From the Hill

A Facility for the New Millennium |  News Briefs |  Save the Panda |  Road Trip to Georgia Tech |  Dismantling a Tradition |  Weblinks |  Coulter Award Winner |  Helping Hands |  Directors Named for CETL, International Students

A Facility for the New Millennium
Tech celebrates dedication of $30 million Bioengineering and Bioscience Building

News Briefs
A quick look at campus happenings
Tech Says Enough
Institute wants to cork high-risk drinking

Georgia Tech is one of only 10 universities across the United States selected as part of the national effort to curb excessive alcohol consumption through changing norms, attitudes, policies and practices affecting drinking, both on and off campus.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Medical Association (AMA) have approved a grant to help Georgia Tech eliminate high-risk drinking among its students.

The $700,000, five-year grant is to build campus-community partnerships to reduce high-risk drinking by students.

Gail DiSabatino, dean of Students, says AMA research shows that on one in three college campuses, more than half of all students engage in binge drinking— and more than one-third of these students frequently drink with the sole purpose of intoxication.

“This is a serious issue that should concern the whole community,” DiSabatino said.

Tech’s program—called GT SMART (Students Managing Alcohol Risk at Tech)—plans a multi-pronged approach to the problem, including providing alternative entertainment programs at times when alcohol use is traditionally high; revising the current alcohol policy with stepped-up enforcement with sanctions; introducing a mandatory alcohol peer-education program for new sorority and fraternity pledges; and building support for the program among alumni.

“We will, for the next five years and beyond, change the environment on our campus and in our community to help our students mature into well-rounded, responsible individuals,” said Tyler Brown, president of the undergraduate student body. “It’s about making wise and healthy decisions.”

Tech On Oak Ridge Team

Georgia Tech is one of six lead universities picked to operate the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The Energy Department announced that the University of Tennessee-Battelle team will operate ORNL.

Tech is a lead university in the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). (ORAU is a consortium of 87 research institutions and a not-for-profit corporation.) The other lead universities are Duke, N.C. State, Florida State, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

Tech is expected to carry out specific research projects for ORNL. The Institute will also benefit from a closer relationship with the Energy Department.

As part of ORAU, Tech will help promote and assist in the management of collaborative partnerships among the member institutions, national laboratories and industry.

Petit Center
Slicing a strand of DNA at the dedication the Bioengineering and Bioscience Building are (l-r) Arthur Bienenstock, associate director for science, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; alumnus William George, chairman and CEO of Medtronic; alumnus Parker H. "Pete" Petit, chairman, Healthdyne; Robert Nerem, director, Petit Institute; President Wayne Clough; William Todd, president, Georgia Research Alliance; and Dr. Peter Katona, president, Biomedical Engineering, Whitaker Foundation.

Georgia Tech dedicated its $30 million Bioengineering and Bioscience Building Oct. 12, taking a lead in the burgeoning field of medical and biological technologies.

“We are now positioned as a leading institution in what many believe will be the most dynamic research field in the 21st century,” Tech President Wayne Clough said.

“This is truly a facility for the new millennium,” said William W. “Bill” George, IE ’64, chairman and CEO of Medtronic, a Minneapolis-based medical technology firm, and a dedication speaker.

“With this facility Georgia Tech is immediately thrust in the position of international leadership in the field,” George said. “It reflects the most important technologies that we are going to see impacting all of us and all the societies around the globe in the next century.”

The building houses the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, the Engineering Research Center for the Engineering of Living Tissues and the joint Georgia Tech/Emory Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Petit, Clough, George
Pete Petit is joined by Wayne Clough and Bill George (l-r) at a plaque that recognizes Petit for his contributions to Tech.
Robert Nerem is director of the Petit Institute, which Petit, ME ’62, MS EM ’64, endowed with a $5 million donation in 1996. Tech is the only National Science Foundation Center of Excellence in the Engineering of Living Tissues.

“It has been said that every day is a new beginning,” Nerem said. “Today, we dedicate this Bioengineering and Bioscience Building. It represents a new day—a new beginning for the Petit Institute. We celebrate this new beginning, but we dedicate ourselves to doing research at the forefront of science, engineering and technology. And we dedicate ourselves to the creation of new opportunities—new research opportunities and new educational opportunities.”

The three-story structure, at the corner of Ferst Drive and Atlantic Street, is the first in the development of three buildings designed to operate as a “biocomplex.”

Clough said that within the next six months ground will be broken on the second building in the complex, a $57 million Environmental Sciences and Technology Building. The third building in the complex will be the Molecular and Materials Science and Engineering Building.

“The bioengineering and bioscience building gives us the opportunity to open a few pages of what Shakespeare described as ‘nature’s infinite book of secrecy,’” Clough said. “Of all the things we possess in this world, the most fragile, the most elusive, is the one we take most for granted, and that is life itself.”

Clough said the research thrust associated with biotechnology is “an area where Georgia Tech’s unique strengths and entrepreneurial abilities in engineering, science and computing correspond to today’s health needs.”

Save the Panda
Terry Maple brings giant pandas to Zoo Atlanta
A barely visible panda peers back at the crowd as its transport cage is transferred from the arrival plane to a truck for the trip to Zoo Atlanta.

Two giant pandas arrived at Zoo Atlanta Nov. 5 amid media hoopla that also put the spotlight on Rebecca Snyder, a Georgia Tech doctoral student, and zoo Director Terry Maple, a Tech professor of psychology.

Maple has been working to bring pandas to Zoo Atlanta for study since 1984, and he even enlisted the support of former President Jimmy Carter, Cls ’46, in the project.

He has maintained contact with Chinese leaders throughout the years.

In 1998, Maple and Zoo Atlanta forged a deal to get the pandas. Its thrust is a $22 million plan to produce panda cubs, funding research at Zoo Atlanta and in China to study why the animals don’t breed well in captivity. Maple has won the support of some of Atlanta’s leading companies, and has raised money to built a $7 million panda habitat, which is home to the two pandas: Lun-Lun and Yang-Yang. The habitat is designed to keep the animals near, but allow them some privacy.

Doctoral student Rebecca Snyder talks to a television reporter during the pandas' unloading at Atlanta's airport.
The pandas are on loan at Zoo Atlanta for at least 10 years, perhaps indefinitely.

The giant panda’s native habitat in central China has been reduced to bamboo forests in the highlands of China.

Snyder has been researching the behavioral development of Lun-Lun and Yang-Yang at southwestern China’s Chengdu Zoo and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. She has been observing the pair since their birth two-and-a-half years ago. The animals grow out of adolescence at about age 5.

She will continue to research the pandas’ development at the Georgia Tech Laboratory for Animal Behavior Research, studying their transition to puberty and adulthood, and their reproductive behavior.

“In Chinese zoos, the cubs have usually been weaned by six months of age so that the mother can become pregnant and produce another cub as soon as possible,” Snyder said. “In the wild, cubs stay with their mothers for 18 months, sometimes longer.”

Snyder sees this mother-cub relationship as the key to the panda cub’s behavioral development and, ultimately, to the likelihood of it breeding successfully.

“The mother-cub relationship is the most important one a panda will have. Possibly because captive pandas are separated so early from their mothers, they don’t have the opportunity to learn important social behaviors.

“Even though pandas are solitary as adults, they still need to know how to react to other pandas if they are to mate and then, if female, how to look after a cub,” she said.

Pandas are endangered, and Maple says it is imperative to understand them.

“We can’t afford to let a beautiful animal disappear,” Maple said. “As human beings, we can’t afford to let that happen.”

Hollywood's "Road Trip" Stops at Tech

A Hollywood crew filming a movie called “Road Trip” took a detour to Georgia Tech’s campus to shoot some scenes on Oct. 23 and 24. The movie is a comedy about a college freshman on a cross-country trek to visit his longtime girlfriend at another college.

And Georgia Tech students found film production to be a refreshing detour from their usual routine—nearly 200 were cast as extras. It provided senior Laura Warner (above) a moment in the limelight as she was cast as the stand-in for actress Amy Smart (far left).

The “Road Trip” created some re-routing of pedestrian traffic, too. Filming sites included the Administration Building (interior and exterior), Cherry Street outside the Swann Building, classrooms in the D.M. Smith Building and Professor Gus Giebelhaus’ office, also in the D. M. Smith Building. Passersby were welcome to pause and watch the action.

“Road Trip” is produced by Montecito Pictures/DreamWorks Productions. The film will be in theaters next summer.

Dismantling a Tradition

Administration relegates stealing the T to history
By Hoyt Coffee

T-less Tower Faced with the possibility of a student suffering serious injury or death in an increasingly litigious society, the Georgia Tech administration is taking a hard line on the relatively short-lived tradition of stealing the “T” from the Tech Tower.

In an October letter to the campus community, President Wayne Clough said the risks inherent in scaling the 115-foot tower far outweigh its notoriety.

“Like anyone, I appreciate the ingenuity it takes to remove the ‘T,’” Clough said. “However, I am deeply concerned about the staggering possibility that a bright young Tech student could easily die or be maimed for life while attempting to scale the Tower. To those who might think my concern is alarmist, I point to the young woman whose life ended tragically only a few months ago when she tried to climb one of our campus buildings.”

Christina Hanan Sommer, 27, who was visiting campus with a friend, fell to her death while apparently attempting to climb atop the coliseum, campus police said. Sommer fell about 15 feet from the building that houses WREK, adjacent to the coliseum.

“Over the last few years, we’ve become increasingly concerned about this tradition and the safety implications,” said Lee Wilcox, vice president for student affairs. “This death really served as a catalyst for making a more formal statement about this tradition. So President Clough decided that we really needed to clearly state that this is not something that Georgia Tech endorsed or blessed in any way.

“Not only do we not endorse it; we want to see it stopped. So his statement was an effort to make that clear in the hope that it would serve to eliminate stealing the “T” as a tradition. It had a 30-year history, and that’s long enough.”

Clough noted that Tech could face “incredibly expensive liability litigation” in the event of an accident. Likewise, the property damage caused by attempts to steal the “T” can be excessive. The most recent incident caused $13,000 in damage, which those involved had to pay.

The letter also spelled out the consequences students can face for ignoring the warning. Not only would they be subject to criminal prosecution for vandalism, they also would face Institute penalties “up to and including expulsion.”

T-less Tower in 1969
Students steal the T in a 1969 stunt
The “T” was first taken in 1969 by a group calling itself the “Magnificent Seven.” Regaled by students at the time, it was considered a harmless prank—and some say it was even tacitly endorsed by school authorities. But things have changed.

Carey Brown, IE ’69, then president of student government and an admitted member of the Magnificent Seven, said he fully supports the administration on the issue in the current climate, and he’s “sorry the silly thing got out of hand.”

Clough, who left Tech to pursue his doctorate at Berkeley before the first theft, said he was surprised to discover when he returned as president that it had earned tradition status in such a short time. Its brief tenure caught the current student generation unawares as well.

“It’s surprising to find out how short a tradition it really is,” said Undergraduate Student Government President Tyler Brown, Carey Brown’s son. “Most students think it’s been happening since the birth of the Tech Tower and the letters on it.” He said he hopes the tradition can be remembered in the positive spirit in which it was born, and not considered a negative at its demise. He is disappointed, though, that the tradition wasn’t buried with some kind of closure like the tradition of “keggers” on campus.

“It worked successfully with kegs,” he said. “The last one was cemented in the bottom of the Sig Ep house, in the basement, and people haven’t brought kegs on campus since.”

Administration officials have been subtly erasing the “T” tradition from the Tech mentality for some time prior to Clough’s open letter, hoping for an unheralded evaporation. For instance, it’s no longer mentioned in orientation sessions, speeches or convocations, and tour guides are instructed to avoid talking about it.

“We simply cannot put Georgia Tech and her magnificent students at risk by condoning any attempt to steal the ‘T’ from the Tech tower,” Clough said. “We have traditions enough to honor that are safe and serve us well.”

Side-by-Side TEAM Buzz's helping hand extends to hurricane victims

Georgia Tech students, faculty, staff and alumni rolled up their sleeves and went to work side-by-side to tackle community service projects all over Atlanta for the third annual TEAM (Tech Enhancing Atlanta Metropolitan) Buzz Community Service Day on Oct. 23. These students, working as volunteers for Piedmont Park Conservancy, are among the more than 1,800 volunteers who took part in this year's Institute-wide effort to lend a helping hand to Atlanta community organizations and agencies. Tech senior Trey Childress, TEAM Buzz chair, said the annual project is designed to encourage year-round service to others while creating a greater sense of community at Georgia Tech. At the morning kick-off rally, President Wayne Clough told the group, "This is an institution devoted to sustainable technology, and the focus of TEAM Buzz is caring for and sustaining the community." In an extension of the community service effort, clothes, food and other items were collected for displaced students, faculty and staff at East Carolina University, victims of flooding due to Hurricane Floyd.
Team Buzz

Web Links
Betty's EarthLink merges with MindSpring; company becomes No. 2 Internet provider

Earthlink's Betty C. Garry Betty’s fast break in the highly competitive industry of Internet service providers has re-shuffled the field, and pushed him closer to the top.

A 1979 chemical engineering graduate of Georgia Tech and president and CEO of EarthLink Network Inc., Betty has announced a merger with MindSpring Enterprises Inc. that will create the second-largest Internet service provider in the country.

When the deal is finalized in the first quarter of 2000, the new company will have nearly 3 million subscribers, well ahead of third-place Microsoft Network, but still far behind America Online’s 18 million users.

EarthLink, based in Pasadena, Calif., brings 1.5 million subscribers to the $3 billion, all-stock deal. MindSpring, a graduate company of the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech, adds another 1.3 million.

Betty will serve as CEO and on the board of directors of the combined entity, which will operate under the EarthLink brand out of Mindspring’s Atlanta headquarters. Charles Brewer, MindSpring’s founder, chairman and CEO, will be chairman.

“I believe this marriage of equals will position the new company as the clear leader in the Internet access arena,” said Betty. “By leveraging the synergies between our operations, marketing channels and member-service philosophies, we will have built a solid platform to service our current members and, at the same time, accelerate our aggressive growth strategy.”

Both Betty and Brewer are members of the Georgia Tech Advisory Board.

Coulter Award Winner
Mike Wach given $100,000 for fiber-optic light developments

Mike Wach
Coulter Award Winner Mike Wach
Alumnus Mike Wach, president and CEO of Visionex, and Mauro Ferrari, a biomedical engineering professor at Ohio State, are winners of the 1999 Wallace H. Coulter Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The award, administered through Tech’s College of Engineering, also provides $100,000 to each winner, making it one of the largest single prizes of its kind.

Wach, EE ’83, MS EE ’86, founded Visionex through Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center. “Our approach to controlling fiber optic light parallels today’s ‘integrated circuit chips’ that control electrons and are the backbone of the electronics and computer industry,” Wach said.

This is the first year of the Coulter Award, established to recognize individuals with the potential to achieve the highest level of engineering innovation, resulting in technological advances with health-care applications.

Wallace Coulter, who died in 1998, is a Georgia Tech alumnus who invented the Coulter Counter, a blood-cell analyzer based on the Coulter Principle. It is used to perform medicine’s most requested and informative diagnostic test: the complete blood count, or “CBC.”

The selection committee also chose four semifinalists, each receiving $10,000. They included Janet Hampikian, associate professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Tech, and Neal Scott, professor at Emory University (joint proposal); and Sundaresan Jayaraman, professor of Textile and Fiber Engineering at Tech.

Directors Named for CETL, International Studies

Georgia Tech appointed new directors for its Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL) and International Student Services and Affairs.

Dr. Donna Llewellyn, previously an associate chair in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, replaces retired CETL director David McGill, who retired in June.

“I am extremely pleased with her appointment to this position,” said Bob McMath, vice provost for undergraduate studies and academic affairs.

“Donna is highly regarded around the campus and brings to the position a very valuable combination of teaching and administration experience.”

Llewellyn, who has a doctorate in operations research from Cornell University, joined Tech in 1984 as an assistant professor in ISyE. She was awarded the Georgia Tech Woman of Distinction Award in 1998 and was a Lilly Foundation Teaching Fellow in 1991.

Harvey Charles, a former director of International Student Affairs at San Francisco State University, takes over as Tech’s director of international student services and programs.

Charles has a doctorate in higher education and student affairs from Ohio State University-Columbus.

“Our students, even though they might spend their entire working lives in America, will be involved in an international workplace,” McMath said. “We need to ensure that our different international activities are integrated and strategically managed.”

Charles said he would like to see expansion of the existing overseas summer program and the establishment of stronger ties with international education organizations, consulates, international alumni and other agencies involved in international collaboration.