Georgia Tech's Olympic Legacy

Dr. Wayne Clough By Dr. Wayne Clough
President, Georgia Institute of Technology
T he Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games are almost upon us. Our campus has already been converted into the Olympic Village, and soon all the years of hard work will pay off as the eyes of the world will be upon Atlanta and Georgia Tech as never before.

Georgia Tech has been part of Atlanta's Olympic effort since it first began. Under my predecessor, Dr. John P. Crecine, Georgia Tech played a major role in attracting the Olympics to Atlanta by developing a stunning multimedia presentation. Tech engineers and computer experts devised methods to track and model the movements of Olympic athletes in tennis, gymnastics, softball, swimming, diving and equestrian to improve their performance.

solar cells Tech designers and engineers helped create the Olympic torch, and other architects, designers and engineers educated at Georgia Tech designed and built many Olympic facilities, including the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, the Alexander Memorial Coliseum renovation, the Olympic Plaza, the Olympic Stadium and Park, the Stone Mountain Tennis Center, the Wolf Creek Shooting Complex, the Rowing and Canoeing venue at Lake Lanier, the Cycling Velodrome at Stone Mountain Park and the Woodruff Arts Center renovation.

And when the Atlanta Ballet presents its performance during the Olympic Games, it will be in collaboration with Georgia Tech's DanceTechnology Project.

After the Olympics have come and gone, they will leave Georgia Tech with a legacy that will benefit the university for many years to come.

This legacy will include buildings, experiences, knowledge and exposure, much of which could never have been acquired had Atlanta not hosted the Games and Georgia Tech not served as the Olympic Village.

runner Our most visible Olympic legacy will be bricks and mortar. We have a new Aquatic Center, the site of four Olympic events. Alexander Memorial Coliseum, the venue for Olympic boxing, has also been re-created and revitalized.

We have eight new residence halls that will be home to 2,700 Tech students. Living quarters will be apartment style, with a full kitchen, a living/study area, single occupancy rooms and one bathroom shared by two students. Each room is connected to a high speed computing and communications network called FutureNet that will play a central role in Georgia Tech's primary pursuit - education. Almost every other residence hall, fraternity and sorority on campus has also been refurbished.

The bricks and mortar that are in the new and refurbished living quarters will have an immense additional impact on Georgia Tech. After the Olympics, the campus will be home for approximately 9,000 young people during the regular academic year, nearly 70 percent of Georgia Tech's student body.

These will be active and inquisitive young people, as Georgia Tech students have always been. Living on campus, they will require and demand that we provide on-campus access to many things in addition to the regular academic curriculum_extra-curricular and co- curricular educational opportunities, sports programs, and cultural and entertainment activities come immediately to mind. Inevitably, campus life will be transformed and invigorated.

Georgia Tech sign This is exciting. But so too are other aspects of our Olympic legacy. The Olympics will expose many Georgia Tech students, faculty and staff to diverse cultures and outlooks from around the world in ways that would be impossible without the Games. Many of the experiences that members of the Tech community have during the Olympics will have a powerful and enduring impact.

These experiences will spill over into education, both informally and formally. Informally, perspectives will be internationalized. Many members of the Tech community will have new ways of looking at the world.

And formally, Tech professors have already developed and taught courses on the global impact of the Olympic games. Several of these courses will be continued, including one project supported by the University System of Georgia that has been and will again be offered throughout the state via distance-learning technology.

Kessler Campanile As for exposure, the Olympics has put Georgia Tech in the global spotlight in an unprecedented way. Until 1996, no single university had ever served as the primary home of the Olympic Village. Now, we will. Every day for over two weeks, "Georgia Tech, Home of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Village" will be heard in hundreds of millions of homes around the world. As Mayor of Olympic Village and Georgia Tech alumnus Russ Chandler has said, "Imagine a billion people throughout the world looking at this one place every day. There's no value you can put on that kind of exposure."

And that one place will be Georgia Tech.

After the Olympics, Georgia Tech will return to its principal job, educating young people. This constant has not and will not change.

But we will not be the same after 1996. Because of its Olympic legacy, Georgia Tech will be better prepared to enter the next century and to educate and to serve its students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as the people of Georgia and the nation.