The commonwealth needs this Innovation Campus. There is a gap in the ability to meet the industry need for current and future talent. The Innovation Campus is a historic and crucial investment that will transform Virginia’s high-tech economy by providing a pipeline of talent for industry. This campus will be the perfect extension of Virginia Tech’s commitment to drive economic development throughout the state and country.
Virginia Tech has been partnering with the governor's office since the initial proposal was sent to Amazon. When Governor Northam asked for a transformative higher education package, Virginia Tech delivered. As the commonwealth’s land-grant research university, we are uniquely qualified to lead this foundational component of the strategy to support the rapid expansion of the tech sector in Northern Virginia. This package will prepare the commonwealth to meet the talent demands of the future and was a central piece of the proposal to Amazon.
Our team worked on the proposal with the Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. Virginia Tech and the City of Alexandria have signed a memorandum of understanding to begin our long-term relationship with the city in the development of the Innovation Campus.
Alexandria officials have been engaged and important to us as we selected a site and prepared our proposal for this campus. Virginia Tech’s relationship with the City of Alexandria, as it is with the state, is very strong. The city and university have been partners since the early 1980s when the university established the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center on Prince Street. The College of Architecture and Urban Studies continues to host robust academic and research programs at that Old Town location, and many faculty, staff, and students are residents of greater Alexandria.
We are firmly embedded in the fabric of the community and worked hard with the city to be a good neighbor. This goodwill we’ve established with the city will continue in that same spirit as we create the VT Innovation Campus. We are excited to be working with Alexandria on this very important project and we look forward to continuing our good relationship with the residents of the city.
In addition to the proximity to Amazon, this opportunity also places us close to the new HQ of the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and other key federal sponsors, as well as a myriad of tech-based companies in Alexandria and Crystal City.
The commonwealth’s higher education package has opportunity for higher ed institutions across the state. We did not compete with others; we put forward our commitment to create the graduate education piece for the commonwealth. Virginia Tech was a natural fit for this partnership with the commonwealth to lead the way in STEM engagement and technology talent growth. Virginia Tech is ranked in the top 5 in the nation for producing engineering and computer science graduates and has helped develop the plan for a new 1 million-square-foot Innovation Campus, which will be located less than two miles from Amazon’s HQ2. The Innovation Campus dramatically increases our footprint and impact, building upon our 50+ year presence in the region. Its development is consistent with long-stated goals and planning for a catalytic impact in Northern Virginia.
Scale and proximity to current and potential partners matter. Studies on collaborative technology ventures indicate that close proximity among partners increases the agility, responsiveness, and relevance of academic programs and increases the rate at which our research discoveries are commercialized toward products and services that benefit society.
The Innovation Campus will provide a concentrated focus on academic and research programs related to digital technology that is in close proximity to Amazon and others, and at a scale not presently available at existing Virginia Tech facilities in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The roughly 1 million-square-foot campus more than triples our existing footprint in the NCR, and the concentration on computational and data science will provide one of the nation’s largest such programs.
In addition to the academic space, the campus will provide a new residential component in the NCR, as well as dedicated space for additional industry partners, incubation of university-based start-ups, and convening facilities for conferences and meetings. Further, close proximity to Washington National Airport, Union Station, and Washington, D.C., broadly increases our ability to have national and international prominence, attracting high-impact partners as a global destination for tech-talent development and continuing to place Virginia Tech at the frontier of leading research.
Right now, the total estimated cost is $1 billion over the next 10 years.
We are still working out the final numbers, but the commonwealth has agreed to provide an initial investment of $250 million to start the project, which Virginia Tech will match 1:1.
No. As stated previously in strategic planning discussions, an Innovation Campus will augment and complement ongoing efforts in the region. The university has broadly stated its objectives in the NCR, and the Innovation Campus is a key element of the broader strategy that has been developed over the course of several years. Further, the Innovation Campus will be built through a separate revenue stream. Existing programs, resources, and staff will benefit from the project through future collaborations and burgeoning partnerships in the D.C. metro area, as the new campus raises Virginia Tech’s worldwide reputation as a global land-grant research university.
The higher education plan put forward by the commonwealth includes a growth in undergraduate enrollment. We expect to grow undergraduate enrollment on the Blacksburg campus by 2,000 students over a five-year period. Tuition raised from those new students will allow Virginia Tech to continue to grow and meet the needs of our undergraduate campus. Based on the high success of current research programs in the NCR, we also anticipate that faculty will build significant externally funded research programs, given the relevance of the technical focus areas this campus will prioritize, its proximity to federal and industry sponsors, and the ability to attract students to the unique campus environment.
Admissions and Programming
We will be offering one-year master’s degree programs that will start in 2019 and Ph.D. programs, and conducting leading-edge research focused on four areas of computer science with the most workforce demand:
- Computational sciences and engineering.
- Data science, analytics, and collective decisions.
- Security and internet of things.
- Technology and policy.
The Innovation Campus will focus on high-tech, multidisciplinary technical domains, dynamic programs, and partnerships. These programs will leverage integrated industry-government-academic partnerships to attract and retain top students. Virginia Tech currently offers graduate degrees in computer engineering and computer science and applications, amongst many others. The Innovation Campus will not simply augment these programs, but create an entirely different opportunity for students to quickly become part of a talent stream tailored to current workforce needs. In addition to gaining a master’s-level education on the fundamentals of computer science and engineering, students will augment their specific expertise in data science; analytics and collective decisions; security and internet of things; and technology and policy.
These programs will engage students and faculty at the forefront of technological innovation in market-driven research on such areas as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and machine learning. As the market continues to develop, so too will the foci of the Innovation Campus’s programs.
The campus will create a vibrant community among Virginia Tech and partners where scholarship, learning, and discovery occur in a dynamic and differentiated way. An increased presence of Virginia Tech in the D.C. metro area and the close proximity of the Innovation Campus to many federal and private organizations in the region will elevate Virginia Tech’s stature and increase awareness among the millions living in the metropolitan area. As the commonwealth’s land-grant research university, Virginia Tech has its roots firmly in Blacksburg, where it has the space and facilities to conduct cutting-edge research in all areas - from dairy science to creative writing to nuclear engineering. The research excellence being led by Virginia Tech through the commonwealth will be leveraged by the new programs at the Innovation Campus in that Virginia Tech will be a forefront university in developing a sustainable higher-ed model into the 21st century.
The added benefit of an increased urban presence to faculty in areas outside of computer science is unbounded. The property development on the campus will serve as a thriving hub for students, faculty, and staff to live, work, and play and catalyze creativity and innovation. Faculty from Blacksburg will be strongly encouraged to explore the benefits of the new campus. This includes spaces designated for new residential/housing, cutting-edge R&D, startup incubation and corporate research laboratories, and retail and support facilities.
We will start accepting students for the one-year master’s degree programs in 2019 and expect the first Ph.D. students will begin in 2019 to 2020.
Yes, there will be opportunity for collaboration across academic disciplines. Succeeding in today’s economy requires that our graduates not only be well-versed in STEM fields but also in other disciplines key to the global job market. To that end, we will offer experiential learning programs for Virginia Tech undergraduates and will have an integrated educational program for local K-12 students.
Faculty and Staff
A search committee will be formed to identify and recruit the founding academic leader of the Innovation Campus. Follow updates on the search process at Virginia Tech News. Brandy Salmon will lead the project implementation as interim COO.
The new campus is just the next step in the evolution of Virginia Tech as a premier institution for learning and research for all students and faculty. It will allow us to continue to innovate, not only in terms of STEM, but also lead the way in higher education academic excellence worldwide.
The Innovation Campus will open up new opportunities for our students and faculty, especially for learning and research at the forefront of computer science and engineering, including such fields as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning.
The university embarked on a visioning process called Beyond Boundaries to plan Virginia Tech’s trajectory a generation into the future. A part of that vision includes Destination Areas — transdisciplinary communities centered on existing strengths in which we work collaboratively to address complex problems that impact the human condition. And we are now working on a strategic plan to implement the Beyond Boundaries vision. Throughout the planning and visioning processes, Northern Virginia has always played a central role in our thinking. As a world capital, Washington, D.C., is a perfect living laboratory for global-scale problem-solving, research, teaching, and learning — and as a land-grant research institution with a motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech has a clear imperative to leverage its strengths for the betterment of humanity.
As soon as the Innovation Campus is complete, we will offer our students a world-class experiential learning environment with industry engagement and rigorous curriculum designed to create cutting-edge programs in high-demand fields that will transform and sustain Northern Virginia as the leading magnet for tech talent and innovation on the East Coast.
The Innovation Campus will produce a platform for economic growth and development throughout Virginia and across work sectors. Our program is separate from Amazon’s HQ2. The Innovation Campus will produce skilled talent to fill a workforce gap in the tech sector on the East Coast. We anticipate that this will attract not-yet-present companies to the commonwealth, not necessarily to Northern Virginia. As more people and companies come to Virginia to tap into the growing workforce, the demand for workforce in all sectors — from trade to professional — will increase and, ipso facto, will produce job growth in all areas and markets. This campus is an investment in the future success and prosperity of all people living in Virginia and the surrounding area.
At scale, we will have at least 750 master’s degree students and 125 Ph.D. students at the Innovation Campus. In addition, there will be roughly 250 undergraduate students in experiential learning programs present on campus.
We have been working with key leaders in Alexandria and are looking forward to engaging with the community. Due to the confidential and competitive nature of the commonwealth’s proposal to Amazon, this process needed to stay confidential until a final decision was made. We informed the community of the Innovation Campus as soon as we possibly could. As we move forward, we will work with members of the community and are looking forward to engaging thoughtfully with the community on their concerns.
Yes, engaging with the public is critical to our success. We will have meetings and other public forums and opportunities built to solicit community feedback into this process. We will announce more on that as we continue the rollout of the campus.