Lance Collins, vice president and executive director of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, is among 17 private and public sector leaders appointed by Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro to the Department of the Navy’s first Science and Technology Board, a federal advisory committee.

The board, according to the news release, will provide independent advice and counsel to the Department of the Navy on matters and policies relating to scientific, technical, manufacturing, acquisition, logistics, medicine, and business management functions. The Science and Technology Board held its first meeting Sept. 22. This partially closed meeting included classified discussions on topics tasked by Del Toro.

“We are eager to have the Department of the Navy Science and Technology Board work with us to amplify existing initiatives and suggest new possibilities that will strengthen our warfighting capabilities,” Del Toro said in the announcement establishing the board. “I look forward to meeting with our nation’s leading experts, many of whom have served in multiple roles within the government, academia, and industry.”

The board includes national security leaders who have served as deputy secretary of defense, secretary of the Navy, White House director for cybersecurity, and chief naval architect. It includes industry executives with both technology and manufacturing expertise as well as noted thought leaders from national research universities and university-affiliated research center laboratories. Former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig will serve as chair of the Department of the Navy’s first Science and Technology Board (DON STB).

“Virginia Tech is proud to have Lance Collins representing the university on the DON STB. The board will be well-served by his abilities and experience as a scientist and leader,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “As a senior military college exploring innovative research frontiers in artificial intelligence and security, we look forward to the opportunity to support the Department of the Navy as the Innovation Campus continues to develop strategic partnerships in the greater Washington, D.C., area.”

Collins is joined on the board by other leaders in academia, including Andrew G. Alleyne, dean of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota; Samuel Graham, dean of the Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland; Thomas R. Kurfess, executive director of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute; Jesse H. Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment at the Rockefeller University; and Steve G. Blank, adjunct professor at Stanford University. See the news release for a list of all committee members.

“I am honored to join this illustrious group of leaders from the military, private industry, and academia,” Collins said. “I especially appreciate the board’s focus on providing practical and actionable advice on near-term challenges facing the Navy over the next six to 24 months.”

Collins provides strategic direction for the Innovation Campus, helping to increase Virginia Tech’s impact on the D.C. area’s growing tech ecosystem. The campus will officially open in Alexandria in 2024. Collins, professor of mechanical engineering, joined Virginia Tech in August 2020 from Cornell University, where he served as the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering for 10 years. At Cornell, he was part of the leadership team that successfully bid to partner with New York City to build Cornell Tech, which opened its Roosevelt Island campus in 2017.  He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. In 2021, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

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