Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and nine others from Virginia Tech will participate at the annual the T-Summit 2016, taking place Monday and Tuesday in Washington, DC. President Sands will serve as the keynote speaker.  In addition, nine faculty and administrators, one graduate student, one recent graduate, and four undergraduate students will give presentations.

See video of the presentation from President Sands.

The summit brings together leaders in higher education, industry, government, foundations, and professional associations to look at educational models that produce T-shaped students and professionals. This line of research looks at an individual’s skill sets. The vertical line of the “T’ looks at an individual’s depth of knowledge in at least one discipline – in higher education, that is often a student’s major. The horizontal line of the “T” looks at an individual’s breadth and ability to collaborate across a variety of disciplines, as well as crosscutting skills such as communication, project management, and critical thinking.

In recent years, research in higher education and businesses has found “T-shaped” students and professionals are better prepared to thrive in the global marketplace, advancing their careers and the organizations who recruit them.

Sands will serve as the morning keynote speaker Tuesday, describing ways educational institutions will have to adapt to prepare students of the future. In particular, he will describe how the university is modifying the T-shaped student model to a “VT-shaped student” model, which brings in experiential and communal learning.

“We want to prepare students who can tackle the complex global problems and opportunities of the future,” said Sands. “To do that, students need to be adaptable, resilient, and culturally competent, seeing the world through the lens of empathy and our university’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).”

President Sands’ keynote will be made available on following the conclusion of the summit.  Other Virginia Tech speakers will touch on topics such as general education minors, interdisciplinary collaboration, experiential learning, “Pink Time” assignments, and T-shaped employees. Find the full schedule with presentation names and presenters on the T-Summit 2016 website.

Two faculty members who direct the Da Vinci and Curie Living-Learning Communities – Lori Blanc, assistant professor of practice in biological sciences, and Stephanie (Nikki) Lewis, post-doctoral fellow in undergraduate academic affairs, will present with four current undergraduate students and a recent graduate on “Peer to peer projects: Bringing academics to life through a community-based culture of innovative learning.” Student participants include:

  • Elizabeth Lilly, a senior majoring in biological sciences in the College of Science.
  • Christina Nelson, a sophomore majoring in wildlife conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment.
  • Francisco Ramos Mora, a junior majoring in physics in the College of Science.
  • Emily Schlake, a junior double majoring in animal and poultry sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and wildlife conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment.
  • Megan Underwood, a recent graduate with a B.S. in biological sciences and current post-baccalaureate assistant to the Curie and Da Vinci Living-Learning Communities’ directors.

The T-Summit began in 2014 as an opportunity for higher education and industry to collaborate on strategies to develop T-shaped competencies in students and employees. Michigan State University and IBM partner as leaders in this conference.

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