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October 1, 2013

The Virginia Museum of Natural History is hosting two science-themed presentations free to the public on October 10 and 14, with guest speakers from the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University.  Dr. Bernard Means of VCU will present "Adventures into the (Virtual) Unknown: 3D Laser Scanning and America's Past" on Thursday, October 10 from 6 to 7 p.m., while Dr. Larry Richards of UVA will present “Engineering Greats” on Monday, October 14, also from 6 to 7 p.m.

"Adventures into the (Virtual) Unknown: 3D Laser Scanning and America's Past” will focus on how technology and 3D laser scanning has helped advance the fields of anthropology and archaeology over recent years.  The presentation will be conducted by Dr. Bernard Means, instructor of anthropology at VCU, who has completed extensive 3D scanning work at the museum in recent months.

“Engineering Greats” will highlight the contributions of engineering professionals that have shaped the world we know today.  Dr. Larry Richards, who serves as professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Virginia, will conduct the presentation, which is geared towards both adults and students, especially students at the high school level and above.

Each presentation will take place in the museum’s Walker Lecture Hall and each is free to the public thanks to generous donations to the VMNH Foundation Discovery Fund.  For more information about these events, visit www.vmnh.net or email information@vmnh.virginia.gov.  

About Dr. Bernard Means

Dr. Bernard K. Means has a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in Physics from Occidental College, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Arizona State University. His dissertation research involved applying new theories and cutting-edge technologies to American Indian village sites from southwestern Pennsylvania, many excavated during the 1930s by New Deal archaeologists.  Means's scholarly pursuits include reconstructing American Indian village life from cross-cultural studies of village spatial and social organizations, the research potential of archaeological collections, applications of accelerator mass spectrometry dating to developing new chronological frameworks in southwestern Pennsylvania and northwestern Virginia, archaeological investigations of the Monongahela Tradition, directional statistics and analysis of mortuary and other archaeological data, and, the history of New Deal archaeology in Pennsylvania and across America.

About Dr. Larry Richards

Richards is a professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Virginia.  He came to UVA in 1969, joined the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1976, and moved to mechanical and aerospace engineering in 1985 to develop and administer the manufacturing systems engineering program.  He served as director of the program from 1986 to 2002, and director of the A. H. Small Center for Computer Aided Engineering from 1992 to 2002.  Richards now teaches courses on creativity and new product development, invention and design, and graduate probability and statistics for engineers and scientists.  He regularly offers courses via distance education through the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering program.

For the past 12 years, Richards has brought Engineering Teaching Kits into middle school science and math classes through the Virginia Middle School Engineering Education Initiative.  These kits introduce the engineering design approach to problem solving, and teach key science and math concepts using guided inquiry.  The kits have been developed on over 50 topics, including submersible vehicles, solar cars, heat transfer, building bridges, catapults and projectile motion, water filtration systems, electricity and magnetism, crash testing and passenger protection, aerospace engineering, sustainable house design, simple machines, and brain surgery. Teams of undergraduate students design and implement the kits, and field-test them in local schools.  Recently, Richards has been working with middle schools near the new Rolls Royce Crosspointe manufacturing facility and helping teachers bring engineering into their classes.

Richards is active in the American Society of Engineering Education and Frontiers in Education.  He is past chairman of the society's educational research and methods division, and has been on the advisory board for the K - 12 engineering education and outreach division.  He is a Fellow of the society, and serves as the UVA campus representative.

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