Ut Prosim (That I may serve). It’s a motto and a way of life Virginia Tech students hold dear; a way of life The VT Chapter of SEDS is excitedly fulfilling through our own mission. Nestled in the New River Valley of rural southwest Virginia, Virginia Tech is home to over 31,000 students and, true to our motto, host to some of the biggest service events in the country like the largest collegiate Relay for Life, and the second largest “Big Event”. It’s a place the VT Chapter of SEDS is proud to call home.
Our history actually goes as far back as 2005 where Virginia Tech had a briefly active chapter that left few records before going dormant after that year. The next ‘founding’ of the chapter came in 2010 where alum Brian Keller and member Cameron Crowell restarted the group, enacting foundational goals like officially registering as a student organization, getting a faculty advisor, connecting with SEDS-USA, and shaping the first goals of the chapter. Unfortunately the chapter went dormant again briefly in 2012 before being brought back in its current form in 2013 by alum Aurelien Stamper. The chapter board that year made a conscious effort to stabilize the chapter’s future with a constitution and an unofficial ‘training-up’ of members officers saw as good replacements. From then on, the chapter has continued to develop – getting a new board each year who continues to affiliate with SEDS-USA, a new website and social media presence, and a stable attendance at SpaceVision.
At present, the Chapter is undergoing growth pains, relatively unknown on campus outside of engineering, and trying to find solid footing in consistently providing a great experience to our members and fellow students. At the same time, we’re successfully handling over $3,000 in our operations budget, updating our website and social media regularly, and holding bi-weekly meetings in between successful events like our recent trip to see ‘The Martian’ in theaters.
With our growth and current energy, the officers of the VT Chapter are building on the stability of previous years by putting together a notebook of ‘things that work’ that will include notes like meeting ideas for future officers, procedures for getting SpaceVision funding, and more to be passed down. We’re also in the midst of deciding on a project to get up, running/funded, and associated heavily with our chapter; a tough task among many other hands-on engineering groups at Virginia Tech. Collaboration with other groups aligning with our interests like Students on Capitol Hill, Astrobotics, Atmospheric Teaching Project and more has also been a point of focus current officers are honing in on. One collaboration in particular we’ll be working on this semester is with MusiTech to bring together people who love music and people who love space for Yuri’s Night.
Members of Note
Adam Barnes – Chapter President, Computer science major
Cameron Crowell – Founding member of 2010 VTSEDS, Chapter Vice President, Materials Science Masters student
Sapna Rao – Chapter Publicity Chair, Aerospace Engineering major
Tanner Dykes – Chapter Treasurer, University Studies major
Anselm Wiercioch – Chapter Student Engineer’s Council Representative, Aerospace Engineering major
Andrew Newman – SED-USA chair, former Chapter President, Computer Science major
Paul Hesson – Chapter Project Chair, Aerospace Engineering major
Dr. Kevin Shinpaugh – Faculty Advisor, Director of IT Services for Biocomplexity Institute at VT
In the next year or two, the chapter would like to really ‘make good’ on that Ut Prosim motto and expand activities to include outreach to local K-12 students. This effort will likely focus at first on things like the annual Virginia Science Festival in the Fall and Kid’s Tech University in the Spring and expand to sessions at local schools. Additionally, VTSEDS hopes to develop and increase the profile of Yuri’s Night, making it a topic of campus banter every year around April similar to how another club hosts a popular ‘Midwinters Dance’ in February. The chapter board hopes to also see their efforts to develop a hands-on project that can persist and compete with other engineering clubs, as well as efforts to bring in students from more diverse majors, pay off and continue to grow with subsequent boards.