Spectrum Logo
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

Engineering's Kapania selected for Boeing-Welliver fellowship

By Liz Crumbley

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 24 - March 21, 1996

The Boeing Company has selected Virginia Tech aerospace engineering professor Rakesh Kapania to participate in the Boeing-A.D. Welliver Faculty Summer Fellowship Program for 1996.

Kapania is one of only 10 faculty fellows chosen for the program from engineering schools throughout the United States. The program's objective, as explained by John Shaw, chief scientist for Boeing's Helicopter Division and Kapania's mentor in the program, is to "influence engineering education in ways that will better prepare tomorrow's graduates for the practice of engineering in a world-class industrial environment."

Robert Davis, vice president of engineering and technology for Boeing, said Kapania's selection for the highly competitive fellowship program reflects the company's belief that the Virginia Tech professor is "motivated and postured to have a significant future impact on the improvement of engineering education."

Kapania, who joined the Tech faculty in 1985 after earning his Ph.D. at Purdue University, teaches a number of undergraduate and graduate aerospace courses and has developed a research program, closely related to his courses, in the areas of computational mechanics and aeroelasticity.

"To be a successful teacher, one must always be learning new things," said Kapania, who also wants his students to realize that "Learning is a life-long process. I strongly believe that you cannot become a successful engineer by merely taking a bunch of engineering courses for four years at a university."

The Boeing-Welliver fellowship program, which is in its second year, begins with a workshop, "Industrial Competitiveness and the Practice of Engineering," that includes elements such as economic interactions, process improvement, engineering in a team environment, system integration, factory processes, and the relationship between manufacturing and engineering. After this workshop, each faculty fellow will "look over the shoulders of engineering professionals" at diverse technical and managerial levels, Shaw said.

Following a second workshop on preparing engineering graduates for productive careers, Kapania and the other fellows will draft and present personal plans aimed at improving engineering education. "There is no doubt that all of this will help me in becoming a better classroom teacher," Kapania said.