan area reaches out to nearby smaller towns for law enforcement and firefighting assistance. Communication between the city’s command center and public safety professionals from these smaller areas is crucial, so the first thing those individuals providing mutual aid do when they reach the impacted area is pull out their smart phones and use an interface to search for public safety networks in range. The scenario described above might take place much sooner than you might think. A research team from Virginia Tech has delivered a prototype device that uses an Android interface to search for nearby public safety networks, provide push-to-talk capability and cre-

ate a bridge between two networks. Charles W. Bostian, Virginia Tech alumni distinguished professor emeritus in electrical and computer engineering, says the formal goal of the Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice-funded project was to solve the interoperability problem by providing intelligent and affordable all-band all-mode radios that find and identify public safety networks and configure themselves to interoperate with them. “We use the Android as an input-output device. It’s not functioning as a phone, but we use its internal computer, its speaker, its microphone and its touch screen display. It’s connected to another device that is our radio, but there is no reason why the connection could not be

ROANOKE TIMES • February 16, 2012

Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge laboratory manager collaborating on wireless communication Virginia Tech and UTBattelle LLC will collaborate on wireless communication and cognitive radio research at Tech, the univer-

sity announced this week. UT-Battelle, which manages and operates Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will work with Wireless@Virginia Tech

to pursue joint programs in wireless communications and create software, algorithms and research papers….

wireless and no reason the phone could not switch between being used as a smart phone and being part of the radio system,” Bostian says….

THE VIRGINIA ENGINEER September 11, 2012

Computer Science Students Win International Contest

For the third consecutive year, a team of Virginia Tech doctoral students of the College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science and Center for Human-Computer Interaction has won first place in the 3D User Interfaces contest. This year’s competition required students to build a computer application that allowed two users to navigate through a complicated 3-D environment without any direct verbal communication. The Virginia Tech team, also the recipient of the “People’s Choice” award, devised a virtual search and rescue scenario that required a rescuer to enter a burning building to look for survivors as a commander monitored progress on an interactive map of the structure….

INNOVATIONS REPORT • October 17, 2012

Shared transportation system would increase profits, reduce carbon emissions

The Physical Internet – a concept in which goods are handled, stored and transported in a shared network of manufacturers, retailers and the transportation industry – would benefit the U.S. economy and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study by engineers at the University of Arkansas and Virginia Tech University. If 25 percent of the U.S. supply chain operated with such an interconnected system, profits for participating firms would increase by $100 billion, carbon dioxide

emissions from road-based freight would decrease by at least 33 percent and consumers would pay less for goods…. “Our results indicate that the Physical Internet represents a virtuous cycle in which manufacturers, retailers and transportation providers all benefit in terms of increased profit margins and smaller environmental footprints,” said Russ Meller, professor of industrial engineering and director of the Center for Excellence in Logistics and Distribution…. One major consequence of this

SMART - IEEE-TODAY’S ENGINEER serve as a model for other power companies. “As a U.S. utility, they probably have the best penetration of solar photovoltaics (PV) and electric vehicles, which makes

shift, Meller said, would be more predictable short-haul or relay shuttle runs, rather than the prevailing point-to-point or hub-andspoke designs used today. These shorter runs would have many positive consequences – higher profits for stakeholders, savings for consumers, better customer service and lower driver turnover rates. “We predict that a relay network would get drivers home more often, which we believe would drastically reduce driver turnover,” said Kimberly Ellis, engineering professor at Virginia Tech

(Continued from page 23)

Smart Grid more meaningful for them,” Rahman said. “In other words, they have more use for Smart Grid technology because of solar PV and electric vehicle penetration.

“They are facing the challenges we anticipate happening in this part of the country, and responding to it by being more proactive and technologically advanced.”…

and co-author of the study. (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in Material Handling & Logistics.)


BIO-MEDICINE (Continued from page 23)

proach yellow lights. Their goal is to determine signal times for intersections that are safer and still efficient. If a driver decides to stop when instead of proceeding, rear-end crashes could occur. If a driver proceeds instead of stopping, collisions with side street traffic could occur. … (An article about this work also appeared in: Innovations Report, ScienceDaily,, Medical News Today, mediLexicon, and





Virginia Tech professor named to U.S. mine safety panel

By the Associated Press CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Three experts on mine and workplace safety and health were named today to research ways to make U.S. coal mines safer as part of Alpha Natural Resources’ settlement with the federal government following the nation’s worst mine disaster in 40 years. The independent panel selected by Alpha and approved by the U.S. attor-

ney’s office for West Virginia’s southern district includes mining engineering professors Michael Karmis of Virginia Tech and Keith Heasley of West Virginia University, and Dr. David Wegman, a professor emeritus of work environment at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. The panel will operate as the nonprofit Alpha Foundation for the Improvement of Mine Safety and Health

COAL AGE • September 14, 2012

Karmis receives award from mining professors’ society Michael Karmis, the Stonie Barker Chair of Mining and Minerals Engineering at Virginia Tech, has received the first Gunter Fettweis Award from the international Society of Mining Professors. This award recognizes active SOMP members for accomplishments in education, research, and professional service….

Inc. It will spearhead mine safety and health research and development without involvement from Alpha or the U.S. attorney’s office…. Karmis’ work at Virginia Tech has included several projects in health and safety, communications and tracking systems…. Funding priorities will be set starting this summer. Karmis said other industry experts will be among those brought in for discussions. After careful development of ideas, projects would be solicited in the academic and nonprofit fields, and proposals received could be sent to outside experts for their review. “We don’t want to be criticized that we’re funding research that someone else is (doing),” Karmis said. “We don’t want to duplicate. We want really to charter some new waters. We want to encourage proposals looking forward

to solving real problems.”… (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in:, Ventura County Star, Associated Press, WTAP-TV, The Republic, Daily Journal, Times Union, WSLS-TV, Aiken Standard, Product Design & Development, WMC-TV, WJAC-TV, Lexington Herald-Leader, WKRN-TV, WJTV-TV, WCBD-TV, WSAV-TV, WTOV-TV, WSLS-TV, the Daily Press, WVNS-TV, WLEXTV, Charleston Daily Mail, WVVATV, Charleston Gazette, WCHS-TV, KFVS-TV, WDTV-TV, WSAZ-TV, WSLS-TV, WJBF-TV, WTTG-TV. WHLT-TV, WVNS-TV, WWBT-TV, Staten Island Advance, Herald-Dispatch, WXIX-TV, WAVE-TV, The Republic, WRIC-TV, WTVF-TV, WSMV-TV, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Saturday Gazette Mail, WTOV-TV, Platts, WDRBTV, Sunday Gazette-Mail, and R&D Magazine.)


Mine safety projects pitched to foundation

By Ken Ward, Jr. CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Mine safety and health experts from around the country gathered in Charleston Wednesday to begin talking about how $48 million in new research money could be best used to help protect the nation’s coal miners. Three top researchers leading a new foundation put together by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin

heard presentations from academics, labor leaders, industry lobbyists and safety advocates at the Embassy Suites about how the money should be spent. Keith Heasley of West Virginia University, Michael Karmis of Virginia Tech and David Wegman of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell were named to lead the effort by Goodwin and

Alpha Natural Resources…. Heasley, Wegman and Karmis heard presentations about a variety of topics, ranging from improved mine rescue efforts to black lung disease, from miner training to ventilation of underground mines…. (Editor’s Note: This article ran on the Associated Press (AP) wire service.)

HUFFINGTON POST • October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy power outages:

Why it takes Con Edison days to get the lights back on

By Betsy Isaacson Crashing at friend’s houses, blessing our gas stoves and plugging into trees, New Yorkers are all wondering – why does it take the power so long to go back on? Con Edison’s said it could take as long as four days to restore power in Manhattan, and as much as a week in the outer boroughs. For many of us, desperately trying to preserve the flickering life of a laptop or cellphone battery, that seems too long to ponder. Here’s why it will take that long, whether we like it or not.

According to Virginia Tech professor and infrastructure expert Saifur Rahman, an electrical grid like New York’s has several key parts, each of which are essential to getting electricity to homes. First, there’s the generator – a power plant that generates electricity for large swaths of the city. That power is then pushed, at very high voltage, across transmission lines – thick bundles of metal cables that handle enormous amounts of juice. Power from transmission lines is then sent into transformers, machines that bring down the voltage of the electricity, before sending

it into small distribution lines, which transport that electricity into our homes. All of these pieces are uniquely vulnerable. “Power lines are underground in cable trenches, and if they get flooded, you have short circuit possibilities,” says Rahman. Small or backup power generators, he continues, are often in basements which flood and short-circuit the generators when a storm hits, and “substations that contain transformers are open air and they’re subject to storm damage.” … Unfortunately, electrical grids

don’t work like the web: “On the internet,” says Rahman, “there is a mesh of networks which has multiple alternate paths to get your data from point A to point B in various ways. Electrical power systems are not built that way for many reasons, one is cost, so in many cases you have one primary route and maybe a secondary route and that’s it.” If the primary distribution route for electricity to a cluster of homes is down, Rahman says, the secondary route can get overwhelmed very easily, “and sometimes, in the case of New York, you may have lost the primary and the secondary.”…


26 EE TIMES • May 2, 2012

Disruption in the engineering classroom By Brian Fuller Quietly, while we worry about the state of engineering education, the university engineering curriculum is being disrupted before our very eyes. It began about five years ago when we saw the beginnings of an approach to learning that’s now ramping pretty quickly. In 2007, the Mobile Studio project came onto the scene. In short it was a lab-in-abox approach that put scope capabilities in the hands of engineering students. No need to book lab time, plus you can do your experiments in your dorm room or at Starbucks. … Lab in a box The $99 Digilent Analog Discovery Design Kit and the more advanced $199 Digilent Analog Ex-

plorer Design Kit allow students to build and test a wide range of analog and digital circuits using their own PC without the need for any other equipment. “We did it because students coming in had never touched a resistor before. And the first time they were was second semester of their sophomore year. They were unsure of electrical engineering was,” said Kathleen Meehan, associate professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. In an interview earlier this year, she, Clint Cole, Digilent’s president and founder, and Dave Babicz, ADI’s director of global alliances, laid out the financial value proposition: A lab bench costs $5,000-

CITYBIZLIST (Boston, Mass.) • June 26, 2012

Analog Devices names university program strategic advocates NORWOOD, Mass. (BUSINESS WIRE) – Analog Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADI) today named four strategic advocates to the Analog Devices University Program. Strategic Advocates serve as distinguished advisors who provide insight and guidance to the company’s ongoing mission to promote and support hands-on, active learning at engineering universities throughout the world…. (including) • Kathleen Meehan, associate professor, Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Virginia Tech ...

“Professors Connor, Meehan, Robertson and Bowman are outstanding educators teaching at some of the best engineering schools in the country. They are passionate about preparing the next generation of engineers to succeed in the workforce and possess a keen, first-hand understanding of the needs of today’s engineering students,” said Samuel Fuller, chief technology officer, Analog Devices. … (Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in Business Wire, XML-Journal, Individual online, and Analog Devices.)

$10,000 to replace; to establish a classroom is at least $100,000 and another $100,000 to man the labs. “And that wasn’t in the cards given the budget cuts we were endur-

ing,” Meehan said. “So doing experiments outside the classroom was the only way to establish a circuits lab and get them engaged in the process earlier.”…

EE TIMES • September 10, 2012

Why engineering students need a virtual lab bench By Kathleen Meehan Build the lab and they will come – and stand in line. Put the lab online and students can carry out experiments anywhere. That’s the basic premise behind the “Lab-ina-box” model Virginia Tech developed a few years ago – out of necessity. Virginia Tech’s department of electrical and computer engineering currently has about 625 undergrad engineering majors enrolled in beginning circuits and electronics classes, all competing for just 48 lab seats. With three hours of lab per week, that would be 39 lab sections to schedule. Impossible. Instead, we built a better mousetrap, then put it online. Now, many

more engineering students get to experience hands-on learning wherever they are, which is especially important today. Thanks to recent enhancements, our virtual lab bench keeps getting better while the cost per student is down to the price of a textbook. … Our students love Lab-in-a-box. The kit allows them to design, build and test various DC and AC circuits at home. Students build self-confidence as they learn to build a circuit with “real” physical components instead of “symbolic” parts. … (Kathleen Meehan is associate professor of electrical and computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. She can be reached at


Walz to be dean of UK’s college of engineering John Y. Walz, a professor and head of the chemical engineering department at Virginia Tech, has been named the 10th dean of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering. He will begin Sept. 1. Walz will replace Thomas W. Lester, who is stepping down from the position he has held since 1990. ….

CE NEWS • December 4, 2012

Virginia Tech engineer defines globalization rubrick for construction BLACKSBURG, VA. — Imagine going in for a performance evaluation and the only object in the room is a report saying your work is not up to par. No explanations are provided, and no one is available to you to ask how to improve your efforts. This feeling of frustration is one many construction companies face in their efforts to go global. Looking into the abyss of globalization for the design and construction industry and the potential difficulties of cross-cultural partnerships is John E. Taylor, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. Taylor has created a unique lab at Virginia Tech

that conducts experiments and develops simulations that examine, model and improve systemic change in engineering networks of industrial and societal importance. One of the key areas of research, his Civil Engineering Network Dynamics Lab (, investigates the impact of globalization dynamics on design and construction project performance.

NPR (RADIO) • November 20, 2012

Virginia Tech Robotics Lab

Taylor has identified two key advancements for companies to become and stay globally competitive: a Global Self-Assessment Tool, or G-SAT, and the hiring of a person to span the cultural boundaries. The Construction Industry Institute, the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are funding his work in this area….

At Virginia Tech’s Robotics Lab, Dr. Dennis Hong’s team continues work on a new kind of robot. It’s capable of doing things which no robot has done before. Robbie Harris has the story. ...



27 • November 26, 2012

Scanning innovation can improve personalized medicine New combinations of medical imaging technologies hold promise for improved early disease screening, cancer staging, therapeutic assessment, and other aspects of personalized medicine, according to Ge Wang, director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Biomedical Imaging, in a recent paper that appeared in the refereed journal PLoS One. The integration of multiple major tomographic scanners into a single framework “is a new way of thinking in the biomedical imaging world” and is evolving into a “grand fusion” of many imaging modalities known as “omni-tomography,” explained Wang, the lead author of the article. Wang has a history of “firsts” in the imaging world, including the first paper on spiral multi-slice/cone-beam CT in 1991, on bioluminescence tomography in 2004, and on interior tomography in 2007.


L-3, Virginia Tech open cybersecurity center By Marjorie Censer Defense contractor L-3 Communications and Virginia Tech are set to formally open a cybersecurity research center in Arlington on Friday. The center, located in Virginia Tech’s Ballston research center, is meant to give L-3 employees access to the university’s labs and equipment and Virginia Tech’s faculty and students a chance to collaborate with L-3 on cybersecurity research…. Charles Clancy, who heads up Virginia Tech’s Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology, said the collaboration would give students and faculty more real-world experience. “Cybersecurity in particular is an area where the needs are pretty significant,” he said. “By having [the] university and a company working together so closely, we can significantly shorten the lead time between innovation and solution.”…

“The holy grail of biomedical imaging is an integrated system capable of producing tomographic, simultaneous, dynamic observations of highly complex biological phenomena in vivo,” Wang said…. The potential clinical applications for omni-tomography may improve personalized medicine. “As an example enabled by interior tomography, an interior CT-MRI scanner can target the fast-beating heart for registration of functions and structures, delivery of drugs or stem cells, and guidance of complicated procedures such as heart valve replacement,” Wang said. Omni-tomography as a unified technology “also gives leverage to a greatly reduced radiation dose when MRI-aided interior CT reconstruction is implemented,” Wang asserted. On the other hand, “it can generate higher-resolution details in MRI images.”

MACWORLD UK • July 23, 2012

The reduction in radiation dosage is a hot topic in the CT field. Medical X-rays, in use for more than 100 years, only accounted for about 10 percent of the total American radiation exposure in the late 1980s. The subsequent growth of the use of various medical x-ray imaging methods now accounts for approximately half of the total radiation exposure of the U.S. population….


AOPA PILOT (Continued from page 18)

the pilot who played the role of Orville Wright in the December 3, 2003, reenactment, on the centennial, of the first flight of the Wright Flyer. That, Kochersberger noted in an email, was the first morphing wing design to fly.

Stop using email for everything

How some companies have found new ways to communicate and collaborate

By Joel Mathis Email simply doesn’t offer executives the same opportunity to directly monitor and guide Seva stores, he said. The company now uses email almost exclusively to remind customers that it’s time for a new appointment. And as a side benefit: Employees don’t get distracted checking email

when they should be attending other tasks. Social media to the rescue While some companies are building their own tools, others are discovering new off-the-shelf technologies for managing their internal communications…. Aditya Johri, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech, studies compa-

nies using alternatives to email. In the end, he thinks companies will be slow to replace it altogether. Email is still the best way to document a company’s internal communications — an important feature for companies facing legal liability issues. “I won’t say companies are leaving email,” he said, “but they are changing their dependency on email.”… • July 3, 2012

Enjoy setting off fireworks, but be sure to protect those eyes

Studies show the blasts themselves don’t injure peepers, it’s the projectiles By Stephanie Pappas This Independence Day, protect your eyes. More than 2,000 people need medical attention each year for eye injuries caused by fireworks, and new research finds it’s the projectiles themselves, rather than the blast, that cause most of those injuries. In the new study, researchers used eyes from cadavers to find out, through high-speed video and pressure sensors, what happens when the human eye is subjected to the explosive power of fireworks. They found that the pressures involved aren’t enough to injure the eye on their own, as previously had been believed.

That leaves the actual projectiles hitting the eye as the main source for the 2,100 or so eye injuries caused by fireworks in the United States each year. Most of these happen during Fourth of July celebrations. “For the first time, we’ve been able to prove through this research that it’s not the blast or explosion that is causing the injuries but it’s some sort of projectile,” study researcher Stefan Duma, a biomedical engineer at Virginia Tech, told LiveScience. In any explosion, the first danger comes from the shock wave, which can cause severe internal injuries due to sudSee FIREWORKS, page 28

News Office, College of Engineering Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA 24061

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Blacksburg VA 24060 Permit No. 28

ILLINOIS OUTDOORS, INC. • March 28, 2012

Cats don’t always land on their feet

By Steve Dale Here’s what can happen if you leave your window open a crack, your pet can fall out. Really, it happens. It happened to Brittney Kirk in Boston. Her cat tumbled out the window and fell 19 stories. She landed on a patch of grass, and somehow incurred only minor injuries. Dazed and confused the cat was picked up, and identified because she is microchipped (thank goodness for microchips). In a 1987 study of 132 cats brought to a New York City emergency veterinary clinic after falls from high-rise buildings, 90% of treated cats survived and only 37% needed emergency treatment to keep them alive. One that fell 32 stories onto concrete suffered only a chipped tooth and a collapsed lung and was released after 48 hours…. Cats are essentially arboreal animals: when they’re not living in homes or in urban alleys, they tend to live in trees…. “Being able to survive falls is a critical thing for animals that live in trees, and cats are one of them,” says Dr. Jake Socha, a biomecha-

nist at Virginia Tech university. “The domestic cat still contains whatever suite of adaptations they have that have enable cats to be good up in trees.”…

WWBT-TV (Richmond, Va.) • September 27, 2012

Va. Tech research lab aims for the sky and sea BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – Researchers at Virginia Tech are hoping a new laboratory will help develop advanced technology for unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles. The Blacksburg school recently celebrated the opening of the Kentland Experimental Aerial Systems Laboratory. It is being shared by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering. The 2,000-square-foot lab will be used by students and faculty members to conduct research that will examine everything from the spread of airborne plant pathogens using unmanned aerial vehicles to the creation of more hightech submarines….


den changes in pressure. It had been suggested that fireworks can create shock waves strong enough to internally injure the eye, Duma and colleagues wrote in the July 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study is part of a larger Department of Defense effort to examine the injuries associated with explosions

(Continued from page 27)

such as those from improved explosive devices (IEDs). Before building up to those sorts of large explosions, though, Duma and his colleagues started with small charges so that they can look at how damage changes as explosions grow in size…. (Editor’s Note: A version of this article ran on the Reuters News Service, and appeared on WHTC-AM,

WebMD, Thomson Reuters – India online, L.A. Times, ABC News Radio, ABC News, WEMP-FM, KBIOAM, KABC-AM, International Business Times (Hong Kong), Morning Call, BioPortfolio, WLYH-TV, KGOAM, KSFO-AM,, The Daily Press, Chicago Tribune, Carriage Towne News, Akron News, The Virginia Engineer, and WHP-TV.)


Student Engineers’ Council Wins Best in Nation, Most Philanthropic for 2012 The engineering students at Virginia Tech were chosen as the most philanthropic in the country for 2012 as well operating the nation’s best Student Engineers’ Council, according to the results of the recent annual competition hosted by the National Association of Engineering Student Councils (NAESC) at Purdue University. Among the various accolades, Virginia Tech Student Engineers’ Council was cited for its allocation of over $100,000

to the University’s College of Engineering in the past year, as well as more than $1 million in the past ten years. This money was used for various engineering projects including: partially funding more than 30 engineering organizations such as the internationally award winning hybrid electric vehicle team; the outdoor-terrain motorsport team; and the Baja and Formula Society of Automotive Engineers’ teams….

2012 Virginia Tech College of Engineering Headlines 2012  

College of Engineering Headlines is producedannually to present highlights of the pastyear as well as late-breaking December 2011news, as th...

2012 Virginia Tech College of Engineering Headlines 2012  

College of Engineering Headlines is producedannually to present highlights of the pastyear as well as late-breaking December 2011news, as th...