Meet the 2021 award recipients
Learn more about the faculty and staff who were recognized for excellence.
Alumni Awards for Excellence
Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Awards for Excellence are awarded to faculty and staff annually who exhibit excellence and dedication in their respective fields.
Roy Flanagan works cooperatively with all partner agencies to deliver programs on all types of crops and topic areas based on identified need. He has spearheaded efforts to intensify and strengthen programs around strawberry production throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. During 2020, he received two awards from the American Society for Horticulture Science, including the Extension Division Education Materials Award and the Extension Division Award. The same year, he was recognized with the Earth Team Award through the National Association of Conservation Districts and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Steve is a professor/extension specialist of vegetable plant pathology. He relocated to the Blacksburg campus in July 2020, but was previously located at Virginia Tech’s Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center for 15 years. He served as director there from 2011-2020. Steve is known for his support of Virginia farmers, especially in the areas of plant pathology and vegetable crop disease control. He earned the Virginia Association of Potato and Vegetable Growers’ Service Award in 2018 and received the FDA’s Certificate of Appreciation in 2016. In 2015, he received the Outstanding Extension Service Award from the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science .
The Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence is presented to the Virginia Tech Urban Computing Team: Naren Ramakrishnan (lead), David Bieri, Mark Embree, Leanna House, Salfur Rahman, Layne T. Watson, and the late John Ryan. Experts suggest that by 2030, six out of every 10 people will live in a city; by 2050 that projection leaps to seven out of 10. The Urban Computing Program, which began in 2015, helps students develop the skills to address issues connected to urbanization, such as public health, sustainable energy, emergency preparedness, and societal stability. The faculty team has collaborated with 33 partners from industry, government, and the nonprofit sector through courses, seminars, events, and research. Some examples include working with Loudoun County Public Schools to adjust attendance zones and partnering with the World Wildlife Fund on a project to address illegal logging and trade. Students have also partnered with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority on five different projects to study on-time performance, methods for assessing delays, models for ridership impact and patterns, and detection of service disruptions. The Urban Computing Program is funded by a $2.9 million National Science Foundation Research Traineeship Grant.
The Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence is presented to Katrina Powell, director of the Center for Refugee Migrant and Displacement Studies and director of the Center for Rhetoric in Society. Powell is recognized by her colleagues and students for her work in sustained and innovative research and outreach projects. Since 2016, she has orchestrated community workshops for refugee and migrant communities and forged active partnerships with the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership, the Roanoke Refugee Partnership, and Commonwealth Catholic Charities. She received the CLAHS Land Grant Scholar Award in 2019, Voice of Witness Fellowship in 2018, and the CLAHS Excellence in Research Award in 2016.
Professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Kevin J. Boyle’s research extends nationally and internationally throughout the U.S., Canada, Chile, Australia, Bangladesh, and India and encompasses more than $12 million in grants. Applications of his research include surface and groundwater, land use, forest resources, climate change, marine resources, and human health. Also, the founding director of Virginia Tech’s Program in Real Estate in the Pamplin College of Business, Boyle’s research has refined theoretical foundations for modeling peoples’ choices to estimate values. He has received numerous awards, published more than 120 journal articles, and has an h-index of 52 and almost 13,000 citations.
Amy Pruden, the W. Thomas Rice Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is widely recognized for her work documenting antibiotic resistance genes as environmental contaminants. Her most recent research focuses on advancing practical means of antibiotic resistance monitoring, mitigation, and risk assessment in wastewater, recycled water, and other water systems. Pruden has published more than 175 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters on bioremediation, pathogens, and antibiotic resistance. She has received numerous accolades and was recently honored with Recipharm’s International Environmental Award.
Jeffrey Alwang, professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is recognized with the Alumni Award for International Education. He has taught and conducted research on agricultural and rural development at Virginia Tech since 1989. Alwang’s research focuses on policies to alleviate poverty in rural areas; development of rural economies; and assessment of impacts of technologies, policies, and programs on rural residents. His work has included studies in numerous countries, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Jordan, Rwanda, and Sudan. Alwang was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias of Ecuador in 2019. He was named Virginia Tech’s Outstanding Dissertation Advisor in 2012 and received the university’s Alumni Award for Excellence in International Outreach and Research in 2006.
Thomas Archibald is presented with the Alumni Award for International Outreach. An associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), Archibald is a community education and development expert focused on educational program planning, program evaluation, and adaptive management for organizational learning and social change. He works to connect research and practice in the service of community development. Archibald has worked with the Cooperative Extension system in a variety of capacities, including three years as a 4-H Youth Development program manager with Cornell Cooperative Extension. He has significant experience working in Africa, beginning with his service as an environmental education volunteer with Peace Corps Gabon. He has also led numerous capacity building workshops and managed a variety of monitoring and evaluation programs across both East and West Africa. Archibald is a 2021 CALS Global Faculty Scholar.
Carol A. Mullen is the recipient of the 2021 University Committee on International Affairs Alumni Award for Excellence in International Research. Mullen is professor of educational leadership in Virginia Tech’s School of Education. Her principal areas of research include social sciences, educational leadership, curriculum studies, and international education. A past president of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration, Mullen has authored or edited 21 scholarly books and 225 peer-reviewed journal articles and juried book chapters. During her eight years at Virginia Tech, Mullen has been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2020 Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Leaders and Legends Excellence Award and the 2020 International Council of Professors of Educational Leadership Theodore “Ted” Creighton Publication Innovation Award.
The Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to Mark Embree, Hamlett Professor of the Academy of Integrated Science and head of Virginia Tech’s program in computational modeling and data analytics (CMDA). Under his leadership, CMDA, which awarded its first 22 degrees in 2017, has now awarded more than 300 degrees and currently enrolls more than 500 students. Embree also played an important role in the development of the Calhoun Discovery Program. In 2020, Embree was recognized with the Certificate of Teaching Excellence by the Virginia Tech College of Science.
The Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to Diego Troya, associate professor of chemistry who has spent 17 years at Virginia Tech. Troya has taught seven different physical chemistry and general chemistry courses during his time with the university, but is best known for teaching Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences. Troya has been recognized several times for dedication to his students, including the 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2019 Exemplary Department Awards; the Jimmy Viers Award in 2015; and the College of Science Certificate of Teaching Excellence in 2021. Troya will donate the entirety of this award to initiatives that advance the inclusion of women and underrepresented minorities in the sciences and engineering.
Daniel Newcomb, Department of Engineering Education academic and career advisor since 2017, is recognized for his commitment to academic advising with the Alumni Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising. Yearly, Newcomb meets one-on-one with roughly 900 students, helping first-year, transfer, and continuing students create semester schedules in-person, via email, and over the phone. Throughout his career, Newcomb has been recognized for excellence in teaching and advising, including the Virginia Tech Diversity Ally Award (2019), Virginia Tech Career Champion (2020), and Virginia Tech Advisor of the Month (2018).
The Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Academic Advising is presented to Maury Nussbaum, the Hal G. Prillaman Professor in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE). Nussbaum was hired as an associate professor at Virginia Tech in 1996 and currently serves as ISE assistant department head and graduate program director. In past years, Nussbaum has been recognized as Professor of the Year (2002, 2007) by the Virginia Tech HFES Student Chapter and as Best Lecturer of the Year (2003, 2004, 2007), and collected numerous other awards and accolades.
Edward S. Diggs Award
Sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, the Diggs Teaching Scholars Award was established in 1992 and is presented annually to up to three Virginia Tech faculty members to recognize exceptional contributions to the teaching program and learning environment. Diggs Teaching Scholars are invited to lead the Diggs Roundtable, a series of presentations and a discussion of their innovative teaching.
Assistant Professor Monique Dufour is presented with the Diggs Teaching Scholars Award for her innovation in teaching, apparent in the impact she has had on faculty and students. She has facilitated more than 50 pedagogical workshops for university faculty and led over a dozen writing retreats at Duke University and Virginia Tech. Outside of the classroom, Dufour is known by her colleagues and students for exemplary advising and mentorship, guiding students through the university’s most competitive fellowships, including a Fralin Fellowship and three University Honors Odyssey Fellowships. Dufour was previously awarded the 2018 Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award by the History Graduate Student Association.
Edward Gitre is presented with the Diggs Teaching Scholars Award for his excellence as an assistant professor of history. In 2017, he spearheaded the development of an interdisciplinary war and society history minor, which now enrolls 52 students. Gitre is also director of The American Soldier in World War II, a transdisciplinary digital project, which has garnered two prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities grants. He has previously received the university wide XCaliber Award for his use of technology and high-impact student learning and received an honorable mention by the Center for Research Libraries for a Primary Source Award.
Shaily Patel, assistant professor of early Christianity in the Department of Religion and Culture, is presented with the Diggs Teaching Scholars Award for her exemplary pedagogical efforts. Patel joined the department in 2017 and has taught a variety of courses in her tenure from the 1000 to the 5000 levels. Subject matter of her classes includes the New Testament, the ancient Mediterranean world, demonology/exorcism, Jesus in the Early Christian context, orthodoxy/heresy, and a variety of survey core courses for the department.
Governor's Honor Award
Created in 2018 to recognize employees of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Governor’s Honor Awards publicly recognize outstanding employees for their hard work and dedication to the commonwealth.
Joe Griffitts, winner of the Governor’s Honor Award, is the director of Hokie Passport Services and provides innovative and efficient technological services and support to university systems and functions across the commonwealth. Griffitts served as the business manager for the Virginia Tech Electric Service from 1999 to 2006. He then served as the business manager at Hokie Passport Services in 2006 and was later appointed as director in 2010. Griffitts was responsible for COVID-19 related initiatives and activities, including the design of a new virtual photo submission process, creation of ID validation stations during move-in week, and transitioning HPS’s role in Orientation to a fully virtual experience in summer 2020.
McComas Staff Leadership Award
The McComas Staff Leadership Award honors the significant leadership contributions of a classified or university staff member who has been employed at Virginia Tech for at least one year.
Angela Webb, Academic Programs and event coordinator, is presented with the McComas Staff Leadership Award for her efforts to organize safety protocols that enabled veterinary students to continue essential hands-on learning required of them to be future veterinarians. She also dealt with exceptionally complicated schedules that had to be created to allow multiple sessions with students socially distancing. Webb has more than 20 years of experience in higher education at Virginia Tech with particular expertise in management and leadership, human resources, and student services.
Presidential Principles of Community Award
The Presidential Principles of Community Award recognizes faculty and staff members who exemplify and promote a welcoming and inclusive environment in accordance with the university’s Principles of Community.
Presidential Principles of Community Award winner Brandy Faulkner is the Gloria D. Smith Professor of Black Studies at Virginia Tech and collegiate assistant professor in the Department of Political Science. Faulkner has been at the forefront of many key initiatives to uplift underrepresented communities at Virginia Tech, collaborating with a wide range of organizations in advancing a culture of inclusion and forging meaningful relations between the university and the broader community. Notably, she has formed partnerships with Virginia Organizing, a community organization advancing social justice and building inclusive intercultural relations in the New River Valley and across the commonwealth.
Assistant professor of history Edward Polanco is a winner of the Presidential Principles of Community Award. Polanco is dedicated to creating a community for minority students and to inviting other faculty, staff, students, and the public to consider alternate ways of looking at shared histories. In his short tenure with Virginia Tech, he has reinvigorated department course offerings, with two new undergraduate courses and one graduate course on Latin American history. Outside of the classroom, Polanco has made efforts to educate his community as he organized events to celebrate Día de los Muertos and Indigenous People’s Day.
The Presidential Principles of Community Award is presented to several employees in the Department of Engineering Education. This group developed a program for new graduate students in the College of Engineering. The program is called the Graduate Student Support in a Multicultural Environment. It aims to teach students about inclusion and diversity as well as best practices for developing strong relationships between advisors and advisees. The award winners are Jeremi London, assistant professor; David Knight, associate professor; and Walter Lee, associate professor and director for research in the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity, Teirra Holloman, graduate teaching assistant, and Adam Masters, graduate teaching assistant.
The Presidential Principles of Community Award is presented to the Department of Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health (TBMH). In an effort to eliminate unequal practices in the admissions process, TBMH stopped using the GRE in 2020 and as a result accepted its most diverse cohort to date in 2021. The TBMH graduate program is an interdisciplinary, multiple college, multicampus graduate program offering M.S. and Ph.D. degrees for students interested in advanced educational opportunities that span the life science, biomedical engineering, and public health disciplines.
President's Award for Excellence
The President’s Award for Excellence is presented annually to up to five Virginia Tech employees who have made extraordinary contributions by consistent excellence in the performance of their job or a single incident, contribution, or heroic act. Given the challenges of the pandemic year, the number of employees grew to seven. The seven employees - Jarrod Alls, Mariam “Juliet” Dadras, Amy Epperley, Brenda Husser, Robin Hypes, Nancy Nolen, and Keith Nunn — for 2021 were announced on April 22. Read the story
Jarrod M. Alls, quality control assistant in Facilities Operations, is awarded the President’s Award for Excellence due to his exemplary efforts to maintain campus operations. Alls performs a wide variety of duties to assist the Facilities Operations team and has extensive experience promoting and overseeing compliance of operational quality for housekeeping, grounds, and contractual services. He is responsible for coordinating university efforts to assure that buildings and grounds constantly express the sense of place and quality that is intrinsic to Virginia Tech.
Mariam J. Dadras is presented with the President’s Award for Excellence for her commitment to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dadras oversees Virginia Tech's Occupational Health Clinic, which serves more than 3,000 employees. She is being recognized particularly for her role as Virginia Tech's COVID-19 case manager for the entire university community. She forged partnerships with the Office of Emergency Management, Human Resources, Student Affairs, and the Virginia Department of Health to contribute to safety and efficiency on the Virginia Tech campus throughout the pandemic.
Amy Shorter Epperley, director of Hokie Wellness, is presented the President’s Award for Excellence for her efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Epperley led the effort to develop a case management team and protocol for Covid-19 illness; spearheaded the review of telework agreements that proliferated on campus (more than 3,000); increased mental health offerings for faculty, staff, and students; and distributed wellness packs to students in support of new health practices. She has more than 17 years of experience in various community health, exercise, and other wellness roles. Epperley is FEMA certified, a certified health and wellness coach, and a certified child passenger safety technician.
Brenda J. Husser, former office manager and chief academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is presented the President’s Award for Excellence for her exemplary job performance as an academic advisor. Husser was hired in 1992. She maintained and updated departmental personnel records for faculty and staff in Africana studies, American Indian studies, race & social policy, sociology, and women's studies, and assisted faculty with the promotion and tenure process. Husser has previously been recognized for her dedication to her work as an advisor. In the past, she was named Staff Employee of the Year for CLAHS.
Robin Hypes, Virginia Tech’s timetable coordinator in the Registrar’s Office, is presented with the President’s Award for Excellence for her exemplary efforts in reworking the 2020-21 timetable to account for the transition to a semi-virtual format. Hypes worked tirelessly prior to both the fall and spring semesters of this school year to orchestrate timing for all classes that were not already designed for an online format.
Nancy Nolen is awarded the President’s Award for Excellence for her role as enrollment services assistant in the School of Education. Nolen started working at Virginia Tech in 1997 as a Graduate School staff member, where she remained until 2004 when she was hired into her current position. She manages several forms of student paperwork, including plans of study, change forms, withdrawal forms, exams, and applications for degrees for approximately 150 master’s and doctoral students.
Keith Nunn is presented the President’s Award for Excellence for his efforts during the response to the COVID-19 crisis. Nunn serves as project manager in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. After the university decided that the majority of in-classroom student seating stations would need to be removed to accommodate social distancing guidelines in 2020, Nunn determined how many stations could remain in classrooms. He then managed the transportation of thousands of removed seating stations to secure storage locations across the commonwealth. Nunn is known among his colleagues for his unique ability to remain calm in the face of adversity and seemingly impossible deadlines.
Provost’s Award for Excellence in Advising
The Provost’s Award for Excellence in Advising is given annually to a Virginia Tech faculty or staff member who serves undergraduate advisees in exemplary ways.
Shelton Norwood, who has served as an academic advisor in Virginia Tech’s Myers-Lawson School of Construction since March 2019, has been presented the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Advising. During his career at Virginia Tech, Norwood has become a member of the National Academic Advising Association, participated in the Spring 2019 Academic Advising Institute, and earned his M.Ed. in higher education administration. In his current position, Norwood helps students achieve educational and career goals through the use of the full range of institutional, business, and community resources. He also demonstrates a commitment to underrepresented students in his service to the Black College Institute and Hispanic College Institute.
University Sporn Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching Introductory Subjects
Sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and the Virginia Tech Academy for Teaching Excellence, the Sporn Award for Teaching Introductory Subjects recognizes a Virginia Tech faculty member nominated and selected by undergraduate students.
Steve Trost is the recipient of the Sporn Award for Excellence in Teaching Introductory Subjects. Trost, who has been at Virginia Tech for 14 years, is a collegiate assistant professor in the College of Science. He specializes in teaching large lecture classes on the Principles of Economics. During his tenure with the university, he has taught more than 22,000 students. His current research interests include undergraduate economics education, charitable giving, and applied microeconomics. A five-time winner of the Department of Economics Outstanding Faculty in Principles Courses, Trost has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching and service.
Staff Career Achievement Award
Created in 2011 to recognize retiring staff members, the Staff Career Achievement Award is presented annually to individuals who retired the previous year and who distinguished themselves through exemplary performance and service during their university career. Nominees must have worked a minimum of 10 years at Virginia Tech.
John Beach, former director of utilities, is awarded the Staff Career Achievement Award. Beach dedicated his professional career to serving the students, faculty, and staff of Virginia Tech in a variety of key operational capacities, including support of campus operations, infrastructure, and facilities. Over the years, Beach served as assistant director of building maintenance, associate director of buildings and grounds, director of physical plant operations, interim director of Emergency Management, director of utilities and strategic initiatives, and chief of staff for facilities operations.
Linda Fountaine, executive secretary senior, is presented with the Staff Career Achievement Award. Fountaine joined the Department of History in 1988 as a graduate secretary and backup to the undergraduate secretary. For the next 32 years, she performed a diverse, ever-changing, and expanding range of duties. In 1992, she was promoted to head secretary, taking responsibility for coordinating details related to job searches, onboarding new faculty, supervising work study students, coordinating undergraduate awards and scholarships, and answering questions and complaints. Supervisors and co-workers note that she performed all assignments effectively, efficiently, and cheerfully. Fountaine has been described as “the glue that held things together through times of crisis and disruption.” She performed the often-invisible work that set up faculty, students, and other staff for many successes over the years.
Debra Lowe is presented with the Staff Career Achievement Award. For 43 years, Lowe worked in Dining Services, finishing her career as the shift leader at Leaf & Ladle, a student favorite in West End Market. Lowe began her career at Virginia Tech in the Schultz Hall dining center. In 1999, she joined the planning committee for the launch of West End Market – the first market-concept dining center in the country for a college or university. Over the next 20 years, Lowe trained and served Virginia Tech staff and students from that venue. Her attention to detail, empathy for her team and guests, and solution-based thinking were invaluable assets. Lowe’s commitment to the campus community embodied the university’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve.)
Eric T. Montgomery, a lieutenant with Virginia Tech Police, is recognized with the Staff Career Achievement Award. During his 12 years at the university, Montgomery held himself personally accountable for campus safety and security. He participated in programming to develop relationships with students, staff, faculty, and members of the community. He regularly interacted with parents of prospective students and visitors, promoting the university at every opportunity. Montgomery believed in creating a culture of excellence and was instrumental in establishing annual awards for Officer of the Year and acknowledgement of the unit’s Life Saving Award. One colleague noted, “Now more than ever is a time for officers to represent themselves and Virginia Tech with the utmost care, respect, and ethical duty to do what’s right by our badges and the oath we took. Lt. Montgomery instilled that in us, and it’s a legacy that will continue after his retirement.”
Margie Murray was a special events coordinator and is recognized with the Staff Career Achievement Award. She served Virginia Tech for nearly 40 years and loved being a Hokie. Murray was central to the planning and execution of spring and fall commencement exercises, the annual Staff Appreciation Day, and the President’s Awards for Excellence. She managed the President’s Suite in Lane Stadium for more than three decades. Murray is described as a meticulous planner, efficiently overseeing event logistics, troubleshooting problems, and assisting guest speakers. According to colleagues, throughout her career, Murray was responsible for many important university functions, and she made excellence seem effortless.
Sharon E. Sible, retired laboratory specialist, is presented with the Staff Career Achievement Award. For more than 10 years, Sible served as the only full-time lab specialist in the Introductory Teaching Laboratories. In this position, she worked with more than 3,000 students each year and managed a team of nearly 50 graduate teaching assistants. She was instrumental to weekly preparatory work, including lab set-up, material preparation, stocking supplies, clean-up, and answering any number of questions from students and graduate assistants. Sible always insisted on doing things the right way and left no detail unattended. Sible’s supervisors noted, “There are many people who work hard, but very few people can do so with the joy, caring, and dedication that Sharon gave every day that she was employed by Virginia Tech. If ever there was a person who demonstrated Ut Prosim in their work, it was Sharon Sible.”
William E. Wine Award
The William E. Wine Award was established in 1957 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association in memory of William E. Wine, Class of 1904, who was a former rector of the Board of Visitors and Alumni Association president. Following a college-level selection process of candidates nominated by students, faculty, and alumni, each college may put forth one nominee. From this group, three faculty members are selected annually. Each Wine Award winner receives $2,000 and automatic induction into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.
Kimberly Ellis, recipient of the William E. Wine Achievement Award, is an associate professor in the manufacturing systems engineering group in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE). Since she joined ISE, Ellis has taught a variety of courses, including required and elective courses for undergraduate and graduate students. Student ratings of her teaching are the highest in the department; her SPOT ratings attest to her effectiveness and impact. Ellis’ teaching has been recognized previously with the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence, two Certificates of Teaching Excellence, the Sporn Award, two ISE Outstanding Faculty Awards, and more.
Professor of biological sciences Ignacio Moore is presented the William E. Wine Achievement Award. Moore joined Virginia Tech faculty as an associate professor in January 2004 and was promoted to professor in 2015. He has taught the undergraduate Introductory Animal Physiology course 16 times to more than 1,000 students. Moore was awarded the prestigious five-year NSF CAREER award in his second year at Virginia Tech and in 2011 was recognized for his teaching efforts with a College of Science Certificate of Teaching Excellence.
Lisa Tucker, chair of the Interior Design Program, is presented with the William E. Wine Achievement Award. Tucker is a licensed architect, NCIDQ and Virginia Certified Interior Designer, and holds both LEED BD + C and WELL professional accreditations. She is an architecture professor and teaches courses pertaining to biophilic and sustainable design and upper level design studios. She has been honored as the 2016 Educator of the Year and one of the Most Admired Design Educators of 2010 by DesignIntelligence.
XCaliber Award for Excellence in Technology Assisted Teaching and Learning
Established in 1996 by the Office of the Provost, the XCaliber Award is presented annually by Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies to recognize individual faculty members or teams of faculty and staff who integrate technology in teaching and learning. The award celebrates innovative, student-centered approaches.
The 2021 XCaliber Award for innovative use of technology to improve student learning is presented to Monty Abbas, professor of civil and environmental engineering. Abbas, whose areas of interest include real-time traffic control, traffic flow theory, driver behavior, and transportation modeling and safety, has been associated with Virginia Tech for 15 years. During his tenure, he has been published in numerous journals and has been recognized with various awards, including the 2018 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Service, the 2018 ICAT Creativity and Innovation Day Process Award for the Traffic SONATA project, and the 2010 G.V. Loganathan Faculty Achievement Award for Excellence in Civil Engineering Education.
Rodrigo Sarlo, assistant professor of structural engineering and materials, is presented the XCaliber Award for his exemplary use of student-centered pedagogy, use of technology, and high-impact student learning. Introduction to Structural Engineering’s key learning objectives include determining external loads and limit states for simple trusses, beams, and frames and establishing load paths in structures and characterizing their redundancy, among others. Sarlo’s class is unique in the discipline as he aims to incorporate creative learning methods, such as interactive live class polling and gamified quiz competitions.