At its June meeting, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors confirmed the appointment of Stephen Edwards, associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, as the W.S. "Pete" White Chair for Innovation in Engineering Education.

The W.S. "Pete" White Chair for Innovation in Engineering Education was established by American Electric Power to honor Pete White, a 1948 graduate of Virginia Tech, and to encourage new interest in the teaching of engineering and improve the learning process. Recipients hold the chair for a period of two years.

Edwards' colleagues in the computer science department submitted the recommendation on his behalf. Cal Ribbens, the department's associate head for undergraduate studies, cited Edwards as "easily one of the most innovative and energetic faculty members I have known in my 25 years at Virginia Tech."

Edwards "is clearly the leader in educational innovation in our department," leading at least two efforts of curriculum reform and revision within computer science in the past 10 years, said Barbara Ryder, head of the department and the J. Myron Maupin Professor of Engineering.

Some 68 separate institutions have adopted Edwards' most prominent educational project called the Web-based Center for Automated Testing or Web-CAT. It is the most widely-used open-source grading tool of its kind in the world, with nearly 10,000 users, according to Lenwood Heath, professor and chair of the honorifics committee for the computer science department.

"Web-CAT provides rapid, directed comments on student work, encourages students to write software tests for their own work, and empowers students with the responsibility of demonstrating the correctness and validity of their own programs," Heath added.

The National Science Foundation supported the development of Web-CAT.

Edwards was also one of the key developers of CloudSpace, an innovative Web 2.0 application environment for student programming projects. CloudSpace "allows students to create Facebook-like Web applications, using the basic concepts they learned in their first programming course, to create solutions to real-world problems that are relevant in a student's life," Heath explained. "The students have more creative control and more flexibility in the solutions they create," and they are using real-world problems that are relevant in their lives.

Edwards was the 2006 XCaliber Award recipient at Virginia Tech for his exceptional, high caliber contributions to courseware development. He also received the W.S. "Pete" White Innovation in Engineering Education award in 2003.

He has participated in 21 funded grant projects valued at some $4.2 million, 38 percent of which is focused on educational research. Of the 21 projects, 14 are aimed on research and dissemination of innovative teaching approaches.

Edwards received his bachelor's degree from the California Institute of Technology and a master's degree and Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

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