Representatives from Northrop Grumman recently paid a visit to Virginia Tech's Museum of Geosciences to present a donation that will support the museum's new OmniGlobe.

The OmniGlobe is a spherical projection system that helps students and researchers visualize data sets such as plate tectonics, ocean and atmosphere events and trends, weather, and population and cultural summaries.

Joseph Jurinski, a health and safety officer at Northrop Grumman, and a Virginia Tech alumnus, was on hand for the presentation and talked about why the company felt it was important to make a gift to the museum:

The OmniGlobe is a teaching tool as well as a research tool. In September, the museum held an open house for kindergarten-through-high school teachers to show off the new addition. The OmniGlobe was again on display for the Geology Club's GeoFair and Mineral Sale in October, and once more during the university's open house on Nov. 12.

Nancy Ross is the associate dean for research, graduate studies, and outreach for the Virginia Tech College of Science. She is also the department head for geosciences. Ross was at Northrop Grumman's gift presentation, and she explained what the donation means to her department and its students:

It didn't take long for word of OmniGlobe to spread to other departments. Students from other majors also were able to take advantage of the powerful tool to aid in their research projects.

Tom Shea of Crofton, Md., a junior majoring in ocean engineering, is using OmniGlobe for a research project in which he's mapping the locations of ships at sea in reference to ocean currents.

And while Shea says that his research project could certainly be done without the new display, it wouldn't be nearly as visual or interactive. And therein lies the intrinsic value of OmniGlobe according to Shea:

If you would like to see the OmniGlobe for yourself, the Museum of Geosciences is located in 2062 Derring Hall and is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The museum requests that reservations be made for groups. Learn more at the museum's website.

Written by Gary Cope.

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