The future in their own words: Five students win thousand dollar awards

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 25, 2006 – Computer scientist Allan Kay might have said it best: "The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” However, Virginia Tech wanted to see what "Invent the Future"--the new tagline adopted last January by the university--meant to incoming freshmen.

To find out, the university conducted an essay contest and awarded $1,000 scholarships to five freshmen for their winning essays on what it really means to “Invent the Future.”

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger announced the awards contest in February as part of the university’s branding initiative. The scholarship opportunity was open to all incoming Fall 2006 freshmen, and nearly 300 entries, limited to 250 words each, were submitted. A judging panel selected the top five essays from the pool. The winning essays demonstrated the students’ own interpretations of what “Invent the Future" means to them.

Recipients of the “Invent the Future” Essay Scholarship include:

Hao Luu, of Alexandria, Va., a general engineering major in the College of Engineering, who wrote: “Humans, including myself, serve the world as opposed to serving the individual needs.”

Nathaniel Lynch, of Charlotte, N.C., a general engineering major in the College of Engineering, who wrote: “To invent the future is to develop a revolutionary new idea that dramatically differs from the past.”

Jamie Smith, of Richmond, Va., a general engineering major in the College of Engineering, who wrote: “The installment of curiosity and knowledge will make a better tomorrow.”

Jennifer Soldan, of Richmond, Va. a mathematics major in the College of Science, who wrote: “Even the quietist student can have an impact on the future if he merely makes a difference in the lives of those around him, either by words, deeds, or simply a willingness to listen.”

Katharine Wooten, of Orange, Va. an environmental science major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who wrote “By becoming an environmental leader, I am helping to preserve and protect the health and beauty of America.”

“’Invent the Future’ captures the broad notions that education and the creation of knowledge can invent a bright future for all of us, and these students embody that spirit of discovery,” said J. Christopher Clough, director of marketing and strategic planning at Virginia Tech, and coordinator of the scholarship. “The winning essays reflect this sentiment, the bold spirit of Virginia Tech, and what the university hopes to instill in the student body.”

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech is the most comprehensive university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is among the top research universities in the nation. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to quality, innovation, and results through teaching, research, and outreach activities. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.