Leaders discuss Innovation Campus at Charlottesville summit
President Tim Sands and Julia Ross, dean of the College of Engineering, were among the speakers on two panels at the Tom Tom Foundation’s Summit in Charlottesville on April 12.
April 24, 2019
Virginia Tech leaders who are helping to spearhead the university’s new Innovation Campus spoke recently at a conference showcasing entrepreneurs and visionaries who promote ideas for innovation in communities nationwide.
President Tim Sands and Julia Ross, dean of the College of Engineering, were among the speakers on two panels at the Tom Tom Foundation’s Summit in Charlottesville on April 12. Both shared details about Virginia Tech’s plans for the Innovation Campus, set for the National Landing area in Alexandria, and its role in growing Virginia’s technology talent force.
The four-person panel that included Ross discussed the need for Virginia to increase its population of people who have skills in certain technology fields. Ross said that it’s obvious that more students are interested in earning degrees in computer science and computer engineering, but there are certain groups within the state that may be overlooked. These include women, who now represent a lower percentage of computer scientists in Virginia than they did in the 1980s, she said.
“It’s something that we need to work with our K-12 partners on, to think about how we can bring more people into these disciplines,” Ross said.
Also, it is important to understand the ways that students, from undergraduate to graduate levels, get into certain career fields and the paths that they may take within those areas, she said.
“We talk a lot about pipelines, and that suggests a single trajectory,” Ross said. “So we really have to move from pipelines to pathways.”
A five-person panel that included Sands discussed Amazon’s new headquarters in Northern Virginia and the ways that other cities in Virginia will benefit. Sands emphasized that Virginia Tech’s agreement with the state, through its higher education package, involves providing degree programs to produce technology talent for all of Virginia, not just Amazon.
“It’s really about the larger ecosystem that we’re trying to feed and be ready for, not about one company,” he said. “I think the opportunities are really broad with a company like Amazon anchoring and then all of the companies that think like that coming in and populating National Landing. It’s going to be exciting.”