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The editors of Transformations have compiled Web links and additional content to enhance the articles and features in the Fall 2003 issue. Through this portal we invite you to explore more deeply the topics covered in the magazine. We welcome your thoughts on this material; please use our feedback form or post a message in the Transformations forum in the Alumni Café.

On the Cover

Major David P. Smith ’89 was commissioned by the Air Force shortly after graduating from WPI. “I was on active duty for 10 years flying passenger and cargo airplanes such as the C-21 Learjet and the C-141 Starlifter,” Smith told us. He separated from active duty in the summer of 2000 and joined the 337th Air Reserve Squadron at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Mass., as a reservist flying the C-5 Galaxy. “I was also hired by American Airlines that same year,” says Smith, “flying the Boeing 727 and the MD-80 out of Boston's Logan Airport.”

After 9-11 Smith was mobilized as a reservist and has remained on active duty at Westover, flying the C-5 worldwide. “Many of my missions supported operations Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Iraqi Freedom, which involved flying into Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait and Baghdad,” he says. Smith and his wife and children are back in Worcester after having lived in Florida, Oklahoma, Virginia, New Jersey and South Carolina.

Campus Buzz (Pages 4-6, 8-9)

Marketing Campaign Hits Its Stride: Meet the WPI marketing team at the University Marketing Web site. One of the largest recent projects for marketing staff members was crafting a new undergraduate admissions Web site and a new printed version of the viewbook. Thanks to the creative and energetic folks in Media Relations, WPI consistently makes local, regional and even national headlines. Scan the weekly highlights of media “hits” at the WPI in the News Web site.

Camp Reach: WPI’s award-winning summer program allows young women the chance to solve real-world problems. To find out more about the camp, to apply for summer 2004, or to find out how to sponsor a camper, visit the Camp Reach Web site.

Spring Groundbreaking: Shovels are due to hit the dirt next spring to make way for the new admissions building as well as the “re-greening” of the quad. Goodbye, above-ground parking; hello, subterranean garage. CBT Architects of Boston is designing the new landscape and admissions building.

A Few Words (Page 7)

On Oct. 4, 2003, Sheila Widnall was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, joining nearly 200 other women honored since the Hall was founded in 1969. The induction ceremonies were held at the hall in Seneca Falls, N.Y., site of the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. Widnall, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, will receive an honorary doctorate of engineering degree from WPI in 2004. Visit Widnall’s Web site for information about her career. Widnall was a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board; read the group’s final report.

Costa Rica Calling (Page 8)

Slightly smaller than West Virginia and sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica has endured only two brief periods of violence since the late 19th century. While still largely an agricultural country, it has growing technology and tourism sectors. Americans enjoy coffee, bananas, sugar and pineapples grown in the Republic of Costa Rica.

WPI has operated the San José Project Center in Costa Rica’s capital city for 10 years. If you’d like to visit the country, home to active volcanoes and sandy beaches, a good place to start is Costa Rica's official tourism Web site. Another good travel resource is the Frommer’s site on Costa Rica.

Matt Benvenuti ’05, whose journal we used for the story, shared with us some of his favorite Web sites. La Nacion is the country’s top daily Spanish language newspaper. For the headlines in English, Matt visited the The Tico Times Web site. Matt’s project was sponsored by El Centro Nacional de Producción más Limpia.

Information Please: A Search Engine With Soul (Page 12)

What do Crate & Barrel, Barnes & Noble, Eddie Bauer, Spiegel and KB Toys have in common, besides the fact that droves of holiday shoppers will be visiting these retail stores in person or online soon? Their Web sites are all powered by Endeca search engines. WPI joins the crowd next year: by late winter 2004, the entire WPI web site will be powered by Endeca’s ProFind search engine, thanks to Jim Baum ‘86, Endeca’s CEO, who engineered a discounted fee for the software.

Many Small Steps, One Giant Leap (page 16)

It all began on December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, N.C., when the Wright Flyer became the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot—Orville Wright—aboard. The pilot’s brother, Wilbur Wright, stood by and timed the flight with a stopwatch. While the flight lasted only 12 seconds and the craft flew just 120 feet, it marked the beginning of a century of innovation. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum currently displays a special exhibit on the Wright brothers’ achievement: “The Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age.” Visitors to Kitty Hawk can stand on the very site where the first flight took place, now a National Memorial.

Here are some of our favorite Web sites for exploring the history of powered flight: MSNBC’s The Voyage of the Millennium is a comprehensive site on NASA’s Apollo moon exploration program; the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Web site has a special section exploring the first century of powered flight; The Smithsonian’s Air and Space magazine is a good source of current aviation news as well as historical information; Aviation Week’s Web site has the latest aviation industry news; Space.com, a multimedia company focusing on “capturing the value of people’s fascination with space, maintains a site featuring in-depth stories and short news items on the latest space and spaceflight happenings; Ghosts of Aviation Inc.’s Web site is dedicated to developing an extensive online archive of aviation history (presently focused on the pre-jet era, with plans to expand) to which aviation enthusiasts can contribute; the International Organization of Women Pilots maintains a Web site with historical as well as membership information.

What Goes Up (Page 18)

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics honored Robert Rodier ’51 in 1994 with its Theodor W. Knacke Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Award “for contributions in the development of sophisticated parachute recovery systems used in the United States Space Program, military aircraft, and United States Army Airdrop Systems.”

Rodier began his career at the U.S. Army Natick Labs, now the Soldier Systems Center. Later he joined the aerospace division of North American Aviation, which, after several splits and mergers, is now part of General Dynamics Corporation. There he helped design escape systems on NASA’s Apollo, Mercury and Gemini mission vehicles. When he retired in 1996, Rodier was working on a 7,500-square-foot ram-air inflated parafoil (the largest in the world) for the X-38, the International Space Station Crew Recovery Vehicle.

The Unfriendly Skies (Page 22)

The staff of Transformations knew it would be a challenge to bring together Tom Arseneault ’85 and Thomas Fitzpatrick ’68 for the magazine photo shoot, since both men’s schedules are chock-full. However, we didn’t fully anticipate the level of security at BAE SYSTEMS. Our photographer was not admitted beyond the doors in the photo. Because of the top-secret aviation systems being designed and refined at BAE, visitors need to be passport-carrying U.S. citizens and are only allowed access to certain spaces at the facility in Nashua, N.H.

“We also learned about the black world and the white world,” says Mike Sherman, Transformations design director. “The ‘black world’ is beyond those doors,” he says. “Those of us without security clearance? We live in the ‘white world.’”

For the story, writer Wendy Wolfson interviewed BAE vice presidents Fitzpatrick and Arseneault, as well as Mike Sarcione ’84, chief engineer for integrated defense systems at Raytheon. Both Raytheon and BAE SYSTEMS are involved in large-scale projects such as the Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22. Wolfson also spoke with representatives at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments an independent thinktank in Washington, D.C.

Arseneault says the military’s desire to transform affects BAE through its emphasis on C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications and Computers Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance). Learn more about the effort to interconnect military systems on the Web site of the Joint C4ISR Decision Support Center.

The Next 100 Years (Page 27)

Find our more about the WPI faculty who are involved in research that will help shape the field of aviation in decades to come:

Pam Weathers, a professor of biology and biotechnology, studies ways to grow plants in environments that mimic those of space flight.

Earlier this year, mechanical engineering professor and associate department head Hamid Johari was named Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of the aerospace engineering program, Nikolaos Gatsonis recently participated in the Active Plasma Experiment North Star mission led by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physic Laboratory.

Electrical and computer engineering professor and department head Fred J. Looft III advises WPI undergraduates involved in the Air Force Office of Scientific Research–sponsored University Nanosatellite Program competition.

Dave Olinger, associate professor of mechanical engineering, helps WPI students design Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) that are inspired by biological flight. Students enter their designs in the annual MAV competition held at the University of Florida.

Why I Fly (Page 32)

Stacey Cotton Bonasso ’90 flew F-16s and now teaches young pilots the tricks of the trade in a T-38. Read an informative article about the F-16 in Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company’s Code One magazine.

Alumni Connections (Page 34)

WPI’s Alumni Association is seeking nominations for its annual Distinguished Alumni Awards. Established in 1961, the awards recognize professional achievement by WPI alumni and service involvement with the Alumni Association and the university. For a full description of the awards, citations of past recipients, and an online nomination form, visit the Distinguished Alumni Awards Web site.

Pittsburgh Alumni Club Forms: Area alumni will gather several times a year for social, cultural and sporting events. Visit the Web site, fill out the survey, then join the mailing list to get updates. For more information, contact Elizabeth Schweinsberg: bschwein@alum.wpi.edu.

Time Machine (Page 48)

Scott Ashton ’92 is manager of strategic marketing for GE’s Corporate Aircraft group. While an undergraduate, he completed his major project—an airflow analysis of a 1909 Blériot monoplane, the first plane to cross the English Channel—with the Collings Foundation in Stow, Mass. Ashton now serves on the board of directors for the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Conn.

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Last modified: Jul 13, 2010, 09:39 EDT
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