An oval-shaped, grassy stretch of land bordered by trees, Virginia Tech's Drillfield serves as the center of the Blacksburg campus and remains one of the most unique and storied locations at the university. Thousands of people come into contact with the Drillfield each day, students and faculty rushing to class crossing paths with visitors strolling around the central campus.

The Drillfield Paths effort detailed below is part of a broader initiative supported by the Board of Visitors to develop a new master plan for the Drillfield that will preserve the beauty of the area while making it a more usable space.

Temporary Paths

In August 2015, 14 different materials were installed on the Drillfield. The materials on the two paths (as show on the image below) are being considered for permanent installation in the future.

Drillfield Paths - Material Test Locations

Drillfield Paths - Material Test Locations

Over the course of the 2015-16 academic year, the university monitored performance of the different materials and sought community input via Twitter and on the project website.

Polls were held in September 2015, February 2016, and April 2016 to collect community feedback via Twitter and the Drillfield Paths website during which more than 1,000 people participated sharing more than 10,000 opinions on the various materials.

Research Project

A team of Virginia Tech faculty members have been challenged with inventing a new pathway material that can be used on the university’s iconic Drillfield.

The research team has received $75,000 in funding from the Division of Administrative Services, the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Institute for Critical Technolgy and Applied Science (ICTAS), and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) to identify, test, and evaluate all weather and Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant solutions to enhance the green-space aesthetic and multi-use purpose of the Drillfield.

The team includes faculty members from The Center for Energy and Harvesting Materials and Systems in the College of Engineering and the School of Architecture + Design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

They are:

Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems

  • Muhammad Hajj, professor/associate dean of the graduate school
  • Lei Zuo, associate professor of mechanical engineering

School of Architecture + Design

  • Aki Ishida, assistant professor of architecture
  • Brook Kennedy, associate professor of industrial design
  • Margarita McGrath, associate professor of architecture

Their research, along with the feedback collected from students, employees, and community members during the 2015-16 academic year will be used by a university Drillfeld Paths Committee to develop a recommendation for a permanent solution.


The committee, which includes students, faculty, and staff, is expected to make a recommendation to university officials about which materials meet the university’s needs following the conclusion of the academic year. A list of the committee members is available online.

Drillfield Master Plan

The recommendations will be included in a new Drillfield Master Plan

Poll now closed

The Drillfield Paths poll has ended. Community members were asked to share feedback in the winter and spring.

Drillfield Master Plan

The goal of the new Drillfield Master Plan is to preserve the beauty of the area while making it a more usable space. In addition to addressing the pathways, the master plan will address significant changes to the field turf, seating opportunities, crosswalks and lighting, improved amenities (including wi-fi), and landscaping.