it takes a village

Model In August 1999, a massive earthquake registering 7.4 on the Richter scale devastated part of Turkey. The region's villages were filled with high-rise concrete apartments  that became deathtraps--around 15,000 people died, 25,000 were injured, and  600,000 were left homeless. Not long after the disaster, Jan Wampler, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology architecture professor, rushed to the area to begin a project to help re-house victims.

But Wampler didn't go with the attitude that he would tell the villagers how best to rebuild.  He went to listen. "My philosophy is to go to a place and work with people," he explains. The result is an MIT student/faculty project he is overseeing that  will build a 50-unit, environmentally sustainable "microvillage."

Money for the $1.5 million project comes from Habitat for Humanity International and Mercy Corps International. The two-story complex will be made primarily of wood culled  locally and other indigenous materials. Locals told Wampler that they wanted  low-rise buildings made of wood, which were more traditional--and potentially safer in an earthquake zone.

Moreover,  the complex will include community centers that will also house microindustries to manufacture locally-made goods and building materials, including doors and  window frames. Locals will also receive job training, and the community centers will be wired for digital communication so that the residents can use the Internet  to help learn new skills. Wampler is a believer that the centuries-old tradition of villagers migrating to cities for education and careers "no longer works."  The Internet, he says, is a key resource that may allow many villagers to remain  home to learn and work. "It's a big, powerful tool," he says.

To keep to its premise of being ecologically sustainable, the complex will rely on wind and solar power, recycled rainwater for drinking, and treated sewage to fertilize crops. Residents will run the microvillage as a cooperative. Selected owner/members must have the potential to pay a mortgage and one family member must help with  the complex's construction.

When the plans for the microvillage were presented to Turkish officials last April, they received an enthusiastic reception. Wampler anticipated construction of the complex would begin this fall. Meanwhile, he's now working with UNICEF on a design for a women's and children's center in the same quake-hit region.

online appilications only

MouseThe days when college-bound students had to wade through stacks of application forms are virtually numbered. West Virginia Wesleyan College--a small, liberal arts school--has become the nation's first undergraduate institution to require all  student applications to be filed online.

It certainly won't be the last. Indeed, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's MBA program  also requires online filing of applications. The technology for West Virginia Wesleyan's application process is being supplied by, a Web site that offers Internet services to schools and students. Katie Madden, spokeswoman for, says a recent survey of higher-education institutions found that 77 percent were offering some sort Internet-based application option.

A study done for found that almost all university-bound students had access to a computer and 93 percent of them could access the Internet. Nonetheless,  West Virginia Wesleyan says that students who can't get online won't be left  out: Its admissions recruiters travel with laptops to help prospective students apply. Currently, the school receives 1,600 applications a year, but it's not yet sure if the online requirement will increase that amount.

West Virginia Wesleyan may be a small school, but it's no stranger to the forefront of information technology. It's an IBM Thinkpad University, and students and faculty members regularly use laptops in the classroom. For the last three years, it has issued enrolling students a laptop, which means that this year every one of its students will have one. Requiring online applications, notes President William Haden was "the logical next step for us."