ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

Letter from the Chair of the Advisory Board

Michael Newkirk

Michael Newkirk
Chair, ECE Advisory Board

It is hard to believe it has already been 25 years since Marion Bradley Via made her generous donation in her father’s name to Virginia Tech, resulting in the naming of the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). That remarkable gift set in motion a tremendous era of growth and diversification in ECE, allowing the department to explore new areas of research by funding fellowships and scholarships that have been important to so many students. As a former Bradley Fellow (’90-’93), this is particularly relevant for me (and perhaps a remarkable coincidence), having now come “full circle” from beneficiary to contributor as the newly elected Advisory Board Chair. I am both humbled and honored to lead such a distinguished group of Virginia Tech ECE alumni and friends as we seek to help the department become even stronger and more influential than it is today. I consider this a small way for me to pay back the generosity of Mrs. Via, whom I had the great pleasure of meeting when I was a Fellow.

In this year’s report we have a chance to reflect on what has changed in the past 25 years, and also to see how that has evolved into new and exciting areas of research that touch so many areas – from bioengineering to robotics, power electronics to utility modernization, space research and missions to underwater autonomous vehicles — to name but a few. We also get a closer look at what the Bradley Endowment has meant to past and current Scholars and Fellows. In addition, we get a peek at the beautiful new VT Research Center — Arlington (VTRC-A) building, which is quickly becoming a major focal point for the University in the National Capital Region, and where ECE is already strongly represented and poised for growth.

As members of the Advisory Board, my colleagues and I have the great privilege of getting first-hand accounts of these outstanding efforts, while also being in a position to offer advice, project reviews as well as material and financial support. This past year our members were able to interact with students and faculty in five ECE classes or projects as either design reviewers or guest lecturers. These activities provided a “real-world feel” for the students as they approach their new careers, as well as a highly rewarding experience for our members. We look forward to continuing and growing this service role for ECE, which I also strongly recommend and encourage to other alumni; please contact the department to see how you can get involved.

What should be clear after reviewing this report is that Virginia Tech ECE faculty and students are on the leading edge of engineering research in many areas that touch our lives, and they do this exceptionally well. Our simple goal on the Advisory Board is to provide whatever advice, experience and gifts are necessary to sustain this level of excellence.

Enjoy the report!

Michael Newkirk
Chair, ECE Advisory Board