Institute Report December 2013

Virginia Military Institute Newsletter, Volume XLII, Number IV, December 2013

Cadet Mentors Cadet in VMI Chemistry Lab B y C hris F loyd

“Dr. T. approached me earlier this semester and asked me if I was interested in research,” Kirchon said. “I thought it would be great to learn from him and to learn from Abe. So far I have learned a lot.” “You can see that he is starting to become interested in the project also,” Timmons said of the younger cadet. “That is exactly what I am looking for.”

Learning how to be a leader is a daily part of a cadet’s life. Cadets are drilled in leadership in the classroom and on the Parade Ground. Extending that training into the chemistry lab is the goal of Col. Daren Timmons, chemistry department head, whose laboratory has become a training ground for future leaders. “At VMI, leadership is really the foundation of what we try to do,” said Timmons. “[The cadets] get a lot of leadership opportunities through the military and in the class system, but we also provide that here in the chemistry department.” Abraham Jordan ’14 and Angelo

While there are any number of cadets who spend extra time in the chemistry lab, many to complete their research requirements or to work on the senior thesis, there are only a few who make the chemistry lab a part of their everyday lives. “Every year you get one or two people that we just can’t get out of the lab,” said Timmons.

Cadets Angelo Kirchon ’16 (left) and Abraham Jordan ’14 meet with Col. Daren Timmons in the chemistry lab. – VMI Photo by H. Lockwood McLaughlin.

Kirchon ’16 are the beneficiaries of that training. Jordan, who has been working as a laboratory assistant with Timmons for more than three years, has taken on the leadership mantel, charged with the duty of guiding Kirchon in the day-to-day operation of the laboratory. “While my senior student, Abe, is learning about chemistry, he is also now taking over the training of a younger student,” Timmons said. “That’s part of completing his training as a scientist, part of completing his training as a leader. He’s not only taking responsibility for chemistry, but he’s taking responsibility for the young chemist also.” Jordan has worked in Timmons’ lab for more than three years, moving in as an assistant during the summer after his rat year. The 1st Class cadet has become adept at finding his way around the lab and is an integral part of Timmons’ research into liquid crystals. He even helped write a paper that has been submitted for publication in an international journal. In mid-November, Jordan accompanied Timmons to a conference in Atlanta to present their findings. That kind of expertise and dedication made him the perfect candidate to groom his replacement. “I guess the termmentor would be accurate,” said Jordan as he described his work with the younger cadet. “I’m teaching him how the lab works, what to do and what not to do. And hopefully I’m helping him learn to figure out problems on his own.” So far, so good. Timmons noted that Kirchon has become a big part of the research discussions, and the 3rd Class cadet was along for the ride when the VMI contingent attended the conference in Atlanta.

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Holiday Dinner Tommy Lewis carves and serves turkey to Cadet Patrick de la Cruz ’15 during the annual Thanksgiving dinner in Crozet Hall Nov. 19. Holiday favorites served on a special buffet line extending out into the seating area with carving stations for the meats, and festive touches such as linens and sparkling cider, made the meal unique. – VMI Photo by Kevin Remington.

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