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Commonwealth Fellowships awarded

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 14 - December 5, 1996

Five Virginia Tech students have earned Commonwealth Fellowships which are awarded to outstanding minority students by the Virginia Council of Higher Education.

Inga Faison is studying fluid mechanics as a master's student in mechanical engineering. Her bachelor's degree is also from Virginia Tech in mechanical engineering. As an undergraduate, she was one of the engine designers for the Solaray Team, publicity chairperson for the National Society of Black Engineers, vice president of programs from the Black Student Alliance, and one of 12 students from the Student Alumni Association selected to advise Virginia Tech's president.

Derrick Shelton is in the geotechnical concentration in civil engineering. Shelton recalls building toothpick bridges in an Introduction to Engineering course in high school. "The process of using analytical skills, reasoning, and ingenuity to build that bridge opened my eyes to the field of civil engineering. I chose geotechnical engineering because it is a practical field that I can relate to and Virginia Tech has an excellent teaching staff in that discipline."

As a senior last year, he earned a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) award from the National Science Foundation. He research focused on the strength of the interface between synthetic liners and clay liners used in landfill systems. As a graduate student, he continues to assist with research on the project.

Shelton is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Chi Epsilon national civil engineering honor society, and the Society of African American Scholars.

Cheryl Seals is a doctoral student in computer science and applications. "Computers are involved in everyday life, so being involved in computers is being involved in shaping the future," she said.

Her area of concentration is multi-media and collaborative education "to integrate computers and develop portable applications--so that students in one school can work with students at another school."

Seals is working on the National Educational Infrastructure Project with the University Center for Human-Computer Interaction. "The project proposes to create and evaluate a K-12 infrastructure for a virtual science lab," she said. Science lab resources made available via computer will mean "a rural school that ordinarily only offers a physics lab every third year, for example, will be able to collaborate and share resources with students in schools where physics labs are held regularly."

Seals is a member of the computer science society Upsilon Pi Epsilon, Kappa Delta Pi education honor society and Sigma Alpha Iota international music fraternity for women..

She earned bachelor of science degrees in computer science and math education from Grambling State University, and a master of science in computer science from North Carolina A&T.

Rod Henderson is also a doctoral student in computer science and applications because of his interest in the application of computer-supported collaborative environments in the classroom. "Imagine the use of scientific visualization and training simulations in today's science classrooms," he said. "For example, a chemistry teacher could use a virtual molecular model to promote meaningful classroom interaction."

Henderson earned a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Mississippi State University, an MBA from the University of Colorado, and a master of science degree in computer science from North Carolina A&T State University.