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CENI Newsletter — February 2022

February 2022 Newsletter

CENI and the members of our Campus Engagement Network have much to be proud of this month! Wonderful and meaningful outreach experiences are happening in the New River Valley and beyond, and continue to be supported by the relationships built through the network. Read on to learn more about one of our members, Jake Grohs, the amazing research and educational outreach collaborations happening around the network, and meet CENI's new student employees and interns! 

Chelsea Lyles
Associate Director of Broader Impacts

Getting to Know the Campus Engagement Network

This month’s featured member is Dr. Jake Grohs, an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education and Assistant Department Head of Graduate Programs.

The future is full of new opportunities for engineers, however, many students do not consider careers in engineering. Grohs has spent the past couple of years on a mission to understand educational environments and install positive impact in this field. Recently, the National Science Foundation awarded him a grant to continue his hard work towards the progression of science and engineering. 
He focuses his efforts on collaborating with students, educators, and the industry to stimulate sustained engineering activities. In addition to cultivating an appreciation of engineer work, he aims to provide access to underrepresented and rural youth. He obtained an M.S. in Engineering Science & Mechanics at Virginia Tech in 2009. Then, he went on to earn his M.A.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction in 2012 and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in 2015. His extensive background and research have led to several awards, such as K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award, VT Engage Faculty Fellow, and Charles “Butch” and Joan Nunnally for Outstanding Engineering Education Faculty Member Award.  
It is the small changes that spark big influences. We thank Grohs for his outstanding service to our communities!


Congratulations to CENI's own Chelsea Lyles for being recognized by ACPA-Student Affairs Educators International's Coalition for Women's Identities!

Upcoming Events and Deadlines

CENI and CENI Partners in the News

  • Jamie Little was recognized by the Glencoe Mansion, Museum & Gallery - view
  • Hokie BugFest on the Go Created to provide entomology experience to local schoolkids 
  • Science fair has a different twist- elementary students are the judges - view
  • A star in the world of ceramic engineering - read

Highlights from the Campus Engagement

Virginia Tech Maker Camp (looking for volunteers)
Maker Camp teaches middle-school aged campers skills in 3D printing, creative reuse, coding and circuitry, and collaborative process. Campers will spend 4 days learning, designing, and building. By the end of the week, they will showcase what they have made. We are hoping to hild camp in-person this year and need more volunteers so that the campers can be spread out more throughout the week. If you would be interested in helping, please fill out the good form link here. Learn more on our website

Youth Protection Training
Please remember to contact Tim Miles ( if you have any concerns about navigating the compliance chart to determine if your program, activity, or event needs Youth Protection training and whether background checks are needed for adults participating. 

Virginia Tech Life Science Seminar Series 
Join us in the Fralin Auditorium and via Zoom on February 18 for "Communicating Science: Celebrating Opportunities and Outreach". Come learn about exciting outreach and community engagement projects and opportunities for sharing your research with the world! You'll be introduced to the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity, Hokie for a Day, the Center for Communicating Science, the Science Festival, Kids Tech University, the Virginia Scientist-Community Interface, faculty and graduate student outreach projects, and more in this fun and inspiring series of flash talks on communicating science. This seminar was organized by Carrie Kroehler and features Phyllis Newbill and several other members of the Campus Engagement Network. Be sure to check out the Life Science Seminars schedule for Spring 2022. 

Engaged Research and Practice in Rural Spaces: Centering Ethics, Equity, and Justice
Join the AERA Rural Education SIG and the National Rural Education Association for its second webinar series on equity and justice in rural education. Click here for the zoom link. Contact Amy Azano ( for more information.  

Communicating Science Week
The mission of the Center for Communication Science is to create and support experiences for scientists, engineers, scholars, and health professionals to build muscles of connection, communication, and collaboration. We aim to help researchers make their communication more personal, direct, spontaneous, and responsive. Below is the list of all events scheduled thus far, with full details for each event available on our Communicating Science Week webpage.

Please join us at our Communicating Science Week events–we’re looking forward to meeting you!

March 16
Workshop: “Distilling Your Research Message” 
SciArt Collaboration: “Invasive Exegesis: Shedding Light on the Impacts of Invasive Plants in Appalachia” 
SciArt Collaboration: “Discover Chub – Builders of Deerfield Trail” 
Talk: “Oyster City AR: The Past, Present and Future of Oysters in NYC’s Harbor.” 

March 17
SciArt Collaboration: “From Ping Pong to Community Wealth & Collaboration” 
Workshop: “Communicating Science for Watershed Assessment, Management, and Policy” 
SciArt Collaboration: “Artistic Exploration of Children’s Cognitive Development: Who Can Be a Scientist?” 
SciArt Collaboration: “The Urgent Marvels of Coastal Science Exhibition” 

March 18
ICAT Play Date: “SciArt Fusion: Discoveries from Experiments in SciArt Collaboration,” 
SciArt Collaboration: “Thinking Like an Aspen: Enhancing Resiliency Through Transnational Coalitions” 
Developmental Psychology Brown Bag: “Communicating Science and Identity” 
SciArt Collaboration: “Building Personal Resilience for Engineers Through Dance Training” 
Keynote Talk: “Hope Matters: Why Overcoming Doom and Gloom Is Essential to Achieving Climate Justice” 

March 19
ComSciCon-VA Tech 2022
Storytime for Children: “We Are Stardust” 
Nutshell Games

March 21
Workshop: “How to Communicate Science in Your Job Search” 

March 23
Science on Tap: “Science! Music! Art! On Tap!”

CENI Educator Liaison Corner

Floyd County Public Schools

Resources purchased with funds from the Advancing Computer Science in Education grant have been distributed and are in use at each elementary school. Partners in the ASCE grant include CENI, the Science Museum of Western Virginia, and University Libraries. Students from Dr. Chelsea Lyles’ ENGE 2984: SS: Service Learning and Beyond classes have also provided pivotal outreach to classes

FES third graders used the Dash robot in "Fraction Street", a lesson that supports student collaboration and creativity while  mapping out landmarks with fractions, measurement, and coding. 

Radford City Public Schools

Craig Arthur, with University Libraries and #VTDITC,
holds a recording workshop with RHS Bobcat Studio
Club (hip hop club) members and other interested

Roanoke Higher Education Center

Teachers' Night Out at the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center

Join us Thursday, March 3, for a fun evening in the Thinkabit Lab! You will get a chance to experience a “day” in the lab, learning about career exploration, programming, and building a prototype for an invention to help change the world! Afterwards gather with fellow educators over a [free] dinner at Cabo Fish Taco, a local restaurant in Roanoke. The event is free and there is an opportunity to earn Teacher certification credit. Parking will be provided in the student parking lots and passes will be emailed before the event.

Date: Thursday, March 3, 2022
Time: 4:30 - 6:30 pm Thinkabit Lab; 7:00 - 8:00 pm Teacher get together at Cabo Fish Taco
Location: Virginia Tech Roanoke Center; 108 N. Jefferson St. room 717; Roanoke VA 24015
Contact: Donald Pizzullo,

Register here:

Co-sponsored by the Center for Educational Networks and Impacts at Virginia Tech.  

Science Museum Of Western Virginia 

Read more about the research of Virginia Tech Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Ling Li. Li is collaborating with the Science Museum of Western Virginia to build an exhibit about the geometry of starfish skeletons.


Meet the CENI Student Employees and Interns

Hi, my name is Jennifer Huang. I am a sophomore majoring in Marketing and minoring in Event and Experience Management. I am so excited to have the opportunity to be a CENI Marketing & Communications Intern this semester. I love the work we do here and the values we stand for. CENI is a genuine environment where student interns like me can grow and learn to be future leaders someday. I spend my free time learning, traveling, and photographing life. After graduation, I hope to enter the International Marketing and Business field.

Hi, my name is Kalilah Kroll, and I am a junior majoring in Business Information Technology with a minor in Visual Arts. I am looking forward to working with CENI as a Marketing and Communication Assistant. I hope to contribute to CENI by offering support and assistance to the other members of CENI, as well as helping bring more awareness and engagement to the events and programs that CENI holds. In my free time I enjoy taking photos, videos, and creating art. In the future, I aspire to work in the fields of videography, cybersecurity, or graphic design.

My name is Emily Burns and I am a third-year doctoral student in Higher Education. I am excited for the research experience I will gain while working at CENI. My research interests relate to the social experiences of disabled college students both within and outside of the classroom. I am also interested in the sense of belonging and service-learning research I will support while working at CENI. My prior research experience includes qualitative data analysis for strategic planning purposes. I also have some experience as an instructor of record and I worked as an accessibility specialist for disabled college students for over a decade. My hope is to serve as a professor of practice in Disability Studies or become a director of a Disability Cultural Center after graduation.

My name is TJ Koonce and I am a first-year in the Engineering Education PhD program. I went to Virginia Tech for my undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering and I worked with the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) as a GTA for my first semester. I will be working for CENI as a GRA  for data analysis on interviews and a sense of belonging as part of the RED Grant. I am excited to work with CENI because my research as a grad student will look at outreach and support of Appalachian college students and this department has so many great programs in these areas. After the completion of my PhD, I hope to become a professor for first-year engineering and coding courses at the collegiate level.