Question of the Month

The Class of 2018 arrives on Grounds this month to begin their undergraduate years. What advice do you have for these new students to help them get the most out of their U.Va. experience?

I look forward to hearing from you,     
Dean Jim Aylor      

Image of Houston Wood  
Engineering Nuclear Nonproliferation

Mechanical and aerospace engineering Professor Houston Wood’s career is a testament to the essential role that engineers can play, not only in preserving a free and open society, but also in making the world a safer place. For more than two decades, Wood has helped governments determine if nuclear programs in other parts of the world are being dedicated to peaceful or military purposes. “I see my role as establishing a technical basis for informed decision-making and productive negotiation,” he said. Wood is a globally acknowledged expert in the use of gas centrifuges to create enriched uranium, a necessary precursor for producing a nuclear bomb. (More)

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Passion for Dance and Engineering Leads Amy LaViers Into Robotics Research

When Assistant Professor Amy LaViers was just 3, her mother and a group of parents in her tiny town in southeastern Kentucky collaborated to bring a dance teacher to the second floor of the fire station to provide lessons for the children. In the years that followed, LaViers found herself falling in love with movement. She took ballet, tap and modern dance classes, and after the family relocated she joined the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble and performed all over the southeastern United States and the world. Today LaViers combines her passions for dance and engineering to conduct research into finding patterns in human movement — and works to apply those patterns to robotics. (More)

Image of Mary Lou Soffa  
Award-Winning Computer Scientist Opens Door to Women

Smart homes and smartphones are taking center stage in computer science, but University of Virginia engineering Professor Mary Lou Soffa hopes to see something else soon — even more smart women practicing in the field. There is currently a shortage of women in computer science, and Soffa has dedicated her professional life to changing that. In honor of her efforts, she was recently recognized with the Association for Computing Machinery SIGSOFT Influential Educator Award, presented annually to educators who have made significant contributions to, and impact on, the field of software engineering with their accomplishments as teachers, mentors, researchers, authors and/or policymakers. (More)

Image of Yiqi Cao  
Biomedical Engineer Explores Family Food Traditions

Yiqi Cao took a journey through the past, one of miles and morsels, learning family history through her grandparents’ recipes and developing a greater appreciation of ancestral culture through food. Cao, a rising fourth-year biomedical engineering major, received a University Award for Projects in the Arts last year. A native of China who moved to the United States when she was young and went on to earn the Reverend Calvin and Frances Blackwell Scholarship from the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, she wanted to learn more about Chinese culture and her own history. Cao traveled through China sampling foods and learning how climate and history shaped the cuisine, and spent time with her grandparents. (More)

Image from the Programming Contest  
CS Programming Contest Attracts Record Number of High School Students to Grounds

This spring, U.Va.’s computer programming contest for high school students fielded a capacity 50 teams from across Virginia and beyond — exponential growth for an event that started just four years ago with three teams. The contest already has grown to be among the largest in the country and is set apart in that it is almost entirely organized by students. They do everything from contacting the schools and registering contestants to recruiting volunteers and soliciting companies for sponsorship and donations, in addition to setting up the event site and serving as judges. (More)

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IBM Partnership to Help U.Va. Students Grasp Booming Opportunities in ‘Big Data’

The ability to mine large quantities of data for helpful nuggets of useful information is in great demand; a report from Gartner Inc. estimates that 4.4 million “big data” jobs will be created worldwide by 2015. To prepare University of Virginia students to help fill those needs, the University is among 30 new schools entering into an Academic Initiative with IBM this month to help create big data and analytics-focused curricula. “This new partnership with IBM allows us to expand the opportunities and resources we provide to our students,” said Don Brown, director of U.Va.’s Data Science Institute. “They not only will have access to the latest data science and analytics-focused technology, hardware, curricula material, case studies and guest lecturers through this venture, they also will get to network with peers and leaders in the field to see where they might best fit into this new and burgeoning career stream.” (More)