Front (from left): Brian Alderson, DATC Director; Dr. Jerry Wallace, DCC President; Back (from left): Dr. Cornelius Johnson, VP of Academic Affairs and Student Services; Chad Younger, Workforce Career Coach; Cheryl Terry, Dean of Workforce Services. Courtesy of DCC.
Front (from left): Brian Alderson, DATC Director; Dr. Jerry Wallace, DCC President; Back (from left): Dr. Cornelius Johnson, VP of Academic Affairs and Student Services; Chad Younger, Workforce Career Coach; Cheryl Terry, Dean of Workforce Services. Courtesy of DCC.

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Danville Community College adds Advanced EMT program

Danville Community College, in partnership with the Danville Area Training Center (DATC), will begin offering an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Program to the community, in addition to its standard EMT Program offerings.

DCC and DATC held a signing on December 13 to formalize the agreement and kick off the new program.

Two-thirds of the $3,201 tuition cost for these programs is covered for Virginia residents under the FastForward Program.

The tuition fee includes all textbooks, materials, and credentialing exam fees. With 2/3 covered, Virginia residents can complete the Advanced EMT program for only $1,055 total. DCC also assists students who meet certain income requirements with the remaining amount, further reducing the cost, according to a release from the school.

The Advanced EMT Program is 180 hours in length, meeting weekly on Monday and Wednesday until completion. Individuals who would like to obtain their Advanced EMT certification must first complete the EMT Program.

For more information about the EMT and Advanced EMT Programs through DCC at the Danville Area Training Center, call Brian Alderson at 434-792-1871.

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Lifu Huang (from left), assistant professor of computer science and faculty at the Sanghani Center, is advising a team of Ph.D. students — Minqian Liu, Ying Shen, Zhiyang Xu, and Barry Yao — competing in the Alexa Prize SocialBot Grand Challenge 5 sponsored by Amazon.com Services LLC. Photo by Jingyuan Qi.

Four Tech grad students take part in Amazon’s Alexa challenge

A team of four graduate students at Virginia Tech’s Sanghani Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics is one of nine international university teams selected to compete in the Alexa Prize SocialBot Grand Challenge 5 sponsored by Amazon.com Services LLC.

Each team received a $250,000 prize to build a skill that can help Alexa converse with users on popular topics and current events for at least 20 minutes while achieving a user rating of at least 4.0/5.0. 

Lifu Huang, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and faculty at the Sanghani Center, serves as advisor to the Virginia Tech team that will build a HokieBot that integrates functions ranging from everyday chit-chat to answering both open-domain and domain-specific questions to provide a seamless user experience, similar to chatting with real humans.

The four computer science Ph.D. students working on HokieBot are: Ying Shen, who is serving as team leader, and Minqian LiuZhiyang Xu, and Barry Menglong Yao

The Alexa Prize SocialBot Grand Challenge 5 began on Nov. 14 and final results will be announced in August.

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Virginia Tech to join drone research consortium

Virginia Tech has been invited to join a consortium of universities to lead research that will help guide the safe integration of uncrewed aerial systems (UAS), or drones, into the national and international transportation infrastructure. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence, or ASSURE, is a research powerhouse that comprises 26 U.S. and global universities and more than 100 partners across industry and government. The FAA leverages the talents of this alliance to conduct critical research needed for drone integration efforts.

Virginia Tech is of seven FAA-designated drone test sites.

Virginia Tech’s membership was announced at an event hosted by the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, where researchers from the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences had the opportunity to discuss their drone-related projects with ASSURE leadership.

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Youngkin’s budget amendments include research funding at UVA Wise

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has promised $500,000 for research at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, according to a release from the school.

The amendments to the state’s two-year budget that the governor presented last week include $500,000 investment for UVA Wise “to investigate expanding research work into areas that will positively impact the region, which may include translational medicine, sustainable solutions and applied neuroscience,” the school said.

A total of $300,000 was also proposed to enable the College to assist with the significant teacher shortage in the region and across the state as well as increase science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.