Virginia Tech alumna and disinguished award winner Betty P. Chao will lead a panel discussion on innovation, entreprenuership, and the collaborative role universities can play. The discussion is open to the public and will be at 4 p.m. on April 23 in room 214 of the Northern Virginia Center at Falls Church. 

Chao is founder, president, and CEO of WESTECH International Inc. a  consulting firm headquartered in Albuquerque, N.M., with operating locations in 14 states, approximately 300 employees and annual revenues of $30 million.

Joining Chao will be Afroze Mohammed, associate director of Strategic Alliances, Economic Development for Virginia Tech; and Laura Freeman, associate director of the Intelligent Systems Lab at the Hume Center. Kenneth H. Wong, associate dean of the Graduate School and director of the Northern Virginia Center, will moderate the discussion.

Afroze Mohammed joined Virginia Tech as Associate Director of Strategic Alliances in December 2011, based in the National Capital Region.  Her role focuses on building strong partnerships between Virginia Tech and companies in metropolitan Washington, DC, with the goal of fostering greater collaboration in research endeavors, entrepreneurial activities, and economic development.  Afroze brings to Virginia Tech a high performance track record in industry, consulting, and research. She has directed successful product marketing and alliance development programs at the CURRENT group, Blackboard, and Lucent Technologies. Afroze has an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management and a B.A. in Economics, summa cum laude, from Georgetown University.

Laura Freeman is the Associate Director of the Intelligent Systems Lab at the Virginia Tech Hume Center.  Her research includes cybersecurity, data analytics, and developing new methods for test and evaluation focusing on emerging system technology. Previously, Freeman was the Assistant Director of the Operational Evaluation Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses.  In that position, she established and developed an interdisciplinary analytical team of statisticians, psychologists, and engineers to advance scientific approaches to Department of Defense test and evaluation. Freeman has a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, a M.S. in Statistics and a Ph.D. in Statistics, all from Virginia Tech.

Kenneth Wong serves as the associate dean of the Graduate School in the National Capital Region and as director of the Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church, a shared facility with the University of Virginia. He also is a research assistant professor of Physics. His current research topics include speech recognition for combat casualty care and geographic/market forces influencing enrollment in professional master’s degree programs. He holds a bachelor's degree in Physics from Brandeis University and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of California, San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley.