Innovation Campus — conceptual rendering

The Virginia Assembly recently approved a budget which included a higher education package to allow Virginia colleges and universities to produce 25,000 new degrees in computer science and related fields by 2039. The project, which is also known as Tech Talent pipeline, is aiming to support Virginia’s high-tech industry. Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus is part of the project as well.

The capital budget also includes $69 million toward a $79 million project to construct a 120,000 gross-square-foot data and decisions sciences building on the Blacksburg campus to help support the additional 2,000 undergraduate students in the STEM field, as well as $168 million for the state’s share of Virginia Tech’s planned Innovation Campus in Alexandria.

The state provided the majority of the funding for the project, while the rest of the funds are coming through private philanthropy, industry partnerships and by renting out campus spaces.

Amazon is projected to invest approximately $2.5 billion to establish a new headquarter in National Landing which will create more than 25,000 high paying jobs over the next 12 years.

“We in Alexandria could not be more excited and proud for Amazon to call National Landing home,” said Allison Silberberg, mayor of Alexandria. “We are thrilled to be able to partner with Virginia Tech as they deliver a world-class innovation campus in Alexandria’s portion of National Landing.”

Although this project is aimed toward development in the STEM fields, president of Virginia Tech, Tim Sands, said that the initiative will be “much broader than computer science alone” as it will impact liberal arts, science and even business as the university progresses.

This past November, Virginia Tech announced that the Virginia Tech Innovation campus will triple the university’s presence in Northern Virginia. This 1 million-square-foot campus will be heavily focused on STEM graduate programs such as computer science and software engineering as well as other specializations in data.

More than a year ago, Amazon started the search for a second headquarters, also known as “HQ2.” There were about 200 cities in the running, but Virginia Tech ultimately stepped up and created a vision which is called the “Tech Talent pipeline.” The Tech Talent pipeline is an initiative across the state of Virginia where the commonwealth makes investments in higher education institutions statewide, which will expectedly produce as a result 25,000-35,000 additional degrees in the STEM field over the next two decades.

The centerpiece of Virginia Tech’s proposal was to feed into this performance-based, statewide investment in computer science and related programs, which will benefit employers across the commonwealth.

A key part of the deal that ultimately landed Amazon in Arlington was Virginia Tech’s mission to develop their Innovation Campus. Amazon’s “HQ2” is expected to create additional growth in Northern Virginia’s technology industry.

“Together with partners in industry, government and education, we will cement Virginia as a world leader for the information age,” said Brandy Salmon, Virginia Tech’s associate vice president for innovation and partnerships.

The university’s Innovation Campus will be located in the Alexandria portion of National Landing near Potomac Yard, about 2 miles from Amazon’s new location in Arlington. The $1 billion campus will offer education and research in computer science and related fields for masters, doctoral and post-doctoral degrees. The graduate campus in Alexandria will transform and sustain Northern Virginia as a leading magnet for Tech talent and innovation.

The Innovation Campus, which is also part of the Virginia higher education package, will be fueled by growth in Blacksburg as well as Northern Virginia. In Blacksburg, Virginia Tech will increase undergraduate enrollment in computer science, computer engineering, software engineering and related disciplines by 2,000 students over the next eight years. To accompany this increase, the university plans to hire up to 140 new faculty members in Blacksburg to teach in these fields.

As a land-grant university since the school first opened in 1872, Virginia Tech has a mission to provide a broad curriculum that works with the provisions of the state. Today, this would look like partnering with businesses and industries to accelerate workforce development and technology.

“As a research land-grant university, it is critical to translate research and discoveries into the marketplace where they can have a tangible impact,” said Theresa Mayer, vice president for research and innovation at Virginia Tech.

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