Welcome to @WPI

Vol. 2, No. 3 Oct. 12, 2000

Around Campus

Mock Presidential Debate Tonight

Those who have not yet had enough of presidential debates should drop by Kinnicutt Hall tonight at 7 p.m. for a mock presidential debate that will feature WPI students playing the roles of this year's major presidential candidates.

Senior Alex Knapp, the debate organizer, will play Libertarian Harry Browne, senior Ernie Dimicco will be Democrat Al Gore, freshman Daniel Lorente will be Republican George W. Bush, junior Matt Leclair will be Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and junior Catherine Raposa will be Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan.

Knapp is vice president of WPI's Legal and Social Issues Group, which is sponsoring the mock debate. The event will be co-moderated by senior Benjamin Carl, president of the Legal and Social Issues Group, and junior Julie Cerqueira, president of the Global Awareness of Environmental Activity (GAEA) Club. For more information, contact Knapp at jaknapp@wpi.edu or Carl at bcarl@wpi.edu or 751-6713.

Showing IBM Our Appreciation

Last November, WPI received a gift of an IBM RS/6000 SP supercomputer, which is being used to develop computational models that are helping researchers tackle a variety of complex science and engineering problems. The gift of nearly $1.1 million in hardware and software was made through IBM's Shared University Research Program.

Next Monday, Oct. 16, WPI will show its gratitude by hosting IBM Appreciation Day on campus. The University will play host to officials from IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center and its Deep Computing Institute.

During the morning, invited participants will talk about plans for an IBM-WPI partnership and the impact of the new supercomputer on WPI's faculty and students. Malcolm Ray, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Julia Mullen, SP applications scientist in the Computing and Communications Center, will demonstrate applications of the RS/6000. In a poster session after lunch, faculty and students will present the results of research in a variety of areas that might be able to take advantage of the power and speed of the new computer. For more information, please contact the Corporate Relations Office at ext. 5010.

Here Come the Mathletes

More than 85 schools from four states are expected to send four-person teams to WPI's 13th annual Invitational Mathematics Meet for high-school students. The event will take place Thursday, Oct. 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Harrington Auditorium.

The meet includes individual and team competitions. Each round poses challenging questions based on the secondary curriculum, up to but not including calculus. The student with the highest score receives a $3,000 scholarship to attend WPI; second- and third-place winners receive $2,000 and $1,500 scholarships, respectively. There are also team awards.

Members of the WPI community are asked to park in the Boynton Street lot or in the peripheral lots on Oct. 26 to enable these students and their chaperones to park on the Quadrangle.

Students Walk for the Cure

More than 60 students from WPI fraternities and sororities joined 6,000 walkers in the second annual Walk to Cure Cancer at the UMass Medical School on Labor Day. The event raised more $500,000, which will help build a state-of-the-art cancer research facility at UMass.

"The men and women of Alpha Chi Rho, Phi Sigma Sigma, Alpha Gamma Delta and Alpha Tau Omega were helpful, polite and so accommodating that the other volunteers and staff were left with little to do," noted event manager Cathy M. LaRocca in a letter to WPI President Edward Alton Parrish. "They couldn't do enough to help...These young men and women are a credit to their organizations, to themselves and to your institution."

Five to Join the Hall of Fame

Five alumni will be inducted to the WPI Athletic Hall of Fame at the annual banquet on Nov. 3, Homecoming Weekend. They are Joseph J. Alekshun Jr. '56, Kimberly F. Boucher '86, Frederick D. Rucker '81, Fred N. Snyder Jr. '70 and Jason A. Wooley '94. The event will pay special tribute to the 1976-77 women's basketball team. For more information, call ext. 5243.

IQP Award Nominees Sought

There's still time to enter the President's IQP Awards competition. Applications are available from Pam O'Bryant in the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division, located in the Project Center. The deadline for applications is Friday, Oct. 20, at 4 p.m. Applications are available on the Web at the President's IQP Awards site. Finalists will give their presentations in Higgins House Dec. 6. Faculty members who have advised outstanding IQPs are encouraged to have their students enter the competition. The rules stipulate that an IQP may be submitted only after its completion. Completion means that a CDR for all students named on the forms has been recorded by the Registrar before the application deadline. For more information, call ext. 6089 or e-mail paobryan@wpi.edu.

Faculty-Staff Campaign Results

Gifts and pledges to the faculty and staff component of the Campaign for WPI currently total $577,320. The total includes two generous challenge grants from faculty members, one of which matches, dollar-for-dollar, gifts for any campaign objective (up to $250,000). The other pays $1 for every $3 designated to the Global Perspective Program to offset student travel costs (up to $50,000). Faculty have contributed $476,241, with a median gift of $275; the staff total is $101,179, with a median gift of $425.Donors may designate their gifts to any campaign goal. About 56 percent of faculty and staff gifts have been designated to the campus center. Faculty and staff may make gifts up until the Campaign for WPI concludes on June 30, 2003, according to co-chairs Ray Hagglund, professor of mechanical engineering, and Ann Schlickmann, director of administrative services. Pledges may be paid over five years. Pledge cards may be obtained from Schlickmann in the lower level of Boynton Hall or by calling ext. 5025.

Spook, Spirits and Songs

Opera meets the world of classic horror as the Salisbury Lyric Opera presents "Spook, Spirits and Songs" in Alden Memorial Sunday, Oct. 22, from 1:30 to 5 p.m. In this fully staged performance, ghosts and ghouls sing some of opera's greatest music.

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, Oct. 12
Staff payroll authorizations and Flexcomp claim forms
(Staff payroll Wednesday, Oct. 18)

Monday, Oct. 16
Monthly Flexcomp claim forms

Wednesday, Oct. 18
Monthly payroll authorizations
(Monthly payroll paid Tuesday, Oct. 31)

Thursday, Oct. 19
Biweekly student payroll authorizations
(Student payroll paid Thursday, Oct. 26)

Thursday, Oct. 26
Staff payroll authorizations and Flexcomp claim forms
(Staff payroll Wednesday, Nov. 1)

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 Oct. 6)


Laboratory Manager


Cashier/Accounting Clerk II


Part-time Administrative Secretary III


Faculty Positions


Desktop Systems Administrator
Information Systems Specialist/Analyst Programmer
UNIX Systems Administrator


Tenure-track faculty position


Part-time technical trainers
Records and Financial Services Manager
Manager of Systems Administration


Assistant Director, External Affairs
Administrative Secretary IV
Biographical Records Assistant


Tenure-track faculty positions
Computer Systems Manager


Events Manager


Part-time Administrative Secretary II


Graduate Database Coordinator
Part-time Administrative Secretary III
Waltham Campus Coordinator, Graduate Admissions


Project Manager


Assistant Director, Advanced Distance Learning Network


Adjunct Faculty (part-time position)
Visiting Faculty Member, Entrepreneurship (full-time, temporary, nine-month appointment)
Part-time Faculty Member-Project Management
Assistant Director, Graduate Management Programs


Lab Machinist
Faculty position


Part-time Temporary Assistant Basketball Coach


HVAC Mechanic II
Custodian - Washburn Shops
Custodian - Residential Services (Temporary)


Assistant Director of Residential Services


Tenure Track Faculty - Economics/System Dynamics
Tenure Track Faculty - Psychology/System Dynamics


Assistant Director of Student Activities
Assistant Director of Leadership and Community Service Program


Administrative Secretary IV

For more information about these positions, visit the Human Resource 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.


Student Playwrights Nominated

Susan Vick, professor of drama/theatre, was recently invited to nominate three WPI students for the WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory, which offers script development to outstanding collegiate playwrights. Those chosen to attend this January's two-week residential program at Eckerd College in Florida will work with accomplished professionals to develop their scripts to their maximum potential. Some plays go on to professional productions. Vick and Dean O'Donnell, instructor in the Humanities and Arts Department, nominated the following playwrights whose plays have been seen in the annual New Voices festival:

Meghan E. Fraizer '02 for [Yawn]
James Nichols '02 for Baseball
Peter James Miller, graduate student for Among Friends

WPI Welcomes New Archivist

Rodney Obien, most recently senior staff assistant in the archives at the University of Buffalo, has joined Gordon Library as full-time archivist and special collections librarian. He can be reached at ext. 6612 or at robien@wpi.edu.

Lora Brueck, formerly part-time archivist, is now working full-time as collections manager for the book collection. She is responsible for new acquisitions and maintenance of the online catalog. She can be reached at ext. 6039 or at lbrueck@wpi.edu.

Other September Hires

The following individuals have joined WPI: Gary Antinarella is supervisor of custodians, nights, in Plant Services; Gina Betti is operations manager in the Management Department; Christy Letizia is administrative assistant in Continuing and Professional Education, Waltham Campus; and Sarah Walkowiak is Web developer in the Instructional Media Center.

WPI in the News

Press releases are posted on the WPI Web site at www.wpi.edu/News/Releases/ for the convenience of reporters, editors and anyone else interested in news of the University.

John Orr, head of the Electrical Engineering Department, was quoted in the Sunday, Oct. 1 Los Angeles Times in a story titled, "Career make-over: Southern Californians learning how to improve their careers." The Sunday paper has a circulation of 1.4 million. You may read the story at www.latimes.com; search on Worcester Polytechnic.

A story that appeared in the Aug. 31 New York Times featuring Fred Bianchi, associate professor of music, continues to find placements. The latest newspapers to reprint "What's next: a wave of the hand may soon make a computer jump to obey," are the Chicago Tribune (circulation 664,584), the Los Alamos (N.M.) Monitor and the Santa Cruz (Calif.) Sentinel.

United Press International produced a story, "Plan to protect Venice questioned, defended," which was distributed Aug. 24 under its Science News. The story quoted Fabio Carrera, founder of the Venice Project Center, as an authority on Venetian canals. This piece was also in an earlier "WPI in the News" report, noting its use in Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine. UPI provides news and information for broadcast, print, online and a variety of other subscribers.

Malcolm Ray, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, was interviewed by Detroit television station WXYZ for a report on dangerous guardrails and their possible contribution to an automobile accident. The news report is set to air soon.

Thomas Shannon, professor of religion and social ethics, was included in an Oct. 4 ExpertSource News Advisory on the topic of genetic engineering sent to nationwide reporters and editors from BusinessWire.

"European pharmaceutical giant chooses Boston site for new lab," a story in the Sept. 27 Boston Globe, said that among the reasons for a company to choose Massachusetts over San Francisco, San Diego and other U.S. and international sites is the science research conducted by Massachusetts-based institutions, among them, WPI.

In the Women in Business column in the Sept. 20-Oct. 5 Boston Business Journal, Jenny Ryan wrote, "New England is the engineering capital of the United States, with impressive engineering programs offered at Boston University, MIT, Northeastern, UMass and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Here, above all places, women must be shown that they have a place among some of the most sought-after employees in the New Economy."

The September issue of Manufacturers' Mart, New England edition, ran a story about the Automated Manufacturing Show at Worcester's Centrum Centre Oct. 10-12, noting WPI workshop offerings at the event.

Raymond R. Hagglund, professor of mechanical engineering, was featured in an Oct. 4 Worcester Telegram & Gazette story, "Expert rebuts crash theory: WPI prof: Suspect not driver."

The Sept. 1 Worcester Telegram & Gazette ran a story with a photo on WPI's Gordon Library art exhibit, "Worcester By Night." The Aug. 20 T&G included a story, "A college community extends well beyond its campus," quoting Mayor Raymond V. Mariano as saying, "When WPI was named one of the top colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report, Worcester itself derives some benefit from that."

Cabinet Meeting Summary

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



Wednesday, Oct. 18, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., Continuing Education "IT Career 2000 Information Session," MetroWest Campus, 225 Turnpike Road (Rte 9 West) Southborough, 800-974-9717
Thursday, Oct. 19, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., Continuing Education "IT Career 2000 Information Session," Waltham Campus, located in the Bear Hill Road/Second Avenue business complex, 800-974-9717


Wednesday, Oct. 18, noon, "Atomic Force Microscopy to Investigate Bacterial and Biopolymer Interactions in the Aquatic Environment," Terri A. Camesano, WPI Chemical Engineering Professor, Goddard Hall 227, (refreshments)


Friday, Oct. 13, "Information Tehoretic Fuzzy Approach to Knowledge Discovery in Databases," Mark Last, University of South Florida, Fuller Labs 320 (refreshments at 10:45 in the Atrium, Fuller Labs, 3rd floor)


Thursday, Oct. 12, 4:05 p.m., Kinnicutt Hall


Tuesday, Oct. 17, 6 p.m., Graduate Admissions/Waltham Campus, 60 Hickory Drive, Waltham, Mass., (Management only), 800-974-9717


Friday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., New England Area SAFETI workshop, cost $45. Information or registration: Pam O'Bryant, ext. 6089 (limited seating)


Monday, Oct. 16, 4 p.m., "Liquid Crystals with Quenched Disorder: What Is Left After The Long Range Order Is Disrupted," Tommaso Bellini, Politecnico di Milano, Italy, Olin Hall 107, (refreshments at 3:40 in Olin 118)
Monday, Oct. 30, 4 p.m., "Nonlinear Optical Catastrophes and Dark Spatial Solitons," Anton Deykoon, Olin Hall 107, (refreshments at 3:40 in Olin 118)


Thursday, Oct. 26, 9 a.m. to noon, "Fostering Critical Thinking & Mature Valuing Across the Curriculum," Craig Nelson, Indiana University, Bloomington, sponsored by the Colleges of Worcester Consortium, WPI Class of '57 Excellence in Teaching Symposium series, Founders Hall, Dining Room, 754-6829
Friday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m. to noon, "Who Me? I Don't Discriminate Against Minorities! Or Do I?," Craig Nelson, Indiana University, Bloomington, sponsored by the Colleges of Worcester Consortium, WPI Class of '57 Excellence in Teaching Symposium series, Founders Hall, Dining Room, 754-6829


Tuesday, Oct. 17, "Future Look/New Business Models," Charles Rutstein, research director, eBusiness Infrastructure, Forrester Research Inc. Cost: $5 members, $10 nonmembers, faculty/staff/students free with WPI ID, Salisbury Labs, Kinnicutt Hall, 6:30-9 p.m. (registration, 6 p.m.), 831-5075

Publications & Presentations


Crusberg, T.C., and Mark, S. S., "Heavy Metal Remediation of Wastewaters by Microbial Biotraps," in Valdes, J.J. (Ed.), "Bioremediation," Kluwer Academic Publ., The Netherlands, 2000, pp. 123-137.


Kohles, Sean S., "Anisotropic Elastic and Transport Properties of Cancellous Bone," presented at the annual meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society, Seattle, Wash., Oct. 11-14.
---. "Profilometer Variance in Implant Roughness Characterization," presented at the annual meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society, Seattle, Wash., October.


Berka, Ladislav, H., "Report on the WPI-NEACT Conference - Forensic Science: Beyond 'Quincy' and O.J. Simpson," NEACT (New England Association of Chemistry Teachers) Journal, vol. 19, no.1, Summer-Fall 2000, pages 1-5.


Shannon, Thomas A., "Genetically Engineered Agricultural Products and International Regulations," Evangelishce Akademie Loccum, Hanover, Germany, Sept. 22, in conjunction with EXPO 2000.


Burnham, N. A., Baker, S. P., and Pollock, H. M., "A Model for Materials Properties Nanoprobes," in J. Mat. Research 15, 2006-14 (2000).
---, Chen, X., Davies, M.C., Roberts, C.J., Tendler, S.J.B., and Williams, P.W., "Optimizing Phase Imaging via Dynamic Force Curves," in Surf. Sci. 460, 292-300 (2000).
--, "Small is Beautiful, Small is Different, Small is Elegant," presented at Clark University, Sept. 14.
---, Gourdon, D., and Duschl, C., "Molecular Tribology of Highly Ordered Monolayers," presented at the American Vacuum Society Fall Meeting, Boston, Oct. 2-6.

Worth Noting

Genetic engineering is among the most complex and controversial topics in science and engineering today. One of the more hotly contested aspects of the field is work on genetically modified foods. Currently, there are wide differences between how such foods are regulated in the United States and Europe, as was pointed out in a recent presentation given by

Tom Shannon, professor of religion and social ethics, at EXPO 2000 in Hanover, Germany.

In Europe, any company that manufactures or imports a genetically modified food must request approval from the food safety authority in the European Union. That means a case-by-case risk assessment. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves genetically modified foods the same way it gives approval to any other food or drug, Shannon said. The FDA recognizes any additive as safe if it already exists in the natural food supply-even if it is inserted into unrelated plants through genetic modification.

"Because most genetic modification is done by transplanting genes from one plant or animal already used in the food supply to another, most genetically modified foods are not subject to safety approval under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1992," he noted.

So what is the answer for the manufacture of genetically modified foods? Some legislators and scientists have suggested using the "precautionary principle," which says that if any scientific objective raises concerns about possible dangers to the environment or human, animal or plant health, it should not proceed. Other experts note that such a standard of confidence has never been part of scientific study. "One can think of hardly any technology or cultural practice for that matter that could pass that standard," Shannon said.

While scientists have found no human health problems thus far with genetically modified crops, can the world live without a firm guarantee against future adverse effects? "A general framework needs to be established to monitor safety and health issues as well as environmental issues," Shannon suggested. "The sooner this is begun, the sooner the issues can be addressed, and policies put in place that will respond to national issues as well as international marketing programs."

Hanging in the balance is the need to increase and improve the world's food supply as well as the possible development of crops such as beta-carotene-enhanced rice that would deliver vitamin A to large populations.

More information on this story is available in the press release, Is Fear of Frankenfood Holding Back Progress for the World's Food Supply?

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Last modified: July 12, 2010 15:52:55