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Mrs. Ronda Dove
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& Conference Assistant

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

Below are the speakers featured at our 2014 conference.  2015 speakers are TBD.  

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

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

Nicole Hastings

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.

Dr. Hastings' Presentation:  From Caterpillar to Butterfly

Mitchell Nathan


Mitchell J. Nathan, PhD, is Professor of Educational Psychology, Curriculum & Instruction, and Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Director of the Center on Education and Work. His work explores the cognitive, embodied and social processes involved in learning and instruction in STEM education.

Prof. Nathan received his doctorate in experimental (cognitive) psychology. He holds a B.S. in electrical and computer engineering, mathematics and history. He has worked in research and development in artificial intelligence, computer vision, robotics, and sensor fusion. Prof. Nathan also has worked on computer-based tutoring environments for mathematics education that rely heavily on students' sense making during self-directed learning.

Prof. Nathan directed the STAAR Project, which studied students’ transition from arithmetic to algebraic reasoning. He served as Co-PI for the NSF-funded AWAKEN Project, which documented how people learn and practice engineering in K-12, college, and the workplace.

Dr. Nathan recently served as a member of The National Academy of Engineering (NAE)/National Research Council Committee on Integrated STEM Education. Currently, Prof. Nathan is co-PI for the National Center for Cognition and Mathematics Instruction, co-PI of the grant Connecting Mathematical Ideas through Animated Multimodal Instruction, and Director of the Postdoctoral Training Program in Mathematical Thinking, Learning, and Instruction, funded by the U. S. Dept. of Education-Institute of Educational Sciences (IES).

Links to current and past research can be found at

Steven Staples
Steven R. Staples, Ed.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction, Commonwealth of Virginia

Dr. Steven R. Staples was appointed Virginia’s 24th superintendent of public instruction by Governor Terry McAuliffe

As superintendent, Dr. Staples serves as the executive officer of the Virginia Department of Education, which is the administrative agency for the commonwealth’s public schools. He also serves as secretary of the Board of Education.

Prior to his appointment as the commonwealth’s chief school officer, Dr. Staples served for nearly two years as the executive director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, was a faculty member at the College of William & Mary from 2008-2012 and worked in various capacities in four Virginia school divisions.

 He began his career in public education in 1976 in Prince George County where he taught elementary, middle and high school students, and also served as a high school department chair and assistant principal for instruction. In 1985, Dr. Staples became principal of Hopewell High School and three years later moved to Montgomery County as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. He served – beginning in 1991 – as division superintendent in York County for 16 years.

During his tenure in York County, Dr. Staples implemented a variety of innovative programs including magnet programs in fine arts, math, science and technology, and a charter school program linking academic standards to licensure competencies in career/technical fields.  In 1997, he was selected as Virginia Superintendent of the Year.

Dr. Staples received his doctorate in education administration and supervision from Virginia Tech, a master’s degree in education administration and supervision, as well as a bachelor’s degree in history and English from the College of William & Mary.

Workshop Presenters

Joan Ackroyd - The High School Library MakerSpace: School Libraries for this Century

ackroydJoan Ackroyd is a librarian who draws her energy and inspiration from her children, grandchildren and all the kids at Monticello High School in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her passion for providing engaging opportunities for all student populations led her to transform a traditional high school library into a Learning Commons complete with a music studio and Maker and Hacker Spaces devoted to the production of music, electronics, sewing, 3D Printing, videography and gaming.


Shawn Addington - Teaching Electrical Circuits is a "Snap"!
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.


John Almarode - Scuba Divers, Not Snorklers
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.
Scott Barnes - Urban Agriculture

barnesScott Barnes is the Social Studies Department co-Chair and a 8th grade Civics and Economics teacher at Potomac Middle School in Prince William County, VA. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in History from the College of William and Mary and his Master’s degree in Initiatives in Educational Transformation from George Mason University. Scott has been an integral part of developing and maintaining Aquaponics system at Potomac Middle School as he has been maintaining aquariums of his own for most of his life. The knowledge and expertise he has in this area have been invaluable. His passion and energetic personality have made the Urban Agriculture program at Potomac Middle School an incredible success. Scott hopes that through his work he can encourage students to continue healthy and productive lives while influencing the community to do the same.

Suzanne Bevans - Materials Engineering : Hockey Puck

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.

Joyce Blandino - LEGO Clock

Dr. Blandino received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia.  She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at VMI.  Prior to that, Dr. Blandino taught in the Biology Department at Washington and Lee University.  Before that, she was a faculty member at James Madison University.

Eric Bredder - Enhancing the Science Classroom Through Engineering & Advanced Manufacturing in Middle Schools

bredderEric Bredder is a middle school Engineering and Technology Teacher at Sutherland Middle School in Albemarle County, VA. He teaches 6-8 grades and promote creativity and fun within schools.





George Brooke - An Enlightening Experience: The Electromagnetic Spectrum
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
Tina Coffey - Kicking Machines: Force & Motion

coffeyTina Coffey has been a public school teacher for seventeen years, the last nine as an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher. She holds her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech and her Bachelors from Emory & Henry College. She works with teachers at three schools in Roanoke County, helping them learn to use and integrate technology into their classrooms through inservices, small group training, and co-teaching. She is passionate about STEM activities, Project Based Learning, and other technology and hands-on methods to engage students, make learning relevant, and foster 21st Century skills.  She has presented at various conferences throughout Virginia and North Carolina, including Virginia Society for Technology in Education, North Carolina Technology in Education Society, Virginia Children’s Engineering Conference, and Virginia State Reading Conference.  She also teaches technology and teacher recertification classes at Virginia Western Community College. She blogs at and




Jane Collins - Glider Challenge

Jane CollinsMrs. Jane Collins is a gifted resource teacher in Montgomery County, VA Public Schools. She currently has over 27 years of teaching experience in Montgomery County and has served as a gifted resource teacher since 2006.  She earned a gifted endorsement from UVA in 2009.






Marilé Colón Robles - Rockets to Racecars
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.
Randall Cone - Perchance to Dream: Engineering The Mathematics of Hamlet

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.




Kacie D'Alessandro - Concrete for Kids
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.
Linda Doherty - Wind Turbine Design Challenge

Linda Doherty Linda Doherty is a Challenge teacher in Rockingham County public schools. The Challenge (gifted) program is STEM- based; Linda and the other elementary Challenge teachers have formed the Children’s Engineering Training Team, charged by the superintendent with providing inservice training in Children’s Engineering to all elementary teachers in the school system. She has facilitated a wind energy unit, which includes designing and testing model wind turbine blades, for her 4th grade classes for several years. She also enjoys teaching robots and space. She loves traveling and reading, and uses these pursuits to expand her knowledge and experience in STEM-related areas.

Corinne Doerr - Materials Engineering: Hockey Puck
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.
Greg Donovan - Urban Agriculture
donovanGreg Donovan is the Sustainability Coordinator and Co-Chair of the Science Department of Potomac Middle School in Prince William County, VA. Greg teaches Physical Science and leads the Ecology and Urban Agriculture clubs while actively developing a discovery lab program.  Greg has a Bachelor’s degree in Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master’s degree in Genetics from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He uses his prior laboratory experience to help encourage and inspire middle school students to strive for a career in the sciences. Through his work with the Ecology and Urban Agriculture programs, he has helped students create a soil garden and an indoor Aquaponics system at Potomac Middle School. Greg hopes to continue expanding the program to reach as many students as possible teaching the students and community of Potomac Middle School the importance of sustainable living.
Kim Dye - Harnessing the WInd
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.
Judy Fitzpatrick - Engineering is Elementary
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.
Lynda Graves - Kicking Machines: Force & Motion

gravesLynda Graves has taught fourth and fifth grade for eight years with the Roanoke County Public Schools. She holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Hollins University and a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Prior to her career in education, Ms. Graves worked in public information for the U.S. Navy, City of Norfolk and Newport News Shipbuilding.  Ms. Graves represents mature professionals who, despite having grown up with bunny rabbit ears atop their black and white television sets, are embracing current technology and striving to provide relevant experiences for young students.





Brianne Gunn - Mars Rover Challenge

Brianne GunnMrs. Brianne Gunn teaches sixth grade science at Falling Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County. She works with various levels of classes including special education inclusion groups and honors courses. Mrs. Gunn is passionate about making connections with her students and their community through service learning and outreach activities.

She regularly seeks to further her students understanding of their world through hands-on, problem-based experiences and adventures into the great outdoors. For a sneak peek at her projects and classroom in action, take a look at the Community Idea Stations show, Virginia Currents at .

Jon-Michael Hardin - Algebra for Engineers
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.
Linda Harpine - Five Year Plan for Integrating Engineering Design in the Classroom
Linda Harpine is a Rockingham County elementary gifted resource teacher and adjunct instructor at James Madison University.  She has worked with Children’s Engineering teacher training programs for over twenty years and is a member of the Virginia Children’s Engineering Council.
Karen Heathcock - The Thinking 3rd Grade Classroom

Karen is a Canadian who pursued teaching as a second career. She graduated from Teacher's College at York University in Toronto, Ontario before moving to the United States in 2001. In addition to being endorsed in elementary education and gifted education, she also has an endorsement as a Reading Specialist. Karen works hard to foster each student's ability to think critically, to problem solve (independently and collaboratively), to question at increasingly higher levels, and to create/make with confidence and flexibility. These are the skills that make kids deeper thinkers, lifelong learners, and more productive, engaged citizens.  She is currently the gifted resource teacher/intervention specialist at Albemarle County Public Schools.


Meagan Herald - Exploring Chaos Through Games

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.






Lisa Jacobsmeyer - Materials Engineering: Hockey Puck

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. 

Clifton W. Jones, Jr. - Tetrahedral Kite
Clifton W. Jones, Jr. is the current immediate past President of the Virginia Technology and Engineering Education Association (VTEEA).  He has also served as President, President-Elect and Vice President.  Clifton earned an Associate Degree in Applied Science majoring in Drafting and Design Technology from Southside Community College, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology (Environmental Science) as well as a Master's in Supervision from Longwood University and a Secondary Principal Endorsement from University of Virginia.  He holds teaching endorsements in eight subjects.  Cliff began his teaching career in 1979 in Southside Virginia and this year he has just completed his 12th year in Chesterfield County where he currently teaches Technology at Falling Creek Middle School.   Cliff spent 8 years as a volunteer on the Charlotte County Rescue Squad and as an EMT instructor as well as a CPR instructor with the American Heart Association.
Cindy Klevickis - Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

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.




Diane Leighty - Engineering Our Way with Math and Science in Elementary Classrooms & Engineering Our Way Through Middle School
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.
Barbara Livingston - Introduction to Robots

livingstonbBarbara Livingston has been an educator for over 24 years.  She earned her BA degree from SUNY Cortland and her MS in Early Childhood Education from Old Dominion University.

Barbara Livingston currently teaches second grade at Buchanan Elementary School, Botetourt County Public Schools.  She has also taught 5th grade Math & Language Arts, 1st grade, Reading Recovery, Math 7, 8, 9, and Pre-Algebra.  In addition, Mrs. Livingston has been coaching the FLL Lego Team at Buchanan Elementary School for 6 years.  The team has been recognized at the regional level for robot design, and the research project, and has been invited to participate in the Virginia State FLL Tournament at James Madison University twice.

Mrs. Livingston is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the Roanoke Valley Reading Council & Virginia State Reading Association, National Education Association, and Botetourt County Education Association.


David Livingston - Introduction to Physical Computing & Arduino & Introduction to Robots

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.


TIm Moore - Global Water and Sanitation Design


Dr. Moore is currently an associate professor at VMI. He received his Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. His specialty is Environmental Engineering - Process & Infrastructure Design, Atmospheric Science - Air Quality & Global Climate Change, Professional Engineer.  




Grigg Mullen - Developing and Leading a Trebuchet Project

 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.






Robbie Munsey - Bringing Advanced Manufacturing into Your Districts and Enhancing Science through Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing
MunseyRobbie Munsey is an 8th grade physics, chemistry, and math teacher with Albemarle County Public Schools in Charlottesville, Virginia. In his classroom, science is enhanced through engineering and rapid prototyping with tools such as Silhouette Die Cutters and 3D Printers.  Robbie’s work has evolved into a maker’s classroom where students bring the curriculum into their work, and not the other way around.  His innovative work with his students has been shared across the nation including Key Note speaker at Longwood STEM and VSUP Conferences, featured on PBS National News, and featured in many other conferences including ISTE 2014. Robbie’s work has resulted in a full collaboration with the Smithsonian where students are recreating inventions of the past to creating innovations of the future.
Willard Neel - Developing and Leading a Trebuchet Project and Trebuchet Demonstration

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.







Chuck Newhouse - Teaching the Basics of Computer Programming Using SCRATCH

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.



Remy Pangle - Wind Turbine Blade Design Challenge: An Example of Children's Engineering

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.


Tracy Proffitt - Rockets to Racecars

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.





Chad Ratliff - The High School Library Makerspace: School Libraries for this Century
Chad S. RatliffChad Ratliff is Director of Instructional Programs for Albemarle County Public Schools and leads the division’s work on STEM and its maker curriculum, part of the district’s emphasis on inquiry and project-based learning for all students. He chairs the district’s cross-functional Innovation Team and heads up strategic partnerships, including collaborations with MIT, Smithsonian, Battelle, University of Virginia, and the Maker Education Initiative.

Also an entrepreneur, Ratliff has been profiled as one of the top leaders under the age of 40 in both the Blue Ridge Business Journal and C-ville Weekly; served as a StartupWeekend coach, and was a facilitator for the High School of the Future Startup event at the Governor’s 2013 STEM Summit. He also developed and teaches courses in entrepreneurship at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He is a Virginia Board of Education appointee to the State Advisory Committee for Career and Technical Education; is Vice President of the Virginia Technology and Engineering Education Association and Vice-Chair of the Virginia Career Education Foundation, a nonprofit established by then-Governor Mark Warner.

He earned his Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Virginia and his MBA from Virginia Tech.
Ted Rosiak - Urban Agriculture

rosiakTed Rosiak is the Social Studies Department Co-Chair and a 6th grade social studies teacher at Potomac Middle School in Prince William County, VA. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Maine. Ted was the driving force behind starting the soil garden and developed the idea of an Aquaponics program at Potomac Middle School. He began his love of gardening when he was in elementary school and would help his grandfather in the family garden. Ted believes that teaching students to produce their own fresh, healthy food is important for their families and the community and he hopes that his students will use their knowledge to help the community develop additional programs to support a sustainable and healthy community.




Alisa Rushing - Tetrahedral Kite

rushingAlisa Rushing currently teaches Technology and Engineering Education at Swift Creek Middle School in Chesterfield, VA.  She received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture form Berea College in Berea, KY.  She began her teaching career in Reidsville, NC teaching Agriculture Education and then moved to Technology and Engineering where she will begin her 10th year.  She is a member of the Virginia Technology and Engineering Education Association (VTEEA) and the International Technology and Engineering Education Association (ITEEA).   She serves as the advisor for the Swift Creek chapter of the Technology Student Association (TSA) and will sever as mentor to the school’s First Lego League team this year.



Jon DeVier-Scott - Wind Turbine Blade Design Challenge

Jon Devier ScottAfter graduating from James Madison University in 1983, he began teaching in the Harrisonburg City Schools, where he taught fourth grade for 19 years.  Afterwards, he taught sixth grade math and science at Thomas Harrison Middle School for 12 years.  Mr. Scott earned CTE certification and in 2014 became the STEM coordinator.   Currently, Mr. Scott works with seventh and eighth graders in Thomas Harrison’s STEM program, now in its third year.  

Prior to his current position, he and his wife sponsored the THMS Ecology Club.  One of the club’s greatest achievements was helping to raise funds for the installation of a 65 foot tall Skystream wind turbine, a prominent feature beside the school.  While providing some energy to the school, it  is an education tool and helps raise awareness about alternative energy.  Mr. Scott will be assisting Ms. Pangle during one of the sessions.

Ira David Socol - The High School Library Makerspace: School Libraries for this Century
Ira David SocolIra David Socol in Assistant Director of Educational Technology and Innovation for Albemarle County Public Schools in Central Virginia where he helps support and lead space, technology, and pedagogical innovation efforts as well as the system's move toward universal design for learning. His previous research and work includes Universal Design and Special Education Technology, the history of American education, and the joining of architecture and learning.

As a writer he has published a novel-in-stories, The Drool Room, and a microfiction collection, A Certain Place of Dreams. He blogs both microfiction and educational theory.
Jim Squire - Making Waves: Easy Demonstrations & Experiments

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.

Jay Sullivan - Learning By Design


Dr. Sullivan is a professor at VMI. He received his Ph.D.  from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Sullivan is also a Professional Engineer.

Nick Swayne - Lego Workshop
Nick Swayne serves as the Director three major programs at James Madison University - External Relations for the College of Education, 4-Virginia, and the Virginia-DC FIRST LEGO League.  Since 2007, Nick has provided professional development training to upper elementary, middle, and high school teachers through $1.5 million in SCHEV sponsored work that integrated LEGO robotics into classroom science, math, and literacy lessons.  He has championed the creation of the Harrisonburg City Schools Governor’s STEM Academy and currently serves as the Chair of the Harrisonburg City School Board.  He is a founding member of the JMU Robotics Minor steering committee and is currently working on a number of projects through 4-Virginia that will expand the offerings of dual-enrollment computer science courses to area high schools.
Matthew Swenty - Building Truss Bridges & Concrete for Kids

 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.


Melissa Techman - Paper Circuitry
Melissa TechmanMelissa Techman, NBCT, is a K-5 school librarian in Albemarle County Public Schools, VA. Formerly a public librarian, she recently offered summer Coding/Remix events with teens at Jefferson-Madison. Presentations include Making Ebooks with Students (with Joelle Alcaidinho) at SXSWedu 2013, Libraries as STEM to STEAM hubs at Computers in Libraries West 2013.

Melissa Techman full bio:

Twitter, Pinterest, Symbaloo: @mtechman.
Daniela Topasna - The Sun, Earth, Moon Connection

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.

Gregory Topasna - The Sun, Earth, Moon Connection

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.


John Tychan - Building Bridges

tychanJohn Tychan is a 6th grade science teacher at Graham Park Middle School in Prince William County.  He serves as the grade level lead and has been teaching for ten years.  Additionally, he serves as athletic director and is a die-hard fan of the Cleveland Browns and Ohio State Buckeyes.






Linda Wright - Five-Year Plan for Integrating Engineering Design into Classroom
Dr. Linda Wright is the new Director of Elementary Education for Roanoke County Public Schools.  Wright first joined Roanoke County Public Schools in 1995 as the principal at Penn Forest Elementary, having previously worked for Roanoke City Schools since 1974 as a teacher, supervisor and principal. Wright holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from Radford University.  She earned her doctorate from Virginia Tech.