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March 20, 2008

Around Campus

Immelt Named Commencement Speaker

Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric Company (GE), will deliver the address at WPI’s 140th Commencement exercises on May 17.

Immelt, 51, was appointed the ninth chairman of GE in September 2001. Since then, he has led the legendary 130-year-old American company to consistent economic growth around the world, with an average of 10 percent annual financial growth over the past five years. In 2007, GE generated double-digit earnings and revenue growth ($173 billion in revenues and $22.5 billion in earnings). With Immelt at the helm, he reshaped GE's portfolio for long-term growth, and its stock is among the most widely held in the world. The company's product line spans jet engines, locomotives, energy production, commercial and consumer finance, health care equipment, home appliances, and entertainment. Also under Immelt’s leadership, GE was one of the first corporations to publicly launch a viable business strategy to address the world’s need for sustainable energy and environmentally advanced technology.

Local Kids Explore Power House

Bill Grudzinski, lead engineer at the Power House, guides a tour of the facility on Tuesday, March 4, with Elm Park Community School pupils in grades 4-6, who are part of the after-school program “This is My City.” Through the 16-week class, the children visit various Worcester cites to see how their operations impact the environment and city.

Gateway Anchors First Growth District

State and local officials gathered on Feb. 26 at WPI’s Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park to launch the Massachusetts Growth Districts Initiative—a new program to focus resources on economic growth opportunities across the state.

Speaking at Gateway Park, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Daniel O’Connell said the state’s new initiative will help accelerate development at sites local leaders identify as most appropriate for significant new growth, whether commercial, residential, or mixed-use. Through the Growth Districts Initiative, O’Connell said the state would partner with municipalities and property owners to help coordinate local permitting, state permitting, site preparation, infrastructure improvements, and marketing. The objective is to create a level of development readiness within each growth district, so they can compete on a national and international level. In the next several months, the state plans to designate 16 new growth districts across Massachusetts, O’Connell said.

The first new growth district includes the Gateway Park neighborhood and the Lincoln Square area in downtown Worcester.

Computer Tip

Books 24x7

Have you tried this electronic library yet? Books 24x7 is a searchable database of thousands of full-text technology and engineering books. You can even sign up to have new titles emailed to you.  It can be used whether you are on or off campus, as long as you have access to the Internet. Connect to Books24x7 to sign up for an account. From off campus be sure to set up access to the WPI Proxy server first (see Library Web site).

Need information on Microsoft Office 2007 software? Learn the basics with titles such as Visio 2007 Bible, or Favorite Excel 2007 Tips & Tricks. Interested in knowing more about editing digital video? Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 Bible is available. In addition, books on engineering topics have been added to the collection in the past month. Use it for materials science, bioengineering, and even sustainability topics. Titles are added to the Library Catalog, but searching this collection directly gives users the power of searching the full text of all titles included.

For assistance accessing Books 24x7, contact the Library at x6700 or library-answers@wpi.edu.

Alden Trust Gives $6 Million to Develop Center in Undergraduate Life Sciences

WPI has received a $6 million grant from the George I. Alden Trust for the renovation and integration of several undergraduate laboratories in Goddard Hall into the new Undergraduate Life Sciences Laboratory Center at WPI. The gift, the largest in the Alden Trust’s 95-year history, is the second given to WPI by the Trust in recent years for the purpose of improving undergraduate academic facilities. In total, the Alden Trust has contributed $11 million toward WPI’s critical mission of improving life sciences education at the undergraduate level.

When completed, the Undergraduate Life Sciences Laboratory Center at WPI will bring together the laboratory instruction of four departments in a single location, promote cooperation and collaboration across the disciplines, and support increased enrollments in engineering and science programs. Specifically, the new center will become WPI’s main facility for undergraduate teaching and research in biology and biotechnology, biomedical engineering, chemistry and biochemistry, and chemical engineering. Work on the renovation is slated to start in July, with occupancy planned for next February.

Akin to the center at Gateway Park, the creation of the Undergraduate Life Sciences Laboratory Center at WPI calls for facilities that are state-of-the-future: teaching, research, and meeting spaces that will sustain WPI’s undergraduate life sciences programs for decades to come. The renovation comprises 21,300 square feet, and the new center will feature vibrant, open, and technology-rich spaces that provide a host of new curricular opportunities. Building innovations will include laboratories for bioscience project work, organic chemistry, and interdisciplinary teaching. Other features will include shared computer space, a classroom, instrumentation, and a variety of spaces for project meetings and informal interactions among students and faculty.


Faculty Promotions, Tenure Awards

Six members of the faculty have been promoted; five have also been granted tenure. The awards are effective July 1.

“We are very pleased and proud to be able to recognize these outstanding teachers and scholars by awarding these well-deserved promotions,” said President Dennis Berkey. “The quality of their teaching, research, and scholarship, as well as the extensive personal attention that they pay to our students, is strong affirmation of WPI’s strengths and values. The trustees join me in enthusiastically extending our congratulations and deep gratitude to each.”

Emmanuel O. Agu has been promoted to associate professor of computer science and awarded tenure. Agu joined the WPI faculty in 2002 after earning a PhD in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His teaching and research interests focus on computer networks, including wireless networks, and computer graphics. He has presented his work widely, including at the prestigious European Association for Computer Graphics Conferences. He advised an undergraduate project that received the Best Paper Award at the 2003
NetGames conference.

Kristen Billiar has been promoted to associate professor of biomedical engineering and awarded tenure. After receiving a PhD in bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania in 1998, Billiar worked as a staff engineer at Organogenesis Inc. before joining the WPI faculty in 2002. His research in mechanobiology, tissue engineering, and bioengineered skin substitutes has been supported by the Whittaker Foundation and the American Heart Association and has resulted in seven journal articles. He received WPI's 2005 Romeo Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education.

Neil Heffernan has been promoted to associate professor of computer science and awarded tenure. Heffernan joined the WPI faculty in 2001 after earning a PhD in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. He conducts research in artificial intelligence, focused particularly on the development is intelligent tutoring systems. With more than $4 million in funding from the U.S. Army, the Office of Naval Research, the federal Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation (which presented him with the CAREER Award, the agency's most prestigious award for young faculty members), he has developed ASSISTments, an instructional system for middle-school math that tutors students and assesses their progress. He has involved many undergraduates in his research, advising student projects on intelligent tutors that have resulted in several conference papers and posters.

Sergey N. Makarov has been promoted to full professor of electrical and computer engineering. He joined the WPI faculty as a research professor in 1998 and was granted tenure in 2006. Makarov has developed an international reputation for his research in acoustic wave propagation, wave and antennae systems modeling, and theoretical acoustics and electromagnetic wave theory, publishing more than 50 articles and a textbook on antenna modeling, He received WPI's Joseph Samuel Satin Distinguished Fellowship in electrical and computer engineering in 2004. He is a review panelist for the National Science Foundation and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He holds a PhD in applied mathematics from St. Petersburg State University in Russia, where he was a professor of mathematics and mechanics before joining WPI.

Oleg V. Pavlov has been promoted to associate professor of social science and policy studies and awarded tenure. Before joining the WPI faculty in 2002, he earned a PhD in economics at the University of Southern California and spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in the Information Systems Department in the Boston University School of Management. He brings expertise in economics, nonlinear dynamics, system dynamics, and other computational modeling techniques to his research on the dynamics of electronic marketplace, computational finance, governance, and macroeconomic growth. His scholarship has resulted in 12 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He is past president of the Economics Chapter of the International System Dynamics Society and has refereed for many journals, book publishers, and foundations-including the National Science Foundation.

Steven S. Taylor has been promoted to associate professor of management and awarded tenure. Taylor earned a PhD in management at Boston College and held a faculty position at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom before joining the WPI faculty in 2002. An active researcher in the emerging field of organization aesthetics, he has published eight refereed journal articles, 13 book chapters, 15 plays, and numerous scholarly presentations. He has also been active on two editorial boards and served as a reviewer for 11 scholarly journals, including several of the top management journals.

Professor Wenjing Lou Wins CAREER Award

Wenjing Lou, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at WPI, has received a five-year, $450,000 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. The award is the NSF’s most prestigious for young faculty members. Lou is the 20th member of the WPI faculty to receive a CAREER Award since 1995. In all, 18 current members of the faculty have won CAREER Awards.

Lou’s research focuses on wireless networks and their security. The CAREER Award will enable her to conduct a comprehensive study of a relatively new concept in wireless networking, one that takes better advantage of the broadcast nature of wireless communications. The aim of the research is to find ways to increase the efficiency, throughput, and reliability of wireless networks and to develop computer models and protocols that will enable designers to create more effective wireless technology.

Publications and Presentations

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Fire Protection Engineering

Humanities and Arts

Interactive Media & Game Development

Social Science and Policy Studies

Recent Grants

Mathematical Sciences

German Consul General at WPI

Dr. Wolfgang Vorwerk of the Consulate General in Boston spoke on Feb. 11 to a 70-member audience on campus that included Holy Cross students and faculty. Many students were surprised to learn that Germany is the size of Montana and has 10 times as many people (82 million). Having lived in various parts of the world, Vorwerk shared his views about Germany within a European and global perspective. The event was sponsored by the Humanities and Arts Department and organized by Ulrike Brisson, who teaches German at WPI.


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Thursday, March 20

Friday, March 21

Monday, March 24

Tuesday, March 25

Thursday, March 27

Friday, March 28

Saturday, March 29


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Last modified: April 02, 2008 10:36:52