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July 31, 2008

Around Campus

A new generator to harness wind energy was installed July 23 on the roof of Atwater Kent. The 1KW windmill, which WPI bought from New England Wind Systems, is tied into the building’s operating system. WPI is the first site in central Massachusetts to install this homeowner-sized Swift Wind Turbine system. Data from this system will be shared with New England Wind Systems, and will eventually be posted on the Web, in determining the feasibility in 50 miles from the coast and any future energy rebate for a wind system.

WPI to Host Personnel Location and Tracking for First Responders Workshop

WPI will host the Workshop on Precision Indoor Personnel Location and Tracking for Emergency Responders August 4-6. Four solutions to the technical challenge of precisely locating first responders inside buildings will be demonstrated in carefully controlled trials at the workshop, now in its third year.

The WPI-sponsored workshop, made possible by a $1 million award from the Department of Homeland Security, is the only national forum where the position location research and development community can gain a comprehensive overview of the state of the field and discuss future technical challenges. This year it will bring together leading researchers from industry, academia, and government, as well as members of the first responder community and representatives of federal, state, and local governments.

Systems developed by WPI, TRX Systems, ENSCO Inc., and L-3 Communications will be used to locate a firefighter “lost” in Atwater Kent on August 6. In addition, homing systems developed by Summit Safety Inc. and WPI will be put through their paces.

“This will be a unique opportunity to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of these various technologies under realistic conditions,” notes conference chair James Duckworth, professor of electrical and computer engineering. “I don't think any of the teams really know how well their systems will perform in this difficult test. Of course, the real goal is not to see which systems win or lose, but to gain valuable experience that will allow us to return to the lab and make our systems better, so they can be used to
save lives.”

New ATM to be Installed August 6

The TD BankNorth ATM is expected to be installed on or about August 6 in the Campus Center. The bank is replacing the Commerce Bank ATM, which was removed Friday, July 25. According to WPI’s Financial Services Director Nancy Smith, TD BankNorth will include the Campus Center ATM on the SUM Network, to avoid ATM fees for those who do not have an account with the bank. Meanwhile, the Sovereign Bank ATM at Daniels Hall is scheduled to be removed on August 7. It will not be replaced. Another TD BankNorth ATM will be installed near East Hall once the ArtsWalk is complete.

Junior Robotics Challenge

WPI is sponsoring the Junior Robotics Challenge in August for incoming middle school students in grades 6-8. There will be two weeklong, on-campus sessions: August 4-8 and August 11-15. Both will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. During each program, students will learn how to build robots and program them to perform tasks. The fee is $250.

For details, go to Junior Robotics Challenge.


New ATM to be Installed August 6

The TD BankNorth ATM is expected to be installed on or about August 6 in the Campus Center. The bank is replacing the Commerce Bank ATM, which was removed Friday, July 25. According to WPI’s Financial Services Director Nancy Smith, TD BankNorth will include the Campus Center ATM on the SUM Network, to avoid ATM fees for those who do not have an account with the bank. Meanwhile, the Sovereign Bank ATM at Daniels Hall is scheduled to be removed on August 7. It will not be replaced. Another TD BankNorth ATM will be installed near East Hall once the ArtsWalk is complete.

Rare Poetry Reading a Success

WPI hosted a rare reading on July 20 by the poets laureate of Worcester and Boston in the Higgins House.

Approximately 100 poetry fans gathered to hear Worcester Poet Laureate Gertrude Halstead and Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish read from their works. The occasion, Halstead’s 92nd birthday, was festive and the air electric as Worcester Mayor Konnie Lukes offered her words of welcome, and local poets read their tributes to Halstead. Cornish and Halstead also read their poetry.

Both poets read short, accessible, and powerful poems—some serious, some witty. Cornish read from several of his published volumes, concentrating on political dissidents throughout history and on the everyday experiences of contemporary African-Americans. Halstead, a Holocaust survivor, read poems about remembering her escape from the Nazis during World War II, as well as her encounters with people of compassion and love.

The event ended with a reception in the Higgins House Library, where the poets signed books and where guests serenaded Halstead with a spirited birthday song.

The event, coordinated by Laura Jehn Menides, WPI’s professor of English, emeritus, was sponsored by WPI and the Worcester County Poetry Association.

Camesano Study Shows Cranberries Prevent Bacteria from Adhering to Cells

A new study conducted by WPI researchers reveals that cranberry juice changes the thermodynamic properties of bacteria in the urinary tract, creating an energy barrier that prevents the microorganisms from getting close enough to latch onto cells and initiate an infection.

The study, published in the journal Colloids and Surfaces: B, was conducted by Terri Camesano, associate professor of chemical engineering, and a team of graduate students, including PhD candidate Yatao Liu.

“Our results show that, at least for urinary tract infections, cranberry juice targets the right bacteria—those that cause disease—but has no effect on non-pathogenic organisms, suggesting that cranberry juice will not disrupt bacteria that are part of the normal flora in the gut,” Camesano says. “We have also shown that this effect occurs at concentrations of cranberry juice that are comparable to levels we would expect to find in the urinary tract.”

They exposed two varieties of E. coli bacteria, one with hair-like projections known as fimbriae and one without, to different concentrations of cranberry juice. Fimbriae are present on a number of virulent bacteria, including those that cause urinary tract infections, and are believed to be used by bacteria to form strong bonds with cells.

For the fimbriaed bacteria, they found that even at low concentrations, cranberry juice altered two properties that serve as indicators of the bacteria’s ability to attach to cells. The first factor is called Gibbs free energy of attachment, which is a measure of the amount of energy that must be expended before a bacterium can attach to a cell. Without cranberry juice, this value was a negative number, indicating that energy would be released and attachment was highly likely. With cranberry juice, the number was positive and it grew steadily as the concentration of juice increased, making attachment to urinary tract cells increasingly unlikely.

Surface free energy also rose, suggesting that the presence of cranberry juice creates an energy barrier that repels the bacteria. The researchers also placed the bacteria and urinary tract cells together in solution. Without cranberry juice, the fimbriaed bacteria attached readily to the cells. As increasing concentrations of cranberry juice were added to the solution, the researchers observed fewer attachments.


Peterson Family Establishes Professorship in Life Sciences and Bioengineering

Donald K. Peterson ‘71, chair of the university’s Board of Trustees, and his wife Maureen Peterson have established the Peterson Family Professorship in the Life Sciences and Bioengineering at the university. Their gift recognizes WPI’s leadership in bioengineering and the life sciences, and supports WPI’s founding principle that science and technology should contribute to the betterment of society.

This new professorship, established through the Peterson Family Foundation, helps advance this ideal by providing vital leadership to the scholars and researchers at WPI’s Center for Life Sciences and Bioengineering at Gateway Park. WPI’s Peterson Family Professor will be critical to the development and integration of this vibrant community of scientists and engineers, while also fostering the relationships with industry that will bring important research to the marketplace. The Peterson Family Professor will help lead researchers at Gateway Park as they develop innovations that will improve the quality of life for countless individuals. As an educator, a researcher working in the state-of-the-art facilities at Gateway Park, and a scientific leader, the Peterson Family Professor promises to have an impact far beyond the WPI campus.

“This act of extreme generosity demonstrates Don and Maureen Peterson’s deep commitment both to advancing the impact of technology on medicine and health, and to supporting the unique and powerful style of teaching and learning at WPI,” says
President Dennis Berkey.

Ortendahl New CDC Assistant Director

David Ortendahl has been appointed the Career Development Center’s new assistant director.

Ortendahl received his MBA in 2007 with a focus in marketing from Suffolk University. He has a BS in business administration and a BA in fine and performing arts with a focus in arts management from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His experience in higher education includes work in student activities and residence life. He most recently served as founding staff member for the Public Policy Institute at MCLA, where he worked with the president’s office, Institute Planning Board, and the advancement office.

Ortendahl will serve as project leader for the employer development and outreach activities in the CDC. In addition, he will assist with student appointments and various programming initiatives. He can be reached at the CDC at x5260 or via email at dortendahl@wpi.edu.

Higgins Appointed as WAC Director

Lorraine Higgins, associate professor of rhetoric in the Humanities and Arts Department, has been appointed to a new, university-wide position as director of Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC).

Several of the Presidential Commission reports as well as WPI's recent statement of “Undergraduate Learning Outcomes” have underscored the important role that writing and other communication practices play in undergraduate education. The new position’s purpose is to provide leadership and coordination of  the considerable number of writing-intensive initiatives underway across campus, to make writing more visible in the curriculum, and to provide faculty development and departmental support for the teaching of writing in the disciplines. As part of her work, Higgins will continue to direct the Center for Communication Across the Curriculum (CCAC) peer tutoring writing program, and teach in the professional writing interdisciplinary major.

WAC is an innovative and effective educational model, with a 30-year history in U.S. higher education. WPI already has important building blocks in place for a comprehensive WAC program. WPI's two projects and HUA requirement provide opportunities for writing across a variety of disciplines in the sophomore, junior, and senior years. With the writing-intensive First Year Experience, WPI will, in effect, be including significant opportunities for writing in all four years of the undergraduate curriculum. Higgins will identify how such programs might build upon one another in promoting writing to learn and learning to write. She will also determine how such programs might be assessed, and how they might be supported through faculty development, existing writing and teaching resources (e.g., CEDA and CCAC), and faculty and student incentives.

Virginia Ward '08 Named WPI's First Fulbright Scholar

Virginia L. Ward ’08 of East Haven, Conn. has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Taiwan during the 2008-09 academic year. She is the first WPI student to be named a Fulbright Scholar in the university’s 143-year history.

Ward, who pursued a double major at WPI in International Studies and Society, Technology, and Policy, received her Bachelor of Science degree with high distinction at Commencement in May. Between August 2008 and June 2009, she will assist teachers of English language classes in local schools in Taiwan. She also hopes to study the Chinese language and enhance mutual understanding between the United States and Taiwan. Administered by the Institute for International Education, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards full research grants to graduating seniors and young alumni after an extensive application process. Recipients receive a stipend to cover travel, housing, and living expenses.

“Virginia Ward took full advantage of our Global Perspective Program, completing projects in England, Namibia, and Morocco,” says Provost John Orr. “This international background provides superb preparation for her activities as a Fulbright Scholar. We will follow her career with great interest.”

Recent Grants

Electrical and Computer Engineering


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Thursday, July 31

Sunday, August 24

Thursday, August 28

Tuesday, September 2

Tuesday, September 9

Wednesday, September 17

Summer Concerts at Campus Center

The Campus Center and Student Activities Department is sponsoring WPI’s annual Summer Lunch Hour Concert Series. Music is performed on Wednesdays in August on the Campus Center Burt Terrace (back patio) from noon to 1 p.m. Talented musicians entertain the audience by offering a variety of genres in this summer’s concert series. Free ice cream is provided. Concerts are held rain or shine. If there is rain, the concerts will be held in the Campus Center Forkey Commons (Food Court). The remainder of the summer concert schedule is:

Computer Tip

Combine Presentations in PowerPoint 2007

In PowerPoint 2007 you can still insert or combine slides from other PowerPoint presentations into a new one, and you can even retain all of the original formatting.

1.  Open the presentation that you want to add one or more slides to.

2.  In the pane containing the Outline and Slides tabs, click Slides, and then click where you want to
add a slide.

3.  On the Home tab, in the Slides group, click New Slide, and then click Reuse Slides.

4.  In the Reuse Slides pane, click Open a PowerPoint File.

5.  In the Browse dialog box, locate and click the presentation file that contains the slide that you want, and then click Open.

6.  In the Reuse Slides pane:

To see additional details for these instructions, including images, open PowerPoint, click on the question mark at the right end of the Ribbon, type "add slides" and then click Search.

For assistance with this topic, contact the Helpdesk at x5888 or helpdesk@wpi.edu.

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Last modified: June 25, 2010 09:41:44