Leaders planning Virginia Tech’s new Innovation Campus in Alexandria are turning to some true field experts — students themselves — for help.

This fall, Virginia Tech will select a small group of Innovation Campus “Fellows” to engage with the campus delivery team and faculty to inform aspects of the curriculum and space. The inaugural Innovation Campus class will benefit from this input when it launches in 2020 in start-up space in Alexandria.

The selective group of Fellows will be chosen from computer science and computer engineering master’s degree students enrolling in existing programs in Falls Church this coming fall.

Innovation Campus leaders expect that Fellows will have a range of technical experiences and backgrounds along with a shared entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to help build a new campus.

“This will be a unique learning experience for these students to essentially help build the Innovation Campus,” said Julia Ross, dean of the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. “We are excited about the ideas and energy that they will bring to the table.”

The Innovation Campus Fellows program will be a special opportunity, lasting just one year while planning for the inaugural class and charting  future paths. Details of the program are still being developed and will be released later this summer.

University leaders are working to secure start-up space in Alexandria for Innovation Campus administrative offices and, eventually, seminars and classroom instruction. It expects to launch its first class in 2020, using space approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia while the campus’s first buildings are under construction.

As part of an agreement with the state to fulfill a critical tech-talent shortage, Virginia Tech will expand existing programs at its Falls Church campus this fall.

In 2019, Innovation Campus Fellows would take classes in Falls Church but spend a portion of their time engaged in industry-related events, special seminars, community engagement, and other activities to support planning and design of the new campus in Alexandria.

“Student input is important for us to design the best campus possible,” said Dwayne Pinkney, senior vice president for operations and administration at Virginia Tech. “We value their opinion.”

Planning for the new campus will take a year, with construction expected to start in year two and take about five years, Pinkney said. It will take about a decade to scale the campus to graduate 750 master’s degree students as well as offer doctoral programs and experiential learning opportunities for undergraduates.