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Vol. 7, No. 19; June 14, 2007

Focus on Business in Africa

Around Campus

Chronicle of Higher Ed hails WPI Program

WPI’s Global Perspective Program is one of three university programs cited as model approaches for internationalizing engineering education in a feature story in the June 1 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The article, which includes a photo essay about a 2006 project completed in Namibia by a WPI student team, notes that WPI’s program is uniquely effective in engaging students in other cultures and enabling them to experience firsthand the challenges and rewards of working as an engineer or scientist in the real world. Through the program, which was launched 30 years ago, more than half of all WPI undergraduates spend time overseas to solve important problems for local agencies and organizations. WPI maintains more than 20 project centers on five continents.

WPI Makes SAT An Optional Requirement

WPI will be the first nationally-ranked science and engineering university to make the SAT an optional requirement for admissions.

WPI’s new SAT optional policy, which will take effect for students applying for admission in fall 2008, has been adopted by many liberal arts colleges and research universities over the past 20 years. While the move is unprecedented within the science and technology education arena, implementation of the new policy is consistent with national efforts to attract a broader range of students to science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines – particularly women and minorities.

“At a time when the United States faces mounting competition from other nations in the fields of science, engineering, and technology, it is imperative that we identify and support talent from all quarters,” said WPI President and CEO Dennis D. Berkey. “By instituting an SAT-optional admissions policy, WPI is taking bold action to attract a broader range of young people, including those from underrepresented communities, who we believe can succeed at the university and contribute their talents to solving problems around the world."

WPI’s Admissions Office uses a holistic approach to the selection process, which weighs academic achievement (reflected by grade performance in rigorous classes) more heavily than academic aptitude (reflected by standardized test scores). A recent validity study undertaken by the College Board found that when taken individually, the least predictive element of the student’s success at WPI was the SAT score, while the most predictive was the student’s high school GPA.

WPI will conduct a five-year pilot study to examine the academic performance of students who do not submit SAT scores, versus those who do.

French Vanilla Selected for Prestigious
Off-Off Broadway Play Festival in NYC

French Vanilla, a 15-minute, smartly written madcap comedy written by two WPI graduates, Catherine “Cat” Darensbourg and Elliot Field, was selected to be performed as part of the 32nd annual prestigious Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Original Short Play Festival on June 8 at The Chernuchin in New York City.

French Vanilla, was one of 135 short plays to be featured at the festival and was directed by WPI student James O. “Jamo” Hanlan and produced by Michael Schenck, also a WPI student.

The play spotlights two longtime, strictly platonic roommates who discover after years of living together that they have unwittingly become common-law husband and wife. The play featured acting by New Voices veterans Christopher Osborn, Sara Strecker, David Stechman, and Lindsey Lucier.

This is the fourth year in a row that one of Darensbourg’s plays has been selected for the festival. In an interview on June 12, Darensbourg praised

WPI’s theatre program and leader, Professor Susan Vick. “WPI theatre and New Voices offer real-world theatre experience beyond the bounds of the college that’s usually accessible to only graduate students at other colleges.

“Because Professor Vick has spent a quarter century shaping and maintaining the high standards that have become tradition for WPI theatre, expect to see WPI theatre majors passing on that excellence to the rest of the entertainment world,” Darensbourg added. “One person can make a difference, and that person is Susan Vick.”

The playwrights, director, producer, most of the cast members of French Vanilla, and lighting designer Christopher Kingsley are members of WPI's Rho Kappa “cast,” or chapter, of Alpha Psi Omega, the national dramatic honor fraternity. French Vanilla debuted in Alpha Psi Omega's December 2006 24-hour theatrical show at WPI. In the June 5 campus performance in the Little Theatre, the play was staged twice to showcase a student team's IQP on stage lighting.


Executive Appointments, Promotions

WPI has announced the promotions of four members of the university’s senior leadership team. All four individuals directly report to WPI President and CEO Dennis D. Berkey.

“I am grateful to all of these individuals for their excellent continuing work in support of the WPI community,” said President Berkey.

President Bush congratulates newly commissioned members of the Joint Reserve Officer Training Corps on May 17 in the East Room of the White House, after U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates administered the commissioning oath to the ROTC members.

President Bush Commissions Bridge ‘07

Joanna Bridge, a graduate of WPI’s Class of 2007, was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy by President George W. Bush in a May 17 ceremony at the White House.

Ensign Bridge, of Amherst, N.H., graduated with high distinction from WPI on May 19 with a B.S. in civil engineering. She attended the university on a full Naval ROTC scholarship. Two days prior to WPI’s Commencement 2007, she represented Massachusetts in the first Joint Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) commissioning ceremony ever held at the White House.

The 22-year-old Bridge received her commission by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The ceremony featured ROTC cadets and midshipmen representing the 50 states and U.S. territories who took an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution and accepted gold bars to wear on their uniforms. During the ceremony, President Bush lauded the cadets and midshipmen for deciding on a military career.

“Many of you were still in high school when terrorists brought death and destruction to our streets on September 11th, 2001,” President Bush said. “You were high school students. And yet, some of you understood that the cause of freedom would soon depend on your generation's willingness to step forward to defend it. And when it came time to be counted, each of you volunteered, knowing full well the risks involved during a time of war.

Bridge’s love for the U.S. Navy started when she was in the fifth grade when she saw the film “The Hunt for Red October” and became passionate about submarines. Soon after, her parents, Andrew and Elizabeth Bridge, signed her up to become a Sea Cadet in middle school.

“I was honored to be commissioned by President Bush, who told me ‘Congratulations, kid,’” said Bridge, who got the chance to tour the Pentagon and visit the 9-11 and U.S. Navy memorials while in the nation’s capital. “It was such an exciting experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

New Department Heads Announced

WPI has announced the appointment of new heads for two of its academic departments. Germano S. Iannacchione is the new head of the Physics Department; he has been interim head since April 2006. James K. Doyle will become head of the Social Science and Policy Studies Department on July 1, replacing Khalid Saeed, professor of social science and policy studies, who will return to teaching and research full time after 10 years as department head.

Iannacchione, associate professor of physics, joined the WPI faculty 1998 after serving as a postdoctoral research fellow in physics at Kent State University and as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Chemistry and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering at the MIT. He holds BS and MS degrees in physics from the University of Akron and a PhD in physics from Kent State University.

He has published more than 50 papers in scientific journals in a number of areas in experimental physics, including order-disorder phenomena in soft condensed matter systems, liquid crystal phases and phase transitions, and critical phenomena. He is lifetime member of the American Physical Society and Sigma XI: The Scientific Research Society, and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Liquid Crystal Society.

Iannacchione says his plans as department head include responding to the growing emphasis on the life sciences — at WPI, and more broadly within academia and industry—by expanding the department's research strengths in areas directly related to the life sciences and by making the department's curriculum more relevant to students majoring in such areas as biology, biotechnology, and bioengineering. He notes that the department will hire new faculty this year with research interests in the area of soft condensed matter.

Doyle, associate professor of social science and policy studies, has been a member of the WPI faculty since 1992. He earned a BA in environmental science at the University of California at Berkeley and an MS and a PhD in psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His research has focused on judgment and decision making, risk perception and communication, and mental models of complex systems. He is a member of the American Psychological Society, the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, and the System Dynamics Society.

In his new role, Doyle says he will work to increase the visibility and role of the Social Sciences and Policy Studies Department. "This is a broadly defined social sciences department that will continue to embrace its service role," he says, "particularly with regard to supporting the university's social sciences requirement and its unique Interactive Qualifying Project. In addition, as the university develops new approaches to energizing the first-year experience and reexamines its general education requirement, I'd like to see this department play an important role in the discussions. At the same time, the department will continue to build and broaden its research strengths in applied social sciences, with particular emphasis on computational approaches to the analysis of social and economic problems."

Doyle says the department is developing plans for a PhD program in system dynamics and is collaborating with a wide range of faculty on a proposal for an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental studies.

Recent Grants

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Huang, Xinming, for “Smart Cells: Dynamically Reconfigurable and Evolvable Microsystems Using Large Scale Embedded Microprocessors and Interconnections,” from DARPA, $150,000

Electrical and Computer Engineering

McNeill, John, for “REU Supplement: Background Calibration Technique for High-Resolution Analog to Digital Converters in Submicron CMOS,” from the National Science Foundation, $4,750

What’s Slowing You Down?

Is your computer slowing down so much that it’s almost moving backwards? Has your browser homepage changed to a site you do not want? These are common symptoms of a computer overrun with spyware and adware; software that can be installed as a result of visiting certain Web sites. The CCC Computer Shop has found 1,900+ simultaneous instances of spyware on a single PC! We recommend using Spybot Search and Destroy to detect and remove spyware. If you already have Spybot installed, be sure to select “search for updates” prior to each use.

The Helpdesk website provides detailed instructions for combating spyware at www.wpi.edu/+helpdesk/Software/spyware.html. You are welcome to contact us for assistance by calling x5888 or emailing helpdesk@wpi.edu.

Sign Up for Sport Camps

WPI is offering its 31st year of Summer Sports Camps. The university is the place to be this summer, as coaches can help your camper learn new skills, meet new friends, and have fun.

WPI Sports Camps are state and locally licensed. Campers are provided with a daily cafeteria-style hot lunch, a camp T-shirt, and will enjoy a professional, attentive, and safe environment. WPI coaches offer instruction in baseball, basketball, and rowing.

For more information, go to www.wpi.edu/+sportscamps, call ext. 5243, or email peweb@wpi.edu.

Friday, June 15

Robotics: BattleCry @ WPI • Harrington Auditorium, 4pm

Saturday, June 16

Robotics: BattleCry@WPI Robotics Tournament • Harrington Auditorium, 7am

Monday, June 18

Workshop: “Wikipedia: Go Ahead, Dig in and Edit Something” • Gordon Library, Anderson Lab A, 2pm

Wednesday, June 20

Concert: Summer Concert Series sponsored by Campus Center and Student Activities presents Dave Binder • Campus Center patio (rain location, Campus Center Food Court stage area), noon

Wednesday, June 27

Concert: Summer Concert Series sponsored by Campus Center and Student Activities presents Acoustic Girl Circle • Campus Center patio (rain location, Campus Center Food Court stage area), noon

Wednesday, July 11

Seminar: WPI Archives and Special Collections tour • Gordon Library, Third Floor Archives, 11am

Tuesday, July 24

Workshop: “WHOA. 43 Things in 43 Minutes” • Gordon Library, Anderson Lab A, noon

Summer Lunch Hour Concert Series

The Campus Center and Student Activities Department is offering the annual Summer Lunch Hour Concert Series. Music will be featured on Wednesdays in June and July (with the exception of July 4) on the Campus Center patio from noon to 1 p.m. Talented musicians offering a wide variety of genres will entertain listeners. Free ice cream will be provided for our June concerts.

Concerts will be held rain or shine. If there is rain, the concerts will be performed in the Campus Center Forkey Commons (Food Court). The first concert was Wednesday, June 13, and it featured "Soul Movement.”

The concert schedule is:

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Last modified: February 07, 2008 09:44:41