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Engineering presents awards to faculty members

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 33 - June 18, 1998

Virginia Tech's College of Engineering presented 12 awards to outstanding faculty members at the end of the spring semester. These awards, created by Dean F. William Stephenson, honor four faculty members in three different categories: teaching, research, and service.
Receiving this year's awards for teaching were Don Baird, John Kobza, G.V. Loganathan, and Charles Reinholtz. The research awards were presented to John Casali, Wayne Durham, Seshu Desu, and Ali Nayfeh. The recipients of the service awards were Greg Boardman, Norm Eiss, Gerry Luttrell, and Dan Schneck.
A brief description of each person's contributions follows.
Baird is the Harry C. Wyatt professor of chemical engineering (ChE). He joined Virginia Tech in 1978 following four years with Monsanto Company. Baird recently co-authored the second edition of his text book, Polymer Processing: Principles and Design.
His teaching interests are in the applications of rheology to polymer processing and the processing of other non-Newtonian fluids. From his students, he received a 3.9 and a 3.8 for his teaching in these subject areas during the past year. "Don is a fine role model who actively transfers research experiences into the classroom," Stephenson said.
Kobza is a member of the Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Department. His previous teaching awards include the 1990 and 1991 Outstanding Senior Graduate Teaching Assistant Award, presented by the Virginia Tech chapter of Alpha Pi Mu.
One of his former students, Sara Fletcher, said "Dr. Kobza has an unparalleled ability to not only deliver challenging material effectively, but to generate a sense of confidence in students, giving them the courage to master the material successfully."
Kobza is very active with student groups, serving as the advisor to IIE chapter since 1995, and this group won the Chapter Gold Award for the past two years. He also advised a team for the 1997 Student Simulation Contest, and the team won the national first-place award.
Loganathan of civil engineering (CE) has a long list of teaching honors. He received the Virginia Tech Certificate of Teaching Excellence in 1992 and 1995, and the Faculty Achievement Award for Excellence in Civil Engineering Education in 1995. Last semester, his teaching evaluations ranked him a 3.9 for overall effectiveness.
Student comments included, "He is very knowledgeable of the material. He presents new concepts and tough topics in an understandable manner," and the classic line, "He kept me awake at 8 a.m.--an excellent professor."
Loganathan has been active in course development, including work in enhancing computer usage in several CE courses. He has been a major contributor to the initiation of the civil-infrastructure-engineering program. He is also working with the math faculty through the SUCCEED program on a project that will introduce more hands-on experiences for students to improve their comprehension of basic calculus principles.
Reinholtz holds the W.S. White Chair for Innovation in Engineering Education. His awards in teaching and advising are numerous. In 1992 he was inducted into Virginia Tech's Academy of Teaching Excellence following his receipt of the University's Wine Award for Teaching Excellence. In 1995 he was presented with ASME's national faculty-advisor award. He received a Certificate of Teaching Excellence in 1987, 1988, and 1997. He also led the department's curriculum committee in a recently completed year-long revision of the mechanical-engineering (ME) curriculum.
Stephenson said, "His work with undergraduate students on state-of-the-art design projects is truly astonishing. Reinholtz is known for his ability to incorporate undergraduates into real-world projects. He has a lengthy track record of securing money from industry that has allowed about 15 percent of the senior ME class to participate in these projects."

Research Awards

When presenting the first research award, Stephenson said, "It is unusual for a department head to receive one of these awards. It happened two years ago when Bill Conger received a teaching award. This year, it is occurring again with John Casali."
Casali is the John Grado professor of industrial engineering and head of the ISE Department. He has maintained a strong research program since becoming department head, procuring nearly $1 million since 1995 as his share of 15 sponsored research projects for the Auditory Systems Laboratory. This amount led the ISE department in 1996 and in 1997. He has prepared 17 research proposals since 1995, all funded, and he initiated several proposals which were collaborative efforts with multiple faculty members. He has directed or funded the work of 12 graduate students since mid-1995 and one full-time post-doctoral research associate. His most-recent patent was received in 1997.
"Casali is clearly a true IE with exemplary performance in time management," Stephenson said.
Durham of the Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department is the primary person in the college responsible for the recent acquisition and development of a full-motion, full-scale flight simulator. He worked with the Naval Air Systems Command (NASC) to obtain this simulator, which will be used to support future Navy grants as well as internal academic efforts.
Robert Hanley, head of flight dynamics for the NASC, said that "the importance of this project in support of current and planned Navy research initiatives cannot be understated. Dr. Durham is one of the key researchers being used by the Navy in support of such projects as the F/A-18E/F and Joint Strike Fighter Programs."
Durham's work will be incorporated into the design of the next generation Navy and joint service aircraft.
Desu of the materials science and engineering (MSE) and ECpE departments is the director of the Center for Advanced Ceramic Materials and Thin Films Laboratory. His research interests include electronic materials for advanced semi-conductor devices, novel processes for sub-micron devices, and structure-property relations in thin films.
Desu has worked on 30 research contracts since his arrival at Virginia Tech a decade ago, with total research funding of more than $7 million. He has 13 patents and more than 20 disclosures pending. For the past three years, he served as the principal editor of the Journal of Materials Research. He is also an accomplished teacher; he has taught 28 graduate and undergraduate courses, receiving an average 3.8 out of a 4.0
Nayfeh of engineering science and mechanics (ESM) is a university distinguished professor who has achieved a superlative record in research and scholarship that has been consistently strong year after year. One of his most recent achievements is his current Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative grant from the Office of Naval Research. This $6.85-million contract continues for three years, ending in 1999. His research interests are predominantly directed at using numerical-analysis techniques to solve problems in non-linear, chaotic dynamics.
In 1996, Nayfeh was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Petersburg University in Russia, and in 1997 he received the J.P. Den Hartog Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for his lifetime contributions to vibration engineering.
Service Awards

Boardman of the Civil Engineering (CE) Department has practiced service for his entire 22 years with the college. Since the 1970s, he has worked with the fish and shellfish industry, and his research has been used by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to establish realistic liquid-waste-discharge criteria for the state's 60 crab-processing facilities. These standards have provided protection of the environment while enabling firms to implement affordable abatement programs. He has been the college's representative on the Commercial Fish and Shellfish Technologies initiative, a program that has evolved into a major contributor to university fish and shellfish programs.
In the wastewater area, Boardman has developed and enhanced the Water and Wastewater Operators Short Course, and it is estimated that more than 75 percent of the men and women who operate these facilities within Virginia have received some form of educational training as a result of Boardman's leadership in this area. Most recently, he was named to direct the university's Center for Organizational and Technological Advancement (COTA).
Eiss, the George Goodson professor of mechanical engineering, and known for his research in the field of tribology and polymer wear, is also a major contributor to the department's service needs. He chaired ME's promotion and tenure committee in 1993, and has remained an outstanding leader of this committee for five years. He chairs the department's recruiting committee and also serves as a member of the organizing committee for the Practice Oriented Master's Degree program.
Eiss has directed the department's capstone-design courses for many years. With more than 65 percent of the students having hands-on experiences, these courses have long been a source of pride for the department.
Luttrell of mining and minerals engineering (MinE) has developed a series of practical workshops and short courses aimed at educating coal-preparation-plant operators. With many of the current operators having less than a high-school education, Luttrell has devised a method of presenting what often are highly mathematical concepts into a talk using visuals and simple diagrams. Since these plant operators make decisions that can impact millions of dollars per year in company earnings, "Luttrell is helping to train people who can make a difference in the financial well-being of the coal company," Stephenson said.
Luttrell has presented his short courses to approximately 300 individuals working for five different companies. He has also extended his course to include business and financial personnel who have a need for understanding the effects of coal preparation on company profits and to Department of Energy personnel who are responsible for funding coal research.
Schneck of ESM also serves with COTA as a fellow. Schneck has developed innovative programs for COTA that have generated increasing interest among professional groups throughout Virginia and the Southeastern U.S. and beyond. He organized and held two major conferences on the use of ultra-sonics for medical diagnosis, and a third is being offered this semester.
He also helped develop the first international conference on music in human adaptation, a most unusual and provocative topic, that was reported in a recent issue of Scientific American. He is faculty adviser to the Biomedical Engineering Society student chapter. He also was the keynote banquet speaker for the Motorola Science Advisory Board, presenting his views on 21st-century medicine and biomedical engineering.
This is the third year Stephenson has presented these awards.