VWCC News

Virginia Western students gain hands-on GIS experience at NASA center

Virginia Western Community College students and faculty recently visited NASA Langley Research Center to conduct field work and gain a valuable education experience while supporting NASA’s needs for capturing data.

Nine students and three faculty members from Virginia Western, Thomas Nelson Community College and Dabney S. Lancaster Community College participated in the field work. The students were involved with a service learning project that is a component of a distance learning geospatial information systems (GIS) course being offered by Virginia Western. This course was a pilot to inform future GIS courses with a service learning project.

“I love having students come to NASA. They bring such an enthusiasm that helps renew our outlook on work, and the benefit to NASA is having additional data captured that we would not normally have time to do ourselves,” said Mary Gainer, the historical preservation officer for NASA Langley’s Environmental Office. “Everybody wins!”

The interdisciplinary distance learning class was provided through partnerships between professors David Webb (Virginia Western), Cherie Aukland (Thomas Nelson) and Brian Keiling (Dabney Lancaster). Students from GIS and forestry pathway programs participated in the field work and teamed together to collect and map data. Using GPS data collectors, the students gathered information on tree species, health, maintenance recommendations and tree size. The data will be incorporated into NASA Langley’s tree inventory maintained in GIS. Students also completed an analysis of the data to provide maps of problem tree locations, species concentration and relative tree size.

“I really enjoyed being able to work with the forestry students. I learned from them, and I hope they learned from me,” said Virginia Western student Brittany Johnson. “Being able to tour NASA Langley was a great treat. Our sponsor Mary Gainer was awesome. To see how passionate she was about her work inspired me to fight for my dream job.”

A bonus for the project was the measurement of two trees that were entered into the Virginia Big Tree program. A sassafras tree on Center is ranked as the third largest of its kind in the state while a large white oak will rank within the top 10 trees statewide.

“I would have to say that it was an amazing learning experience for me. It was wonderful to get hands-on experience using tools that collect the data that goes in the databases and creating the databases. I gained first-hand field experience with the power of GIS,” said Virginia Western student Heidi Phillips. “Not to mention, I learned quite a bit about urban forestry. I liked the fact that I now know several more possible opportunities for employment in the GIS realm. It seems endless.”

“David, Cherie, and Brian are fantastic instructors and really took the leadership on making this course happen,” said Chris Carter, VSGC Deputy Director. “We are pleased to be working with them and NASA Langley on this project to provide a great experience for these students.”

The field trip was sponsored by the GeoTEd (Expanding Geospatial Technician Education Through Virginia’s Community Colleges) project. GeoTEd scholarships funded the students’ tuition and travel. GeoTEd is administered by Virginia Space Grant Consortium in partnership with Virginia Western, Thomas Nelson, Southwest Virginia Community College, Virginia Community College System and Virginia Tech. NASA Langley, a VSGC member, is working with the GeoTEd team to offer more service learning projects in the future. GeoTEd partners intend to repeat the class and expand it to all of the 23 Virginia community colleges in future semesters. More information can be found at www.geoted.org.

Virginia Western is offering the course again this summer. Important dates and information on how to register can be located at www.virginiawestern.edu.

Posted on April 10, 2014 in Campus News | Permalink

Virginia Western announces Distinguished Alumni and Impact Awards

Virginia Western Community College and the Virginia Western Educational Foundation recently honored Campus Police Chief Craig S. Harris and J. David Wine with Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2014. The Powell Charitable Foundation was selected for the Community College Impact Award.

Chief Craig Harris and FamilyHarris, who has been the college’s Chief of Police since 2005, earned his Associate’s Degree from Virginia Western in 2000. His work at Virginia Western has resulted in numerous recognitions for campus safety. Prior to graduating from Virginia Western, Harris was a Sergeant in the Investigations Division of the Vinton Police Department. He also holds an Administration of Justice degree from Bluefield College and a Master’s Degree in Business Management from Liberty University.

“Chief Harris is an extremely deserving recipient of our Distinguished Alumni Award,” said Dr. Angela M. Falconetti, Vice President of Institutional Advancement. “Not only is he a role model for our students showing what they can achieve if they dedicate themselves, but he is also on campus every day ensuring that the College is as safe as it can possibly be. We thank him for his continued service to Virginia Western.”

In addition to Harris, Wine was also honored with a 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award. Wine, a 1973 graduate, has been a long-time supporter of the college and had a successful career as an entrepreneur. He recently joined the Virginia Western Educational Foundation Board of Directors. After beginning his career in respiratory therapy at Pulaski Hospital, Wine started his own company – Advanced Healthcare Services – selling in-home nursing care equipment. He sold Advanced Healthcare Services in 1998 and has supported the community through work with numerous organizations including the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, the Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke College, Hollins University and Carilion Clinic.

The Powell Charitable Foundation was recognized for its philanthropic work in support of Virginia Western. Started at the request of the late Paul A. Powell Sr., the Foundation pledged $200,000 to Virginia Western’s Community College Access Program (CCAP) in 2012. Mary Powell Roberts, Peggy Dowell Daniel (now deceased), William N. Powell, Paul A. Powell Jr. and John D. Powell have continued their father’s legacy by ensuring that college is possible for all the region’s high school graduates.

Posted on April 1, 2014 in Campus News | Permalink

Virginia Western Workforce administrator honored with Chancellor’s Award

Virginia Western Community College Workforce Solutions administrative officer Dan Semones was honored recently with the 2013 Virginia Community College System Chancellor’s Award in the area of Occupational Instruction and Services.

In the 2012-13 fiscal year, Semones had an increase of revenues of 137 percent over 2011-12 with a 22.4 percent increase in enrollment (1,350 students); and 33,473 class contact hours. Semones was personally responsible for bringing in more than $540,000 in revenues to Workforce Solutions. He found a strong partner to provide Virginia Western with a non-credit Commercial Driver’s License (CDL-A) program that has provided training to over 275 individuals to date and has placed 261 in employment.

“The goal of my efforts at Virginia Western has always been to help students get the skills and training they need to build a rewarding career,” said Semones, who has worked at the college for 7 years. “It is really humbling to earn such recognition, and it gives me great affirmation of my efforts.”

Semones has coordinated a wide range of programs in Workforce Solutions, from CDL-A to Ophthalmic Assistant and Pharmacy Technician. In addition to helping individual students, Workforce Solutions provides continuing education, up-to-date training information, resources, and support services to existing businesses and the community, as well as to potential business and industry.

To find out more about Workforce Solutions and what programs are offered, visit: http://virginiawestern.edu/workforce.

Posted on February 20, 2014 in Campus News | Permalink

Virginia Western Team Name

Virginia Western is accepting suggestions to change the name of its sports teams. These sports include men's basketball, men's soccer, women's basketball, women's volleyball, and other intramural teams. The current team name is the Virginia Western Blue Stars.

What would be a great name for our teams?

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VW_Team_Name

 

 

Posted on in Campus News | Permalink
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