Virginia Tech®home

Spring 2020 Newsletter

Eileen Van Aken

From the Department Head

Welcome to the spring issue of our newsletter. I hope you are doing well, staying positive and optimistic during these uncertain times. When the University asked all faculty to move classes online, staff to telecommute from home, and students to participate in an electronic, distanced way, our daily operations have pushed us into new frontiers of learning and processes. I have been impressed and inspired by the dedication of our faculty and staff to provide our students with the best education and support possible during this time to learn and grow.

As you can probably imagine, this is a challenging time for the University, as well as the students we serve. We also know that many of you are being tested with how this pandemic has affected your families, your employers, as well as those who are self-employed. We hope that you and your families will remain vigilant to stay safe and healthy during this time. 

Warm Hokie Regards,

Eileen Van Aken
Professor and Department Head
Class of 1988, 1991, and 1995


Celebrating the Class of 2020

While this year’s commencement is not what our graduating Hokies envisioned for their graduation ceremony, we wanted to celebrate our students by providing a virtual celebration to acknowledge their accomplishments. 

Graduating Seniors - features video messages from faculty and staff, senior slide-show video, student award recognition, and written messages from our alumni.

Graduating Master’s and Doctoral Students - features video messages from faculty and staff, student award recognition, written messages from alumni, and special video messages for our doctoral graduates from their advisors.

Student Spotlights

Sarah Hack

Class of 2020: Sarah Hack embodies the spirit of Ut Prosim and wins national award

“Volunteering has provided me a deeper sense of perspective and has allowed me to meet some truly inspiring individuals. Whether it be assisting at a food pantry, introducing grade school students to the STEM field, or helping organize a running race for a good cause, I am glad to use my skills and experiences to benefit those less fortunate than myself. At the end of the day, that is what life is all about.” 

Hack is the recipient of the 2020 Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) James W. Barany Student Award for Excellence and the 2020 ISE Robert D. Dryden Outstanding Senior Award


Nayara Faria

Class of 2020: Nayara de Oliveira Faria shows deep commitment in her research

“Augmented reality displays are already being used in some luxury vehicles, and soon enough, driving using AR displays will be as common as driving using a cellphone. We don’t currently know how distracting and dangerous these interfaces are, because we don’t have valid methods and standards that are applicable to AR interfaces.”

Faria is the recipient of the 2020 College of Engineering Outstanding Master’s Student Award and the 2020 ISE Outstanding Master’s Student Award.


ISE Ambassador Highlights

“In the 2019-2020 academic year, the ISE Ambassadors outreach and sense of community were stronger than ever. We had to work together to overcome the unprecedented challenges and obstacles to finish the year strong.”


2020 Student Awards and Recognition

  • Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) James W. Barany Student Award for Excellence - Sarah Hack 
  • Alpha Pi Mu S. Balachandran Service Scholarship - Katheryn Osmond 
  • IISE Gilbreth Memorial Fellowship - Nayara de Oliveira Faria  
  • College of Engineering Torgersen Leadership Scholarship - Brian Bogert  
  • College of Engineering Outstanding Master’s Student Award - Nayara de Oliveria Faria 
  • ISE Outstanding Doctoral Student Award - Alexandria Noble 
  • ISE Outstanding Master’s Student Award - Nayara de Olivera Faria
  • ISE Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistants - Paul Bartholomew and Nan Jiang
  • ISE Robert D. Dryden Outstanding Senior Award - Sarah Hack
  • ISE Don Taylor Senior Leadership Award - Chris Brassel
  • ISE Robert P. Davis Outstanding Junior Award - Emily Murphy
  • ISE Outstanding Service Awards - Valerie DiGuillo, Matt Garlington, Elianna Gerb, Dina Kandil, Michael Lyons, Dan Nguyen, Katheryn Osmond, and Caroline Verrecchia
Senior Design Award Winners
Application of ISE Tools Award

Application of ISE Tools Award
Devils Backbone
Team members: Chris Brassel, Josh Glaab, Rachel Hollatz, Cher Wang 
Faculty Advisor: Weijun Xie

Performance Impact Award

Performance Impact Award
Republic Finance
Team members: Kaitlyn Commes, Eric Forderkonz, George Abdel Messih, Nate Smith
Faculty Advisor: Jaime Camelio

Innovation and Creativity Award

Innovation and Creativity Award
Collins Aerospace
Team members: Kevyn De Zavala, Sarah Hack, Dylan Miller, Gordon Quach
Faculty advisor: Andrea L’Afflitto

Digital Transformation Award

Digital Transformation Award
Integrated Textile Solutions
Team members: Deirdre Cahill, Matt Garlington, Olivia Reed, Pranay Shah
Faculty advisor: Konstantinos Triantis 

Faculty Highlights

Alejandro Salado

Alejandro Salado named 2020 Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award winner

“I have actively sought synergies with my instructional duties, both in terms of identifying opportunities for improving teaching and learning and in terms of trying out novel instructional approaches. I believe that the classroom offers an excellent setting to test (and report on) educational innovation with just a little extra effort from the instructor.”


Subhash Sarin

Professor Subhash Sarin receives Graduate School’s outstanding mentor award for the College of Engineering 

“He is the epitome of patience and his approach and reasoning while tackling complex problems always amazed me. He created an open and friendly environment for me to freely share and discuss new ideas. He nurtured patience and perseverance in me, two qualities that, I believe, are absolutely essential for any research effort. He was also a constant source of encouragement and kept me motivated toward achieving my objectives.” -Alumnus Balaji Nagarajan

2020 Faculty & Staff Awards & Recognition

  • SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award - Blake Johnson
  • Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Academic Advising - Kostas Triantis
  • Graduate School’s Outstanding Mentor Award for the College of Engineering - Subhash Sarin 
  • Virginia Tech Diggs Teaching Scholars Award - Alejandro Salado
  • Virginia Tech Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award  - Alejandro Salado
  • Student Engineers' Council Engineering Organization Advisor Award - Eileen Van Aken 
  • College of Engineering Excellence in Outreach Award - John Casali
  • ISE Outstanding Faculty Member Award - Natalie Cherbaka
  • College Association of Staff in Engineering (CASE) Administrative Award - Akiko Nakata


2020 Alumni Awards

Virginia Tech Influential Black Alumni Awards

  • Walter Barnes ‘00 - Outstanding Entrepreneur Award
  • Walter Lee ‘13, ‘15 - Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award

College of Engineering News

College of Engineering

College of Engineering's efforts to expand support for underrepresented graduate students recognized

The College of Engineering's efforts to expand support for underrepresented graduate students is being recognized in the February issue of Diverse: Issues In Higher Education that lists Top 100 Degree Producers. Virginia Tech's College of Engineering is the No. 1 producer of African American doctorate degree holders in the nation.

Virginia Tech prepares to welcome its most diverse freshman class

The data also showed the university is projected to reach its freshman class target of 6,675 – the second-largest incoming class in history – with students representing 46 states and 46 countries.

U.S. News & World Report rankings

Virginia Tech’s undergraduate program continues to be ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top engineering schools for 2020! The College of Engineering is ranked #13, and among industrial/manufacturing engineering programs, our undergraduate program is ranked #4.

Update on Events

Based on an abundance of caution and deep concern for the risk that travel and assembling in crowded spaces creates, Virginia Tech is postponing or cancelling events scheduled prior to June 10. The department is continually monitoring the situation to plan for events in the fall.

Although Giving Day is an online event, Virginia Tech has postponed the event until Sept. 9-10, 2020 in light of COVID-19's widespread impact. 

To better stay connected with the department, review and update your information.

Support the Student Emergency Fund

Many of you have asked how you can help our students during this extraordinary time. For those of you who want to give, the Student Emergency Fund is a powerful way to make a difference.