Monday, May 14, 2018

Our 2017-2018 Graduate Assistant

 Our thoughtful, flexible, adaptable,
 innovative, curious, observant, and simply
 indispensable graduate assistant became
  Dr. Wei Sun last week.  

Wei is an electronics and communications engineer, and came to us with a Masters in bilingual technical education. With all of her doctoral coursework completed, this year she wrote and defended her dissertation (in her third language!) in education psychology on statistical modeling of the factors by which young people establish and retain a technical (STEM) identity.

Teaching schematics of series and parallel circuits.
Wei manages things around the Lab intuitively, and not only embraces our mission, but demonstrates it daily. And her everyday reflections have helped us refine nearly every aspect of what we do with administrators, teachers, librarians and other educators, business and nonprofit leaders, and of course thousands of visiting school-age students.
Robot and servo motor repair.

 Wei has also taken a big leadership role in working with and training more than 20 regular high school interns.

Dr. Wei Sun and five of our terrific Urban Alliance interns (Jose, Aisha, Dima, Nina, and Anfal).

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Girl's Technovation 2018 Event

Today more than 70 middle and high school girls presented a long list of innovative projects, mostly mobile apps, with an emphasis on equity and social justice.  Anyone listening would leave optimistic about iGen/Gen Z and their willingness and ability to tackle future problems.

The middle school presentations room was overflowing.

Helping these all-volunteer nonprofits fits with exactly what we say we do as a university:

Through experiential learning, future-focused research, and an inclusive, spirited culture, Virginia Tech strives to accomplish the charge of its motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

Despite all the challenges of HVAC, room availability, parking lot yellow tape mazes, and 4 pizza 
deliveries (over 40 pizzas), furniture shuffling, and more, we had really, really great outcomes.

Our interns counted the following:
  • Over 70 middle and high school girls (some were in 5th grade)
  • 11 volunteers  
  • 58 parents (estimated - not all stayed)
  • 10 judges and special presenters
Of course we also heard a lot of "I didn't even realize this (campus) was here", which reveals another important outcome of these events. 

A very big thanks to the Library staff who rescued the day when we discovered the HVAC schedule after the rooms had already been booked, invitations sent, and after a scramble to find space at George Mason ran into similar challenges.

Several sponsors from regional technology companies, nonprofits and government agencies were particularly impressed by the event, and suggested follow-up projects.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Faiza finishes her first year of clinical nursing

Our intern Faiza is the master of rebuilding our electronics kits after each group of visitors.  

But she also studies nursing through her high school's nursing program, and this week is her last month of clinical studies while in high school.  When we saw here in her nursing uniform, all the interns demanded we post a photo.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Reminder - Capture the Flag Cyber Security Workshops

Our Cyberjutsu Girls Academy partner is now offering Summer Capture the Flag (CTF) Workshops for 8th-12th grade young ladies in collaboration with and held here at the Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™ at Virginia Tech. 

The workshops will be held monthly from May 19 to August (typically 4th Saturdays) and are designed to teach foundational skills needed for competing in CTF cyber competitions. 

For more details, see