Virginia Tech names director of new innovation campus

Lance Collins will lead Virginia Tech's efforts to build university and industry partnerships to advance development of technology and talent.

Virginia Tech announced Monday that Lance Collins, engineering dean at Cornell University, will direct the university’s new innovation campus with a mission to grow tech talent and innovation in the region.

Strategically located, in Alexandria, Virginia, across the river from the nation’s capital, the innovation campus will give students the opportunity to work with both industry and government to drive technology development and develop a pipeline of tech talent, Collins told EdScoop.

“There is a real recognition on all campuses to improve and strengthen those connections between the campus work and industry,” Collins said. “But what’s unique about this [innovation campus] though is that this is the mission of the campus. It’s job one.”

Instead of being a traditional academic campus, the $1.1 billion facility will bolster and expand educational opportunities in computer science and other STEM fields, according to the university.


“The way I see that happening is that industry can physically co-locate in a co-location building on the campus,” Collins said. “But more importantly, industry can provide projects for students to work on as they’re going through their degree.”

Collins also said that the campus’ proximity to the federal government means that students will also be able to play an important role in being part of the discourse on technology policy.

“There is a big ecosystem here that Virginia Tech is going to be enhancing with this new campus,” he said.

Collins will start as the inaugural vice president and executive director of the innovation campus on Aug. 1 ahead of the campus’s inaugural class, set to start in the fall 2020 semester.

Currently, Collins serves as the dean of engineering at Cornell University where he was a key leader in the Cornell Tech initiative, which has developed partnerships between the university and industry in New York.

Betsy Foresman

Written by Betsy Foresman

Betsy Foresman was an education reporter for EdScoop from 2018 through early 2021, where she wrote about the virtues and challenges of innovative technology solutions used in higher education and K-12 spaces. Foresman also covered local government IT for StateScoop, on occasion. Foresman graduated from Texas Christian University in 2018 — go Frogs! — with a BA in journalism and psychology. During her senior year, she worked as an intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and moved back to the capital after completing her degree because, like Shrek, she feels most at home in the swamp. Foresman previously worked at Scoop News Group as an editorial fellow.

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