Innovation Campus makes headway with enrollment and partnership goals
The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus is making great strides in two areas essential to its mission – increasing enrollment in the Master of Engineering program and partnering with top companies and government agencies.
The campus’ location in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area — the physical building is opening in August 2024 — as well as the connections made by faculty and ramping up its faculty and staff to more than 40 are contributing to this success, said Lance Collins, vice president and executive director of the Innovation Campus, during his Nov. 5 presentation to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
“We are building a graduate program in computer science and computer engineering that will be amongst the largest of its kind in the country,” Collins said. “So we are looking to impact the tech ecosystem in Northern Virginia at scale.”
In four years, Virginia Tech has grown its number of computer science and computer engineering master’s students based in the D.C. area to 376. This cohort of Virginia Tech Innovation Campus graduate students – part of Virginia’s Tech Talent Investment Program – will help the commonwealth contribute to closing the tech talent gap in the region.
By 2029, five years after Academic Building One of the Innovation Campus opens, Virginia Tech aims to enroll approximately 750 master’s and 200 doctoral students and graduate more than 550 master’s and 50 doctoral candidates annually.
“I am especially proud of the increased number of women and underrepresented minorities as we strive to become the most diverse graduate tech campus in the country,” said Collins. For fall 2023, the Innovation Campus has 31 percent women and 23 percent underrepresented minorities [URM] in its Master of Engineering programs. URM are calculated as a percentage of domestic students. More than half of the M.Eng [Master of Engineering] students currently are domestic students with 46.4 percent being Virginia residents."
Collins reported that Innovation Campus Master of Engineering graduates are obtaining positions such as data scientists, machine learning engineers, and front-end developers for employers such as Deloitte, Microsoft, Bloomberg, and the U.S. Navy. The Innovation Campus is working on collecting full employment numbers from its 2023 graduates.
Companies are also partnering with the Innovation Campus on student projects that will inform the planning for the Innovation Campus opening and its future project-based learning. Projects are currently taking place with the following:
- Boeing Commercial
- TORC Robotics
- U.S. Marine Corps
“The project-based learning is so important because that is what our students will be doing when they enter the workforce,” said Board of Visitors member Letitia Long. “In addition, it’s a logical extension of the experiential learning Virginia Tech has at the undergraduate level.”
Collins presented a list of nine companies and agencies currently engaged with the Innovation Campus and its faculty, including Nothrop Grumman, Collins Aerospace, Amazon, and the Washington Nationals. He noted that the number of partners is currently limited by the Innovation Campus’ capacity as its scales up, and that there are many more companies in the D.C. area that want to engage with it.
“We’re building off of a fantastic Virginia Tech brand – introducing that brand into a new area,” Collins said. “This is just the tip of the iceburg.”