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30.10.15

Accident outside of Hunters Ridge Apartments

Originally published by the Collegiate Times as Breaking News.
Not on assignment; spot reporting.
Published online on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015.  

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Campus Automotive arrived at the scene to clean glass, metal and broken car parts off the road and sidewalk before towing both cars. Photograph by Lauren Pak/Collegiate Times
Three Virginia Tech students were involved in a two car collision at the corner of Seneca Drive and Patrick Henry Drive at approximately 7:20 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30.

Blacksburg Rescue took the driver and passenger from the turning car to the hospital. No one sustained serious injuries at the scene.

One car turned left onto Seneca Drive, colliding with a car driving straight on Patrick Henry Drive. The accident occurred in front of Hunters Ridge Apartments and Collegiate Suites Apartments.

Turning vehicles do not have right of way and are required to yield to cars driving straight.

The front bumper of both cars were damaged and towed by Campus Automotive. Two Blacksburg Police officers directed the minor traffic congestion coming out of Hunters Ridge and Pheasant Run at the four-way intersection.

The two student drivers declined to be identified or comment at this time. Officers on the scene declined to comment at this time.

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Two students were riding in the car that was turning; both went to the hospital to recieve medical attention. Photograph by Lauren Pak/Collegiate Times

29.10.15

How to make grilled cheese and chicken Noodle Soup

This semester, I'm enrolled in Introduction to Media Production Technology (COMM 1114). Our assignment was to create a how-to video that met specific requirements.

Filmed by me (featuring my partner).
Editing by my partner. 
Voiceover written and recorded in collaboration.

28.10.15

Unconfirmed email scam circulates through vt.edu email addresses

Originally published by the Collegiate Times as News. 
Published online on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015.

On Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 9:31 p.m., an email similar to other university phishing scams was sent to undisclosed vt.edu email addresses from a udel.edu email address.

The email asked users to click a link to renew their email accounts. The email read: “Your account will been suspended in the nest three hours you can not send or receive until you renew your vt.edu mail account follow the link and fill the information to renew your mail box (sic).”

Sent from an unconfirmed University of Delaware email address, the body of the email included a hyperlink and was followed by a URL, beginning with it-vt-help-desk but ending in “jimdo.com," which is unaffiliated with Virginia Tech or the University of Delaware. The email was signed by “Thanks IT Help desk.”

Students at other universities were advised to avoid clicking the hyperlink or typed link or further circulating the email. This possible spear phishing scam has been confirmed at other universities including the University of Delaware and the University of Chicago, with students receiving similar emails with customized site links hosted by jimdo.com, a free website provider. Virginia Tech Police has not yet issued a crime alert and declined to comment on this story at this time.

Tech's self-driving car makes first public road test

Originally published by the Collegiate Times as News. 
Published in print edition, front page, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. 

From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19 and Tuesday, Oct. 20, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) held the first road demonstrations for two automated and connected cars.

Photo courtesy of Logan Wallace
The two Cadillac SRXs were tested on 10 miles of the Interstate 95 expresslane and Interstate 395 HOV lane in Fairfax County, Virginia and did not disrupt traffic. The cars have previously only been driven on the Smart Road in Blacksburg, Va., comprised of 2.2 miles of controlled-access track.

“[The demonstration] went great; we’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” said Mindy Buchanan-King, research communication director at VTTI. “They really saw live and firsthand that this is what we can do.”

Automated and connected technologies can communicate with other vehicles, but automated does not require driver input, sensing and responding to surrounding vehicles automatically.

Both the Google self-driving car and VTTI’s automated vehicle rank level three “limited self-driving automation,” according to the USDOT. Level three of four qualifications include ability to cede full control, certain conditions requiring driver intervention.

Virginia law requires a driver behind the wheel: Zach Doerzaph, director at the Center for Advanced Automotive Research, drove the connected vehicle, and Luke Neurautor, group leader, drove the automated vehicle.

"I think what VTTI is doing really places Virginia at the forefront of automated vehicles for a couple of reasons,” said Catherine McGhee, associate director for safety, operations and traffic engineering for VDOT’s research division. “One, is that it's an outstanding organization with a great group of researchers doing really important work.”

Virginia Automated Corridors (VAC), a partnership between VTTI, VDOT, VDMV, Transurban, which operates the expresslane, and HERE, Nokia’s mapping system, conducted the demonstration. The VAC is comprised of more than 70 miles of interstates and arterials in northern Virginia, including the tested roads and smartroad.

"I think it went wonderfully,” McGhee said. “I think it brought a lot of attention to the work we're doing in Virginia, and it really emphasized the point that we are encouraging the private sector to come here and to work on developing these technologies and applications that will lead to enhanced mobility.”

The cars performed successfully in all six scenarios, including an active work zone and a police and emergency vehicle on the shoulder, an emergency vehicle coming from behind, lane drift with a blind spot warning, emergency brake light and forward collision warning and a response to an un-interpretable event (i.e. crash scene).

Photo courtesy of Logan Wallace
Sen. Mark Warner and Greg Winfree, assistant secretary for research and technology at USDOT spoke Monday. Representing Virginia was Charles Kilpatrick, commissioner for VDOT, Richard Holcomb, commissioner for VDMV and Karen Jackson, secretary of technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Dingus spoke Tuesday.

Timothy Sands, Virginia Tech president, and Tom Dingus, director for VTTI, represented Virginia Tech.

Progress continues with caution and uncertainty: legislators and researchers acknowledge not everyone wants to be a backseat driver.

“The United States has always had a love affair with their cars, and so I wonder, sometimes, whether we'll ever see 100 percent market penetration of automated vehicles, just because there are people who enjoy the task of driving,” McGhee said. "Without a doubt, the increase of driver-assisted technology in vehicles is where we're headed; I have no doubts about that at all.”

According to the USDOT, connected vehicle safety has potential to address 81 percent of all-vehicle target crashes, 83 percent of all light-vehicle target crashes and 72 percent of all heavy-truck target crashes annually.

"Our engineers are always thinking, they always want to try something new,” Buchanan-King said. “It certainly wasn't a matter of, 'Oh, we're done, now we can take a break.' If anything, it was 'We're done, we have such great interest that this isn't going to stop.'”

Official VTTI design on connected vehicles began in 2013 and on automated vehicles in 2014.

"I'm really glad to be a part of VTTI and really glad to work with a really good talent of engineers,” said Jean Paul Talledo Vilela, the embedded hardware team leader at the Center for Technology Development at VTTI. “We love what we do and we also put passion in it, so we always try to make our development the best.”

With more than a decade of experience in automated vehicles, VTTI has worked with state and federal government and vehicle manufacturers and suppliers for development and testing. VTTI is focused on research and understanding human-machine interaction.

"I'm always fascinated about what tangible work we really do,” Buchanan-King said. “You know you've done well, everybody on the team did a good job, but you don't really see the results in some instance, but working at VTTI, you see tangible results.”

Safety is the main goal, with additional benefits including improved mobility for teen and elderly drivers and reduction of negative environmental impacts and traffic congestion.

"There are still a lot of outstanding questions in terms of how this all becomes operational and what it means to the insurance industry and what it means to an agency like VDOT that manages traffic and how liability issues are addressed,” McGhee said. “I think it was a really good demonstration of the potential of this technology.”

Since 2001, VTTI has paid out of pocket more than $30 million in overall connected-vehicle research and development.

VTTI is working to improve motors, working to prevent lane drift and quicken manual disabling of automatic control. A goal is to increase the car to a level four “self-driving automation.”

"We have a tremendous group of engineers and researchers at VTTI, and without them, none of this would really be possible,” Buchanan-King said. “They've worked countless hours night and day to make the demo a success.”

The demonstration, its success and reception symbolize a step towards the future.

"To be honest, we were nervous,” Talledo Vilela said. “To make the car more autonomous, we need to put more sensors and also more logic and more control systems running in the car to allow us to reach that goal — I’m not saying it's impossible, but it can take us all some time to get there.”

26.10.15

Lia's Hair Salon: Raising awareness for breast cancer

Lia's Hair Styling on Main Street in downtown Blacksburg, Va. donated a portion of proceeds to Relay for Life every time someone dyed a part of his or her hair pink, raising awareness for and supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This package, created for both VTTV and the Collegiate Times, featured Collegiate Times editors and salon employees.

A majority of B-roll was filmed by me. Produced with co-reporter and editor.

Here is the final package.



The package was also featured as a part of Tech Tonight of VTTV.

23.10.15

Students for Sensible Drug Policy seek safeguards for intoxicated students

Originally published by the Collegiate Times as News. 
Published in print edition, front page, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015.

The Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) at Virginia Tech is leading an effort to bring medical amnesty to campus, providing protection for students who need medical attention.

SSDP is an international grassroots network that neither condones nor condemns drug usage. The movement for medical amnesty goes by different names, such as the Good Samaritan Law and the 911 Lifeline, but the idea is to grant intoxicated minors legal immunity when seeking medical attention.

"We really want to encourage people to call medical services if they're experiencing some kind of overdose-related emergency, right?” said Kyle Gentle, a fifth-year senior and industrial and systems engineering major and president of SSDP. “We don't want them to have to try to decide between potentially saving someone else's life or seriously messing up their own.”

According to an April 2015 national survey by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, almost 60 percent of college students between 18 and 22 years old reported drinking alcohol in the past month, with almost 40 percent reporting binge drinking in the past 30 days. An estimated 1,825 college students between 18 and 24 years old die each year from alcohol-related injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.

“The bottom line is that if it comes between the choice of possible death, which is the worst case scenario, and maybe possibly having to avoid legal repercussion or consequences from the school, people should be on the safer side,” said Joey Puletti, a junior economic management major and research chair. “I think the safest balance we can find is letting people be comfortable with the fact that they can ask for help.”

SSDP is in early stages of organizing the effort, collecting information and deciding a course of action, with the first aiming to clarify language in the Hokie Handbook on “Self-Reporting and Bystander Intervention.” Virginia Tech expects students to be aware of personal safety and safety of others and to take immediate action in potentially dangerous situations.

“When determining the appropriate response in the conduct process, the Student Conduct office will consider actions taken by any student who seeks assistance on their own behalf or the behalf of another Hokie experiencing a medical emergency related to alcohol or drugs,” stated the Hokie Handbook. “In some cases disciplinary sanctions may be reduced or not imposed.”

All incidents are documented and educational and parental notifications may still be required. The University recognizes the misuse of alcohol and discourages irresponsible or illegal use.

According to the a 2010 survey by the Campus Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center, 77 percent of Virginia Tech students consume alcohol, with 10 percent of students consuming 46 percent of the alcohol.

"Looking at it from the school's standpoint, I think they do want kids to be safe, but with so much vagueness, I think they're trying to keep their options open in terms of what you can do with students,” Puletti said. “I think they do want to keep kids safer, but at the same time, they want to have some sort of consequential control, trying to keep kids from doing this, which I understand because if you come at it from the point of view that there would be no consequences, I could see how kids would almost take advantage of that situation.”

SSDP wants to clarify language about disciplinary action and policies for the 2016-2016 edition of the Hokie Handbook, making safety a priority over consequence.

"What we're sort of hoping to clarify is, in what cases are students protected when they're calling emergency services and in what cases are they not?" Gentle said.

An example of the policy’s implementation is the Good Samaritan Protocol at Cornell University, created in 2002. Attempting to reduce legal barriers, it eliminates judicial consequences for students and others involved in seeking assistance but does not preclude disciplinary action of additional violations, such as sexual violence or property damage.

"Like if someone is driving drunk and they crash into a tree and then they call to say, 'Oh, I've had too much to drink,' I don't think that's a good case where that person should be exempt from any sort of consequences for their actions,” Gentle said. “I think it's still important that students have a sense of personal responsibility for what they're doing, whether or not they're under the influence of alcohol or another type of intoxicant. In those types of cases, we don't want to say it's okay to whatever you've done because you called 911."

According to the July 2006 International Journal of Drug Policy by Cornell, this caused an increase of on-campus alcohol related calls with a decreased percent of calls requiring emergency room visits.

"With regards to alcohol, they're trying to encourage students more to contact medical authorities, rather than being scared about doing that because a lot of times students don't want to do that because they're afraid they're going to get in trouble, so they'll wait and wait and wait to the point where it's too late, and someone gets hurt or worse,” said Chris Artigue, a senior horticulture major and secretary and Student Government Association representative for SSDP.

Current Virginia law provides affirmative defense to the reporter of the incident, given they follow a set of instructions, including remaining at the original and other locations, identifying him or herself and “substantially cooperates in any investigation of criminal offense.”

"I think at the heart of it, this is really a human rights issue,” Artigue said. “We think, as an organization, the policies that have been set in place now do a lot more harm to society than good.” Because of this, the group aims to clarify both state law and university policy so that students have a clear understanding of their rights and protections.

"People are going to party anyway, and it just makes the whole entire school so much safer knowing that you can call for help if you think someone's in danger, without worrying about getting in trouble over something,” said Ashley Charles, a senior marketing major and president of Young Americans for Liberty. “You can worry about whether it's right or wrong after you deal with the fact that the person was overdosing on something and people shouldn't be afraid to seek help.”

SSDP acknowledges a step in the right direction, but sees room for improvement.

“We all see the problem and we know that there's something that we, as students, can do to fix it, so if we recognize that, we're going to do everything we can,” Gentle said. "It comes down to protecting students and encouraging people to do the right thing.”

While SSDP is not working to completely eliminate all consequences, their goal of harm reduction and awareness aims to make medical attention a response, not a choice.

“This is something you can get behind; it's not about politics: it's about safety,” Charles said. “You're not a criminal for wanting to get your friend help, so you shouldn't be treated like one.”

James Hawdon, director of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention and faculty advisor of SSDP, declined to comment.

21.10.15

Seven students elected to undergraduate honor system

Originally published by the Collegiate Times as News. 
Published online on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015.

Seven students have been elected to the undergraduate honor system for the 2015-2016 academic year to uphold the honor code and academic reputation of Virginia Tech.

The student-led system advocates and educates students accused of violations, including common ones such as plagiarism, assistance and projects with multiple assignment submissions. Appointments were finalized after recommendations were given to the review board on July 1, and the seven students began officially at the start of the fall semester.

This year’s honor system is led by Chief Justice Antonia Myers-Burton, a senior triple-majoring in psychology, sociology and criminology and associate chief justice Ian Van Pelt, a senior double-majoring in microbiology and biological sciences and philosophy.

The five associate justices are Ryan Cabayan, a senior double-majoring in international studies and public relations; Caroline Eckstrom, a junior double-majoring in biology and agricultural and applied economics; Chanel Franklin, a senior mathematics major; Camille Peeples, a junior human nutrition, foods and exercise major; and Gerald Pydeski, a senior animal and poultry sciences major.

"I'm very excited because I worked pretty hard to get this position, and I'm glad to finally be in it,” Pydeski said. “The people I'm working with are really good at what they do and I've learned a lot from them, and we work really well as a team.”

Pydeski, one of five associate justices, is responsible for investigating violation reports and conducting judicial panel hearings. Current associate justices must have already served on the panel, which is responsible for hearing evidence and determining the verdict.

"I fell in love with the ability to serve and to develop this culture of academic integrity because it's so important on our campus,” Myers-Burton said. “I love being that go-to person and getting to see more of the campus, because I get to sit on these government committees, which I wouldn't have seen in other positions.”

As chief justice, Myers-Burton has an oversight role over the process and policy, working closely with James Orr, the director of the undergraduate honor system.

"We want people to know that the students who come to Virginia Tech learn the material, and they have the skill set their degree implies that they have, and that the institution is committed to developing men and women of integrity who are going to be able to go out into society and have a positive impact on the world,” Orr said.

The honor system works as both a judicial body for academic violations and as an educational resource for students, to prevent confusion and promote a culture of academic integrity and honesty.

"We're actually here to help you; we're not here to punish you,” Pydeski said. “We're educational, and we believe in second chances."

Students who have committed a violation, accidental or otherwise, are encouraged to learn from mistakes. Unlike other universities, Virginia Tech does not have a one-strike policy but still rarely encounters repeat offenders.

"A lot of students come in concerned about being suspended or expelled or something like that, but you know, we're not U.Va. — we don't kick people out for making a mistake. We recognize that students do make mistakes,” Van Pelt said. “It's not like we're putting anybody on trial; that's not really the point. It's more of a fact-finding body than anything else.”

The honor system advises students to read syllabi, seek clarification from professors and to reach out to their office if further clarification is needed. The roles of justices extend beyond their jobs, challenging them to embody their academic values and mission in their classes and daily lives.

“Think about it as you're preserving the worth of your degree,” Eckstrom said. “It means creating a culture where academic misconduct is the exception and not the institution.”

Maintaining one of the oldest university honor codes first established in 1907, Virginia Tech continues to uphold high standards for all students and preserve the honesty of its degrees.

“Going through the process of being a panel member really made me feel like I had a way that I could give back to the Virginia Tech community, like 'Ut Prosim,' 'that I may serve,' and it really allowed me to discover more things about myself at the same time,” Eckstrom said. “I really found that, through advocating for students and helping them through the process, it was a really rewarding experience because I got to see firsthand that, even though a student has a small mistake, they can kind of come back from it and become constructive members of our university.”

An educational opportunity for both justices and other students, the honor system serves to understand and advise all students involved while continuing to strengthen the core of the academic reputation and culture of Virginia Tech.

12.10.15

$3.3 million, five-year study on youth football looks to revolutionize the industry

Originally published by the Collegiate Times as News. 
Published in print edition, front page, on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015.

The College of Engineering and the athletics department are collaborating on a $3.3 million, five-year study on head impacts in youth football.

BLACKSBURG, Va.  A Virignia Tech football helmet on the field inside of Lane Stadium. All helmets worn by players have been rated five stars. Photograph by Christian Sterling/Collegiate Times
Stefan Duma is a professor and head of biomedical engineering and biomechanics at the Center for Injury Biomechanics (CIB), an interdisciplinary research center between the Virginia Tech College of Engineering and the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He is also a member of the medical advisory committee at Pop Warner, a youth athletic league. Since 2003, Duma has been researching this field, revolutionizing football for players of all ages.

"The game is somewhat under attack right now because of its safety, and I think it's very important for us. Instead of just saying it's not safe, let's prove that it is safe," said Associate Athletics Director of Sports Medicine Mike Goforth, who has worked with Duma since 2001. "Sports make up a very small percentage of the concussions that happen across this country, but we would like to eliminate that or at least lower it. You're never going to eliminate it: kids get hurt on skateboards, they get hurt getting to their locker, they get hurt in all sorts of ways, but we would like to look at it from a sport standpoint to make sure we're doing everything we can to make this game safer."

Funded by the Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health, this study is the largest and most extensive analysis done on youth football players and will specifically focus on 7- to 13-year-olds.

"It is really rewarding because I was a youth football player myself," said Jake Smith, a first-year graduate student. "I really enjoy playing the game, and I know a lot of kids really enjoy playing the game. I understand the fear the parents have, but hopefully by making the game safer, it will give parents a peace of mind."

Five Virginia Tech biomedical engineering doctorate students are working on the study, including Smith, Megan Bland, Eamon Campolettano, Jaclyn Press and David Sproule. Steve Rowson, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, is involved in the study and has worked with Duma for the past 10 years. The research team will continue to work closely with the athletic department at Virginia Tech.

"In the past five years, we have really gotten into sports-player equipment and player performance," Duma said. "A lot of it has to do with the fact that Virginia Tech is an excellent environment for this type of research. It's a very unique environment to have all of these groups working together, and that's why we're able to do it and have the success that we have."

Other contributing universities are the Wake Forest School of Medicine, Brown University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. They will focus on data analysis of local youth football teams, conducting tests and collecting findings, including the fact that most big impacts occur during practices.

"Sports in America is important," Duma said. "One of the critical things here – and this is not just about football – we really need to better understand head injury risk in all of our sports."

In 2003, Virginia Tech was the first school to equip football helmets with non-accelerometers and has tracked more than 300,000 impacts on its team.

"The fact that I've got parents and kids all the time who talk about this sport and I don't want to lie to them," Goforth said. "I want to be upfront and honest, and this research gives me the opportunity to say that I think it's still a safe game, so it gives me peace of mind both for my kids and for the kids that I work with."

In 2011, Duma developed a helmet star ratings scale, making the system the first of its kind with widespread application as an industry standard, for college, professional and youth football teams. One focus of the study is to optimize helmet safety for children's use.

"The helmet of an 80-year-old doesn't need to look like the helmet of a 22-year-old that a Tech player wears," Duma said. "We need to figure out what is the best way for the kids to play football and the best protection for them possible."

The football helmet ratings STAR evaluation system has been in place since 2011 and is based on pre-determined thresholds such as lowered head acceleration and frequency of impact. Helmet improvements are wide-ranging, influencing other sports and technologies, specifically with head impact sensors and for hockey, bicycle, construction and lacrosse helmets.

"I think (the helmets) have improved quite dramatically," Duma said. "We've shown that if you move from a one-star helmet to a five-star helmet, you reduce your concussion by 50 percent, so you cut it in half. We think that is a pretty dramatic reduction."

Currently, Virginia Tech football players are all equipped with five-star Riddell helmets, including the Speed, Speedflex and 360. Sensors are installed in all helmets to measure every hit, keep track of impacts and alert coaches when medical attention is needed. Helmets track data through wireless alerts sent to sideline antennas that measure linear and rotational acceleration.

"What we always try to emphasize is that no helmet is concussion-proof," Duma said. "What these helmets do is lower risk, but you still have to work with the players and the coaches to make sure that the game is played as safe as possible."

In addition to defining industry standards for helmets, Virginia Tech research has also tightened practice regulations for all levels of play, outdating potentially dangerous drills and limiting opportunities for impact.

"It means the world to us to think that we've got a chance to make this game safer for folks, like my own kids," Goforth said. "To see changes out there across our country that's happening with football and know that it all started right here in certain aspects of the things we're doing here at Virginia Tech – that means the world to us."

Duma's research prompted Pop Warner to change its rules regarding practice and concussion prevention in 2012. Currently, the injury rate in Pop Warner football is less than one-third in high school, less than one-fifth in college and less than one-ninth in professional.

"Sporting activities are an important part of the American culture and something that is certainly going to continue," Duma said. "We need to figure out a way to play all of these sports as safely as possible."

In 2014, there were 123 concussions in the NFL, with a consistent decrease over the years. According to a study by the 730 Football Championship Subdivision, for every diagnosed concussion, there were six suspected concussions that went undiagnosed.

"The most exciting part is how it touches so many people's lives," Smith said. "I've been very interested in the sport since a young age, so it is really cool to be in a study that I am passionate about."

Though concussions and injuries are not completely avoidable despite the star rating, research is progressing and strives to prevent lasting impacts and raise awareness by educating coaches, players and parents.

"Being an athletic trainer, you get involved because you love competition, you love sports and you love medicine," said Brett Griesemer, director of sports medicine. "Any way that you can kind of help not only medicine but help the game of football or sports in general become safer, both of those go hand in hand. Having a real hand in that process is special."

With more than a decade of research, Virginia Tech's team continues to be the sole leader in the industry. Findings and applications transcend beyond football and sports, making not only players safer but also active people of all ages.

"Will it help make it safer and hopefully protect some of the kids? Absolutely, there's no doubt about that," Goforth said. "Will it help save the game? I think it will."

5.10.15

Class of 2017 to reveal ring design

Originally published by the Collegiate Times as Lifestyles.
Published in print edition, page 2, on Tuesday, Oct. 6. 2015.

The ring premiere for the 2017 graduating class is on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. in Burruss Hall. The hour-long event is free of charge and is open to students of all classes and the university community. Free t-shirt vouchers will be given out to attendees for pickup in Squires after the event. The reveal will be followed by two firings of Skipper, the Corps of Cadets cannon, and fireworks on the Drillfield.

"It's a really special opportunity for our class to come together as one, and it only happens two times, at ring premiere and ring dance," said Cal Wontrop, ring dance chair. "We all get to come together as a class and celebrate ourselves and also the time and hard work we've put in at Tech so far and it's a unique opportunity to hear and see what the ring is all about."

Each ring has a university side and then a class side, which contains symbolic elements of important events during the years spent at Tech by the class of 2017, including the 35-21 win versus Ohio State football on Sept. 7, 2014, a popular hiking destination and a unique part of Lane Stadium. From left to the right, the ring shows a transition from old into new tradition.

Every collection includes symbolic elements, including a screaming eagle for strength and freedom, an American flag and campus buildings for national and university heritage, and an interlocking chain around the bezel for the strength of many united as one.

“Our class motto is 'transcend with tradition,' so we're trying to get every single one of our members of the class of 2017 to engulf themselves in the traditions here at Tech,” said Thomas Arruda, the ring design committee chair. “We want them to just kind of take part in everything they can take part in while here, so they can carry that with them after graduation and into whatever they do after college.”

Cranberry, navy and silver are the class colors. Raymond D. Smoot, Jr., of the class of 1969, is the former CEO of the Virginia Tech Foundation and the namesake for the class ring, along with Dean Robert T. Sumichrast of the Pamplin College of Business, who is the class sponsor.

The ring design committee is comprised of eight class of 2017 students selected during sophomore year.

“The class of 2017 ring has some awesome elements on it that every student can relate to and reflect on, based upon our experience,” said Pat Finn, president of the class of 2017. “Ten, 20, 30 years down the road, looking at the cool design of the ring, we’ll be able to remember our awesome time that we had here at Virginia Tech, and it will forever cement the Hokie legacy.”

Since the 1911-1912 academic year, Virginia Tech continues to be one of the few universities that creates a new design every year.

“Ring premiere is one of the best nights that you can experience, especially when you're a junior and it's your time to see your class ring,” Arruda said. “I encourage everyone to buy a class ring – it's something you can look back on and remember the times that you had at Virginia Tech and the experiences you got to share with all your friends and all the memories that you made as well.”

The class of 2017 ring design committee inside of Moss Arts Center. Top row: Daniel Mun, Vince Lawton, Cal Wontrop, ring dance chair, Pat Finn. Bottom row: Chris Willging, Becky Oswalt, Jack Crockett, Thomas Arruda.
Photo courtesy of Niki Khandelwal
The class of 2017 officers at the Pylons. Top row: Pat Finn, president, Vince Lawton, male member-at-large, Jack Crockett, cadet member-at-large, Pat Dupont, treasurer. Bottom row: Allison Crandell, vice president, Becky Oswalt, female member-at-large, Maddie Walters, secretary, Niki Khandelwal, historian.
Photo courtesy of Niki Khandelwal
The class of 2017 official logo, featuring the two class colors of cranberry, navy and silver, was unveiled this year.
The 2017 ring collection will be available to view in the Squires Williamsburg Room for purchase Nov. 16-18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rings will be delivered from March 29 to April 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The junior class ring dance will be on Friday, April 1 from 8 p.m. to midnight and on Saturday, April 2 from 8 p.m. to midnight inside of Squires Old Dominion Ballroom.

2.10.15

Multimedia Reporting Blog/Site

I created a blog site for my Multimedia Reporting class (COMM 3154), featuring multimedia reporting stories, original photography, blog posts and more.
Note: assignments and blog posts are formatted and done within specific instructions.

This is a current work in progress that will continue until the end of the fall 2015 semester in December.

To visit, feel free to visit my original site.