Erik Westman, associate professor, Virginia Tech's Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering, is the newly appointed interim associate dean for academic affairs of the College of Engineering.

Westman's appointment comes as Bevlee Watford leaves Virginia Tech for a two-year appointment with the National Science Foundation. The government agency has named her program manager for broadening participation in the engineering education and centers division, effective Nov. 10.

Watford will retain her position of director of Virginia Tech's Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity. Watford has held the position of associate dean since 1997.

Westman has served as the faculty adviser for his department's senior design project that is submitted annually to the Carlson Software Senior Design Competition. Virginia Tech mining and minerals engineering students won this competition five of the past seven years.

Westman also advises the student team that enters the international competition sponsored by the Society of Mining and Minerals Engineering. In the 10 years that its U.S. based competition has been held, participation has expanded to include teams from as far away as India. Despite this growing involvement of teams, Virginia Tech's overall record remains envious. Hokie teams have finished first three times, second four times, and third twice. Furthermore, Virginia Tech is the only school in the history of this competition to have never failed to make the finals.

Westman's credentials also include a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and a stint with the U.S. Bureau of Mines from 1991 until 1996.

"It will be difficult to fill Bev's shoes, but along with the excellent staff in the academic affairs office, I look forward to serving the students in this great College of Engineering," Westman said.

"We greatly appreciate the enthusiasm and incredible success Dr. Watford has brought to our academic affairs in the College of Engineering. She is the key person responsible for our strong admissions pool that has almost doubled since 2005. Applications have risen at 5.5 percent annually in the past eight years. Also, this year's class has a higher percentage of women than the national average. And her role in securing the inVenTs community at Virginia Tech in 2012 made us the envy of engineering colleges across the country," said Richard C. Benson, dean of the College of Engineering.

Watford's NSF position supports the development of a diverse and well-prepared workforce of engineering graduates, particularly those with advanced degrees. A central theme of the program's activities is enhancing the ability of early career faculty members, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to succeed in their careers as researchers and educators. Another goal is to have this faculty become champions for diversity and broadening participation through their careers, and who can serve as change agents on their campuses.

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