Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, or Virginia Tech for short, is a university in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, in the New River Valley of western Virginia near the Appalachian Mountains. Virginia Tech is best known for its programs in agriculture, architecture, computer science, engineering, and veterinary medicine.
Virginia Tech was originally founded in 1851 as a Methodist academy called the Olin and Preston Institute. After the passage of the Morrill Act, the institution became a state-supported land grant military institute called the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1872; the modern school considers this to be its founding date. Under the 1891-1907 presidency of John M. McBryde , the school reorganized its academic programs into a traditional four-year college setup (including the renaming of the mechanics department to engineering); this led to an 1896 name change to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute. The "Agricultural and Mechanical College" section of the name was popularly omitted almost immediately, though the name was not officially changed to Virginia Polytechnic Institute until 1944 as part of a short-lived merger with what is now Radford University. VPI achieved full accreditation in 1923, and the requirement of participation in the Corps of Cadets was dropped from four years to two that same year (for men only; women, when they began enrolling in the 1920s, were never required to join).
Throughout the early 20th century, a school rivalry developed between Virginia Tech and Charlottesville's University of Virginia (founded 1819). Today, the two universities have the second and third largest student populations amongst public institutions of higher learning in the state of Virginia, respectively. The rivalry continues, both in academics and athletics .
President T. Marshall Hahn (1962-74) was responsible for many of the changes that shaped the modern institution of Virginia Tech. The merger with Radford was dissolved in 1964, and in 1966, the school dropped the two-year Corps requirement for male students (in 1973, women were allowed to join the Corps; Tech was the first school in the nation to open its military wing to women). One of Hahn's more controversial missions was only partially achieved; he had visions of renaming the school from VPI to Virginia State University, reflecting the status it had achieved as a full-fledged public research university. As part of this move, Tech would have taken over control of the state's other land-grant institution, a historically black college in Ettrick, Virginia south of Richmond then called Virginia State College; this failed, and that school eventually became Virginia State University. As a compromise, the school added "and State University" to its name in 1970, yielding the current formal name of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The new acronym of VPISU was derisively spoken as Vippy-sue by students and Hahn detractors. In the early 1990s, the school quietly authorized the official use of Virginia Tech as equivalent to the full VPI&SU name; most school documents today use the shorter name, though diplomas still spell out the formal name. Similarly, the abbreviation VT is far more common today than VPI or VPI&SU, and appears everywhere from athletic uniforms (most notably on football helmets) to the university's Internet domain vt.edu.
From 1970 for the next five years, the student population grew from about 13,500 to 22,000.
In 1994, Virginia Tech was sued by Christy Brzonkala in the Supreme Court as United States v. Morrison. Brzonkala alleged that Virginia Tech attempted to protect the football players which she accused of raping her and that Virginia Tech attempted to dissuade her from pursuing her case. The Supreme Court case centered around issues around the United States Congress's ability to make laws under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs are offered through the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the College of Architecture & Urban Studies, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Pamplin College of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Natural Resources, the College of Science, and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers the only two-year associate's degree program on campus, in agricultural technology.
The Virginia Tech campus is located within Blacksburg; the central campus is roughly bordered by Prices Fork Road to the northwest, Plantation Drive to the west, Main Street to the east, and 460-bypass to the south, though it has several thousand acres beyond the central campus. The university also has several commonwealth branch campus centers: Hampton Roads (Virginia Beach), Northern Virginia (Falls Church), Richmond, Roanoke, and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.
On the Blacksburg campus, the majority of the buildings incorporate Hokie Stone as a building material.
The school's sports teams are called the Hokies; the school's mascot is the Hokie Bird. They participate in the NCAA's Division I (I-A for football) and in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which the school joined in 2004 after leaving the Big East Conference.
The word "Hokies", which originated from the Old Hokie spirit yell, is often used interchangeably with "Fighting Gobblers" to refer to the sports team, fans, students, or alumni, although the former is the official usage. The word "Hokies" originated in the 1890s; see Hokies for more information. The mascot is the Hokie Bird, a turkey like creature. Originally the teams were known as the "Fighting Gobblers" and the turkey motif was retained despite the name change.
The stylized VT (the abbreviation for Virginia Tech) is used primarily by the athletic department as a symbol for Virginia Tech athletic teams. The "athletic VT" symbol is trademarked by the university, and appears frequently on licensed merchandise. The logo is available on the university's website .
Virginia Tech has become a major power in college football in recent years. The Hokies are one of only 6 teams to go to 11 consecutive bowl games. Head coach Frank Beamer has become one of the winningest currently active head coaches in Division I-A football (167 following the 2004 season).
In 2000, the Hokies played for the national championship at the Nokia Sugar Bowl against Florida State University. The 2002 and 2003 seasons started out well for the VT football team, but ended dissapointingly.
In 2004, all Virginia Tech athletic teams moved from the Big East Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference. After losing several top players to the NFL draft, graduation, and disciplinary action, few expected the football team to fare well. However, to the surprise of many college football viewer, the Hokies won the ACC championship and went on to play in the Nokia Sugar Bowl against Auburn University.
The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1978, is a separate institution on the same campus, paid for by the two US states of Virginia and Maryland and jointly operated by VT and the University of Maryland. VMRCVM and VT jointly operate an equine center in Leesburg, Virginia, and VMRCVM has a small operation on the University of Maryland's College Park, Maryland campus.
In 2003, a school of osteopathic medicine called the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine opened in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center , an office park adjacent to and owned and operated by the university as a local business incubator. VCOM is incorporated as a private, non-profit institution with no state interest, but is very closely affiliated with Virginia Tech on an operational level.
In 2002, a biomedical engineering program, called the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (SBES), was created as a cooperative venture between Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. SBES offers opportunities to undergraduates and grants M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biomedical engineering.
- Michael Vick
- Vernell "Bimbo" Coles -- member of the United States 1988 Olympic Basketball team; played in the National Basketball Association, ending his career with the Miami Heat
- Kevin Jones -- football running back; drafted by the Detroit Lions of the NFL
- Bruce Smith
- Antonio Freeman -- former football wide receiver
In 2003, Virginia Tech created a supercomputer which ranked as the 3rd fastest in the world. The system was made from 1100 dual processor Power Macintosh G5s and cost US$5.2 million. The supercomputer, called System X, was disassembled shortly after it was ranked in order for it to be replaced with Apple's rack-based servers which consume both less space and power.
Internet networking research is an important part of Virginia Tech's history. It has participated in Suranet, Internet2, Abilene, the Lambda Rail and other such networks. Virginia Tech also participates in the management of several key parts of the East Coast Internet including Net.Work.Virginia, and the Mid Atlantic Crossroads.
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