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CENI Newsletter — March 2022

March 2022 Newsletter

We hope you are enjoying the beginnings of spring! At CENI, we are feeling lucky to have students on campus for weekly Hokie for a Day field trips. CENI partners have developed thought-provoking and enriching programming with VT Ethics Week and Communicating Science Week. We'll kick off the CAREER grant season with a couple of Broader Impacts 101 workshops. The Center is all a-buzz with activity. Enjoy this month's newsletter, and as always, let us know how we can help.

Phyllis Newbill
Associate Director of Educational Networks

Getting to Know the Campus Engagement Network

This month's featured member is Amy Azano, an Associate Professor of Adolescent Literacy and Rural Education!

Her work brings attention to rural education, adolescent literacy, place-based pedagogy, and special populations in rural communities. Recognizing the effects of economic disadvantages of rural districts on the self-placement of students, often deprived of academic and enrichment programs due to the lack of locational resources, she strives to educate students and society. She believes in the importance of individuals thinking critically about stereotypes and geographic challenges.

Azano inspires hope in communities by changing the negative mentality of rural students, developing professionalism in educators, and continuing to be a positive leader. She received 5-years of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education to implement solutions for damaging stereotype effects, opportunity gaps, and gifted programs. She was awarded another grant for her latest work Appalachain Rural Talent Initiative. Azano is many wonderful things, including an author. Some of her works include "The Bloomsbury Handbook of Rural Education in the United States'' and "Supporting New Teachers So They Stay and Thrive in Rural Schools." Her remarkable outreach and engagement have led to several awards and honors in her name!

Upcoming Events and Deadlines


3/18: Moss Arts Center School Day Performance: Memphis Jookin': The Show Featuring Lil Buck
3/18: Moss Arts Center Keynote Speaker Elin Kelsey: Hope Matters 
3/19: ICAT Creativity + Innovation Day project and team work submissions due 
3/19: Nutshell Games
3/23: Science on Tap
3/27-4/6: 2nd Annual Ethics Week Events
3/27: A Conversation With Ms. Opal Lee: The Grandmother of Juneteenth
3/28: GALS Application due
4/1: SEE VT Application due
4/15: TechGirls Application due

A student from jumps to touch the famous Hokie Stone that every player touches before walking into the fields during a field trip for Floyd and Willis Elementary School students. CENI, partnering with the College Access Collaborative and Virginia Career View, gives 5th graders the chance to experience Hokie For A Day where they will attend a college orientation, a series of hands-on activities, lunch at D2, and a trip through the tunnel at Lane Stadium.
A student from jumps to touch the famous Hokie Stone that every player touches before walking into the fields during a field trip for Floyd and Willis Elementary School students. CENI, partnering with the College Access Collaborative and Virginia Career View, gives 5th graders the chance to experience Hokie For A Day where they will attend a college orientation, a series of hands-on activities, lunch at D2, and a trip through the tunnel at Lane Stadium.

Highlights from the Campus Engagement Network

ICAT Creativity + Innovation Day

Do you have a project to share? This is the venue for sharing ICAT-funded projects, class projects from ICAT- affiliated classes, graduate or faculty projects that span science, engineering, arts, and design. Each spring, we celebrate creativity and innovation at the convergence of science, engineering, arts and design. We are planning to hold the event in person this year on May 2, 2022. This celebration includes a day of project exhibits, a panel discussion, and an experimental computer music concert. Submit information at the project application and team member forms by March 19. Questions? Contact Phyllis Newbill (

VCE Summer Paid Internship Program 
Have an interest in possibly pursuing an Extension career? A genuine interest in people? The desire to serve others? Virginia Cooperative Extension internships is where you can explore careers in nutrition, agriculture, environmental science, natural resources, and more! Applications are due by late-March and application reviews will start March 12th. Check out the locations available here and application process here.

Summer Enrichment Experience at Virginia Tech

SEE VT is a free residential camp designed for gifted rural students on Virginia Tech's campus. Campers will engage in place-based STEM, humanities, and social activities focused on rural sustainability. Join and learn how you can be innovative and creative while exploring what makes you and your rural community special. No fees for accepted students!

Who: Rising 6th and 7th graders
When: June 26-July 1, 2022
Where: Blacksburg, VA

Apply before APRIL 1st:

Contact Info:

Girls on Outdoor Adventure for Leadership and Science

Check out this flyer for the opportunity to learn about science, backpacking, and leadership on a 7-night backpacking experience in VA! The deadline has been extended to March 28! Apply here.


TechGirls Now Hiring for Summer Positions

TechGirls connects and supports the next generation of women leaders (ages 15-17) in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a dynamic youth exchange program in the United States June-August 2022. TechGirls is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by Legacy International. TechGirls brings together 136 young women from 35 countries/territories. Looking to hire 13 women (ages 21 +) who are energetic, passionate and organized people with the ability to build community and to facilitate a fast-paced exchange program. To apply for the TechGirls’ Youth Resident Assistant/Group Leader position, go to!

Apply before April 15th. Please note U.S. citizenship or permanent residency required to apply. 

Postdoctoral Associate Position 

This opportunity allows you to design and lead the program evaluation of funded projects in agriculture and the life sciences in social science settings this summer of 2022. It also gives you the chance to develop new research skills, establish professional networking, mentor students, and more. Application review begins April 1st. Please email Tiffany Drape with any questions. The full job description is linked here.

Virginia Tech Ethics Bowl: A Case Competition

You can win up to $750 for first place team, $500 for second, and $250 for third! The competition will take place late March and early April. For more information, use this link to read about the cases, rules, and registration.

In case, you missed it . . .
VTLSS "Communicating Science: Celebrating Opportunities and Outreach" Seminar
Click this link here to watch
CENI Playdate — Connecting University Researchers to the Public Through Educational Outreach 
Click this link here to watch

CENI and CENI Partners in the News

  • David Kniola received a collaborative grant with Homero Murzi from the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment to design and test a new approach to student learning assessment in STEM. 
  • Sujith Vijayan was awarded a NSF CAREER grant to study neural dynamics during sleep. His research will uncover whether the brain's work during sleep can help people learn tasks associated with brain computer interfaces. 
  • With the help of the ICAT Major SEAD grant, Chris Valluzzo's production has been a five year and continuing process, where parts of the show will be filmed around New River Valley and campus. Valluzzo realized the lack of representation from Appalachia in the children's tv industry and created a production called "Penny P's Backyard," inspired by ICAT's concept of art meeting science and shedding light on the stereotypes of poverty in these areas.

CENI Educator Liaison Corner

Floyd County Public Schools & Roanoke Higher Education Center
The Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab is building future engineers with Floyd Country Public Schools! Sixth-graders designed products using coding and computers, Arduinos, breadboards, servos, resistors, and LEDs along with maker space materials in developing their one-of-a-kind creations. Students presented their projects and reflected upon completion.

Radford City Public Schools
The Wind Turbine Team at Virginia Tech conducted a two-day workshop for physics students at Radford High School earlier this month. The high school students learned about the wind industry and built their own model wind turbines.  A member of the class said, "They made the project fun and were also very engaging. They made me wish I were a Hokie!!! America's future in renewable energy is very bright with their hands on the wheel."

Roanoke Higher Education Center
On Thursday, March 3 rd the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center hosted a Teachers’ Night Out. An event for local educators from Blacksburg, Floyd, Radford, and Roanoke to come and experience the Thinkabit Lab for themselves firsthand.The educators were able to go through a mini lab experience where they created and programmed circuits, created designs for their own inventions using the Engineering Design Process, and built prototypes of their creations. A delicious dinner and space for wonderful collaboration and conversation was had at Cabo Fish Taco. Thank you to CENI for helping to sponsor the event!

Science Museum of Western Virginia 
Stay tuned for a new virtual reality exhibit where you can go inside the skeletal structure of a starfish. Ling Li's vision for broader impacts from his National Science Foundation CAREER grant is becoming a reality.

Broader Impacts 101

Learn about processes and support available to Virginia Tech researchers to develop and evaluate broader impact plans that help meet funding agency requirements and that are mutually beneficial to researchers and the public. The Center for Educational Networks and Impacts (CENI) housed within the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) leverages established networks of university faculty and staff who do educational outreach, as well as formal and informal educators from organizations such as preK-12 school districts, museums, maker spaces, and the Virginia Tech Science Festival. These networks help faculty share their research with public audiences in ways that benefit communities.

Date: Thursday, May 5 (Reading Day)
Time: 12:30-2:00 pm
Description: In this session, Associate Director of Broader Impacts Dr. Chelsea Lyles will share processes and support available to Virginia Tech researchers, followed by a panel that will share their experiences with successful collaborations. Contact Chelsea Haines Lyles, PhD (

Register here.