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VMI professor receives SCHEV Rising Star Award

David John 2011smMaj. John David, assistant professor of applied mathematics at Virginia Military Institute, has been selected to receive a 2016 Outstanding Faculty Award by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

David, who has been teaching at VMI since 2011, was one of two recipients statewide to receive the Rising Star Award, an honor bestowed on faculty members showing extraordinary promise at the beginning of their academic careers. Selection for the Rising Star Award is based on performance in four areas: teaching, discovery, integration of knowledge, and service.

All of the honorees will be recognized at an awards ceremony and luncheon to be held at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond in February 2016. Just prior to that ceremony, the honorees will be introduced on the floor of the General Assembly.

As a teacher, David has received stellar evaluations. Cadets in his classes have praised him for his willingness to help them find answers without giving too much assistance, as well as his deep knowledge of the subject matter and lively, engaging manner in the classroom.

David has also developed a new class in mathematical modeling, and is currently working with VMI’s Department of Economics and Business to develop a new minor in business analytics.

At VMI, one of David’s most well-known contributions is the Applied and Industrial Mathematics program, which allows cadets to use the skills they’ve learned in their applied mathematics classes to solve real-life problems for corporations and nonprofit organizations.

Among the many projects carried out under the aegis of this program have been predicting tire rubber performance using neural networks for the Goodyear Tire Co., building software to design search routes for piracy detection for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and using algorithms to find optimal meal delivery routes for the Valley Program for Aging Services Meals on Wheels Program.

Thanks at least in part to the Applied and Industrial Mathematics Program, cadets who’ve worked under David have found employment, graduate school placement, or internships with a number of prestigious companies and institutions, among them the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, NASA, and JP Morgan.

Discovery, or research, is another area in which David has made substantial contributions. Since 2007, when he received his doctorate from North Carolina State University, he has published 11 peer-reviewed articles, and nine conference proceedings.

In addition, David recently signed his first book publishing contract for Predicting Conflict: A Multi-method Approach. This book takes hundreds of quantitative and qualitative descriptors of each country for the last 70 years and describes how to apply data mining and machine learning techniques to predict international conflict.

David’s efforts to pass on knowledge have not stopped at the classroom door, or with the publishing of papers in scholarly journals. Even before his arrival at VMI, he was contributing to the growth of knowledge in his field. Since 2005, David has mentored 61 individuals doing independent research, or an average of six per year. That number has increased to seven per year since David joined the VMI faculty.

The OFA program is administered by SCHEV and funded by a grant from the Dominion Foundation, which has fully supported the OFA program since 2005.