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E-News Online March 2014


Question of the Month

This year we received 5,725 applications for approximately 630 Class of 2018 openings. We expect to have a total of 2,700 students enrolled this fall. Do you think we should continue to increase the size of the Engineering School at U.Va.? If so, how much would you like to see us grow?

I look forward to hearing from you,
Jim Aylor, Dean

Image of iGEM Team

It Takes Year-Round Effort to Synthesize a Successful iGEM Team

In the year they devote to U.Va.’s International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, Team Virginia members maintain a hectic pace. They have just 12 months to familiarize themselves with the techniques of synthetic biology, identify new and potentially useful qualities they can add to a biological system, and design and produce this new system using standardized genetic building blocks from the iGEM Registry of Standard Biological Parts or by creating their own. Last year, all this hard work paid off. Team Virginia created a standardized DNA molecule that permits the tunable production of bacterial minicells, which could be targeted to deliver medical therapeutics. (More)

Image of Joanne McGrath Cohoon

Associate Professor Joanne McGrath Cohoon Collaborates on Attracting Women to Computing

A good number of the earliest computer programmers were women, and now — as computing touches upon practically every aspect of modern life — Associate Professor Joanne McGrath Cohoon wants to make sure women today don’t miss out. A sociologist by training, Cohoon is working to encourage more young women to go into computer science, where jobs are plentiful and careers are lucrative and intellectually engaging. “The need is drastic,” says Cohoon, who is on the faculty in the Engineering School’s Department of Engineering and Society and, among several other efforts, leads national workshops for high school teachers on how to diversify their computer science classrooms. (More)

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Marc Doyle — A Career Built on Trying Something New

When Marc Doyle (ChE ’91) was a fourth-year student, Professor John O’Connell gave him what Doyle calls “the best advice of my life.” Doyle was in the midst of deciding where he wanted to go for graduate school. O’Connell pulled him aside, telling Doyle that while U.Va. would be a great place to be a graduate student, he might benefit by trying someplace new. “That turned out to be fantastic advice,” Doyle says. “Thanks to Professor O’Connell’s suggestion, I went to UC Berkeley. That experience opened doors for me.” Today, Doyle is president of DuPont Protection Technologies, the latest post in a career that has seen him repeatedly try something new. (More)

Image of Incan Engineering

Recovering the Glory of Incan Engineering

It took the Spaniards just a decade in the 16th century to destroy the Incan Empire, but despite the conquistadors’ best efforts, Incan walls defied them. The Incas were master builders, capable of fitting together boulders, some weighing more than a hundred tons, into structures that were virtually seamless and extraordinarily stable. But construction was not the only aspect of civil engineering that the Incas mastered. As Dean Emeritus Richard Miksad likes to show they were also highly capable hydraulic engineers. Over the past few years, Miksad has returned often to Peru with engineering students to study the extensive system of waterworks that made possible Incan cities and country estates like Machu Picchu. (More)

Image of Xiaodong (Chris) Li

The Engineering School Adds Its Second Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor

Combine just three physical elements — heat, fuel and oxygen — in a modern jet engine, and you can generate more than 100,000 pounds of thrust. Partner three institutional elements — a large multinational company, top-notch engineering schools and a committed state government — and you can produce an equivalent amount of economic thrust. That’s the premise behind a pioneering collaboration that unites the Commonwealth of Virginia, engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, and the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. This partnership has already increased capacity at the Engineering School. Institutional and state support committed to the partnership has enabled it to hire eight new faculty members since 2010 and to fund three endowed professorships. This year, Xiaodong (Chris) Li joined Eric Loth as the first two Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professors. (More)

Of Note

Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Mircea Stan has been appointed as co-director of the Center for Automata Computing.

David Wyant (’70), one of the eight longest-serving NFL officials, was an official at the 2014 Super Bowl.

'The Better Toilet Project,’ one of the winners of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, was created by MSE graduates Brian Stoner (’89), Jeff Glass (’86) and Paul Natishan (’84).