John E. Taylor, associate professor in the Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program in the College of Engineering, has received the university's 2013 XCaliber Award for excellence as an individual involved in teaching with technology.

Established in 1996 by Office of the Provost, the XCaliber Award (shorthand for exceptional, high-caliber work) is presented annually by the Virginia Tech Center for Innovation in Learning to recognize individual faculty members or teams of faculty and staff who integrate technology in teaching and learning. The award celebrates innovative, student-centered approaches to learning activities.

As part of the course, the CyberGRID virtual learning environment allowed students to interact directly with international scholars whose academic journal papers they were reading for the course. They used real-world case studies and participated in a semester-long team project that involved collaboration with student teams from India, the Netherlands, and the United States via CyberGRID.

Even though the project used advanced modeling and simulation software, the main purpose was to give students an opportunity to increase their understanding of a global project and in particular, global virtual project execution. The overall project focused on identifying critical bottlenecks before they occurred and addressing them through interventions. 

At the end of the course, teams prepared a presentation, which they delivered as a globally distributed team in the CyberGRID with industry representatives present.

“CyberGRID does well to teach students to work in a global virtual environment,” said former student  Milad Memarzadeh. “Collaboration and teamwork eased conflicts and issues that often arise when working in a distributed network and prepared us to be future leaders.”

Taylor’s citation states, “Professor Taylor has created a learning environment that replicates the skills and competencies engineers need in the 21st century. His CyberGRID provides students with an environment for developing collaborative and innovative strategies to address distributed design problem-solving in a global context.”

“The CyberGRID has been a highly productive and integrated teaching and research endeavor that would not have been possible without funding from the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation or my colleagues here at Virginia Tech, the University of Washington Seattle, the Helsinki University of Technology, and the Indian Institute of Technology,” Taylor said.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 2011, Taylor is also director of the Civil Engineering Network Dynamics Lab.

He received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Tulane University, a second master’s degree from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and his Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Written by Catherine Doss.