Students recharge in the Energy Pod

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Blacksburg, Va., May 3 – Energy Pod: Hokie Wellness released a new energy pod at Squires Student Center as a part of their Hokies Sleep Well campaign. The energy pod allows students to recharge with a 20-minute power nap as they prepare for their finals. Photo: Johnny Kraft

by Johnny Kraft, Anna Friesen–

Hokie Wellness launched the Hokies Sleep Well campaign by releasing an energy pod at Squires Student Center. The energy pod allows students to take a quick 20-minute power nap to recharge their battery and finish the semester strong.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, college students need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. However, research shows that on average most college students get only six to seven hours of sleep per night, and the college years are notoriously sleep-deprived due to an overload of activities, which negatively affects academic performance, according to the University Health Center at the University of Georgia.

The Student Government Association (SGA) health and wellness team at Virginia Tech came up with the idea for the Hokies Sleep Well campaign. They wanted to focus on one health issue and landed on sleep, as it is the first thing to go for college students.

“It’s not really a priority and it’s almost a badge of honor if you don’t sleep, so we wanted to change the narrative of that a little bit,” said SGA co-director of health and wellness, Anna Pike.

The energy pod allows students to sit, sleep, adjust seat tilt and play relaxing music to refresh with a quick power nap to help balance the end of semester stress.

According to Pike, the energy pod was to get attention, but their campaign also included signs on the Drillfield with different sleep deprivation facts such as how memory attention goes down by 40 percent as well as handing out ENO hammocks to any students that would listen to the information they had.

“Even 20 minutes is equivalent to having a couple of cups of coffee, you might even just need to rest your eyes, so the nap pod is good if you can’t fit in a full night sleep just to rejuvenate you and get you back into a full state of mind,” said Pike.

While it is impossible to measure if the campaign has led to students sleeping more, the energy pod has been a huge hit garnering a lot of excitement around it from students. Hokie Wellness released a video introducing the energy pod that has over 20,000 views and has been shared multiple times demonstrating the positive feedback from students.

While the energy pod is in Squires for a limited time, Hokie Wellness expects to get four more pods soon.

Algorithm to fight cyberbullying

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Blacksburg, Va., April 20 – Professor Bert Huang: Huang continues his research on algorithms to detect cyberbullying. His tool is only about halfway complete as he looks to take it to the next level of preventing cyberbullying. Photo: Johnny Kraft

by Johnny Kraft–

Cyberbullying is quickly developing into one of the most popular forms of bullying as social media and technology can be used as a weapon 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech has built his own weapon in the battle against cyberbullying.

Professor Bert Huang has developed an algorithm to detect traces of cyberbullying. Huang is an assistant professor in the Virginia Tech Department of Computer Science, where he is using his knowledge of machine learning to develop algorithms to combat cyberbullying.

According to bullying statistics, about half of adolescents experience some form of cyberbullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly. However, Huang has found in his research that adults experience cyberbullying more frequently than people realize, and that men experience about the same amount of cyberbullying as women, although they are much different forms of cyberbullying.

Huang developed computer algorithms to identify cyberbullying automatically by using machine learning, which is a type of artificial intelligence that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.

“We have to provide information as human experts for the machine-learning algorithm to learn from where these are explicit examples of here’s something that I am looking and here’s something that I’m not looking for,” said Huang. “So in this case, it would be here’s an example of cyberbullying and here’s an example of not cyberbullying. Doing that is really expensive and takes a lot of human effort, and is really tricky for humans to do.”

According to DoSomething.org, 81 percent of teens believe cyberbullying is easier to get away with than bullying in person. Right now, the algorithm can only detect traces of cyberbullying, but Huang’s challenge is to eventually find a way to prevent cyberbullying after detection. Huang acknowledged this as the biggest obstacle and focus of his research.

“That’s the goal. There’s a big open problem beyond the detection task. So once you detect it, what do you do?” said Huang.

The algorithm is still developing, as it is not completely accurate yet. Huang hopes to keep evolving his weapon, as a practical tool for social media and other Internet users in the future, but the next step is not completely clear.

“There’s a big question of what you do if you actually detect cyberbullying. This is a problem that we as humans have not solved,” said Huang. “How you intervene and how you fix that problem is not obvious, so getting a computer to do that is an even harder problem.”

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Blacksburg, Va., Virginia Tech Assistant Professor Bert Huang built an algorithm to detect traces of cyberbullying. Photo: berthuang.com

Intramural sports: Big difference, similar impact

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Blacksburg, Va., Feb. 23 – Intramural Basketball: Virginia Tech students compete in an CoRec intramural basketball game at War Memorial Hall. Photo: Johnny Kraft

 

by Johnny Kraft–

While intramural sports differ from official collegiate sports, they have a similar impact on the Virginia Tech community. Sports are an important aspect of the college experience at Virginia Tech, but many do not realize that also includes intramurals.

The intramural sports program at Virginia Tech serves over 8,500 students, faculty and staff every year, according to Intramural Sports Coordinator, Jeff Feldhaus. The program offers over 40 activities throughout the year including flag football, soccer and basketball as well as non-traditional sports such as inner tube water polo and battleship.

The biggest difference between intramural sports and varsity sports is that it is not about wins and losses. It is an inclusive, social experience emphasizing having fun, sportsmanship and making new friends by playing your favorite sports regardless of skill level.

“Intramural sports differ from varsity athletics in that our mission is to provide recreational opportunities for participants of all skill levels,” said Feldhaus. “We strive to get people engaged in exercise and sport-related activities that promote teamwork, leadership and build healthy lifestyles.”

Each year, teams and organizations join in the quest for the Hokie Grail, awarded annually to the All-University Intramural Champion based on a point system. It gives certain groups such as fraternities and sororities a chance to compete and earn points by participating in intramural activities over the course of the entire year, according to Feldhaus. In short, a group earns points by participating, displaying good sportsmanship, etc. and their points are tallied throughout the year so an overall champion can be determined similar to the Olympic medal count.

According to the Department of Recreational Sports, intramural sports enhances the quality of life for the university community by educating and encouraging participation in activities that promote healthy lifestyles, social interactions and leadership skills.

Intramural sports are a big reason why Virginia Tech has been named no. 1 fittest college, no. 1 best quality of life and no. 1 in their students love these colleges by The Princeton Review. According to Feldhaus, a survey from a few years ago, in which alumni were polled, showed that intramurals were one of their top three favorite things about going to school at Virginia Tech, behind only academics and athletic events.

In addition, the intramural and recreational sports programs at Virginia Tech take pride in serving the community in the spirit of Ut Prosim. Every year, student employees volunteer for a number of activities that serve the campus and local communities including Hokie Helpers and the Southwest Virginia Special Olympics Basketball Tournament.

These programs hope to continue to grow and serve the Virginia Tech community as an atmosphere that encourages individuals to develop life-long involvement in recreational activities and are dedicated to meeting the changing needs of a diverse community by offering quality structured and informal recreational opportunities.

“One of our goals for the intramural program is to increase the number of people we serve until we hit the 10,000-member mark,” said Feldhaus. “Additionally, many of our recreational sports programs will continue to pursue avenues for promoting health and wellness, not only on campus but in the local community.”

Hokies make statement with 2017 recruiting class

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Blacksburg, Va., Feb. 2 – Lane Stadium Video Scoreboard: Virginia Tech’s 2017 recruiting class came to Blacksburg to play at historic Lane Stadium, the home of the Hokies. Lane Stadium’s atmosphere is one of the many reasons players want to play at Virginia Tech. Photo: Johnny Kraft

by Johnny Kraft–

Coach Justin Fuente and his staff made a statement with Virginia Tech’s 2017 recruiting class. The 2016 ACC coach of the year welcomes 27 new players following his first full recruiting cycle as leader of the Hokies.

Fuente built off his impressive debut season in Blacksburg by signing Virginia Tech’s highest-ranked class in four years. According to USA TODAY High School Sports, the Hokies’ inked a consensus top 25 recruiting class. The full year made a huge difference for Fuente’s staff.

“Last year was speed dating trying to get to know people. This is much more calculated. I probably shouldn’t use that term. I’m much more comfortable because I been around these guys and their families a lot more,” said Fuente at his National Signing Day press conference. “As a class, I have been able to spend a lot more time with these kids and their families. I was able to teach them about Virginia Tech and what Virginia Tech can do for them.”

Virginia Tech prioritizes in-state recruits by keeping them home. This recruiting class is highlighted by three recruits ranked in the state’s top 10 led by prized defensive back Devon Hunter. The other two top in-state recruits are defensive end TyJuan Garbutt and linebacker Dylan Rivers, who flipped his commitment from Penn State in January. This is the first time since 2012 Virginia Tech has signed more than two of Virginia’s top 10 players.

“It’s extremely important. We want the rest of the country to know they’re in for a battle if they’re coming into the state of Virginia,” said Director of Recruiting Operations, Thomas Guerry about in-state recruiting.  “This state is our top priority and we’re going after the in-state guys first and foremost.”

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Click the image to view the full version of the infographic breaking down Virginia Tech’s 2017 recruiting class

Tech has nine early enrollees this semester to participate in spring practice. The nine Hokies currently enrolled are: quarterbacks Hendon Hooker and junior college transfer AJ Bush, athletes Caleb Farley and Terius Wheatley, wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton, tight end Dalton Keene, offensive lineman Silas Dzansi, linebacker Rico Kearney and Australian punter Oscar Bradburn.

“I think the most important detail about this class is the fact that we were able to early enroll nine of these guys. This day in age, it’s so crucial to get these young guys in a semester early and have them develop in the weight room, at the training table with their meals and obviously on the field during spring ball,” said Guerry about the early enrollees. “At the quarterback position, for example, we are going to get to watch all of our quarterbacks compete for 15 practices, which will largely determine where we are headed into fall camp.”

Fuente’s biggest challenge is replacing the offense’s best weapons with receivers Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges as well as quarterback Jerod Evans all leaving for the NFL. However, Fuente is well equipped with many young weapons.

While Virginia Tech welcomes one of the most talented recruiting classes in school history, the Hokies know all of this is meaningless unless they prove it on the field with wins.

“I don’t think it says anything until we produce on the field. There are highs and lows in this industry, especially in recruiting. And it carries over to wins and losses,” said Guerry. “The key is to never get too high and never get too low, always take each challenge as it comes and we’ll be the best we can be. We need to win and keep the momentum going.”

Digital News Delivery: Trump and Twitter


Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

by Johnny Kraft and Becky Shumar

President Donald Trump’s use of Twitter is changing the way Americans get their news. While it gives the American people a personal connection with their president, it has also brought a fair share of controversy and backlash for our new president.

Twitter allows Donald Trump to communicate directly with the people on his own terms rather than through traditional media, similar to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats in the 1930s. However, this has its pros and cons as Trump’s brutally honest, but unfiltered tweets can be seen as inappropriate and controversial.

President Trump is held to a different standard than almost anyone in the world as everything he says or does will be analyzed and judged by the public. That is why his unfiltered tweets can, not only lead to issues for him, but also the country he runs.

This trend has started to spread to other nation’s leaders as last week Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced on Twitter that he would not attend the meeting scheduled with President Trump on January 31.

So while Trump is changing the game with his use of twitter, it is his twitter game that may have to change if he wants to avoid more controversy as president of the United States of America.