The little-known backstory of one of Virginia Tech’s most popular labs (VT Engineer Magazine)

Ask any Virginia Tech engineering student about the Joseph F. Ware Jr. Advanced Engineering Laboratory, and odds are they’ve stepped foot in it.

Arguably the most popular lab on campus and hallmark of the Virginia Tech undergraduate engineering experience, the Ware Lab is a 10,000-square-foot facility, split into nearly a dozen bays full of tools, materials, and student design projects. It’s home to award-winning teams like Hyperloop at Virginia TechHuman Powered SubmarineASCE Concrete Canoe, and more.

But before there could ever be a Ware Lab, Joe Ware had to meet his future wife, Jenna.

Without Jenna, the plans for the lab might never have been drawn, the old Military Building might never have been converted, and thousands of students may not have experienced the unique hands-on experience that comes from working on a project in the Ware Lab.

To the boon of generations of engineering undergraduates at Virginia Tech, Joe did meet Jenna, in 1989 at Camarillo Airport, about an hour northwest of Los Angeles. The two initially bonded over their mutual love of flying and before long were inseparable.

In the years that followed, the pair got married and traveled the world, flying their personal planes all over the continental U.S. and taking commercial flights to Israel, Egypt, England, and France.

Occasionally, they’d stop in Blacksburg, Virginia, to visit Joe’s old stomping grounds. The son of a Virginia Tech professor, Joe grew up in Blacksburg at 404 Clay St., and, at the age of 15, enrolled at Virginia Tech.

He graduated in 1937 with a degree in mechanical and aeronautical engineering, then went to Caltech for a master’s degree in the same area, graduating in 1938.

Read the full story and see the rest of my photos and videos (including a 360 degree video inside the Ware Lab) via Virginia Tech Engineerthe College of Engineering’s premier digital magazine


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