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Exceptional students, parents participate in MSE program

By Liz Crumbley

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 14 - November 30, 1995

About 115 eighth and ninth graders from throughout the Southeast and an equivalent number of their parents participated in a Materials Science & Engineering Days program at Virginia Tech on October 21.

The program was one of several coordinated by the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) of Johns Hopkins University for students who received high scores on Scholastic Aptitude Tests taken in the seventh grade. The event at Tech was co-sponsored by the University Honors Program and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE).

M.R. Louthan, a Virginia Tech alumnus and former faculty member who is currently a senior advisory engineer for the Westinghouse Savannah River Co., gave the keynote address on "Why Things Fall Apart."

The students and parents attended different sessions, said MSE professor Robert Hendricks, who helped organize the program. During their sessions, the students conducted hands-on experiments and observed demonstrations in atomic visualization, electrical properties, microscopy, and mechanical properties. These sessions were led by 18 faculty members from MSE and other engineering departments and more than 40 undergraduate and graduate Tech students, including members of the national engineering honorary society Tau Beta Pi and the honors program.

Parents attended sessions on smart materials, college admissions and financial aid, computers in education, and honors programs, presented by MSE faculty members and university administrative staff members.

"The parents were ecstatic about the program," reported Jack Dudley, director of the Tech honors program. During the past four years, Tech has hosted Environmental Days and Biotechnology Days, but this year's program drew the largest audience, Dudley said.

"The engineering faculty conducted nine labs for the students, and the level of enthusiasm shown by faculty members and graduate students made this a major success," Dudley said. "They demonstrated the combination of teaching and research that makes Tech a desirable university for students who qualify for the CTY programs."

College of Engineering Dean F. William Stephenson, who gave the opening address, said of the event, "At a time when we are competing for talented students, programs of this sort do help enormously."

Dudley said Tech also offers CTY College Days and Career Days each year for qualifying high-school students.

Other schools participating in the CTY program are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, State University of New York, Johns Hopkins, University of California at Los Angeles, and University of Washington. The program was established in 1979 to identify young people with exceptional intellectual abilities and offer them accelerated academic opportunities in the humanities, mathematics, engineering, and sciences.