Welcome to @WPI

Vol. 1, No. 19 June 15, 2000

Around Campus

@WPI Summer Schedule

This is the June issue of @WPI. We publish once a month during the summer to keep the campus community informed of campus events. Biweekly publication will resume beginning Aug. 31.

@WPI is intended for the entire WPI community. We encourage you to use it to inform the campus community about people, programs and events that can be publicized on campus. Mail articles and suggestions to the Communications Group, 20 Trowbridge Road, or e-mail them to atwpi@wpi.edu.

Year-end Financial Schedule

Deposits made to Fiscal Year 2000 must be received in the Treasury Office by noon on Friday, June 30. Check requests and departmental transfers charged to FY 2000 must be received in the Accounting office by 4 p. m. on Monday, July 10 (please indicate FY00 on document).

New accounts payable checks will be issued beginning the week of June 20. These checks are green and white, and will be sealed with a pressure seal machine.

The Fiscal Year 2000 closing process will begin Friday, July 14. The Banner Finance system will be unavailable beginning at noon and throughout the weekend. Available restricted and research fund balances will appear in Banner Finance Fiscal Year 2001 beginning July 17.

If you need assistance printing reports or reviewing online financial data, contact the Banner Helpline at ext. 5850 or e-mail bfinance@wpi.edu.

SAE Team Returns with Competition Honors

The 20 students on the WPI Formula SAE team returned from Pontiac, Mich., in late May with some good news and some bad news. The good news was they tied for first place with Rochester Institute of Technology in best presentation honors and took fifth place in cost analysis. They also took home a second place Lear Award for design. The bad news was they didn't finish the endurance run, the final event worth 40 percent of the total score, due to a mechanical glitch. They placed 34th among the 108 college teams participating. For more information about Formula SAE and other student design competitions, visit the SAE Web site, www.sae.org. More on this story...

FIRST Robotics Competition

On Saturday, June 17, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Harrington Auditorium, 400 high-school students and their sponsors-representing 26 high schools from throughout New England and as far away as Illinois and Pennsylvania-will participate in Battlecry@WPI, a daylong robotics tournament. If you've never seen a FIRST robot competition in person or on ESPN or CNN, you will be amazed. Each 130-pound robot is built from the same box of parts, yet the machines display an incredible variety in design and strategy. Admission is free. Additional information can be found at BattleCry@WPI.

WPI Rowers Nearly Clinch Olympic Berth

"Well, the trials are over and we didn't make it. It was a heck of a ride and we were the boat that everyone was talking about."

That was F. David Ploss '70, who coached Eric Wilhelm '99 and Matt Beaton '00 as they made a valiant try for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team last week. The pair competed in the men's double lightweight division at the 2000 U.S. Olympics Rowing Trials in Camden, N.J.

Wilhelm and Beaton's odyssey began with a second-place finish in their first race (they were just 1.43 seconds behind the national team). They went on to take second in their heat during the semifinals, giving them a slot in the finals. Three teams would survive that race to move on.

Ploss says the WPI team decided to race hard and then "just go for it" in the last 500 meters. The strategy worked well, but the fast pace took its toll and Wilhelm and Beaton "were running on fumes" near the end of the race, Ploss says. "Our time didn't truly show our speed as we tried to row faster than our current capabilities," he notes.

"We're disappointed, but realize we came a long way this past year or so," he added. "This is not the end, but just the beginning. We are going to keep on training for the next Olympics."

Winning Plan

Energen Inc. of Billerica, Mass., won WPI Venture Forum's 7th Annual Business Plan Contest. The company's winning business plan details its strategy to provide high-force superconducting magnetostrictive actuators to the particle accelerator industry.

Venture Forum promotes and serves technology-based entrepreneurial activity and economic growth in New England by increasing the business and financial knowledge of its participants. It does so by sharing experiences among entrepreneurs and area business, financial and educational leaders. The Business Plan Contest is an annual event open to New England entrepreneurs with business plans involving a technology-based venture.

ESL Summer Institute 2000

WPI's English as a Second Language program is accepting applications from international students seeking full- and part-time participation in the ESL Summer Institute (July 8-Aug. 11). Here are the program's components (all begin July 11):

For more information, call 508-831-6033 or e-mail esl@wpi.edu. Deadline for applications is July 6.

Human Resources Deadlines

Staff time sheets are due by noon on the Friday before the pay date. Noted below are the scheduled Human Resources and Payroll Office deadlines:

Thursday, June 15
Monthly Flexcomp claim forms

Thursday, June 15
Biweekly student payroll authorizations
(Student payroll paid Thursday, June 22)

Monday, June 19
Monthly payroll authorizations and Flexcomp claim forms
(Monthly payroll paid Friday, June 30)

Thursday, June 22
Biweekly staff payroll authorizations and Flexcomp claim forms
(Staff payroll Wednesday, June 28)

Friday, June 23
Biweekly student payroll authorizations
(Student payroll paid Thursday, July 6)

All forms submitted to Human Resources and Payroll must be complete and have all of the appropriate approvals in order to be processed. Forms submitted after these dates will be processed in the following payroll.

Employment Opportunities

(current as of June 9)


Assistant Director


Laboratory Research Technician
Lab Instructor


Tenure-track positions


Tenure-track faculty position
Faculty positions


Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Multiple fall 2000 faculty positions
Postdoctoral Fellow
Inorganic and General Chemistry Instructor


UNIX System Administrator
PC LAN Server Administrator


Tenure-track faculty position


Program Manager


Assistant Director of Planned Giving
Administrative Secretary IV
Gift Recording Coordinator/Biographical Records Assistant


Tenure-track faculty positions
Professor of Practice


Assistant Director of Financial Aid


Faculty position
Part-time Administrative Secretary II


Web Programmer


Part-time Administrative Secretary III


Distance Learning Program Manager
Instructional Designer and Manager, Faculty Support Services
Web Developer


Program Manager/Adjunct Assistant Professor
International Students and Scholars
ESL/ESP Instructors


Adjunct Faculty (Part-time position)
Visiting Faculty Member, Entrepreneurship (full-time, temporary, nine-month appointment)


Actuarial Program Coordinator
Graduate Internship/Research Assistantship, Applied Mathematics
Faculty positions


Department Head
Computer Operations Manager
Manager of Robotics Laboratory


Assistant Athletic Trainer
Head Coach Women's Varsity Basketball and Assistant Director
Part-time Women's Varsity Tennis Coach
Part-time Bowling Alley Manager


HVAC Mechanic II


Office and Program Assistant


Adjunct, Assistant or Associate Professor
Part-time Instructor

For more information about these positions, visit the Human Resources Web site at http://www.wpi.edu/Admin/HR/Jobs/.

WPI's Human Resources Office encourages current employees to refer qualified individuals to apply for jobs at WPI. For each person you refer who is hired and who successfully completes six months of active service, you will receive a $500 bonus. The Employee Referral Bonus Program applies to all permanent nonfaculty, exempt and nonexempt positions posted on or after Sept. 1, 1999.



On May 6, President Edward Alton Parrish received the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science Distinguished Alumnus Award for the year 2000.

Distinguished Instructors

Two professors of mechanical engineering were recently honored for the quality of their teaching. Robert L. Norton was named the Morton Distinguished Instructor in Mechanical Engineering. Hamid Johari was named the Russell M. Searle Instructor in Mechanical Engineering. Both awards are given by the recommendation of the Effective Teaching Committee and include a stipend for further professional development.

WPI in the News

The May 26 Chronicle of Higher Education featured WPI prominently in a story titled "Music Educators Put Recordings Online, Warily" (the story appeared previously in the online Chronicle).

CNBC ran a feature on corporate CEOs who served as Commencement speakers this spring during its June 2 broadcast of Business Center. The program included video from WPI's address by C. Michael Armh3 of AT&T.

"As gene map nears, big questions," a lengthy, top-of-the-front-page story about the Human Genome Project in the June 7 Christian Science Monitor, featured Thomas Shannon, professor of religion and social ethics, who has published a new book on the topic. The article is at www.csmonitor.com/durable/2000/06/07/fp1s1-csm.shtml.

The June 5-18 issue of Worcester Business Journal led with a front-page story titled "Reality 101: Yesterday's College Kids, Today's Skilled Workers," which focused entirely on WPI's Major Qualifying Projects. Newly graduated senior Ryan Fournier was pictured and interviewed along with fellow students Jesse Goyette, Sarah Snow, Chad Hart, Tuan Nguyen and Mattias Richter. Project advisors Peder Pederson and Nancy Brown were quoted in the piece and Associate Provost William Durgin explained the hows and whys of MQPs.

The May 16 issue of the New York Daily News carried a feature titled "The Sound of Virtual Music," which included a photograph and an interview with WPI Director of Computer Music Fred Bianchi. The New York Times print and online editions carried similar stories featuring Bianchi previously.

Judith E. Miller, professor of biology and biotechnology, contributed a review of a Web site, "Science in the Real World: Microbes in Action," at www.umsl.edu/~microbes, for the May issue of ASM News.

Cabinet Meeting Summary

Summaries of Cabinet Meetings are available online to members of the WPI Community on the Cabinet website.



Wednesday, July 19, 1 and 6 p.m., "IT Career 2000 Information Session," MetroWest Campus, 225 Turnpike Road (Rte. 9 West), Southborough. For more information, call 800-974-9717.
Thursday, July 20, 1 and 6 p.m., "IT Career 2000 Information Session," Waltham Campus, 60 Hickory Drive. For more information, call 800-974-9717.


On June 26-29, WPI will host an international conference, "Artificial Intelligence in Design 2000," in Salisbury Laboratories' Kinnicutt Hall. World-renowned expert Rodney A. Brooks, professor of computer science and director of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, will give the keynote address Monday, June 26, at 9:15 a.m.

"We will have attendees from many countries, including Australia, Japan, England, Scotland, Spain, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland and China," said local conference chair David C. Brown of WPI's AI Research Group. "The accepted papers come from 12 countries, and we are expecting between 100 and 150 attendees." To support student travel to the conference, Brown received a $10,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

A full conference schedule can be found at www.arch.usyd.edu.au/kcdc/conferences/aid00/.

Publications & Presentations


Brattin, Joel J., and Mary Willix, "Department of Corrections" in Jimpress No. 68 (June 2000), pp. 6-9.
Brattin, Joel J., "Eyewitness: The Illustrated Jimi Hendrix Concerts 1968, compiled by Ben Valkhoff" in UniVibes 36 (August 2000), p. 3.
Fontanella, Lee, LLEIDA 1871: LA VISITA DEL REI AMADEU I DE SAVOIA, Lleida: Edicions de la Universitat de Lleida, May 2000. Co-authorship of the book that accompanies the exhibition, co-curated by Lee Fontanella.


Chen, Ming-Hui, "Bayesian Model Comparisons for Survival Data with A Cure Fraction," presented at an invited session on Model Choice and Related Issues at the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA) Sixth World Meeting, Knossos Royal Village Hotel, Hersonissos Heraklion, Crete, Greece, May 28-June 1.
Ibrahim, J.G., Chen, M.H., and MacEachern, S.N., "Bayesian Variable Selection for Proportional Hazards Models" in the Canadian Journal of Statistics, 27, 701-717 (1999).
Ibrahim, J.G. and Chen, M.H., "Power Prior Distributions for Regression Models" in the Statistical Sciences, 15, 46-60 (2000).
Rashid, M.M., Chen, M.H., and Ganter, S.L., "A Nonparametric Analysis of a Multi-Group Incompletely Ranked Item Response Data" in the Journal of Nonparametric Statistics, 12, 245-264 (2000).


Hoffman, Allen H., Ault, Holly K., Demetry, Chrysanthe, and Nicoletti, Denise W., "Teaching Disability Awareness and Universal Design to Middle School Students" in proceedings, Designing for the 21st Century II: An International Conference on Universal Design, Vol. 5, pp. 10-12, www.adaptenv.org/21century/proceedings5.asp
Savilonis, Brian J., Hoffman, Allen H., and Rusk, Emily, "In Vitro Measurement of Arterial Compliance of Porcine Aortic Tissue" in proceedings of the IEEE 26th Annual Northeast Bioengineering Conference, pp. 47-48.


Oulevey, F., Gourdon, D., Liley, M., Duschl, C., Kulik, A.J., Gremaud, G. and Burnham, N. A., "Micromechanics and Microtribology of Polymer Films" in ACS Symposium Series, Vol. 741, Microstructure and Microtribology of Polymer Surfaces, V.V. Tsukruk and K.J. Wahl, eds., pp. 118-23, American Chemical Society, Washington, D.C., (2000).

Recent Grants

The following is a list of new research and other grants received by WPI in May. The Office of Research Administration provides information about these awards.

Barnett, J. R., "Characterizing the Entry Resistance of Smoke Detectors," $48,017 from the Department of Commerce.
Bergendahl, J., "Oxidation Reduction Potential Vs. Residual Control of Chlorine," $30,000 from Damon S. Williams Assoc.
Brown, D., "Support for Student Travel to International AID '00 Conference," $10,000 from the National Science Foundation.
Dembsey, N.A., "Thermal Properties Evaluation for Protective Clothing Fabric," $24,907 from the Department of Defense/Army.
Gatsonis, N.A., "Experimental Investigation and Modeling of Pulsed Plasma Thruster Plumes," $49,940 from NASA.
Ludwig, R., "Design and Development of a DC-coupled Ultrawideband RF Amplifier," $35,587 from Teradyne Inc.

Worth Noting

A brainstorm by a WPI graduate 73 years ago has been getting a lot of attention lately. The graduate was Harold Black '21, who was a young engineer at Bell Laboratories in New York City when he invented the negative feedback amplifier in 1927. Black's invention was mentioned in the address that C. Michael Armstrong gave to the graduates in WPI's Class of 2000 on May 20. Armstrong called the amplifier Black invented "a device that played a vital role in 20th-century electronics. It eliminated distortion from telephone calls, was used in gun-control systems during the Second World War, and it was key to a range of post-war electronics, from computers to pacemakers to high-fidelity recordings."

In the current issue of Spectrum, the magazine of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Black's achievement receives prominent mention in an article covering the major milestones in electrical engineering during the 20th century. The article notes that the invention is still widely used in control and communications systems today. It also noted that in 1957, Mervin Kelly, then president of Bell Labs, called the achievement one of two inventions that had the broadest impact on electronics and communications during the previous half century.

Black's invention solved a problem that had hindered the advance of long-distance telephone service. To get telephone signals to travel over long spans, one had to amplify them several times, with each amplification introducing new distortions. Black's insight was that by feeding part of the signal back into the amplifier, in negative phase, and comparing it to the original signal, the distortion could be greatly reduced.

Black's technical accomplishment was important enough to earn him eternal recognition (as just one example of the honors he received, he was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame, along with Robert Goddard '08). But the story of his discovery is also the stuff of legend. In 1927 he was taking the Hudson River Ferry to his office when he suddenly thought of the solution to the distortion problem he'd been absorbed in for some weeks. Having nothing else to write on, he sketched his idea on a page of the New York Times that had been printed quite faintly. He signed and dated his notes and then had a colleague do the same when he got to work.

During his Commencement address, Michael Armstrong held up the actual page of the Times that Black wrote on; it has an honored place in the AT&T archives. The patent Harold Black won for the negative feedback amplifier was one of 63 U.S. and 278 foreign patents he earned in a long and distinguished career at Bell Labs.

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