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Kathy Wirtanen
Administrative, Facility
& Conference Assistant

P:  (540) 464-7361
F: (540) 464-7396

Center for Leadership & Ethics
VMI, Marshall Hall
500 Anderson Drive
Lexington, VA  24450

Keynote Speaker

Mr. Grant Imahara of MythBusters

2014_ImaharaBefore becoming a Mythbuster, Grant Imahara was an animatronics engineer and modelmaker for George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic in Marin County, California. He specialized in electronics and radio control at the ILM Model Shop, and has credits on numerous movies, including Jurassic Park: The Lost World, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Galaxy Quest, AI: Artificial Intelligence, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Matrix: Reloaded and Revolutions, and most recently, Van Helsing and Star Wars: Episode III.

He has installed electronics in R2-D2 units for Star Wars Episodes I and II, replacing the halogen light source and rotating color wheel (for the sparkly lights) with a custom microcontroller-based LED circuit that was originally created to make the pulsating lights for the main engines of the Protector, from Galaxy Quest. He also upgraded all of the radio equipment and speed controls to modern standards. Along with R2-D2 Crew Chief Don Bies and Nelson Hall, he is one of only three official R2-D2 operators in the United States.

Grant developed a custom circuit to cycle the Energizer Bunny's arm beats and ears at a constant rate. He performed all electronics installation and radio programming on the current generation of Bunnies. He later became the Bunny's driver and the Crew Supervisor on numerous commercials in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Mexico, and New Zealand.

Grant has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California. He picked up his mechanical skills from the machinists at the ILM Model Shop, many of whom date back to Howard the Duck (1986).

For fun, Grant has competed in Comedy Central’s BattleBots with his robot "Deadblow," which he designed and built. Deadblow won two Middleweight Rumbles and was the Middleweight runner-up in 2000. It set a record for most number of hits in the first season of the show, and was ranked number on in Season 3.0.

In 2003, Wiley Technology Publishing released Grant’s book Kickin’ Bot: An Illustrated Guide to Building Combat Robots. At 528 pages long, it is regarded by many combat robot-building enthusiasts as the “bible” for that sport. It has a five-star average customer review on Amazon.com.

Grant appeared on TLC’s Junkyard Wars in a two-hour special called “Junkyard Wars Goes to the Movies” as the captain of Team ILM. They created a 13-foot tall R2-D2 out of junk in 20 hours that was equipped with a flamethrower, hydraulic lifting arm and CO2 pneumatic projectile gun. Team ILM won the competition, which challenged the junkyard machines to destroy a fleet of attacking aliens with their various weapons.

Most recently, Grant built the rude and often irreverent robot skeleton sidekick Geoff Peterson for the popular CBS late night talk show The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Grant’s skill set includes electronics design and fabrication, machining, welding, woodworking, CAD layout, pneumatics, CNC programming, and laser cutting, as well as some moldmaking and paint.

Plenary Speakers

Hastings, Nicole

2014_HastingsDr. Hastings oversees HemoShear’s processes, internal execution and growth. She obtained her Ph.D. from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia, where she worked with the co-founders Drs. Blackman and Wamhoff to develop HemoShear’s vascular system. Dr. Hastings is an active member of VirginiaBio, the statewide biotechnology trade organization, through which she supports local STEM initiatives. She is first author on two peer-reviewed publications, is co-author on five additional high-impact publications, and has presented at various international meetings. Prior to obtaining her Ph.D. at UVa, Dr. Hastings obtained a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from North Carolina State University.

 

 

 

 

Nathan, Mitchell

2014_NathanDr. Mitchell Nathan is a professor of learning sciences in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds an electrical engineering degree (robotic systems and computer vision) from Carnegie Mellon University and a PhD in cognitive psychology from University of Colorado-Boulder. His research interests include learning sciences, cognition and instruction, STEM education, mathematics education, pre-college engineering engineering, classroom based research, student thinking, teacher knowledge and beliefs, teaching, gesture studies, discourse analysis, embodied cognition, and educational technology. Dr. Nathan is also the director of the Center on Education and Work, and holds faculty appointments in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, Department of Curriculum and Instruction and Psychology Department at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Nathan will present an orientation on “Leading Your Students to Make Connections in Integrative STEM.”

 

Workshop Presenters

Addington, Shawn

2014_AddingtonCol. Shawn Addington is Professor and Head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Virginia Military Institute. He earned his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech. At VMI, he developed two new programs in Microelectronics and Semiconductor Devices which have since supported numerous undergraduate research projects. Col. Addington has also published and presented research in the area of engineering pedagogy, is a member of several professional and honor societies, and is a registered professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

Teaching Electrical Circuits is a “Snap”!
This hands-on workshop will introduce educators to the “Electronic Snap Circuits” product as a tool to teach basic electricity and electronics to students in grades three through eight.

Electricity and electronics education often presents numerous challenges to the educator, and can be frustrating to the student – small parts and wires, confusing schematics, expensive components, boring simulations, etc. However, through the use of “Electronic Snap Circuits,” students can quickly and easily construct a variety of circuits, and educators can customize course content to suit the grade and size of the class.

 

 

Almarode, John

2014_AlmarodeDr. John Almarode is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education at James Madison University. As a teacher, he has worked with all age groups in education, from pre kindergarteners to graduate students. John began his career in Augusta County, Virginia, teaching secondary mathematics and science to a wide range of students. As a staff developer, John has presented locally, nationally, and internationally in countries as far away as Canada, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Korea, and Thailand. He has worked with thousands of teachers, dozens of school districts, and multiple professional organizations. John has conducted staff development workshops, keynote addresses, and conference presentations on a variety of topics including student engagement, evidence based practices, creating enriched environments that promote learning, and designing classrooms with the brain in mind. John’s action packed workshops offer participants ready to use strategies and the brain rules that make them work. He has authored multiple articles, reports, book chapters, and two books including Captivate, Activate, and Invigorate the Student Brain in Science and Math, Grades 6 - 12 (Corwin Press, 2013) and a children’s book (Author House, 2010) to help educators inform students about their amazing brains.

Dr. Almarode will present "Scuba Divers, Not Snorkelers! How Engineering-Based Lessons Promotes Deeper Thinking in STEM," a workshop targeted to grades 3-8.

 

Bevans, Suzanne

2014_BevansMrs. Suzanne Bevans has a master’s degree in education from George Mason University in Virginia with an additional certification in administration and supervision. During her twenty year career in education as classroom teacher, assistant principal, and principal, Mrs. Bevans has worked in Arizona, Texas, California, and Virginia. This multi-state experience offered many positive opportunities to observe and absorb a broad base of teaching, procedural, and management styles.

In 2011 she assumed her current position as Principal of Henderson Elementary School in Prince William County (PWC), VA, moving rapidly to develop and integrate Children’s Engineering concepts within grades K-5. Carefully choreographed efforts by the entire staff have now matured into strong support from teachers, PWC senior administrators, and the extended Henderson community. However most gratifying is the reaction of students at every grade level, enthusiastically embracing and visibly enjoying factoring engineering concepts into the daily challenges of learning. From concept to application, Henderson’s students have made their school a recognized leader within PWC.

Mrs. Bevans will be leading a workshop on Materials Engineering: Hockey Puck with assistance from Ms. Corinne Doerr and Ms. Lisa Jacobsmeyer.

Blandino, Joyce

2014_BlandinoMaj. Joyce Blandino is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia  Military Institute. For more information on Maj. Blandino, please visit her VMI website.

Maj. Blandino will lead a workshop on Building a LEGO® Clock.

 

 

 

 

Brooke, George

2014_BrookeLt. Col. George Brooke is an Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Virginia Military Institute. For more information on Lt. Col. Brooke, please visit his VMI website.

Lt. Col. Brooke will lead a workshop on "An enLIGHTENING Experience: The Electromagnetic Spectrum."

 

 

 

 

Colón Robles, Marilé
2014_Colon_RoblesMrs. Marilé Colón Robles is an educator at NASA Langley Research Center. Marilé joined NASA Langley’s Informal Education Team after being a research scientist studying aerosols and clouds. At Langley, Mrs. Colón Robles has taught and organized teacher professional development workshops, museum events, STEM summer camps for middle school students, and developed interactive climate games. Mrs. Colón Robles has supported NASA’s Hispanic Education Initiative and helped manage the agency’s partnership with Univision Communications. She also developed content for the initiative’s bilingual website, NASA y Tύ (NASA and You).

Mrs. Colón Robles was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She earned a BS in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus and an M.S. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mrs. Colón Robles has been an adjunct instructor at Virginia Wesleyan College teaching Meteorology.

Rockets to Racecars: Drag Race to Mars 
Does Mars have an atmosphere? Why does it matter?Accept the challenge to learn more about Mars and build a capsule that couldland safely on the surface of the Red planet just as NASA engineers did withthe Curiosity rover. As the capsule went rushing through the atmosphere it wasspeeding toward the Martian surface, headed for a crash landing. In thishands-on workshop, participants will put on their engineering hard hat and design anapparatus that uses drag to slow down the capsule and allow for a safe landing.Then they will learn how racing engineers use those same principles to hold carstight to the racetrack as they travel at amazing speeds. Mrs. Tracy Proffitt willshare her experiences of doing this activity in her fourth grade classroom.
Cone, Randall

2014_ConeMaj. Randall E. Cone is Director of the IBL-based Mathematics Education and Resource Center, as well as Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Virginia Military Institute. Maj. Cone was recently featured on the NPR show "With Good Reason" and in the 2014 Feb/Mar issue of the MAA FOCUS magazine, each for his work in engaging communities through math and education. He received his undergraduate education at Salisbury University in Maryland, his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech, and has enjoyed learning and teaching throughout his career. He continually looks to how best engage his students and encourage them to become independent thinkers. Randy, as most know him, loves life and music; noting that they are usually, and approximately, the same thing.

 

 

 

D'Alessandro, Kacie

2014_DalessandroDr. Kacie D’Alessandro obtained her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering at Clemson University before obtaining her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech.

Dr. D'Alessandro is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Engineering at Washington and Lee University. She teaches engineering mechanics, engineering design, and materials science courses at W&LU, and her research interests include ultra-high performance concrete, concrete structures, and engineering education.

Concrete for Kids
Concrete is one of the most common building materials in the world. We use it on a daily basis in our bridges and roads, but the question remains: do we really know anything about this highly engineered material? Concrete for Kids is a basic set of lessons that allows students to learn more about why concrete is important, where it is used, and how it is made. Included are demonstrations and activities that can be used in a classroom. Students can design, build, and even test their very own concrete for a minimal cost. The lessons can be easily arranged for a lab or classroom setting, single or multiple lessons, and various age groups. 

Doerr, Corinne
2014_DoerrMrs. Corinne C. Doerr earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and her Masters of Science degree in education at Old Dominion University. She has taught both in private and public school systems, including as a preschool teacher and director and at the elementary level.

Since 1994, Mrs. Doerr has worked in Prince William County Schools, most of those years working in third or fourth grade. She has experience working in a Spanish Language Immersion Program and more recently as a co-teacher of students with English as the Second Language. Recently, Mrs. Doerr has attended Professional Development for Virginia Elementary STEM and Virginia Studies. She has also been a co-presenter at the county and state level. Mrs. Doerr is a strong supporter of elementary STEM education and she also plans to add a gifted education endorsement in September, 2014. She lives with her husband, Doug (VMI ’79) in Prince William County and is the mother of two grown children.

Mrs. Doerr will be assisting with the workshop "Materials Engineering: Hockey Puck."
Dye, Kim
2014_DyeMs. Kim Dye is a graduate of Lee Davis High School in Mechanicsville, VA and from Longwood University, in Farmville, VA. She has 25 years experience teaching upper elementary and seven additional years as the Science Lead Teacher Specialist for Hanover Public Schools. Her commitment to students being involved in their own experiences as they explore science inquiry is evident in the numerous professional developments she has led at the county, regional and state level.

Ms. Dye lives in Ashland with her husband, Fred. They have three children and two grandchildren who are always allowed to jump in puddles and chase fireflies.

Harnessing the Wind
Participants will explore energy as they build their own generators to do work. Using the book "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind," teachers will leave with literature connections to science and engineering through the story of William Kamkwamba from Malawi, which will no doubt inspire students as they explore his story to see how reading a book on windmills gave William the idea to build one in his village which struggled from the effects of drought and hunger. Participants should be prepared to build, make connections and imagine the possibilities for upper elementary students.

Fitzpatrick, Judy

2014_FitzpatrickMs. Judy Fitzpatrick has a Bachelors of Arts degree in sociology from the University of Washington and a Masters of Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University. She has a gifted endorsement and has 22 years experience teaching upper elementary in both Title 1 and suburban public schools. Ms. Fitzpatrick is currently a fourth grade teacher of the gifted in Henrico County Schools, and is passionate about integrating children’s engineering and problem-based learning into the curriculum. Mrs. Fitzpatrick has attended and presented many workshops in STEM education.

Engineering is Elementary: Integrating Elementary Science and Engineering into the Elementary Curriculum
Using the Engineering is Elementary unit “Hand Pollinators” as a model, teachers will engage in project-based engineering activities that integrate with science instruction and all areas of the curriculum. Through the use of storybooks and design challenges, participants will use the engineering design loop (ask, imagine, plan, create, improve) to solve a real-world problem. Participants will go through the steps to successfully introduce engineering activities into the classroom.

Hardin, Jon-Michael

COL Hardin is Department Head and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Military Institute. For more information on COL Hardin, please visit his VMI website.

COL Hardin will lead a workshop on Algebra for Engineers.

Herald, Meagan

2014_HeraldMaj. Meagan Herald is an Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics at Virginia Military Institute. For more information on Maj. Herald, please visit her VMI website.

Exploring Chaos Through Games
Participants will begin to explore the mathematical theory of chaos through physical and mental experiments and determine if seemingly random events can lead to well-defined patterns. The goal is to motivate students to look for mathematics outside the classroom and to better understand the interaction between mathematics and engineering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacobsmeyer, Lisa

2014_JacobsmeyerMrs. Lisa Jacobsmeyer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from the University of Rochester and a Masters of Arts degree in history of science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has a masters of education and TESOL certification from the University of Mary Washington. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in English as a new language/early and middle childhood. 

Mrs. Jacobsmeyer has been an ESOL teacher in Prince William County for 9 years and has worked with all elementary grades. She has co-taught science, math, and social studies, and integrates children’s engineering/STEM into her English language development classes. She has attended multiple professional development programs in children’s engineering, science, and English language development. She has presented at local, state, and national conferences on various topics in children’s engineering and in English as a second language. She has also been an adjunct instructor for George Mason University and the University of Mary Washington.

Mrs. Jacobsmeyer will be co-presenting a workshop on Materials Engineering: Hockey Puck with Mrs. Corinne Doerr and Mrs. Suzanne Bevans.

Klevickis, Cindy

2014_KlevickisDr. Cindy Klevickis is a Professor of Integrated Science and Technology at James Madison University. For more information on Dr. Klevickis, please visit her JMU webpage.

Dr. Klevickis will lead a workshop on Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream.

 

 

 

 

 

Leighty, Diane

2014_LeightyMs. Diane Leighty has been a mathematics educator for over 30 years. Although most of those years were spent teaching high school math from Algebra 1 to BC Calculus, she also worked extensively with middle school and elementary classes as Powhatan County Schools Mathematics Coordinator for 8 years.

Having retired from that position in 2010, Ms. Leighty continues to work with teachers and schools as a consultant as well as providing webinars and instruction through Longwood University and UVA. She is also actively connected through her role in VCTM as an appointed Board Member.

Ms. Leighty is very passionate about the role of engineering in teaching mathematics and science beginning at the elementary level, having been one of the developers of a summer engineering camp for grades 3-9 for Powhatan County Schools, and helping to implement engineering lessons in several elementary schools during the school year.

Engineering Our Way with Math and Science in Elementary Classrooms (Grades 3 – 5)
Engineering Our Way Through Middle School Mathematics (Grades 6 – 8)

Workshops will stress the importance of encouraging creative thinking, problem solving, and working collaboratively. Simple design/build activities will be undertaken, including creating a cube out of a cereal box while keeping the same volume as the box itself, and activities including measurement and geometry. Throughout the workshops, assisting students with reasoning through problem and applying math in practical ways will be stressed.  

Livingston, David

2014_LivingstonCol. David Livingston is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Virginia Military Institute. He received the B.S.E., M.E., and Ph.D. degrees from Old Dominion University all in electrical engineering. He started his professional career at IBM where he participated in the design of two models of the IBM PC: the IBM PC-XT/370 and the IBM PC-AT/370. He worked as an Assistant Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Old Dominion University and was the Program Head of Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technology at Virginia Western Community College.

Col. Livingston teaches the computers and robotics modules of the curriculum introduction course, combinational circuits, sequential circuits and digital systems, computer design, and microcontrollers in the department. He also serves as the branch counselor for the student branch of the IEEE and is active in K-12 outreach. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia. His research interests include evolutionary robotics, computational intelligence, embedded systems, computer architecture, and applications programming. He is a senior member of the IEEE and the IEEE Computer Society and is a member of ACM, ASEE, Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, and Phi Kappa Phi.

Col. Livingston will lead workshop on an Introduction to Robotics and an Introduction to Physical Computing & Arduino.

 

Moore, Tim


2014_MooreMaj. Timothy Moore, II is an Assistant Professor of Civil & Electrical Engineering at Virginia Military Institute. He received his Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His specialties include environmental engineering - process and infrastructure design, atmospheric science - air quality and global climate change, and professional engineer.

 

 

 

 

Mullen, Grigg

 2014_MullenCol. Mullen is the Benjamin H. Hardaway, Jr. '31 Institute Professorship in Engineering at Virginia Military Institute. For more information on Col. Mullen, please visit his VMI website.

Col. Mullen will lead a workshop on Developing and Leading a Trebuchet Project (with demonstration).

 

 

 

 

 

Neel, Willard

2014_NeelCol. Willard Neel is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Military Institute. For more information on Col. Neel, please visit his VMI website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newhouse, Chuck

2014_NewhouseLt. Col. Charles D. “Chuck” Newhouse, Ph.D., P.E., is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Military Institute, specializing in structural engineering. He worked as a consulting structural engineer in Norfolk, VA for nine years performing bridge and building design, bridge inspections, and bridge rehabilitations. After teaching three years at Texas Tech University, he joined VMI in 2008. He has worked to prepare cadets for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, the first of two tests required to become a professional engineer. He has also served as a member of the Gifted Advisory Committee for the City of Lexington School District.

Teaching the Basics of Computer Programming Using SCRATCH
Learn why it is important that all engineers should learn some computer programming. During this hands-on session participants will learn the how to do some basic computer programming using the free software SCRATCH. Some of the Computer Mathematics SOLs will be addressed.

Pangle, Remy

2014_PangleMs. Remy Pangle is the Associate Director and Education & Outreach Coordinator of the Center for Wind Energy at James Madison University. Ms. Pangle is also the Director of Education and Outreach and State Facilitator for the Wind for Schools (WfS) program in Virginia. She works mainly with educators and school administrators to bring meaningful wind (and all alternative) energy education into the classroom. She also has an interest in offshore wind and other sources of ocean renewable energy. Ms. Pangle has a background in Integrated Science and Technology as well as Oceanography.

Wind Turbine Blade Design Challenge: An Example of Children's Engineering
Teachers will participate in a design challenge involving wind turbine blade design. Participants will work through the research phase and then brainstorm design ideas and create a prototype to be tested. Other wind energy resources will be reviewed and the session will end with a discussion on how the design challenge can be integrated into the classrooms.

Proffitt, Tracy

2014_ProffittMrs. Tracy Proffitt teaches fourth grade math and science at the Gifted Opportunities Center at R.S. Payne Elementary School in Lynchburg, VA. In her seven years with Lynchburg City Schools, Mrs. Proffitt has also taught fifth grade and fourth grade inclusion. Mrs. Proffitt was selected as a 2014 finalist for the McGlothlin Award for Teaching Excellence. She and her husband, also an LCS teacher, have two young children.

Rockets to Racecars: Drag Race to Mars 
Does Mars have an atmosphere? Why does it matter? Accept the challenge to learn more about Mars and build a capsule that could land safely on the surface of the Red planet just as NASA engineers did with the Curiosity rover. As the capsule went rushing through the atmosphere it was speeding toward the Martian surface, headed for a crash landing. In this hands-on workshop, participants will put on their engineering hard hat and design an apparatus that uses drag to slow down the capsule and allow for a safe landing. Then they will learn how racing engineers use those same principles to hold cars tight to the racetrack as they travel at amazing speeds. Mrs. Tracy Proffitt will share her experiences of doing this activity in her fourth grade classroom.

Sullivan, Jay

2014_SullivanCol. Gerald "Jay" A. Sullivan is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Military Institute. For more information on Colonel Sullivan, please visit his VMI website.

Col. Sullivan will lead a workshop on "Learning By Design."

 

 

 

Squire, Jim

2014_SquireCol. James "Jim" Squire is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Military Institute with interests in engineering pedagogy (theory of teaching), instrumentation, patent law, mechatronics (combining electrical and mechanical engineering), and biomedical engineering. 

Col. Squire graduated from West Point in 1989 and was awarded a Bronze Star while serving in the Gulf War as a military intelligence officer. He returned to graduate school at M.I.T. where he taught, consulted in patent litigation and engineering, and performed biomedical engineering research that led to his doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science. He joined the VMI ECE faculty in 2000, received their Distinguished Teaching Award in 2002, and in 2004 was selected by the state of Virginia for the Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award. 

In 2008 Col. Squire joined the VMI Class of 2009 as their Honorary Brother Rat. He teaches freshmen through senior-level courses in circuits I and II, linear signals and systems, digital signal processing, senior seminar, and supervises various independent research and honors projects, and his research has led to nine patents and patent-pendings.

For more information on Col. Squire, please visit his privately maintained website.

Pre-Conference Workshop
Making Waves: Easy Demonstrations and Experiments
Our most important senses, sight and hearing, are entirely wave-based, and yet the abstract nature of waves can make them difficult to teach. In this pre-conference workshop participants will examine several simple demonstrations, both computer-based and physical, that will make understanding wave properties fun and intuitive, as well as directly address the Virginia Grade 5 SOL science requirements. Participants will also experience how our senses can be electronically enhanced to explore, for instance, the radio signature of lightning strikes on the other side of the earth, view sound waves using Ooblik and oscilloscopes, or view the thermal images we leave behind as we walk down a carpet, and discuss ways to attract guest speakers to your classroom that can provide these types of more complex demonstrations. 

Workshop attendees will be given a USB key with all computer software used, as well as sources and instructions to build the more complex demonstrations.

Registration is limited to 16.

Swenty, Matthew

 2014_swentyMaj. Matthew K. Swenty is an Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Virginia Military Institute. He obtained his Civil Engineering degree at Missouri S&T then worked as a bridge designer at the Missouri Department of Transportation before returning to obtain his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech. He worked at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McClean, Virginia on concrete bridge research before coming to Virginia Military Institute. 

Maj. Swenty teaches engineering mechanics and structural engineering courses at VMI and enjoys working with the students on research projects and with the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) student chapter.

Building Truss Bridges
Truss bridges are one of the oldest and most recognizable forms of bridges. They have a rich history and continue to be used in transportation systems today. This activity will introduce the background on what makes trusses unique and the engineering behind them. Numerous demonstrations will be shown ranging in cost and difficulty level. The session will culminate in two practical activities that are cost effective: one using a readily available, free computer program and one using household materials.

Concrete for Kids
Concrete is one of the most common building materials in the world. We use it on a daily basis in our bridges and roads, but the question remains: do we really know anything about this highly engineered material? Concrete for Kids is a basic set of lessons that allows students to learn more about why concrete is important, where it is used, and how it is made. Included are demonstrations and activities that can be used in a classroom. Students can design, build, and even test their very own concrete for a minimal cost. The lessons can be easily arranged for a lab or classroom setting, single or multiple lessons, and various age groups.  

Topasna, Daniela

2014_Topasna_DLt. Col. Daniela Topasna earned her Physics Engineer degree at University of Bucharest. After working a few years in industry she went to Virginia Tech for graduate studies in physics, where she worked with Dr. Randy Heflin on the study of nonlinear optical properties of fullerene materials and ionically self assembled polymer thin films. Lt. Col. Topasna earned her PhD in 1999 and then accepted a position as a research scientist at Luna Innovations (formerly F&S, Inc.) in Blacksburg, VA, where she worked on various government funded collaborative projects related to the fabrication, characterization, and applications of organic thin films, (including polymer light emitting diodes, photovoltaic devices, and electric field tunable devices). 

Currently, Lt. Col. Topasna is an associate professor of physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Virginia Military Institute. Besides teaching numerous physics courses she also works with Lt. Col. Gregory Topasna on organic thin films for device applications, projects that often include undergraduate students’ participation.

The Sun, Earth, Moon Connection      
This workshop discusses the interplay between the Sun, theEarth and the Moon. Topics covered include the phases of the moon, eclipses,tides, the seasons and climate. Part discussion and part hands-on activities,this workshop melds the two together for a total learning experience.Activities and resources to help students understand these topics will bepresented. 

Topasna, Gregory

2014_Topasna_GLt. Col. Gregory A. Topasna finished his undergraduate degree in physics at VA Tech and graduated in 1999 with a Ph.D. with a concentration in astronomy. As a graduate student he worked with Dr. Brian Dennison (currently at UNC-Ashville) and Dr. John Simonetti on the Virginia Tech Spectral-Line Survey and his dissertation was on the scattering of Ha emission associated with the Rosette Nebula. 

Currently, Lt. Col. Topasna is an Associate Professor of Physics at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA. His current astronomical work centers on studying the polarization of starlight and the interstellar medium. Additionally, Lt. Col. Topasna works with his wife, Lt. Col. Daniela Topasna, in the thin films laboratory at VMI where they fabricate and characterize thin film devices.

The Sun, Earth, Moon Connection 
This workshop discusses the interplay between the Sun, theEarth and the Moon. Topics covered include the phases of the moon, eclipses,tides, the seasons and climate. Part discussion and part hands-on activities,this workshop melds the two together for a total learning experience.Activities and resources to help students understand these topics will bepresented.