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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Interactive program seeks input

By Netta S. Smith

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 03 - September 7, 1995

Starting next month, seven people will begin taking information about Virginia Tech to businesses and civic groups in the region. But before the program takes to the road, its developers are seeking input from the faculty, staff, and community leaders. During the next few weeks, they are making arrangements to present the program to the faculty and other groups.

Harold Kurstedt and other developers are seeking input about what Virginia Tech services and resources should be included in the presentation. "We want faculty members and others to view the program before we take it out on the road so that they can see what we plan to include and let us know if there is other information we should use," according to Kurstedt, professor of industrial and systems engineering, who is serving as special assistant to the provost for continuing education and the Center for Organizational and Technological Advancement.

They are looking for examples of partnerships between the university and businesses as well as ideas for which audiences should be targeted for presentations. They envision making the presentations to Chambers of Commerce, Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, and companies and industries.

The interactive presentation, designed to stimulate interest about Virginia Tech and to provide information about possibilities for businesses to pursue partnerships with the university, is "constantly changed based on feedback," Kurstedt says.

During each presentation, audience members use electronic polling devices-hand-held wireless keypads-to select responses to questions, such as "What is the greatest challenge facing your business?" After each question is answered, audience responses are displayed on the screen as bar graphs. The presenter then provides more detailed information about the responses that received the most votes, focusing on resources available at Virginia Tech to help solve specific problems.

Currently, the university owns 50 of the keypads. They can rent 150 more, making it possible for an audience of 200 people to interact with the presentation.

According to Gene Gardner, associate director of the Performance Center, which is producing the presentation, the program is designed to provide information, not to make a sales pitch. "The program does include an invitation to become a partner with Virginia Tech, with a program to suit you," Gardner says. But the goal, he says, is to develop long-term partnerships, such as the relationship the university has with Sara Lee Knit Products.

The presentation team includes Kurstedt, Gardner, Ted Settle, Mike Stone, Peter Kipp, and two employees of Doubletree, which operates the Hotel Roanoke. They will travel in a radius of about 300 miles around the university. "We hope to have the seven presenters go to two places a week over the next several years," Kurstedt says. That adds up to more than 20,000 presentations a year.

To view the presentation, call Yvette Grant at 1-3540, or e-mail Granty@vt.edu.