Institute Report, April 2009
By Wendy Lovell
Coordinators of VMI’s annual Undergraduate Research Symposium always hope for new and innovative projects. This year, they got their wish and more with the addition of the VMI Exhibition of the Arts, which was held on April 2 in conjunction with URS.
“Not only did this year’s event showcase the scholarly work of our cadets but also the artistic talents of our faculty, staff and students,” said Patricia Hardin, operations officer for the annual symposium. “We were pleased with the response – about 40 pieces of art were on display and 12 artists took part in the afternoon performance.”
Traditionally URS has celebrated the intellectual accomplishments of cadets in the research arena, but this year, Lt. Col. Jay Sullivan, URS director, wanted the event to address the creative endeavors of the VMI community in the areas of art, music and literature.
Two members of the faculty and staff and 10 cadets read their poetry, sang, and played the guitar, violin, and bagpipes during an afternoon concert and poetry reading. The artwork on display in Jackson Memorial Hall included sculpture, photography, paintings, drawings, and origami.
Despite the addition of the arts exhibition, scholarly research was the main event of URS, with oral presentations taking place in classrooms across Post, as well as a poster session in the Center for Leadership and Ethics.
“More than 130 cadets representing all disciplines presented their work, and all oral presentations took part in the classroom,” said Hardin. “The poster session was held in the Center for Leadership and Ethics during the Environment Virginia conference, which gave those in attendance the chance to see the work our students are doing, too.”
Hardin added that the classroom venues worked well in providing a larger audience for the cadet presenters. Their peers asked good questions about the projects and benefited from exposure to the undergraduate research taking place across Post.
Project topics ranged from the effect of caffeine on college students to wireless security and achieving diplomacy with Iran to energy usage and alternative heating systems. A variety of scientific, design, and engineering projects were presented, as well.
URS projects were evaluated by judges, and the following cadets received cash prizes for their projects:
Engineering oral presentations: Andrew Craig, Austin Keller and Stephen Russell, first prize; Christopher Leach, second; and Douglas Trask, third.
Science oral presentations: Jonathan Brown, first; Alexander Houser, second; and Andrew Zyra, third.
Liberal arts oral presentations: Tanner Sewell, first; Charles Range, second; and Daniel Johnson, third.
Engineering poster presentations: Andrew Fleenor, first; and Joseph Johnson, second.
Science poster presentations: Frank Powell, first; Christina Stalnaker, second; and Albert Young, third.
Liberal arts poster presentations: Jacki Briski, first; Benjamin Kimsey, second; and Alex Oliver, third.