College of Engineering
Virginia Tech is the home of the commonwealth's leading College of Engineering. It is known in Virginia and throughout the nation for the excellence of its programs in engineering education, research and public service. It is the state’s largest engineering college, and ranks among the top five suppliers of new B.S. degrees in the United States.
Our graduates are well-rounded. Men and women trained in engineering will find many professional outlets. They may join large or small manufacturing industries or they may offer their skills and knowledge as professional consultants. They may work in government or private research laboratories or teach and do research in universities. If the future leads them into other professions such as medicine, law, food services or business, their engineering education shall provide a sound base. Graduates of the College of Engineering are in high demand. Our Student Engineers’ Council-run Engineering EXPO -- one of the largest student-run career fairs in the country -- brought in approximately 270 employers in 2012, and we are a key recruiting school for three dozen major corporations and government agencies.
Engineers also must be able to communicate effectively with higher management and the general public. All departments within the college are implementing programs to ensure that every graduate is able to effectively use a variety of spoken, visual and written communication strategies which are necessary for success as a student, for employment, and for life as a responsible citizen. Additional emphasis is being placed in freshmen engineering classes to emphasize the importance of communications in engineering analysis and design.
Engineers who are well educated, not just well trained, will be better equipped to develop scientific knowledge into useful technology.
In U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges 2015” survey, released in September 2014, the College of Engineering’s undergraduate program ranked 15th among all undergraduate engineering programs that also offer the Ph.D., and 8thamong public universities. The Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics ranked 5th, the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering ranked 6th in the nation. Other notable department rankings are: the Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering ranked 9th in civil engineering and 10th in environmental engineering; the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, 7th; the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, 13th, the Department of Mechanical Engineering ranked at 15; and the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, 17th.
And in yet another ranking, U.S. News & World Report debuted in winter 105 a new ranking system, Best Global Universities. Ranked out of 500 institutions, public and private, Virginia Tech ranked 248th, with the College of Engineering coming in at 62. It is the highest showing for Virginia Tech on the debut list.
Goodwin Hall, our Signature Engineering Building, houses scores of sensors that currently make it the most instrumented building in the world for vibrations, opened for classes in fall 2014. The roughly 153,000-gross square-foot facility serves as a leading center of engineering education in Virginia. Inside, a 15,000-pound Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 jet engine hangs 15 feet above the floor of the atrium, installed in the summer of 2012 by a team of engineers. The engine acts as an art centerpiece of the structure, and as a learning tool for our students for years to come. Other highlights: A robotics lab with glass walls that allow visitors and passersby to see students at work, and a 3-D printer open to any student’s use, and located in the atrium of the building. The building was named after alum Bill Goodwin and his wife, Alice, in fall 2014. The Goodwins donated $25 million to the construction of the building, a university record for a personal donation. Goodwin graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1962. More information, photos of the first day of classes inside the new building, and a full time lapse of construction, from beginning to opening , visit: http://www.eng.vt.edu/goodwinhall.
The College of Engineering-led Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) is now housed in the Hugh and Ethel Kelly Building on campus, dedicated in the fall semester of 2013. Ethel Kelly’s estate provided $5 million to help cover the cost of the most recent of three buildings built for the institute. That building opened in 2011 and is on Washington Street. What is now Kelly Hall opened in 2009 and is on Stanger Street. Another $1 million from the estate will support the new ICTAS Hugh and Ethel Kelly Lecture Series. Hugh Kelly, who died in 1989, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees of electrical engineering in 1937 and in 1938, worked at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories, and played important roles in groundbreaking projects, including the 1962 launch of the Telstar communications satellite, the first private venture in space. Ethel Kelly, who died in 2012, generously supported Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering as a way of honoring her husband’s legacy. Hugh and Ethel Kelly were early members of the Committee of 100. They later joined the Ut Prosim and the Legacy Societies. Hugh was a member of the College of Engineering’s Academy of Engineering Excellence.
In the summer of 2013, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) approved Virginia Tech’s request to award masters and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering.
In the spring of 2013 the Virginia Tech College of Engineering and College of Science jointly dedicated the inVenTs Laboratory’s Studio I on the second floor of Lee Hall. The inVenTs Residential Community provides an interdisciplinary living-learning space for students from engineering, science, and other disciplines to interact and together explore their ability to envision, create, and transform innovative ideas and – in the words of Virginia Tech’s tagline – Invent the Future. Approximately 1,270 students have used the facility since its fall 2012 soft opening. The inVenTs community includes students from four university groups, the Curie Learning Community and the Da Vinci Biological and Life Sciences Community, both in the College of Science, and the Galileo and Hypatia learning communities within the College of Engineering. The retention rate for the students enrolled in the inVenTs program is almost 100 percent.
In 2014 at Randolph Hall – in space occupied by classes and labs now at Goodwin Hall, the Frith Freshman Design Laboratory (Frith Lab) opened as a space designed to support the retention and development of young engineers through hands-on learning, peer mentoring, and authentic problem-solving. Part collaboration and innovation space, part fabrication and prototyping space, and part learning laboratory, the Frith Lab enables first-year engineering students to learn by dissecting, designing, making, and analyzing engineering products. It features a tensile/compression materials testing machine, 3-D printers, laser engraver, CNC router, and drill press, along with various hand tools, housed in toolboxes available for checkout.
At the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Campus, a building dedicated to propulsion research also opened in spring, 2014. The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors giving authorized the $3.5 million structure in fall 2012. An Aerobiology Building in support of an agriculture/life science and engineering is planned for Kentland Farm, located off campus and heading roughly due west on Prices Fork Road. The facility will facilitate the research of unmanned aerial vehicles used to combat the spread of crop and animal diseases.
In the College’s annual report to the American Society of Engineering Education, it reported research expenditures during the fiscal year 2012-13 totaled $169.6 million. This number is up from the $151.4 million reported for fiscal year 2011-12, and $134.8 million in fiscal year 2010-11. Overall, the College of Engineering is a quarter of a billion dollar annual enterprise with approximately one-half of that money raised each year through direct research dollars generated by the faculty.
For fall, 2005, 4,800 prospective students applied for admission to the College of Engineering. By fall 2014, 8,516 applied, more than a 50 percent increase. Starting with fall 2010, the target size for the freshman engineering class was raised from 1200 to 1300, an 8 percent increase. In 2005 the entering engineering freshman class was 15.6 percent female, 2.1 percent African-American, 1.8 percent Hispanic. By comparison, in 2014 the entering engineering freshman class was 25.4 percent female. Members of the underrepresented population make up 11.4 percent (numbers no longer directly correlate because students now identify with more than one segment of the population).
The College of Engineering prepared a strategic plan for 2012-2018. Five themes are central to the College’s future growth: 1) provide a high quality environment for teaching, learning, and research; 2) recruit, educate, and graduate a high-quality and diverse undergraduate student body; 3) recruit, educate, and graduate a high-quality and diverse graduate student body; 4) address problems of regional, national, and global importance; and 5) support a diverse community of faculty, staff, and students.
Virginia Tech was one of the first universities to formally consider the connection between engineering practice and environmental stewardship from an interdisciplinary perspective. The Green Engineering Program was created in 1995 and serves all departments within the College of Engineering.
This program combines environmentally conscious attitudes, values and principles with science, technology and engineering practice, and focuses this interdisciplinary approach toward improving local and global environmental quality. Based on engineering fundamentals, green engineering analyzes the design of products, processes, and systems to minimize the life cycle environmental impacts, from the initial extraction of raw materials to the energy consumption and waste production during manufacturing to the ultimate disposal of materials that cannot be reused or recycled.
The Green Engineering Program works with students, faculty and the university administration to provide educational and research opportunities with regard to both the environmental impacts and the environmental solutions that can result from engineering practice.
A university-recognized minor allows students to pursue their interests in Green Engineering in addition to their primary degree(s) in the College of Engineering. To obtain this minor, students are required to take 18 credit hours in the minor area as follows: six (6) credits in the two core courses – Introduction to Green Engineering and Environmental Life Cycle Analysis; six (6) credits in interdisciplinary elective courses; and six (6) credits in disciplinary electives within the students’ major. Detailed lists of the courses which meet the minor requirements can be found in the Green Engineering Web site at www.eng.vt.edu/green.
In December of 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration approved a proposal from Virginia Tech, Rutgers, and the University of Maryland to operate a test site to safely and responsibly integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace. Virginia Tech is leading this Mid-Atlantic Partnership, with the FAA declaring the program “fully operational” at an August 2014 event hosted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Among more recent projects: Virginia Tech will collaborate with several national news media outlets to research how pilotless air vehicles can be used in covering the news. Serving as executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership is Rose Mooney.
President Barack Obama announced the creation of the Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute. North Carolina State University is leading this effort with a major engagement from Virginia Tech’s Center for Power Electronic Systems (CPES). Over 25 other organizations will participate in this research effort on wide band-gap semiconductor power electronics. The research is funded at $140 million over five years, with half from the Department of Energy and half from the participating organizations. More can be found here: http://energy.gov/articles/factsheet-next-generation-power-electronics-manufacturing-innovation-institute.
With leadership from Kray Luxbacher, associate professor of mining and minerals engineering, the College is working to create a certificate, and eventually degrees, in natural gas engineering.
The Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM) and the Department of Biomedical Engineering (a.k.a. the School of Biomedical Engineering and Science, SBES) merged in 2014, creating the Department of Bioengineering and Applied Mechanics (BEAM). Stefan Duma, currently the SBES head, heads the new department.
In May 2014 Virginia Tech opened the Virginia Tech-India ICTAS Innovation Center. Located in Swarnabhoomi, which is south of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, the new research center will initially focus on energy harvesting, with much of this research conducted through the mechanical engineering department.
Through its University Technology Centers (UTC), Rolls-Royce has built a network for research and graduate education with 24 universities around the world. Until spring of 2014, only one was located in the United States (Purdue). Building upon Virginia Tech’s successful partnering on the Commonwealth Center for Aerospace Propulsions Systems (CCAPS) and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), Rolls-Royce awarded UTC standing for Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia in April of 2014.
Virginia Tech was handpicked to participate in a $30 million national effort sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the U.S. Department of Defense to combat concussions among college athletes and active service military personnel. The initiative has been called the most comprehensive study of concussion and head impact exposure ever conducted, with 25,000 male and female NCAA student-athletes participating in the study. Virginia Tech is focusing on football, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, and women’s lacrosse. Data collected from athletes will be used to help curb head injuries among U.S. Armed Forces personnel. The study was launched by the White House. Serving as principal investigator is Stefan Duma, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics. Also during the past year, Duma and his research team released long-awaited ranking of hockey helmets in their ability to help protect a player’s head from. The research – covered throughout North America – follows long-time work on football helmets, which Dum has focused on the youth, high school, college, and professional levels.
Five months after successfully demoing that an adult-sized robot can locate and put out fires aboard a U.S. Navy ship, student members of the combined Terrestrial Robotics Engineering and Controls Lab (TREC) and Extreme Environments, Robotics & Materials Laboratory (ExtReMe) labs within the College of Engineering are already working on improving the self-built humanoid that has wowed the Navy. The robot is named SAFFiR -- short for Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot. It stands 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighs about 140 pounds. In November 2014 aboard the decommissioned, World War II-era USS Shadwell, the robot walked down a hallway, took a hose in his hand, turned and located a burning fire via thermal imagining just a few yards away, and blasted the flames with water. SAFFIR is part of a new program by the U.S. Office of Navy Research to create new, high-tech tools for sailors to fight fires aboard ships where dangers are many fold. ONR already has spent $4.5 million on the Virginia Tech project and will increase funding as new, improved incarnations of the robot are built. SAFFiR will gain keener intelligence and visual recognition cues, and stronger more versatile legs, along with plating to protect him from heat, soot, and water. “It’s not going to replace Navy firefighters, it’s going to assist Navy firefighters,” said TREC member Viktor Orekhov, who finished a doctorate in mechanical engineering in December.
Two Virginia Tech College of Engineering teams – including TREC -- are now prepping for the third phase of the futuristic Robotics Challenge sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Defense. Their goal is to create rescue robots that can easily maneuver disaster scenes and save lives. Team ViGIR -- short for Virginia-Germany Interdisciplinary Robotics, is a collaboration between: College of Engineering spin-off company TORC Robotics; computer science’s Center for Human-Computer Interaction; and German-based Technische Universitat Darmstadt, a longtime student-exchange partner with the College of Engineering. ViGIR built software and control tools for use in the simulation-based Virtual Robotics Challenge. The team is headed by TORC’s David Conner, a two-time Hokie graduate of mechanical engineering and an adjunct assistant professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Co-leading the team is Doug Bowman, professor of computer science and director of the Human-Computer Interaction center, and Oskar Von Stryk, professor of computer science and director of a robotics lab at Darmstadt. The second Virginia Tech-based team to advance in the DARPA Robotics Challenge finale is Team VALOR, an international team headed by Tomonari Furukawa of the new Terrestrial Robotics Engineering and Control Lab, part of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The finale will take place June 5-6 neae Los Angeles. When NASA’s Exploration Flight Test-1 Orion spacecraft blasted in to space for an historic 5-hour orbit 3,600 miles above the earth on Dec. 5, 2014, Hokie engineers – two Hokie students had research work onboard the unmanned capsule. Strapped into a pilot’s chair of the unmanned craft was a NASA-sponsored radiation shield experiment spearheaded in part by first-year engineering students Christopher Dobyns and Anna Montgomery, while they were seniors at the Governor’s School of Science and Technology, participating in NASA’s Exploration Design Challenge. The student team beat out thousands of entries to make space history. Dobyns and Montgomery watched the Dec. 5 launch live at Kennedy Space Center, and met, among others, Charlie Bolden, head of NASA.
A Virginia Tech College of Engineering student team built a six-wheeled lunar robot and traveled to Houston’s Johnson Space Center in June as part of the 2014 RASC-AL Robo-Ops Challenge, sponsored by NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace. Team Animus won third place with its self-built planetary rover. A second team, RASC-AL, participated in the Human Scale Architecture and Systems Competition. This team won top spots in theme (human assist sample return), the undergraduate division, and the overall competition.
Virginia Tech’s Chem-E-Car team earned first place in the 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineering student event held recently at the University of Virginia. This competition tests the ability of the undergraduate team to design, build, and control a vehicle that is both powered and stopped by a chemical reaction. Seventeen teams representing 15 other prestigious universities competed. This is the second straight year that the Virginia Tech Hokies have placed in the competition; they finished second in 2013. The team will head to the national competition in Atlanta in November 2014.
MathWorks announced in July, 2014 that Virginia Tech took third place in the MathWorks Modeling Award as part of the EcoCAR 2 collegiate engineering competition. The award recognizes the team’s use of MATLAB and Simulink for Model-Based Design during the three-year project-based learning competition where students were tasked with the real-world challenge of reengineering a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu by improving its fuel efficiency and reducing its emissions while retaining its performance and consumer appeal.
An aerospace and ocean engineering student team won First place in the NASA-sponsored University Aeronautics Engineering Design Challenge competition with its concept of a twin-fuselage unmanned aircraft fueled by liquid hydrogen. The winning concept was dubbed “Gobble Hawk” by the team. The competition is not meant to create aircraft that will be built and flown, but to spur design skills among college engineering students. Team members were Jordan Ambers, Bennett Coffey, Katie Hettmann, Kyle Johnson, Brian Petrosky, Tristan Pietrzak, Matt Schmit, Cory Reed, and Sarah Woodward.
For the 2014-2015 academic year, over two million dollars in scholarship funds were awarded to undergraduate students in the College of Engineering. Twenty-nine entering freshmen received Pratt Scholarship awards and 37 returning students continued their Dean's Scholar award for fall semester 2014. In fall 2014 the College offered 14 new, and continued 6 Eleanor Davenport Leadership Scholarships. The largest sponsor of upper-class scholarships continues to be the Gilbert and Lucille Seay Scholarship Fund, which awards students demonstrating both merit and need.
The University Honors Program offers a unique challenge to students with extraordinary intellectual and creative abilities. The program is available to all engineering departments and includes the opportunity for enrollment in accelerated courses, enriched sections, and independent study.
Of the 2013-2014 College of Engineering bachelor’s degree graduates who were employed full-time, (the most recent year for which statistics are known), 65 percent were employed in a field related to their major. The average annual salary at the bachelor's level was $62,500.
All students admitted to the College of Engineering as freshmen are placed in the Department of Engineering Education and are designated as General Engineering students. Admission to a degree program is competitive, with departmental restrictions established each year by the college. Upon completion of a set of required freshman-level courses, students with acceptable academic records are eligible for transfer into one of the college's 14 degree programs.
Students wishing to transfer into an engineering program or change majors from another college or degree program within the university must meet current standards set by the college for each engineering program. All major changes are processed by the Engineering Education department.
Minimum requirements for graduation include the attainment of at least a "C" (2.0 Grade Point Average) average, both overall and in-major. Some departments may have additional requirements or specifications concerning the acceptability of C- or lower grades for in-major courses. Students are expected to sustain progress towards completion of their degree requirements, consulting with their academic advisor regularly.
In addition to meeting university requirements, eligibility requirements for enrollment have been established by individual departments.
Entry into a degree-granting department requires that a student successfully complete all first year required courses. Additional requirements are specific to degree programs and are as follows:
All degree-granting majors accept applicants on a space-available basis. Applicants with a minimum 3.0 overall and Engineering Index VT GPA are guaranteed their first-choice major. Applicants below a 3.0 overall and Engineering Index VT GPA will be rank ordered according to Engineering Index GPA and placed in a major based on space availability. (See http://www.enge.vt.edu/Undergraduate/changing_majors/index.html for major change process and timing.)
Degree requirements in the college range from 123 to 136 semester hours. Students should see their departmental advisors to determine the exact requirements of their degree. The 2.0 minimum GPA requirement for graduation also applies to all courses attempted in the student's departmental major; substitute non-departmental courses are not included. Where courses have substantial duplication, credit toward graduation will be given for one course only. Up to 2 credits in physical education may be used toward graduation as free elective credit. ESM 4404 and other courses below the academic potential of the engineering student may not be used towards graduation. A list of non-degree courses is found at http://www.eng.vt.edu/students/forms.
The senior academic year must be completed in residence while enrolled in the major department in the College of Engineering.
The graduation requirements in effect at the time of graduation apply. When choosing the degree requirements information, always choose the year of your expected date of graduation. Requirements for graduation are referred to via university publications as “Checksheets”. The number of credit hours required for degree completion varies among curricula. Students must satisfactorily complete all requirements and university obligations for degree completion.
The university reserves the right to modify requirements in a degree program. However, the university will not alter degree requirements less than two years from the expected graduation year unless there is a transition plan for students already in the degree program.
Please visit the University Registrar website at http://www.registrar.vt.edu/graduation/checksheets/index.html for degree requirements.