Answering a need for talent with an innovative campus and research
The campus will house master’s- and doctoral-level programs that dovetail with industry’s most pressing demands. The first master’s-level students will begin studies in 2019, in temporary space, as the permanent campus is developed.
“We will not wait until the campus is built, because the need for talent exists right now,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said.
Degree programs and research opportunities will focus on computer sciences and software engineering, while offering specializations in high-demand areas, including data sciences; analytics and collective decisions; security and the internet of things; and technology and policy.
The first 100 master’s degree students will enroll next year, with the campus hosting a total of 500 master’s degree students within five years and, at scale, enrolling 750 master’s degree candidates and training hundreds of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.
Initially, more than 50 new faculty positions will be created for the Innovation Campus.
“The academic programs planned for the Innovation Campus will build on our university-wide commitment to transdisciplinary education and research,” said Cyril Clarke, the university’s interim executive vice president and provost. “Our partnership with industry will allow us to respond with agility to emerging workforce and technology needs.”
Corporate engagement opportunities will be woven into the curriculum from the beginning, providing robust opportunities for applied learning and research. Industry leaders from top technology companies, including Amazon, will be engaged throughout the design process to provide market-driven insight and ensure that Innovation Campus programs, people, and partnerships meet the future needs of the region and greater society.
Partnering with industry to find solutions to pressing global challenges, Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus is expected to more than triple the university’s research and commercialization activities in the high-demand areas of data sciences; analytics and collective decisions; security and the internet of things; and technology and policy.
“About 15 percent of our research expenditures come directly from industry investing in sponsored projects with Virginia Tech faculty and students,” said Theresa Mayer, the university’s vice president for research and innovation. “Joint projects with leading companies are a powerful way to ensure that research discoveries are translated into important new products or services that benefit society. The location of our Innovation Campus will be a major asset for developing new partnerships with industry and for deepening our connection to federal agencies that fund research.”
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering John Ferris, president of Virginia Tech’s Faculty Senate, said the university as a whole will benefit from the new campus.
“Our faculty across all disciplines are problem-solvers,” Ferris said. “This campus will draw the world’s attention to Virginia Tech’s excellence, and that will help across the board as we rise.”
“The Innovation Campus offers unprecedented opportunities for Virginia Tech to achieve its goal of becoming a leading global land-grant research institution,” said University Distinguished Professor of Geosciences Bob Bodnar. “The international visibility and prestige associated with helping the state attract Amazon to Virginia will make Virginia Tech a destination for faculty, researchers, and students from around the world who wish to participate in scholarship and educational opportunities at an institution that is at the forefront of the 21st-century technological revolution. This recognition will, in turn, allow Virginia Tech to showcase its many outstanding research and educational programs and develop significant collaborations with universities, government agencies, and the private sector domestically and abroad. These activities will extend the university’s global reach and reputation far beyond Blacksburg and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Zo Amani represents Virginia Tech graduate students on the university’s Board of Visitors.
“Graduate students across the world are attracted to Virginia Tech because, regardless of discipline, this university prepares us like no other to make an impact in our field,” he said. “Everyone who enrolls at our Innovation Campus will experience that firsthand.”
“Virginia Tech is focused on the future,” added Rachel Iwicki, who represents undergraduates on the Board of Visitors. “It is an exciting opportunity that will bring more resources and meaningful connections to our students.”
Virginia Tech is widely known for its long-standing excellence in computer science, engineering, data analytics, and technology. The university ranks No. 8 in the nation for engineering research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation, and the College of Engineering No. 13 for its undergraduate program, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 rankings.
“As one of the nation’s top engineering programs, Virginia Tech already has the reputation and talent needed for an expansion as bold as this,” said Julia Ross, the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering. “As we recruit and grow in Northern Virginia and Blacksburg, we will further demonstrate our excellence.”
As the commonwealth’s research land-grant university, Virginia Tech enjoys a presence across the state and a strong research, teaching, and outreach profile in Northern Virginia. Approximately 60,000 alumni live in the region, and Virginia Tech already maintains seven facilities around the Northern Virginia beltway. Almost 50 years ago, the university opened its first facility in Northern Virginia, and today it operates locations in Old Town Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Leesburg, Manassas, and Middleburg.
“This is the culmination of a series of purposeful investments directed toward enhancing our significant and high-impact presence in the region,” said Steven McKnight, the university’s vice president for the National Capital Region. “This work is so exciting, since it represents nearly four years of planning by so many internal and external stakeholders on a series of initiatives which have helped provide a foundation to realize this remarkable moment for the university.”