Spring 2010 Commencement

Publish Date: 05/19/2010

On Saturday, May 15, the Virginia Tech College of Engineering conferred degrees on the class of 2010, including approximately 75 Computer Science undergraduate majors.  Graduate degrees were conferred at the Graduate Commencement on Friday, May 14.  Prior to the College of Engineering ceremony, Computer Science graduates, their guests and families, enjoyed a reception in the Torgersen Museum.  Several students were recognized for outstanding achievements and contributions, including Jeffrey Brabant, John Edstrom and Russell Wolf for undergraduate academic achievement, John Edstrom for service to the department, and Adam Stevens as the Outstanding CS Senior.  Two graduate students were also recognized: Amine Chigani for outstanding  teaching and John Linford for outstanding research.  Thomas Carroll Jones was awarded the George Gorsline Memorial Scholarship Award, given each year to a rising senior

 For pictures and more details about the event, please scroll down.

Jeffrey Brabant was awarded a CS Scholar Award for outstanding academic achievement.  Jeff completed degrees in Computer Science and Economics, earning a 3.94 overall GPA.  Jeff was an Eagle Scout and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  He interned with IBM in Austin, Texas, and was selected for IBM’s prestigious Extreme Blue program.  While at VT, he served as Director of the VT Intramural Frisbee Club and he joined a team of other VT students to form a company called Skill-capped.

Jeff has accepted a job with IBM in Austin, Texas.  Congratulations to Jeff!


John Edstrom was awarded the CS Service Award and a CS Scholar Award.  John completed his CS degree with minors in mathematics and business.  While at VT, John served as president of ACM; Social Chair of Upsilon Pi Epsilon CS honor society; site coordinator, Vice President, and Treasurer of CS-Squared; was a member of the VT Programming Team; and was in VT Honors.  John interned for Microsoft and Optimal Satcom, worked for Sun Microsystems and was web developer for the Collegiate Times.  He also worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for the Department of Computer Science. Even with all those extracurriculars, John achieved an overall GPA of 3.96 and in-major of 3.96.  Congratulations to John!


Russell Wolf was the third student awarded a CS Scholar Award.  Russell came to VT as a transfer student.  Russell interned at Microsoft, and was awarded a CSRC Scholarship 2009 and an Investment in Excellence Scholarship.  Russell was involved in undergraduate research with Dr. Chris North.  He was awarded the Industry Rep First Place Award for his research poster presented at the VTURCS Spring 2010 Symposium. Russell earned an impressive 3.97 overall, and 3.94 in-major while at VT.  Russell is headed to Redmond after graduation to work for Microsoft.  Congratulations to Russell!


Adam Stevens was named the department's Outstanding Senior for 2010.  In addition to his degree in CS, Adam completed degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies and Psychology, and minors in mathematics and Business Leadership.  Even with this kind of challenging course load, he achieved an overall GPA of 3.495.  While at VT, Adam served as a resident hall advisor and was a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity where he served on the Executive Board Member as Sergeant at Arms.  He is a member of Psi Chi National Psychology Honors Society and is a Delta Tau Delta Kershner Scholar. Adam interned with Lockheed Martin the summer of 2009.

In addition to all the hats he wore at Virginia Tech, he is also wore the hat of Sergeant, US Army.  In fact, Adam’s education was interrupted while he completed a tour in Iraq from June 2005 through January 2007.  Adam has truly exemplified the VT motto "Ut Prosim," That I May Serve.

After graduation, Adam is headed to Durham, NC, to work for Fidelity.  Congratulations to Adam.


Amine Chigani was given the department's Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award.  Amine is a PhD student working with Dr. Osman Balci.  Amine has served as a CS Teaching Assistant for three semesters, working on three different courses and earning a perfect 5.0/5.0 evaluation from his supervising faculty member each time.  In addition, as one of our first ever College of Engineering Graduate Teaching Fellow, he served as a TA for Engineering Education classes during the Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 semesters.  Finally, Amine has served as the lead instructor for two undergraduate computer science courses.  In Spring 2009 he taught a junior level course for CS majors; and in Spring 2010 he was the lead instructor for a large Java programming service course, with enrollment over 100.

Amine is an effective and engaging lecturer, a conscientious curriculum designer, and clearly has a passion for student learning.  Congratulations to Amine!

John Linford was recognized for outstanding PhD research.  In the words of his advisor, Dr. Adrian Sandu, “John's work has pioneered the use of modern heterogeneous architectures to accelerate state-of-the-art atmospheric simulations.  He developed a software tool that automatically generates atmospheric simulation codes highly-tuned for particular architectures; the automatically generated codes are 20-40 times faster than hand-written codes and just as accurate.  He also developed a scalable method for solving finite difference approximations of mass balance equations. Significant computational time and energy savings, as well as improved weather, climate, and air quality forecasting, are direct results of John's work."  

John's accomplishments earned him a prestigious National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship; a guest researcher position at the Juelich Supercomputing Centre, in Germany; and a position with Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, which he will join after graduation.  In his five years at Virginia Tech, John published ten papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings, including several well-known and highly prestigious venues.  Congratulations to John!


Thomas Jones (T.C.) was awarded the George W. Gorsline Memorial Scholarship.  Pictured are Dr. Barbara Ryder, Anne Gorsline, and T.C. Jones.

T.C. Jones was awarded the George Gorsline Memorial Scholarship. Dr. Gorsline was the first head of the Department of Computer Science. Dr. Gorsline died in 1987, and in his memory, his wife Anne and numerous grateful alumni established the George Gorsline Memorial Scholarship. True to George's spirit, this scholarship is given each year to a rising senior who has overcome obstacles to become a successful CS major. T.C. was a freshman in 2006.  He had a pretty good start, earning mostly As and Bs, but a D+ in his first CS course, CS 1706.    TC perservered and decided to repeat the course in Spring 2007, but it was during that semester that his life took a dramatic change.

In TC’s own words, “I came to Virginia Tech as a freshman in the fall of 2006.  I knew I wanted to accomplish two things while here.  First, I wanted to be the first person in my family to get a college degree.  Second, I wanted that degree to be in Computer Science.  Ever since I was young I have been around computers.  I decided that since I was going to be working the rest of my life, I may as well be doing something that interests me, so a degree in Computer Science was the natural fit. I had to withdraw from the spring 2007 semester because I broke my neck in a snowboarding accident.  I am now a quadriplegic, which puts me in a very small minority at Virginia Tech.  I returned to Virginia Tech the following fall and began to face campus, and life, in a different way --- from a wheelchair.  Many things are different now, but my two goals remain the same.

I plan to graduate with a degree in Computer Science, as well as minors in Biology and Math.  Afterwards, I want to attend graduate school here at Virginia Tech and focus on the area of Bioinformatics.  Last summer I did research here, writing programs to recognize whole genome alignment and I really enjoyed it.  This summer I will be going to Oklahoma State to do research on a Bio Surgery Project.  We’ll be exploring the design of a virtual surgical environment.  Being in the field of Bioinformatics will give me the ability to work on real word problems.  During my career, I hope to work on projects that will help us to better understand various cancers, diseases, and the spinal cord.”

During TC’s first semester after the accident, he earned a 3.7 overall GPA, including an A in CS 1706.  He has continued his record of academic excellence, aas helped with numerous CS recruiting events, and is the student rep to the VT ADA Executive Committee.  Congratulations to T.C.!



Jeff Brabant (center) and family


Adam Stevens (center) and family


T.C. Jones and his girlfriend Allyson.


Matthew Todd Winstanley (right) and family


Brian Bruffey (center) and family


John Edstrom (third from left) and family



Anthony Pianta (back right) and family


Travis Webb (third from right) and family


John Linford (center) and friends


Russell Wolf (third from right) and family


Samah Gaad and Hussein Ahmed


Fabrice Marcelin (right) and family


James Land (front, center) and family


Youming Liang, Dr. Osman Balci, and Grant Pan


Colin Braley and friend


Elizabeth Lowry (second from left) and family


Mario Calixte (left) and his father Mario Calixte Sr.


Mark McEntee (center) and family


Sherley Codio, Benoit Bernadel, Mario Calixte, Fabrice Marcelin, and Jennifer Francois


Amine Chigani (left) and family


Robert Beatty (center) and family


Youming Liang (bottom, second from left) and family


Cecelia and Ben Scott


Colin Braley (center) and family


Ms. Terry Arthur and Brian Bruffey


Brian Widerman (right) and family


Nic Ciafardoni (right) and family


Benoit Bernadel (center) and family


Professor Bill McQuain, Dr. Cal Ribbens, and Dr. T.M. Murali


Mario Calixte, Jennifer Francois, Dr. Sean Arthur, Fabrice Marcelin, and Benoit Bernadel


Ms. Libby Bradford and Matthew Winstanley


The littlest computer scientist, Yunes Chigani, son of Amine Chigani and Jihane Nadji. 


Additional candid photos: