Tront receives 2005 XCaliber Award for Excellence in Teaching

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 30, 2005 – The Center for Innovation in Learning at Virginia Tech chose Joseph Tront, of Blacksburg, professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, to receive the 2005 XCaliber Award for innovative approaches to teaching.

The Xcaliber award recognizes outstanding contributions to learning that faculty and teams of faculty and staff make as they develop innovative approaches to teaching using technology. The award includes a commemorative plaque and a stipend of as much as $2,500 (depending on the number of awards in a given year). Honorees are asked to demonstrate their award-winning work at appropriate occasions.

Tront received the award for an innovative instructional approach he developed that involves the use of tablet personal computers (PCs). Through a grant from the Microsoft Research Corporation, he purchased 20 tablet PCs for use by students. He then teamed "Classroom Presenter" software with the Virginia Tech wireless network infrastructure to provide a highly interactive learning environment. While Tront lectures, using a tablet PC to draw diagrams and pose problems, students are able to take notes and solve problems using natural "electronic ink" gestures on the tablet PC. At each class session, student groups equipped with the tablets work on various problems and wirelessly submit their work to Tront, who projects the product on a screen for all class members to view and discuss. Students receive immediate feedback from their peers, as well as from Tront.

Tront teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in computer engineering and electronics. He is a senior member of the IEEE's Computer Society and Special Interest Group on Design Automation, and also a member of the Association for Computing Machinery. He has been involved in educational research with the Southeastern University and College coalition for Engineering Education (SUCCEED), an NSF sponsored engineering-education coalition. He is editor of the international award titled the Premier Award for Excellence in Engineering Courseware, and co-editor for the engineering collections in two national digital libraries. He is active in technical research in the areas of integrated circuit design and testing, bio-microelectronic sensors, fault-tolerant autonomous computers, and space radiation effects in integrated circuits. He has received the Certificate of Teaching Excellence and is a member of the Academy of Teaching Excellence. A member of the Virginia Tech faculty since 1978, he earned a bachelor's and a master's from the University of Dayton, and a Ph.D. from the State University of New York, Buffalo.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college's 5,600 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a "hands-on, minds-on" approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become among the largest universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top research universities in the nation. 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 provides some 180 academic degree programs for more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.