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Vol. 3, No. 11 Feb. 7, 2002

Around Campus

Learning How Engineers Work
WPI's Office of Diversity and Women's Programs has invited two groups of high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors to campus in mid-February to learn about how engineers and professionals in related fields use math and science to solve real-world problems.

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, from 3 to 6:30 p.m., young women in grades 9-11 and their parents or guardians will tour WPI labs, take part in hands-on activities, and listen to a panel discussion as part of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. On Feb. 13, African-American, American Indian and Latino students will attend a similar program in observance of National Engineers Week. Hands-on activities in both programs include making "Silly Gak" (a cross between Silly Putty and Gak); learning about applications for a wire with a memory; and examining assistive devices and learning about rehabilitation engineering.

Renowned Criminologist to Speak
One of the world's most renowned criminologist, Henry C. Lee, director of the Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Laboratory, will speak at WPI on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 4 p.m., in Olin Hall 107. His talk, "New Advances in Forensic Science: Utilization of Physical Evidence in Solving Crime," is part of a mini-colloquium series on forensic science sponsored by the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. Lee has testified in court more than 1,000 times and has assisted in more than 7,000 criminal cases, including such high-profile cases as the William Kennedy Smith and O.J. Simpson trials. In 1996, he went to Bosnia to provided training in DNA analysis to assist in the identification of remains from a mass grave.

Annual Theme and Cathedral Concerts
The WPI Concert Band, directed by Douglas Weeks, administrator of applied music, will present its annual theme concert on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 4 p.m. in Alden Memorial. This year's theme is Sports Night. Tickets are $3 for adults; free to students and seniors.

Weeks will also conduct the Brass Ensemble and Orchestra during WPI's annual concert in Worcester's St. Paul's Cathedral on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 2 p.m. The cathedral is located at 10 Chatham St. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information about these events, call ext. 5946.

BWE Valentine's Day Luncheon
The WPI Business Women's Exchange will host a luncheon at noon on Thursday, Feb. 14, in the Campus Center Odeum. Yolanda King, associate director of residential services, will present Mary Kay cosmetics. The door prize is a $15 Mary Kay gift certificate. One person at each table will win a facial makeover.

The menu includes bread sticks, soup, Yankee pot roast, peas and carrots, mashed potatoes, grape nut custard, coffee and tea. Payment ($8) should be sent to Muriel Farr in Admissions by Feb. 11. Checks should be made payable to WPI.

Masque Stages Alice in Wonderland
WPI Masque and the Humanities and Arts Department will present Alice in Wonderland in Alden Memorial at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, Friday, Feb. 15, and Saturday, Feb. 16. Tickets ($5 for the general public, $3 for students) may be purchased in the Campus Center during the week of the performance and at the door. For more information, call ext. 5947

Black History Month Celebrations
WPI's observance of Black History Month continues with the following programs:

Panel discussion: "Hip-Hop-Is Universal?" Thursday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. in the Hagglund Room, Campus Center.

Exhibit, "Paul Williams: Architect to the Stars." Feb. 8-Feb. 28 in the Gordon Library. Williams was one of this nation's most prolific African-American architects. Photo reproductions of his work will be on display in the library entrance.

"The Sacred Concerts of Duke Ellington, featuring the WPI Stage Band and the Master Singers of Worcester, with several guest artists. Sunday, Feb. 10, 4 p.m., Mechanics Hall, Main Street, Worcester. For tickets, call 752-0888.

"Poetry Slam and Open Mic," featuring Flowmentalz. Monday, Feb. 11, 8 p.m., Campus Center Food Court. Sponsored by Minority Affairs.

Summer Jobs Fair
The Career Development Center will hold its annual Summer Jobs Fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the Campus Center. WPI students, from freshmen through Ph.D. candidates, are encouraged to attend the fair, where they can gather information, meet prospective employers and learn about what's hot in industry.

The week prior to the fair is Corporate in Residence Week at WPI. Representatives from several companies will be at the CDC each day to critique résumés to help prepare students for the fair. Participating companies are listed on the CDC website.


Emerson Society President
English Professor Wesley T. Mott has been elected president of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society. The international scholarly society's official publication, Emerson Society Papers, has been published at WPI since its establishment in 1989. A major bicentennial celebration of Emerson's birth is being prepared for April 2003, featuring a conference at the Massachusetts Historical Society, a television production, books, and exhibits in Boston, Cambridge and Concord.

Recent Promotion
Carol Briggs, formerly sponsored programs coordinator in the Office of Research Administration, has been promoted to proposal services administrator. In her new role, Briggs is responsible for proposal development and pre-review activities, identification of funding opportunities, post-award administration, and oversight of administrative and office systems.

Former Professor Dies
Shaukat Mirza, 65, of Cary, N.C., a visiting professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Industrial Partners Program at North Carolina State University, died Jan. 30 in his office, apparently of natural causes. Survivors include his wife, Farzaneh, two children and a granddaughter.

Prior to coming to N.C. State, Mirza was a professor of practice in mechanical engineering at WPI from 1996-2001 and interim director of the Manufacturing Engineering Program from 1998 to 2000. He was also professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at the University of Ottawa, a member of the Ottawa-Carlton Institute for Mechanical Engineering, and a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, which he served as associate editor of ASME's Journal of Pressure Vessels.

Employment Opportunities
A complete list of currently available positions is posted on the Human Resources website.

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.


Quilter Finds Beauty in Bits and Pieces
In some areas of science, the whole is said to be greater than the sum of all its parts. For Pamela Riley, the whole is invariably more beautiful than its parts. An administrative secretary in Social Science & Policy Studies, Pam is a creative seamstress and quilter who stitches bits and pieces of fabric into exquisite quilts.

Pam, who came to WPI 15 years ago, worked in Admissions, University Relations and the Career Development Center before joining SS&PS in 1995. "I've been sewing since I was 5," she says. "When I was 10, my mother taught me how to use her sewing machine, a White model that was a big hit at the 1939 World's Fair."

For many years, she made many of her own clothes, along with home decor, crafts and gifts for family and friends. In 1989 she took up quilting. "I designed and hand-quilted my first quilt (seen below the flag, at left, in the photo below)," she says. "I used fabric from my own collection. It's still my favorite." Since then, she has made between 175 and 200 quilts. They exhibit everything from traditional log cabin, floral and geometric patterns to Amish designs in deep, rich colors to bargello quilts to those that feature appliquéd hearts, animals or flowers. Many are kaleidoscopic patchwork quilts, whose seemingly random pieces often have histories of their own. Since 1995 she has made a quilt for every new baby born to someone in SS&PS. In 1991 she donated a quilt to WPI's United Way auction. "The person who bought it commissioned me to make another just like it," she recalls.

Time to complete the quilts varies. The flag in the photo (which reverses to an appliquéd eagle in a fabric frame) was one of the fastest projects; a wedding quilt for one of her sons took seven months. An inveterate fabric collector, she says she goes into fabric stores like some people go into candy stores, and often brings back fabrics from her travels. "I've always got something brewing," she says, "although as I get older, my quilts are getting smaller and smaller."

With all the quilting she does, you'd expect Pam to have an impressively outfitted workroom. "I work in a TV/computer/sewing/guest room," she laughs. "I lay out my designs on a bed and I keep my fabrics in plastic bins in the attic. Once a year I go up and sort everything out."

While many of her patterns have come from quilt publications, these days she's just as likely to go to the Web for inspiration. "There is a quilt show on HGTV," she says. "I record it, then go to www.hgtv.com or to one of the many other quilt sites on the Web for more information and ideas."

Pam is currently hand-quilting a "whole cloth" quilt as a wedding present for her daughter, who is getting married in October. "It's a white-on-white quilt in which the quilt design is printed on a large piece of fabric," she says. "The markings disappear when the quilt is washed." She's also making her daughter's gown, a Renaissance design with a fitted velvet bodice and a silky skirt. "I've taken her measurements and bought the pattern. Now I just have to get her to the fabric store."

Those who know Pam Riley would not be surprised if pieces of that wedding dress end up in a quilt - or two - someday.

WPI in the News

An article on the WPI/UMass Consortium in Comparative Neuroimaging in the Jan. 14 issue of Mass High Tech included quotes from Provost John Carney and ME Professor John Sullivan.

On Jan. 15, the Telegram & Gazette featured an article on the Department of Management's recent colloquium. Argentine economist Edgardo Gomez Luengo spoke about the economic situation in his country.

The Boston Business Journal's Jan. 18 edition included a feature on the state of continuing education in the post-dot.com world. Arlene Lowenstein, dean of continuing education, was quoted at length.

A front-page story in the Jan. 20 issue of the Sunday Telegram profiled ECE Professor Hossein Hakim and other several area academics, who talked about their reactions to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

BizEd Magazine interviewed McRae Banks, head of the Department of Management, for an article on MIS and MBA degrees, which appears in its January/February issue.

Cabinet Meeting Summary

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


Sunday Mass. Feb. 10, 17 and 24, 11:30 a.m., Alden Memorial.
Ash Wednesday Masses, Feb. 13, noon and 5 p.m., Lower Wedge.

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 4 p.m., "New Advances in Forensic Science: Utilization of Physical Evidence in Solving Crime," Henry C. Lee, director, Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Laboratory, Olin 107.

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2 p.m., hazardous waste management and laboratory safety training, Salisbury Labs 123. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, call Dave Messier at ext. 5216 or e-mail dmessier@wpi.edu

Monday, Feb. 11, 4 p.m., "Controlling Nanodroplet Nucleation and Growth in Supersonic Nozzles. Or Why Does the Condensation Lab Occupy OH 017?" Kiril Streletzky, WPI adjunct assistant professor of physics, Olin Hall 107 (refreshments at 3:40 p.m. in Olin 118)

Wednesday, Feb. 13, 10:30 a.m., "Discussion of Architecture," M. David Samson, associate professor of art history/architecture, Alden Memorial (coffee at 9:45 a.m.).

Tuesday, Feb. 12, 6:30-9 p.m. (registration at 6), "Getting Started on Uncle Sam's SBIR Money," Natalie S. Rudolph, principal, Rudolph Biomedical Consulting. Case presenter: SuturTek Inc., Jerry Brecher, president and CEO. Campus Center Odeum, $10 members; $20 nonmembers; faculty/staff/students free with WPI ID, 831-5075.

Publications & Presentations

Demetry, C., D. Nicoletti, K. Mix, K. O'Connor, and A. Martin. "'Who Dunnit?': Learning Chemistry and Critical Thinking Through Hands-On Forensic Science," Forensic Science Column (L.H. Berka, Editor), in NEACT Journal vol. 20, no. 2, Winter/Spring 2002, 19-25.

Menides, Laura J., "The Couple in the Canoe (Lucerne, Switzerland)." Poem, in Kafla Inter-Continental, no. 26, January/February 2001, 9.
__. "Elizabeth Bishop: Pulitzer Prize Writer." Presented at the Torch Club, Worcester, Jan. 10, 2002.
Weeks, Douglas. "Trombone and Friends." Solo recital, Worcester Art Museum, Jan. 20, 2002.

Radzicki, Michael J. "Economics and System Dynamics." Invited lecture, Alfred P. Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jan. 16, 2002.

Worth Noting

ATRC Gives Technology a Human Face
Imagination and calculations can go only so far in engineering design. In WPI's Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC), students learn that understanding people is as important as comprehending principles¾especially when it comes to devising workable solutions to real problems faced by disabled individuals.

A focus area of WPI's Rehabilitation Engineering Laboratory, the ATRC was established in 1999 by Holly Ault, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and ME Professor Allen H. Hoffman with support from the Fairlawn Foundation. Students use the three-room facility in Higgins Labs to design and develop mechanical and electromechanical devices for individuals with many different disabilities. Most devices are Major Projects completed by mechanical and biomedical engineering majors with local sponsors; some are class projects. Hoffman and Ault share duties as project advisors.

Scott Putnam (pictured here), whose cerebral palsy makes it impossible for him to speak or move his arms or legs, is one of the ATRC's clients. An independent living specialist and Web designer for the Center for Living and Working, Putnam uses a forehead-mounted pointer to access his lightwriter communication device, mobile telephone, environmental control unit (ECU) and entertainment remotes. The development of an improved head pointer was the focus of a recent class project in an undergraduate design course. To read the full story, go to www.wpi.edu/~atrc/newsletters/Fall2001.htm.

Other projects have included a speed-control device for a manual wheelchair, an office doorbell for hearing-impaired employees, and an adapter that enabled a blind boy with coordination problems to more easily use a manual Brailler. "We encourage our students to think as engineers," says Ault, "but we also stress that the key to any successful design is how well it matches the person they are creating it for. Every new challenge presents a perfect design project because there is no universal solution. Products must be tailored to each person's needs and personality."

In addition to the Center for Living and Working, ATRC project sponsors have included the Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton, Mass., the Department of Mental Retardation, the Seven Hills Foundation and its affiliates, the Worcester Public Schools, the Monson Developmental Center, and the Wachusett Regional School District.

Under the leadership of Ault and Hoffman, ATRC has also become a clearinghouse of technical information about the availability and use of small-scale assistive devices. Hoffman and Ault have sponsored workshops and they and their students have met with Worcester-area service providers, physical therapists, occupational therapists and special education teachers in clinical, educational and social service agencies and organizations that serve the needs of the disabled.

"Until we established the ATRC, the Worcester area lacked a rehabilitation engineering presence," says Hoffman. "Organizations that serve the disabled do not have engineers on staff. At WPI we are creating a comprehensive model with the center as the technical liaison to the area's clinicians and service providers."

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Last modified: June 29, 2010 13:03:00