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James S. Thorp named the Hugh P. and Ethel C. Kelly Professor


BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 24, 2004 – James S. Thorp, of Blacksburg, professor and head of the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, was named the Hugh P. and Ethel C. Kelly Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors at its quarterly meeting Monday, Aug. 23.

The Hugh P. and Ethel C. Kelly Professorship was established in 1998 by the Kelly family to honor Hugh Kelly, a Virginia Tech alumnus who had a long and successful career with AT&T’s Bell Laboratories that included pioneering work in development of the Telstar satellite system. The professorship recognizes and rewards an outstanding faculty member in the College of Engineering’s Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Thorp came to Virginia Tech this year to head the Bradley Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering. Most of his professional career was spent at Cornell University, where he has a strong record of earning teaching awards, conducting research, and administering the School of Electrical Engineering.

Thorp was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering in 1989 for contributions to the development of digital techniques for power system protection. Thorp directed Cornell's electrical engineering school from 1994 to 2001. During that time, he hired about half of the school’s faculty. He successfully hired eight assistant professors who subsequently received a National Science Foundation Career Award, one of the most prestigious honors given to a person beginning an academic career. Thorp increased his department’s funding substantially and participated in the planning of a new $100 million nanoscience building.

Since 1994, he held Cornell’s Charles N. Mellowes Professorship in Engineering. He received the 2001 Power Engineering Society Career Service Award. He received four teaching awards from Cornell, where he started as an assistant professor upon completing his Ph.D.

Thorp received his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. from Cornell University.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college’s 5,600 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a "hands-on, minds-on" approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities, and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg, and other campus centers in northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 170 academic degree programs.