This post comes to us with input from Sandra Black, working on communications for the Education and Research in Agriculture in Senegal program.
A service-learning trip to Senegal was organized during Virginia Tech’s new winter session to provide an immersion learning experience for Virginia Tech students. The group of 13 began their two-week trip in the capital, Dakar, and travelled along the coast of Senegal, from Saint Louis in the north down to Toubacouta, near Gambia.
The group was led by three Tech professors: Cindy Wood—professor of animal and poultry sciences; Ozzie Abaye—professor of crop and soil science; and Matthew Eick, also professor of crop and soil science. The course is called Service-Learning in the Developing World: A First-Year Experience. While the course is designed for freshmen, not all of the participants were first year students. The students did everything from tree planting with Senegalese students to collecting grasses with villagers for silage production to helping out on a water purification project. Wood talks about the design of this course in an article about winter session here.
Photos can be found on our Flickr page, but here’s a sampling of the students in action:
By Virginia Economic Development Partnership in Uncategorized
The Launch Place is bringing businesses to Southern Virginia. As the leading entity to recruit and support entrepreneurs in the Dan River Region, the organization announced its first seed fund investment in KSI Data Sciences.
KSI will receive an initial investment of $150,000, and another $100,000 after successfully testing its prototype for video and data management solutions used in remote sensing platforms on unmanned aircrafts, vehicles and mobile devices. The KSI team plans to relocate to the Dan River District later this month.
Formerly called the Southside Business Technology Center, the Launch Place has assisted start-ups and early stage companies since 2005. After receiving a $10 million grant from the Danville Region Foundation in 2012, the organization was able to add seed funding to its capabilities as a business incubator and rebranded itself as the Launch Place.
What makes the Launch Place unique is its strategy of recruiting entrepreneurs, and then providing the support to allow their businesses to organically grow in the Dan River Region. Through a partnership with VT KnowledgeWorks, entrepreneurs in the program receive free mentoring through the planning, launch and growth stages of starting a business. The Launch Place team also provides a variety of business consulting services, including business plan development, market research, financial modeling and competitor analysis.
The Launch Place helps entrepreneurs reduce start-up costs by offering residential housing and office space subsidies to entrepreneurs that commit to stay in Danville for three years. The Dan River District provides a great place to live, work and play through its historic downtown area, riverfront walking and biking trails, plentiful water sports, concerts, festivals and other recreational activities.
A view of the Launch Place headquarters in the historic downtown area of the Dan River District.
By Virginia Economic Development Partnership in Uncategorized
At 1:07 p.m. today, Orbital Sciences successfully launched its first resupply mission to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket launched the Cygnus spacecraft into Earth’s orbit, where it is currently traveling towards the ISS at approximately 17,500 mph. The spacecraft is expected to rendezvous with the ISS early Sunday morning.
Cygnus is carrying 2,780 pounds of supplies to the Expedition 38 crew, including science experiments, provisions for the crew, spare parts and experiment hardware. The payload includes 23 science experiments that will involve more than 8,600 students across the U.S. and Canada.
Known as the Orb-1 Mission, this is the first actual resupply mission to the ISS following a successful demonstration mission to the ISS in September.
As part of its $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA, the Orb-1 Mission is the first of eight resupply missions to the ISS, expected to deliver approximately 20,000 kilograms of cargo through 2016.
The Orb-1 Mission comes right on the heels of a positive announcement from the Obama Administration — the president approved an extension of the ISS through 2024, allowing for the possibility of more resupply missions past 2016.
The success of today’s launch is another illustration of Virginia’s leadership in the space industry. Through MARS, Virginia offers one of only four commercial sites authorized for orbital space launches.
To learn more about Virginia’s thriving aerospace industry, click here.
A view of the Antares rocket ready for launch from Pad-OA of MARS at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls.
As member of the editorial board of Trends in Biotechnology, I thought it might be useful to identify the Trends in Biotechnology articles that generate the most “buzz”. Below are the articles that have been mentioned in social media at any time. Click on any of them to know more. Sort the table by number of FaceBook postings, Tweets, and Blogs talking about these publications. You can also click on the the Analytics column to sort the publications according to their Altmetric score.
By mbuchananking in Uncategorized
Developing countries offer travelers some of the most rewarding, meaningful, and adventurous experiences in the world. However, they also bring challenges that one is less likely to face in richer nations. We here at OIRED are experts on navigating the ins and outs of emerging states. Here is part 1 of my two-part series outlining my top 26 tips guaranteed to make your trips safer and more enjoyable!
26. Buy Tickets on Tuesday Afternoon
More specifically, 3:00 on Tuesday afternoon. According to Rick Seaney, CEO of Fare Compare, Tuesday afternoon is the best time to buy tickets, because budget airlines usually announce sales on Monday night. By 3:00 pm Tuesday, the bigger airlines will have lowered their prices to match their competitors. Don’t wait too long though; sales usually end once flights are fully booked and prices will rise faster than you can say “economy class.” (This tip goes for every traveler, not just those visiting developing countries.)
25. Pay for Lounge Access if You’re Traveling Long Distances
This assumption is based solely on personal experience, but airports in emerging countries tend to be less fancy than those in the developed world. Hence, your layovers may be far less comfortable. VIP lounges are lifesavers in this regard. Thanks to my good colleague, Kurt Richter, I was able to use his VIP status to enter the Kenya Airways lounge and take a much needed shower while in Nairobi. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take advantage of his special access to lounges on the way back because I was travelling alone. However, it is possible to buy one-day passes for exclusive entrance. Just ask! I bought access to the British Airways lounge in Nairobi for $25, and believe me, the clean bathroom, strong wifi connection, and good food was well worth it!
24. Sign up for the State Department’s Smart-Traveler Program
If you’re a U.S. citizen, it would behoove you to register your trip with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Check out the website here: https://step.state.gov/step/ The program is a free service where you can notify the relevant U.S. embassy of your upcoming trip and give pertinent details about your itinerary, locations, etc. That way, the embassy will be better able to assist you in case of an emergency. You will also receive valuable travel warnings and advisories about the country you’re visiting. The program also has a smart-phone app! If you’re not a U.S. citizen, check with your equivalent ministry to see if they offer a similar service.
Not that kind of shot! (Save those for the airplane.) Check the CDC’s website to see all of the required immunizations necessary to enter a country, and any recommended ones that will keep you in tip-top shape.
22. Make Copies of Your Passport and Other Important Items
In case your passport and important items, like your credit cards and travel visas, are stolen, having copies readily available will help you immensely. I leave copies with trusted family members at home and bring copies on hand as well. If you do bring copies with you, make sure to keep them secure. You can also upload copies to a secure cloud storage space, but internet connection may not be available everywhere.
21. Call Your Credit Card Companies and Banks Before Leaving
Make sure to call your credit card companies and banks to inform them about the trip. They may flag usage of your card as suspicious activity and deny transactions unless you inform them beforehand. I’d limit my credit card usage though.
20. Purchase Travel Insurance
Always buy travel insurance with emergency evacuation coverage! You never know when an attempted coup could close the airport and leave you stranded. Or heaven forbid, a tsunami hits your area and leaves you in desperate need of a helicopter. Make sure to read the fine print so you fully understand all of the coverage restrictions.
19. Money Belt
A great place to store your cash so that would-be pick-pocketers come up empty-handed. You may also think about buying a pair of pick-pocket proof travel pants if money belts aren’t your thing. Clothing Arts sells great pants for about $100.
Your hotel rooms may not come equipped with a built-in safe. A padlock is a godsend if you want to keep valuable items (like copies of your important documents) secure. For instance, I was able to keep my valuables safe by locking them in my wardrobe in Juba, South Sudan. Padlocks with combinations are preferable because you don’t want to deal with keys.
17. Tactical Flashlight
A handy tool in case you’re in a situation where there is very little or no lighting. Tactical flashlights can also be used as weapons. They are usually smaller than most flashlights, made of durable aluminum, and emit a much stronger beam. When choosing your flashlight, make sure it emits at least 120 lumens, which is the output necessary to temporarily blind someone. I personally carry the Mini Cree torch pictured above. It has a bezel on top that can supposedly break glass and it only cost me $5 on Amazon!
16. Pocket Knife
Like the tactical flashlight, it’s just a good tool to have. You never know when it will come in handy. Only bring one if you are checking luggage.
15. Carry an Empty Water Bottle
Sanitary water is a treasured resource in the developing world. Tap water is unsafe to ingest in many countries, so you may need to brush your teeth and wash your face with bottled water. Until you’re able to buy clean and unopened bottled water at your destination, I suggest bringing an empty water bottle that you can fill up at the gate in the United States. That way you can have clean water once you arrive. Moreover, once you buy bottled water at your final destination, make sure you hear a “click” when you open it. Make absolutely sure it’s a fresh bottle and not one that was opened and refilled.
14. Bring a Bag of Peanuts (or any type of protein) Everywhere You Go
This a great recommendation from my colleague, Miriam. Eating norms vary widely between countries, and you may not get the chance to eat full meals until much later than usual. To keep you satisfied until your next meal, always keep a bag of peanuts or some form of protein with you at all times. You need to keep your energy up!
Check out my next blog post for tips 13-1!
Is that a storm on the horizon? Or is it a “live chat” on sea level rise and coastal storms, hosted by the National Science Foundation and featuring Virginia Tech’s own Jennifer Irish, a coastal engineer in the College of Engineering?
The NSF’s Division Director for Ocean Sciences David Conover is also likely to participate.
It’s in the works, like a tropical storm getting ready to cross the Atlantic. It will probably make landfall in September or October. We will keep you updated.
The NSF has hosted several live chats in the past, including this one on avalanches.
Irish, in the meantime, published a study about two adjacent towns on the Jersey shore.
Before Hurricane Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29, 2012, there were few differences in the residential development, dunes, beaches, and shoreline of beachfront communities Bay Head and Mantoloking in Ocean County, N.J.
Afterward, the researchers found the real difference was hidden under the sand.
Or, if you prefer your news in Dutch, you can read this.
The word Hokie resonates with any person who has ever stepped foot onto Virginia Tech’s campus or into Lane stadium. The visualization of a HokieBird rushing onto the football field and a university built of this foreign material called “Hokie Stone” comes to mind.
But to define a Hokie by these visualizations is certainly not sufficient, just ask any Hokie. The sense of community one takes away from Blacksburg never perishes. A Hokie embraces its community wherever that is or has become and upholds the university’s motto of Ut Prosim (that I may serve).
Thus, it only seems natural that a road lives in Blacksburg to serve the community in innovative ways no other road can. The research conducted on this road has been recognized internationally and has helped influence policies that help make all other roads safer.
The Smart Road is owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation and is managed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, whose mission is to save lives, time, money, and the environment. A mission that, quite literally, demonstrates the Institute’s dedication to upholding our motto, that I may serve.
Construction of the Virginia Smart Road broke ground in 1997. It was the first (and still remains the only) road built from the ground up for research, quite a good fit for Virginia’s leading research institution, Virginia Tech.
Next to the road, resides the largest collective group of safety transportation researchers in the United States. This road has helped create over 350 jobs (and counting) in the New River Valley. This is the 25th year anniversary for VTTI which grown from one building to three and has recently honored its Director, Tom Dingus, at the White House as Champion of Change.
Anyone conducting transportation related research can use the road. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has clocked thousands of research hours since it opened. The road has weather making capabilities (rain, snow and fog), 12 different kinds of pavement, a variable lighting system and is built to federal and state specs – a one stop shop for transportation research.
The Smart Road has shown to be a job creator for the New River Valley, it has informed state and federal policies – reasons that demonstrate its dedication to serving the community in and beyond Blacksburg. While I am Hokie, a vessel upholding service to my community, I can proudly say – so is the Smart Road.
By Cecilia Elpi
Events/External Relations Coordinator, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute