Donation will boost diversity, increase pathways for underserved K-12 students
Aerospace and defense contractor Boeing made a record $50 million, multiyear commitment to foster diversity at the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus under development in Alexandria, Virginia Tech announced Tuesday.
The largest corporate donation ever made to Virginia Tech, the commitment from Chicago-based Boeing also ties the largest private donation the university has received, the $50 million gift made in 2019 from the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust and Heywood and Cynthia Fralin for the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and Boeing President and CEO David L. Calhoun were expected to hold an event discussing the gift Tuesday morning at Boeing’s campus in Arlington’s National Landing district.
The commitment from the world’s second largest defense contractor to Virginia Tech’s graduate technology campus will include student scholarships, recruitment of faculty and researchers and funding pathway programs for underserved K-12 students seeking to pursue STEM degrees and technology-related careers. In exchange, Tech has named Boeing as the first foundational partner of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus.
“We are extremely grateful to Boeing for this extraordinarily generous show of support,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said in a statement. “This is a milestone moment in our university’s history, and it will propel our work to help establish the greater Washington, D.C., area as the world’s next major tech hub. Boeing’s investment in the Innovation Campus, which equals the largest gift ever made to the university, builds on a relationship between Boeing and Virginia Tech that spans more than 70 years.”
Calhoun, a Virginia Tech alumnus, said, “Virginia Tech has a bold and unique vision to unlock the power of diversity to solve the world’s most pressing problems through technology, and we are proud to help make that vision a reality. Boeing is dedicated to advancing equity and inclusion, both within our company and in our communities, and we look forward to partnering with Virginia Tech to build a robust and diverse STEM talent pipeline to drive the future of aerospace.”
Boeing’s $50 million gift will support the physical campus under construction in Alexandria, as well as an array of scholarships, programs and initiatives, including:
- Scholarships aimed at attracting and retaining a diverse group of graduate students at the campus.
- Ph.D. fellowships to attract highly skilled and diverse researchers.
- A data-driven approach to inclusion- and diversity-focused student recruitment.
- A student success center.
- A technology leadership program.
- A project-based curriculum that would embed students with industry mentors.
- Programs providing pathways for nontraditional undergraduates, including military veterans, to eventually pursue graduate studies at the Innovation Campus.
- A K-12 STEM engagement program designed to increase diversity among technology workers.
The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, which will anchor a 65-acre innovation district in Alexandria, is a major player in the state’s Tech Talent Investment Program. Created as part of Virginia’s successful bid to attract Amazon.com Inc.’s $2.5 billion HQ2 East Coast headquarters under development in National Landing, the Tech Talent Investment Program aims to produce 31,000 in-demand computer science and computer engineering graduates during the next two decades, through a cooperative program with 11 Virginia universities. Amazon alone plans to hire between 25,000 and 37,850 workers for HQ2 during the next 15 years. Nationally, the computer science and information technology sectors are expected to add 531,200 jobs between 2019 and 2029, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“We launched this campus with an ambitious vision to diversify the talent in high-tech fields,” said Lance Collins, vice president and executive director of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. “It takes partners like Boeing to help us achieve such big goals. This gift allows us to begin initiatives now that would otherwise take years to start. We are honored to receive this record gift, and we look forward to delivering on what it has empowered us to do.”