Boeing partners with Va. Tech on veterans’ center
Will be located in $1B Innovation Campus
When Virginia Tech’s $1 billion Innovation Campus opens in Alexandria in 2024, it will include a hub to connect veterans and their families with career resources and employment opportunities. It will also carry the name of one of the commonwealth’s largest defense contractors, The Boeing Co.
The Boeing Center for Veteran Transition and Military Families, announced Monday at the company’s Arlington headquarters, is a partnership between the world’s third-largest defense contractor, the state and Virginia Tech. Support for the center comes from a record $50 million donation Boeing made to Virginia Tech in 2021 to support diversity at the graduate campus. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner all attended Monday’s announcement.
Boeing in May announced the move of its global headquarters from Chicago to its existing 4.7-acre campus in Arlington’s Crystal City. For a brief time, it will be Northern Virginia’s largest defense contractor; Raytheon Technologies Corp., the world’s second-largest aerospace and defense contractor, announced in early June that it will shift its corporate headquarters from Massachusetts to Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood in the third quarter, where its Raytheon Intelligence & Space business is located.
Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun, a Virginia Tech alumnus, acknowledged the clustering of scientific research occurring in Northern Virginia at Monday’s announcement, referring to it as an “innovation corridor,” as he announced the new center.
“The fact that it is close by and within driving distance of the policymaking capital of the world with respect to technology, I think someday that’s going to matter a lot,” Calhoun said, referring to the Innovation Campus.
About 20% of Boeing’s defense business “is built on the back of veterans,” Calhoun added.
Moreover, Virginia is home to a large population of active and former military members, Youngkin said, including about 725,000 veterans as well as 150,000 active duty, National Guard members and reservists. The center will work with the state’s veterans and defense affairs secretariat, and the Virginia Department of Veterans Services will help staff the facility, the governor’s office said.
“I’m biased, I want them to stay in Virginia,” said Youngkin, who was a founding member of Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus advisory board before running for governor. Calhoun remains on the board.
Details about the veterans’ center, including its size, are still being worked out, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said Monday, and he did not give specifics about how much of Boeing’s $50 million donation would be dedicated to it. Transitioning veterans looking to gain technology skills will be part of of Tech’s initial focus for the center, Sands said, adding that they will have access to certificate and master’s programs.
In September 2021, Virginia Tech held a groundbreaking ceremony for the campus’s $302 million Academic Building 1, which is expected to open in August 2024. The campus will anchor a 65-acre innovation district in Alexandria and 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-plus 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.
“We’re looking forward to veterans not only being part of the student cohorts, but actually bringing their connections, their experience into the classroom,” Sands said. The center will also provide the university with opportunities for researching the needs of military families as they transition to civilian life.
Boeing’s May announcement also included news that the contractor would establish a research and technology hub in the region. Boeing spokesperson Connor Greenwood said Monday that details were being worked out. “It’s a concept that we are working on.”
Beyond the veterans’ center, Boeing will play a significant role at the Innovation Campus, Sands said, calling it one of “their major footprints.”
“The part of it that I can share is that Boeing is deeply engaged in the research and the student programs at the Innovation Campus … Boeing will have a significant presence in the Innovation Campus, especially around project-based learning,” Sands said. “So we’re bringing authentic projects from our partners, including Boeing, into the learning environment, and they will be deeply engaged in that.”