- Virginia Tech will build a 1 million-square-foot graduate tech campus in Alexandria, Virginia — just across the river from Washington, D.C., and in the same neighborhood as Amazon's planned new headquarters.
- The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, a $1 billion undertaking, has so far received $250 million from the state of Virginia and the college. It will be funded through a combination of private donations, industry partnerships and other revenue such as from shared use of space.
- A temporary space will be used for the inaugural group of 100 master's students next year. The college expects to host 500 master's students on the campus within five years. At full capacity, the campus will enroll 750 master's students and train "hundreds" of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.
Virginia Tech's announcement came on the heels of a highly anticipated reveal by e-commerce giant Amazon of the location of its second headquarters. As a late-stage plot twist, the company said it would split the headquarters between Northern Virginia and New York City in order to help procure talent. Amazon expects to hire 25,000 people in each location.
Aware hiring would be a challenge, Amazon focused on regions with strong networks of colleges and universities. And state and municipal leaders putting together bids for their respective regions highlighted the role local colleges would play and involved their leaders in discussions with Amazon officials.
As a result, the two regions Amazon selected for its "HQ2s" incorporated specific investment in higher education into their bids.
For example, the pitch to bring Amazon to Northern Virginia included plans to double the state's number of students graduating with bachelor's and master's degree each year in fields such as computer science, The Washington Post reported. That equates to as many as 35,000 additional graduates in the next 20 years.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation, Empire State Development and Amazon will each invest $5 million in 2020 to fund local initiatives for workforce development over the next decade with an expected focus on technology training for students.
And in addition to Virginia Tech's effort, nearby George Mason University is also planning to tailor and grow capabilities to support Amazon's hiring needs. It announced this week that it will invest more than $250 million over the next five years to expand its Arlington campus, including the creation of a digital innovation think tank and incubator as well as a new School of Computing.
George Mason, which is the state's largest public research university, plans to grow enrollment in computing programs from 5,000 to 15,000 graduates and undergraduates in those fields by 2024. The Commonwealth of Virginia has committed as much as $125 million in funding over the course of the next two decades to fuel that expansion, The Post notes, an amount the college says it will match.
Community colleges are also expected to play a role in training future Amazon employees and helping new hires upskill, Inside Higher Ed reports.