Superintendent's Newsletter - page 14

VMI Academics 2013-2014
PURSUING YOUR PASSION
Changes to VMI Majors and Departments:
The time-tested philosophy of VMI’s academic program is to focus on just a few majors, which ensures that they are
well resourced, rigorous, and appealing to cadets. Following a strategic review in 2012, exciting changes to the majors in
English, computer science, and modern languages were planned.
Department of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies:
The English major has been redesigned
to emphasize rhetoric, or the study of the varied functions of language. Beginning in the fall, the department will
offer coursework in classical and contemporary rhetoric, literature, writing, philosophy, public speaking, and art.
Department of Computer and Information Sciences:
The computer science degree, previously offered
through the Department of Math and Computer Science, has undergone revision to include offerings in the high-
demand area of information technology and security, as well as computer science. The new major will be offered by
the new Department of Computer and Information Sciences for the first time this fall. We are pleased that the ROTC
branches recognize the significance of this new bachelor of science degree in considering eligibility for commissioning
and ROTC scholarships.
Department of Modern Languages and Cultures:
Perhaps you are aware that many colleges have
been examining their offerings in languages, prompted by an extended fiscal crisis in higher education. The study of
foreign languages and cultures is integral to preparing graduates who will enter a globalized world of unprecedented
complexity as the 21st century unfolds. We have redoubled our commitment in this area. We are redesigning our
French curriculum and next year will begin recruiting faculty for a new program in Chinese. When this initiative
is realized, we will have robust majors in four languages of vital national interest: Arabic, Spanish, French, and
Mandarin Chinese.
Clean Energy and Air Resources Program
Two of the biggest air pollutants from the conversion of fossil fuels are sulfur
and nitrogen. A new lab in VMI’s Morgan Hall opened spring semester, offering
a location where faculty and cadets take on the challenge of finding organic
alternative energy sources that are bioengineered to produce the smallest possible
amounts of these pollutants.
The “CLEAR” -- Clean Energy and Air Resources Program -- lab opened in
January, with funding from several sources, including a $141,457 grant from the
National Science Foundation, an $86,410 grant from the Jackson-Hope Fund, and
a $40,000 grant from the Dominion Foundation.
Eight cadets worked in the lab spring semester on five projects that sought, for
example, to create a sustainable source of energy and water filtration from manure
and to analyze soybean varieties for biofuel. Cadets will pick up these projects in
the coming academic year, gaining valuable research experience and contributing
to knowledge in an increasingly relevant field.
Cadet Johnny Partin ’14 performs metals removal experiments using a
wrist-action shaker in VMI’s new CLEAR lab.
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