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A $2 million gift - $1 million from alumnus William E. Lobeck and $1 million from an anonymous donor - has established an endowed chair in advanced engineering environments in the College of Engineering and Technology at Old Dominion University. Ahmed K. Noor, director of Old Dominion's Center for Advanced Engineering Environments, eminent scholar and professor of aerospace engineering, has been named to the chair, according to Acting Provost David Hager.

"Old Dominion University's position as a world leader in modeling, simulation, visualization and virtual collaborative environments will be further asserted through this chair," said William Swart, dean of the College of Engineering and Technology. "With it, the Center for Advanced Engineering Environments, together with the college's other enterprise centers, will be able to continue and enhance the university's long tradition of serving the research requirements of NASA and Langley Research Center."

The William E. Lobeck Chair will have an emphasis in aerospace research and will support partnerships with NASA as well as additional initiatives, specifically those encouraging entrepreneurial efforts and partnerships.

The chair will complement existing centers, initiatives and world-class researchers in elevating advanced engineering environments as a new way to deliver and teach engineering. In addition to six enterprise centers of the College of Engineering and Technology, the university has the largest education-based super computer in Virginia; three acclaimed "Caves" for three-dimensional virtual modeling; and an $18 million, state-of-the-art facility for engineering and computational sciences scheduled to open in 2003. Additionally, Old Dominion is collaborating on the creation of a broadband, high-speed computer grid that will link research and computing capabilities from Richmond to Virginia Beach. This grid will enable supercomputing capabilities from various education and government facilities to be linked into a major, shared resource.

"I am extremely pleased by the decision of Old Dominion to create an endowed chair in advanced engineering environments and that Dr. Noor has been named to it," said Samuel Venneri, associate administrator for aerospace
technology at NASA. "We are entering an era that will see a revolution in the development and implementation of engineering processes and practices, including how we educate the future generation of engineers. Old Dominion is making a long-term commitment to be a leader in this transformation. This is of great importance to NASA and, I believe, to the nation."

Jeremiah F. Creedon, director of NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., said Noor's appointment illustrates that technology development in the region is a collaborative effort among industry, academia and government.

"Working together we can make great things happen," he said, "and we are very happy that Dr. Noor is an integral part of it."

The chair was established, in part, by a gift from the Lobeck-Taylor Foundation. Lobeck, a native of Virginia Beach, is a 1963 graduate of Old Dominion and a longtime car rental industry executive. He and his wife, Kathy Taylor, formed the foundation to support education and social causes. In 1999, the couple received the Batten Award from Old Dominion, which recognizes philanthropists who have benefited the university in a significant way through financial support.

The William E. Lobeck Chair is the first endowed chair in the College of Engineering and Technology and the fourth at Old Dominion, which also has 17 endowed professorships.

This article was posted on: May 3, 2002

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