Virginia Tech Tragedy Forces Cancellation of CPES Annual Conference

April 19, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

The tragic shooting deaths of 32 students and staff at Virginia Tech University on Monday forced the cancellation of the Annual Conference of the Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES). The conference, which was being held in conjunction with the CPES National Science Foundation Site Visit, took place at The Inn at Virginia Tech and the Skelton Conference Center on campus. The CPES Conference provides a forum for presenting reports on its research progress to the power electronics community.

According to conference organizer, Theresa Shaw, participants at the Plenary Session learned of the initial dorm room shooting incident from hotel management on Monday morning. Everyone was advised to stay indoors and away from windows and doors. Within a short time, the University President’s Office informed the conference organizers that the Alumni Assembly Hall, where the plenary sessions were being held, was needed for the purpose of holding a press conference. Another room was then set up so that the conference could continue after lunch.

Shortly after the plenary presentations had resumed, the news regarding the mass killings was delivered to conference participants. Realizing the magnitude of the tragedy, CPES Center Director, Fred C. Lee, and NSF ERC Program Leader, Lynn Preston, made the decision to close down the meeting in order to make the conference facilities available for relief efforts. Staff, students, and participants than helped coordinate alternate airport transportation and lodging plans. The facilities that had been in use for the CPES conference were converted into areas to receive the frantic people who had come to the campus to receive news regarding their family and friends. Conference rooms were set up for counseling sessions while security officers patrolled the area to ensure safety.

The staff of PowerPulseDaily and the Darnell Group offers our condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives. We also extend our sympathy to those conference participants who witnessed first hand the shock and grief of the victims’ loved ones as they received terrible news on that day.