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Engineering alumni present fourth $10,000 prize


BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 15, 2005 – A group of seven Virginia Tech alumni, in conjunction with the university’s College of Engineering, has awarded its fourth $10,000 prize to university’s Department of Computer Science in recognition of improvements to the department’s Ph.D. program during the past year.

“The improvement to the department’s Ph.D. program is among the most noteworthy improvement in the history of the College of Engineering,” said Hyde Tucker, a1956 graduate of the electrical engineering department and retired CEO and president of Bell Atlantic Corporation. “The department increased its Ph.D. enrollment by more than 50 percent this year over 2004. Currently, 127 Ph.D. students are enrolled in the program, up from 73 last year.”

“The Department of Computer Science is very appreciative of the financial support being provided by members of the college’s Committee of 100,” Dennis Kafura, professor and head of the Department of Computer Science. “We continue to place strong emphasis on the recruitment of high-quality Ph.D. students. We intend to use the $10,000 prize to aid in the recruitment of new Ph.D. students for next fall.”

The alumni who contributed to the award are members of the College’s Committee of 100 and some were also members of the college’s marketing committee formed by former Dean F. William Stephenson in 2000. This committee formed a subcommittee to investigate how to improve the number of doctoral students in the college. Tucker chaired the marketing committee and Larry Marshall, senior research fellow at E. I. DuPont, headed the Ph.D. subcommittee. Marshall earned a Ph.D. in engineering science and mechanics from Virginia Tech in 1974.

“The members of the Committee of 100 are active participants in advancing the progress of the college and providing for its needs,” said College of Engineering Dean Richard Benson. “In creating this award, they recognized the severe competition among engineering schools for high quality graduate students and the importance of increasing our number of Ph.D. enrollees. The college is most grateful to Hyde Tucker and to Larry Marshall who led the effort. We are, indeed, fortunate to have alumni who show such dedication and loyalty.”

In addition to Tucker and Marshall, Mary Berry of Oakton, Va., Jerry Ballengee of Roanoke, Va., John DeBell of Catharpin, Va., Jim George of Austin, Texas, and John Rocovich of Roanoke, Va. contributed to the award.

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.