Akshay Sharma, assistant professor in the School of Architecture + Design, has been honored with the 2012 Alumni Award for Excellence in International Outreach.

Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in International Outreach is presented annually to a faculty or staff member who has had a significant impact on international outreach at Virginia Tech. Selection is based on contributions to the internationalization of Virginia Tech, global impact, significance of the project, and sustainability of the project. Recipients are awarded $2,000.

Sharma’s international outreach work, as presented in his Designing Empowerment website, employs design as a powerful way to creatively address some of the most critical issues being faced by societies around the world, especially for those below the poverty level.

Over the past few years, Sharma has developed a sustainable infrastructure that includes partnerships with other disciplines on campus, including engineering education, human-computer interaction, and computer science, as well as non-governmental organizations, private foundations, and other entities active in rural development in India. He has leveraged these partnerships to positively address issues of literacy, health, and sustainability in the targeted communities.

Sharma has collaborated with four organizations in India with missions ranging from developing a fully self-sustainable green community in rural India to increasing literacy to providing prosthetics to disabled adults.

“I have observed Professor Sharma in the field,” said Aditya Johri, assistant professor of engineering education. “He has a down-to-earth approach that makes it easy for him to work with these communities and impact them.”

Sharma’s work has been recognized in a number of prestigious international venues, including Innovation, the journal of the Industrial Designers Society of America. He has authored five publications and was awarded a Certificate for Teaching Excellence, the College of Architecture and Urban Studies’ Excellence in Diversity Award, and the School of Architecture + Design Award for Excellence in Outreach.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 2002, Sharma received his bachelor’s degree from the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi, India, and his master’s degree from Arizona State University.



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