Thanks to a virtual course offered by the Virginia Tech Newport News Center, working professionals across the commonwealth are developing the basics needed to analyze information on everything from customers to manufacturing.

“Many business leaders have heard about analytics, and they have a sense that they should be doing it. Some leaders even have people in their organization who are doing in-depth analytics, but they lack the vocabulary and knowledge to communicate effectively with the analysts,” said Barbara Fraticelli, an associate professor of practice in the Department of Business Information Technology. She is one of three faculty members from the Pamplin College of Business who teach the virtual Introduction to Data Analytics certificate course.

“We focus on the big picture. Our participants leave with a general understanding of how they can use analytics to improve their businesses, and they will be better able to communicate with colleagues who do the actual coding and data manipulation,” she said.

Located in a region rich in military, government, health care, and manufacturing industries, the Newport News Center, part of Outreach and International Affairs, has offered several in-person data analytics courses for local employers such as ITA International. Outreach and International Affairs also offers virtual bootcamps in coding, cybersecurity, data analytics, DevOps, and product management through Continuing and Professional Education.

“Most students participate each week from their home or office, so it eliminates travel time and the associated cost,” Fraticelli said.

Modern brick building under a blue sky.
The Newport News Center is located on the third floor of Building One at the Tech Center Research Park in Newport News. Photo by Diane Deffenbaugh for Virginia Tech.

The Newport News Center, part of the university’s Commonwealth Campus Center network that also includes sites in RichmondRoanoke, and Abingdon, collaborates with faculty members to bring their expertise to communities across Virginia. Fraticelli said instructors can concentrate on delivering their material effectively while the center’s staff takes care of promoting and organizing the sessions, whether in-person or virtual.

The Newport News Center expanded Virginia Tech’s footprint in the Hampton Roads area when it relocated to the Tech Center Research Park in early 2020.

“Our location in Building One of the Tech Center Research Park allows us to wave the Virginia Tech flag and make the university’s presence known in Hampton Roads. Residents from the region can benefit from Virginia Tech’s expertise without having to travel all the way to Blacksburg,” said Mallory Tuttle, associate director of the center.

The 40-acre Tech Center was inspired by the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, according to developer John Lawson, the executive chairman of the W.M. Jordan Co. who earned a bachelor’s degree in geophysics from Virginia Tech in 1975. Plans call for 10 buildings containing 900,000 square feet of space, interspersed by restaurants, shops, fitness clubs, and walking and biking trails — as well as its very own Drillfield.

On the third floor of Building One, the Newport News Center includes several classrooms and conference areas and puts Virginia Tech adjacent to not only the U.S. Department of Energy’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and NASA’s Langley Research Center, but also the startups and innovative technology companies expected to be drawn to the growing research park.

Members of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors will hold committee meetings at the center on Aug. 22 before touring Jefferson Lab. On Aug. 23, the board will hold its quarterly board meeting in the center’s Maroon and Orange Room. That meeting will also be livestreamed.

“We will be able to have a much larger impact in the region. The types of companies we get to work with is boundless,” said Tuttle, who has a master’s degree in hospitality and tourism management from Virginia Tech. While her main focus is program development, she also works with the Center for Economic and Community Engagement to identify economic development opportunities in the region.

Recent partnerships have included workshops and other trainings with workforce powerhouses such as W.M. Jordan, Canon, and Liebherr as well as municipalities such as York and James City counties.

Susan Johnstad, director of Virginia Tech Richmond and Newport News centers, said, “There’s a strong love for the Hokie Nation in Newport News, and increasing our presence here has really allowed the university to be where the action is, engage in new ways with the technology sector, and help bridge workforce gaps.”

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