July 22 editor's note: The name and title of one of the researchers listed below was corrected. Linbing Wang is a professor of civil and envioronmental engineering.


A team of Virginia Tech faculty members have been challenged with inventing a new pathway material that can be used on the university’s iconic Drillfield.

The research team has received $75,000 in funding from the Division of Administrative Services; the Office of the Vice President for Research; the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science; and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology to identify, test, and evaluate all-weather and Americans with Disability Act-compliant solutions to enhance the green-space aesthetic and multi-use purpose of the Drillfield.

The team includes faculty members from the Center for Energy and Harvesting Materials and Systems in the College of Engineering and the School of Architecture + Design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

They are:

Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems

·      Muhammad Hajj, professor/associate dean of the graduate school

·      Shashank Priya, professor of mechanical engineering

·      Linbing Wang, professor of civil and environmental engineering

·      Lei Zuo, associate professor of mechanical engineering

School of Architecture + Design

·      Aki Ishida, assistant professor of architecture

·      Brook Kennedy, associate professor of industrial design

·      Margarita McGrath, associate professor of architecture

Their research, along with the feedback collected from students, employees, and community members during the 2015-16 academic year will be used by a university Drillfeld Paths Committee to develop a recommendation for a permanent solution.

The community feedback about 14 different materials being considered for permanent installation on the Drillfield was collected via Twitter and the Drillfield Paths website during polls held in September 2015, February 2016, and April 2016.

More than 1,000 people participated sharing more than 10,000 opinions on the various materials.

The Drillfield Paths effort is part of a broader initiative supported by the Board of Visitors to develop a new master plan for the Drillfield that will preserve the beauty of the area while making it a more usable space.

For more information, visit the Drillfield Paths website.


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