The John K. Costain Graduate Geophysics Endowed Scholarship was established in 2000 by Mr. David W. Worthington (M.S. '69). David was John Costain's first graduate student at Virginia Tech.
Students who majored in Geophysics between 1967-1996 will remember that John emphasized a computer workshop environment that utilized Fortran programming to illustrate and apply the theory behind reflection seismology. The declining popularity of Fortran, as evidenced by the reluctance to teach the language in the Computer Science Department, suggested that Mathematica or C might become a viable substitute, and both Mathematica and Fortran were used in John's final years of teaching . This computer-intensive teaching approach was directed toward producing a student who was "computer literate" as opposed to one who was "icon literate". The idea was that if you can program the mathematics, then you will better understand the theory. Gradually more and more computers were added for use by geophysics majors. Then in 1979 a VAX 11/780 mainframe was installed in one-third of Derring Hall Room 1040, which became Room 1042, and Tech soon became the first university in the country to install the industry-standard DISCO (Digicon Interactive Seismic COmputer) software for processing the seismic data that was being acquired by the Virginia Tech Vibroseis Crew for the Geothermal Program. The computer was later upgraded to a VAX 11/785. This was superceded by powerful workstations. In 1997 David Worthington spearheaded the successful industry fund drive that upgraded the equipment and resulted in the establishment of the new 3-D Subsurface Imaging Laboratory in Room 1042. Later major additions and upgrades by Dr. Matthias Imhof, Assistant Professor of Geophysics and who supervises the facilty, include a SGI Power Challenge/Felix, Sun workstations (four Sun Blade 1000 UltraSPARC-III and one Sun Ultra 60), and access to an on-campus Beowulf cluster built from 80 PCs. Various Sun, SGI, and Linux workstations complement the facility and are used as multipurpose computers. On February 21, 2001, this computing facility was named the "John K. Costain Geophysics Computing Facility".
The Endowed Scholarship supports geophysics majors and research in The John K. Costain Geophysics Computing Facility. If you can provide an additional contribution to this Scholarship for continuing support of our students and this facility please contact the current Chairman, Department of Geosciences.