In honor of Joseph H. Vipperman, a 1962 electrical engineering alumnus of Virginia Tech, and a retired executive vice president of American Electric Power (AEP), his former company is presenting a $1 million gift to Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.
The AEP Foundation’s gift will support the sustainable energy and clean coal technology focus areas within the research institute.
Vipperman, of Moneta, Va., is also a former president of Appalachian Power. He served as a key member of the alumni task force that helped to develop the concept and plan for the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. With the exception of his military service, Vipperman spent his entire career with Appalachian Power and its parent company, AEP.
Vipperman, whose father died in World War II when he was only four, says he developed a strong work ethic early in his life. In high school he became the class valedictorian, spent time working in a local grocery store to help with the family’s expenses, and attended Virginia Tech as a member of the corps of cadets. When he joined Appalachian Power he never spent more than three or four years in the same position, continually climbing the corporate ladder.
Vipperman served as a mentor to Dan Carson, of Roanoke, Va., who also recently retired as vice president of Appalachian Power. Carson was instrumental in securing the funding commitment from the AEP Foundation. Carson, also a Hokie, is a former member of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering Advisory Board, and 1971 civil engineering graduate.
The AEP Foundation donation will provide support for post-doctoral associates working in the fuel cell, bioenergy, and clean coal areas. It will also support the purchase of additional equipment for the research institute’s Sustainable Energy Laboratory.
Roop Mahajan, director of the research institute and the J. S. Tucker Chaired Professor of Mechanical Engineering, said the first entry on a new electronic touch screen display honoring donors will be the AEP Foundation gift. The display will be located at the institute's main building on the Virginia Tech campus.
“The Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech is designed to create a seamless path from fundamental research through applied research and development to technology transfer. The creation of [the institute] represents an ambitious plan that has been evolving at Virginia Tech since 1997. [The institute] is entrepreneurial in nature. It presents a strong link to economic development for the entire commonwealth. It is problem oriented with the goal of finding solutions. It provides better resources to solve larger problems and to obtain better results,” Mahajan said.
“Gifts such as the AEP Foundation award are helping to make our vision a reality,” Mahajan added.