Brian Bluhm

Brian Bluhm

Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Age: 25

Class: Graduate Teaching Assistant

Major: Engineering

Location: Norris Hall

Profile: Brian Bluhm, who worked as a graduate teaching assistant in the school's Civil Engineering Department, was one of hundreds of would-be engineers at Virginia Tech. But he stood out to friends at the Baptist student union -- where he often hung out and did Bible study -- because of his wisecracking humor and his devotion to the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Detroit Tigers, friends said.

"We gave him hard times about things. He was such a Hokie fan, and always at every game. He had these bright orange pants he'd wear," recalled former classmate Angela Antonucci, 23, of Wellington, Fla. "They were bright orange. Like the kind of vest somebody would wear cleaning up litter on the side of the road -- that kind of orange."

"He was very full-spirited and very friend-spirited," she said.

A gifted student, Bluhm chose to pursue both his undergraduate and graduate studies at Virginia Tech -- first earning his undergraduate degree in civil engineering, then beginning work toward a master's in water resources.

"My main area of research is sustainability of water quantity using safe yield of a reservoir during a critical drought period," he wrote in a recent online biography for Virginia Tech.

He was a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a 2000 graduate of duPont Manual High School in Louisville, a magnet school widely considered to be the best public high school in the state. Even among his competitive peers, he stood out, a former teacher remembered.

"He was at the top level of a school of top students -- so, the top of the top," said Advanced Placement history teacher Glenn Taylor. Bluhm was a member of the National Honor Society and the school's rock climbing team.

Ricky Castles, another graduate student, said Bluhm was finishing up his thesis this spring and was getting ready to start a civil engineering job in Baltimore after graduation. He was auditing a class in advanced hydrology in Norris Hall when the attack occurred, Castles said.

-- Annie Gowen, The Washington Post

© 2007 The Washington Post Company