Virginia’s Biotech Industry Gains Another Asset: Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corp.

Friday, 8 February 2013 13:11 by Info@YesVirginia.org
This week, the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation (VBHRC) announced its establishment to foster scientific research and provide a venue for public/private partnerships with Virginia’s leading universities...

This week, the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation (VBHRC) announced its establishment to foster scientific research and provide a venue for public/private partnerships with Virginia’s leading universities.

The five founding universities include Eastern Virginia Medical School, George Mason University, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech. VBHRC will also include an 11-member Project Management and Oversight Panel as well as a 13-member Board of Directors.

VBHRC’s mission is to encourage industrial partnerships and increase corporate-sponsored research at Virginia’s universities to augment the Commonwealth’s growing biotech industry. VBHRC’s ultimate goal is to develop life sciences technology that can be used to start new companies and create jobs.

The research focus of VBHRC includes bioinformatics and medical informatics, point of care diagnostics, and drug discovery and delivery.

VBHRC joins a list of leading research institutes in the Commonwealth, including SRI International, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 11 Federally Funded R&D Centers, and 20 FLC Laboratories.

Virginia continues to gain recognition for its life sciences industry and was recently ranked the No. 2 Emerging Biotech Hub in Business Facilities’ 2012 State Ranking Report. With its central location in the mid-Atlantic life sciences corridor and strong technology and life sciences workforce, Virginia is home to nearly 800 biotech companies.

To learn why the private sector has invested almost $2 billion in Virginia’s life sciences industry over the last decade, click here.

Microsoft Announces $348 Million Expansion to Virginia Data Center Campus

Wednesday, 6 February 2013 10:36 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, Microsoft announced plans to invest $348 million to expand its latest generation data center campus in Mecklenburg County, Va., creating 30 new jobs...

Last week, Microsoft announced plans to invest $348 million to expand its latest generation data center campus in Mecklenburg County, Va., creating 30 new jobs.

Fueled by strong customer demand for its cloud services, this investment will allow Microsoft to construct two additional buildings on its existing Mecklenburg County campus. In 2010, Microsoft announced a $499 million investment to establish this facility, followed by a $150 million expansion in 2011, bringing Microsoft’s total investment in this location to almost $1 billion.

With its modular technology and advanced cooling mechanics, the Mecklenburg County location is one of Microsoft’s most advanced data centers. In addition, Microsoft is purchasing renewable energy credits to offset all carbon emissions at the site.

Southern Virginia’s ability to provide a world-class data center location is due in part to infrastructure developed by the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC). Established several years ago to support underserved areas, today MBC owns and operates more than 1,500 miles of fiber optic network in Southern Virginia as well as a long-haul fiber network.

Virginia continues to be a prime location for data centers—data processing was the dominant sector for investment in the Commonwealth in 2011, at more than $960 million. Offering companies both the advanced broadband infrastructure and highly-skilled technical workforce, Virginia is poised to continue its growth in this sector.

In addition, the Commonwealth’s favorable electricity rates and Retail Sales and Use Tax Exemption on computer equipment used in data centers provide a strong competitive advantage to companies.

To learn why more than 700 data processing and hosting establishments have selected a Virginia location, click here.

Virginia Recognized as Top State for Green LEED Certifications in 2012

Monday, 28 January 2013 15:06 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) ranked Virginia as the top state for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications in its annual ranking...

Last week, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) ranked Virginia as the top state for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications in its annual ranking.

In 2012, Virginia certified 170 projects, which encompassed 29.7 million square feet of LEED-certified space. With 3.71 square feet of certified space per capita, the Commonwealth moved up two places from last year.

Cooper Vineyards of Louisa County was recognized as the first winery on the East Coast to achieve LEED Platinum status.

USGBC is an international organization made up of 77 chapters, 13,000 member organizations, and 181,000 LEED professionals with a mission to build a more sustainable future.

USGBC manages LEED, one of the most renowned green building programs in the world. LEED provides certification programs for the efficient and environmentally-friendly design, construction and operation of a variety of buildings. According to USGBC, LEED certifies 1.6 million square feet of building space each day.

LEED-certified spaces not only offer a healthier environment, the efficiency gains yield a direct impact to a company’s bottom line. Virginia’s leadership in this area illustrates the Commonwealth’s innovative approach to providing a competitive environment in which companies can do business.

To learn more about Virginia’s unique combination of resources and why businesses have succeeded in the Commonwealth for more than 400 years, click here.

JMU Helps Build Virginia’s Cyber Security Workforce

Thursday, 24 January 2013 09:40 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia’s cyber security capabilities span the Commonwealth, and one such hub is located around James Madison University (JMU) in the Shenandoah Valley Region...

Virginia’s cyber security capabilities span the Commonwealth, and one such hub is located around James Madison University (JMU) in the Shenandoah Valley Region.

With an information security program that began in 1999, JMU’s Computer Information Systems (CIS) program was ranked 9th among all Information Systems programs by Bloomberg Businessweek in 2012.

JMU prepares students for cyber security careers with an impressive offering of undergraduate and graduate programs that allow students to earn National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security certificates along the way. Employers are taking notice—JMU graduates are being snapped up by marquee IT and consulting firms, including IBM, CGI, Accenture, Deloitte, KPMG, PWC, as well as a number of government agencies.

One of the more unique aspects of the CIS programs at JMU is the level of engagement among students and the community. 

On campus, JMU students participate in student clubs that compete nationally, such as the Computer Forensics Group and the Cyber Defense Club. In addition, the JMU Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) Student Chapter is the largest AITP student chapter in the U.S. AITP is the leading worldwide society of professionals in the IT industry.

JMU also engages the community through Cyber Defense Boot Camp, a summer program for high school technology teachers, and CyberCity, a program introducing disadvantaged high school students to careers in the CIS field.

Home to the Institute for Infrastructure and Information Assurance, JMU has partnered with George Mason University, the University of Virginia, and other public and private sector institutions on more than 60 research projects in the information security field.

With Virginia universities at the forefront of cyber security research and education, the Commonwealth’s workforce is well-positioned to maintain its top ranking with the highest concentration of high-tech workers, according to Cyberstates 2011.

To learn more about Virginia’s world-class IT and cyber security capabilities across the Commonwealth, click here.

VSU Part of Team Awarded $400 Million U.S. Army IT Contract

Tuesday, 15 January 2013 13:54 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia State University (VSU) recently announced it was selected as part of a 16-member team awarded a $400 million IT contract with the U.S. Army...

Virginia State University (VSU) recently announced it was selected as part of a 16-member team awarded a $400 million IT contract with the U.S. Army.

The Information Technology Services-Small Business (ITS-SB) contract was awarded by the Army Contracting Command-National Capital Region (ACC-NCR) and the Army Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions (CHESS) groups as part of a competitive bid process.

The selected partners will support the U.S. Army’s enterprise infrastructure needs by providing a full spectrum of innovative IT services and solutions.

Eight of the 16 selected partners are based in Virginia, including lead-company Tantus|OnPoint. The other Virginia companies/institutions are: Advanced Resource Technologies Inc., CACI, Lunarline Inc., Strohmeir Consulting LLC, Systems Integration & Management Inc., VSU, and Zenetex LLC.

According to VSU, the university will provide support in the areas of Information Assurance, Independent Verification & Validation, Internet Protocol Version 6, Migration and Integration Services, and Warranty and Maintenance.

VSU was selected as one of only two universities to participate in the partnership. The university has a strong legacy of supporting U.S. Department of Defense contracts.

VSU has received multiple accolades for its innovation in IT. VEDP blogged last year about VSU’s Reginald F. Lewis School of Business winning three awards for its “Digital at the Core” initiative, which delivers core curriculum through digital textbooks, MP3 audio chapters, MP3 study guides, and downloadable quizzes and flashcards.

Founded in 1882, VSU is an example of Virginia’s premier higher education system that partners with companies to prepare students with the technological training and skills they will utilize upon entering the workforce.

To learn more about Virginia’s highly skilled workforce and world-class education programs, click here

Prince William County Science Accelerator Augments Virginia’s Booming Biotech Industry

Wednesday, 9 January 2013 10:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Prince William County Science Accelerator recently opened its doors, offering an innovative location for early stage life sciences companies in the Northern Virginia region...

The Prince William County Science Accelerator recently opened its doors, offering an innovative location for early stage life sciences companies in the Northern Virginia region.

The 9,000-square-foot facility offers companies wet lab space for lease that can be built-out to meet specific client needs. Building on the existing industry cluster in the region, the Science Accelerator is expected to serve as a catalyst, accelerating the growth of smaller life sciences companies.

The Science Accelerator is located at Innovation Technology Park, a world-class research and technology park in Prince William County. Anchored by one of George Mason University’s campuses, the 1600-acre corporate park is 20 miles from Washington Dulles International Airport and 30 minutes from the Capitol Beltway. The high-tech hub is home to numerous corporate and institutional clients, including the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, the FBI Northern Virginia Resident Agency, Mediatech, ATCC, and the GMU/NIH Biosafety Research Lab.

Another example of the many successful public-private partnerships in Virginia, the Science Accelerator was developed by the Prince William County Department of Economic Development, Rinker Design Associates P.C., and NAL Research.

Virginia has recently gained recognition for its life sciences industry as the No. 2 Emerging Biotech Hub in Business Facilities’ 2012 State Rankings Report. The Commonwealth offers companies a central location in the mid-Atlantic life sciences corridor combined with access to leading research institutes, including SRI International, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 11 Federally Funded R&D Centers, and 20 FLC laboratories.

To learn why nearly 800 life science companies have chosen a Virginia location, click here.

A view of the Prince William Science Accelerator at Innovation Technology Park. Courtesy of Prince William County.

William & Mary Unveils the Commonwealth Center for Energy and the Environment

Tuesday, 8 January 2013 10:37 by Info@YesVirginia.org
This December, The College of William & Mary opened its new Commonwealth Center for Energy and the Environment to foster an interdisciplinary approach for teaching and researching environmental issues.

This December, The College of William & Mary opened its new Commonwealth Center for Energy and the Environment to foster an interdisciplinary approach for teaching and researching environmental issues.

Open to all William & Mary faculty, the center will function as both a think tank and research incubator that integrates disciplines including the natural sciences, law and policy, social sciences and the humanities.

In 2013, the center will support up to three short-term Environmental Enquiry Groups to define and explore direction for future research and teaching opportunities. Once topics are approved, the center will support the development of Long Term Environmental Quest groups for more advanced study.

William & Mary is already home to the School of Marine Science/Virginia Institute of Marine Science (SMS/VIMS), a leading institution specializing in coastal and estuary marine science and among the largest marine research and education centers in the United States.

With greater interdisciplinary focus, the Commonwealth Center for Energy and the Environment may be able to expand research and address the complicated relationship between energy generation and its impact on the environment.

The center will support Virginia’s “all-of-the-above” strategy to become “the Energy Capital of the East Coast” while expanding the Commonwealth’s energy partnerships and advanced research development. By leading the charge to develop offshore energy, expand renewables and advocate on behalf of traditional fuels including coal, natural gas, oil and nuclear energy, Virginia aims to secure reliable energy for businesses and citizens in the future.

To learn why more than 385 energy companies have established operations in the Commonwealth, click here.

Kraft Foods Invests $25 Million to Expand Virginia Plant

Thursday, 20 December 2012 17:24 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today, Kraft Foods Group announced plans to invest $25 million to increase production capacity at its plant in Frederick County, Va., creating 25 new jobs...

Today, Kraft Foods Group announced plans to invest $25 million to increase production capacity at its plant in Frederick County, Va., creating 25 new jobs. 

Located on 30 acres in Frederick County, the Kraft Foods plant has been producing Capri Sun juice drinks since 1991, employing 460 Virginians. The company has made multiple investments in this facility over the years, including a 2010 announcement that it would invest $40 million and create 100 jobs.

Utilizing its existing 335,000-square-foot facility, Kraft Foods plans to add a production line to increase capacity, as well as bring its packaging to the same facility by adding technology to manufacture its mylar bags onsite.

Food and beverage companies like Kraft Foods continue to select the Commonwealth for its competitive operating environment. Virginia offers competitively priced and reliable electricity, a productive and highly-skilled workforce, a corporate tax rate of 6 percent that remains unchanged since 1972, an unemployment tax burden 32 percent lower than the national average, and construction costs 16 percent lower than the national average.

Virginia’s food and beverage cluster is on the rise, with more than 550 companies calling Virginia home. Not only does the Commonwealth provide a premier transportation network with access to 55 percent of the U.S. population in a 750-mile radius; its top-ranked universities and community college system offer training programs specifically designed to meet the needs of the food and beverage industry.

To learn why Virginia has the recipe for success, receiving more than $1.9 billion in investment for food and beverage projects over the last decade, click here.

Virginia CEO Wins Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Wednesday, 19 December 2012 09:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL) CEO and co-founder Tonya Mallory recently won the prestigious Ernst & Young (E&Y) Entrepreneur of the Year® Award in the Emerging Company category...

Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL) CEO and co-founder Tonya Mallory recently won the prestigious Ernst & Young (E&Y) Entrepreneur of the Year® Award in the Emerging Company category.

Headquartered in Richmond, Va., HDL provides comprehensive testing for cardiovascular and other chronic diseases with a vision towards a more preventative approach to healthcare.

Since its founding in 2009, HDL has rapidly grown to more than 500 employees and has announced two expansions, expected to exceed $70 million, for its facility at the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park.

For 26 years Ernst & Young has recognized business leaders for their innovation and success through its Entrepreneur of the Year® awards. Winners were selected in 10 categories from a worldwide field of 2,000 companies and awarded at the E&Y Strategic Growth Forum gala in Palm Springs, Calif.

Mallory’s novel approach to laboratory testing epitomizes just the innovation Governor McDonnell had in mind when he declared 2012 “The Year of the Entrepreneur.” “Virginia is an incubator for good ideas and we have the right tax, regulatory and business climate for entrepreneurs to turn those ideas into job-creating businesses,” said McDonnell.

Virginia offered Mallory and the team at HDL the right infrastructure at the right time, including a prime location and workforce at the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park.

Adjacent to Virginia Commonwealth University, a Top 100 life sciences research center in downtown Richmond, the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is located on 34 acres that include nine buildings and more than 1.1 million square feet of office and research space. The park employs more than 2,200 scientists, engineers and researchers through its 60 life science companies, research institutes, and state and federal labs.

The Commonwealth’s biotech industry is on the rise, gaining recognition as a No. 2 Emerging Biotech Hub in Business Facilities’ 2012 State Rankings Report. Virginia offers companies a central location in the Mid-Atlantic life sciences corridor and access to top research institutes, including SRI International, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 11 Federally Funded R&D Centers, and 20 FLC laboratories.

To learn why 800 life science companies have chosen to locate operations in Virginia, click here.

Virginia’s Wind Industry Gains Speed with Two Federal Announcements

Monday, 17 December 2012 16:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org
In the last few weeks, Virginia’s wind industry has won validation with two positive announcements from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Department of Energy (DOE)...

In the last few weeks, Virginia’s wind industry has won validation with two positive announcements from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Department of Energy (DOE).

On November 30, the BOEM announced federals waters off the Virginia coastline qualified as one of only two wind energy areas (WEAs) for the upcoming competitive lease sale process. This is the first-ever wind energy lease sale on the Outer Continental Shelf.

The Commonwealth’s WEA encompasses 112,800 acres located about 23.5 nautical miles off Virginia’s coastline. According to the BOEM, this area would have the capacity to produce more than 2,000 MW of wind generation, enough electricity to power 700,000 homes.

On December 12, the DOE announced that a Virginia team led by Dominion Virginia Power was one of seven projects awarded an initial grant of up to $4 million for the engineering, design and installation of an offshore wind turbine demonstration facility.  

Dominion will install two Alstom 6-megawatt turbines off the Virginia coastline using an innovative “twisted jacket” foundation that requires less steel. In addition to Alstom Power Inc., the Dominion team includes KBR; the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME); the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute; and Newport News Shipbuilding.

Virginia-based Fugro Atlantic has also been selected by the DMME to conduct a geological survey to study the seafloor of Virginia’s WEA in the Outer Continental Shelf.

Recognition from both the BOEM and DOE highlights the Commonwealth’s strengths in the offshore wind industry. Virginia is well-positioned as a leader in this renewable energy field, offering the ideal combination of strong Class 6 winds, shallow waters off the coast, an experienced maritime workforce, a robust transportation network, and access to a fully operational high voltage transmission grid close to shore.

Often called the “Energy Capital of the East Coast,” Virginia is home to more than 380 energy companies and has seen more than $4.6 billion invested in energy projects over the last decade. To learn more about Virginia’s burgeoning energy industry, click here.

A rendering of the Dominion offshore wind turbine demonstration facility, consisting of two Alstom 6-megawatt turbines. Courtesy of Dominion Virginia Power.

VEDP Launches Updated Interactive Tool “Compare Virginia”

Friday, 14 December 2012 15:17 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Today, VEDP is proud to launch an update to its popular Compare Virginia web-based tool. Compare Virginia allows users to easily conduct side-by-side comparisons between Virginia and the other 49 states, as well as the District of Columbia, on a number of key economic metrics...

Today, VEDP is proud to launch an update to its popular Compare Virginia web-based tool. Compare Virginia allows users to easily conduct side-by-side comparisons between Virginia and the other 49 states, as well as the District of Columbia, on a number of key economic metrics.

This updated version includes an additional Compare MSA feature, which allows the user to contrast Virginia’s MSAs with more than 360 MSAs across the country. The database has been enhanced to include a broader range of demographic and economic statistics, such as population, labor force, employment growth, unemployment rates, GDP and union membership.

The user experience has been vastly improved. Information loads more quickly and allows one to change comparison criteria on the fly, without having to reload. The user can also toggle between the Compare States and Compare MSAs features without losing data.

Another additional feature includes the data dictionary, which provides users with documentation of the sources behind the statistics, as well as a detailed explanation of the data.

Finally, the download report feature allows users to easily export data to either an excel spreadsheet or a preformatted pdf for future use.

To access the updated Compare Virginia site and learn why Virginia is the best state for businesses, visit http://virginiascan.yesvirginia.org/compare/compareva.aspx.

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Virginia’s Colleges and Universities Make Another Strong Showing on MONEY’s Best Colleges List

Tuesday, 14 July 2015 17:16 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Once again, Virginia’s higher education institutions made a strong showing on MONEY Magazine’s 2015 Best Colleges List...

Once again, Virginia’s higher education institutions made a strong showing on MONEY Magazine’s 2015 Best Colleges List

10 Virginia institutions made the Top 200 overall:  University of Virginia (No. 17), Washington and Lee University (No. 24), Virginia Military Institute (No. 48), Virginia Tech (also tied at No. 48), James Madison University (No. 59), College of William and Mary (No. 75), University of Richmond (No. 105), University of Mary Washington (No. 119), George Mason University (No. 127), and Hampden-Sydney College (No. 157).

The Commonwealth had seven schools make the Top 50 Best Public Colleges list:  UVA was No. 4, Virginia Tech and VMI both tied for No. 15, JMU tied with another school for No. 19, College of William and Mary was in a three-way tie for No. 26, University of Mary Washington tied with another school for No. 42, and GMU rounded out the list in a three-way tie for No. 47.

Virginia also had strong results in the Top 50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges list with four schools:  Washington and Lee was No. 4, VMI was No. 10, University of Richmond tied with another school for No. 26, and Hampden-Sydney College was No. 38.  

Bridgewater College was counted among the Top 50 Most Affordable Private Colleges and Hampton University was included in the Top 50 Colleges That Add the Most Value list.

The editors at MONEY Magazine only included the 736 schools with an above-median graduation rate from the list of 1,500 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. The schools were then ranked on 21 factors falling into the three categories of quality of education, affordability and outcomes.

Virginia’s world-class education system is currently serving more than 575,000 students who will provide a steady pipeline to support the Commonwealth’s current industry needs. To learn why Virginia’s higher education institutions continue to be highly ranked, click here.

A view of The Rotunda at University of Virginia, ranked No. 4 on MONEY Magazine’s Top 50 Best Public Colleges list for 2015. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

Performance Signs — From a Dorm Room to the Highway

Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Founder Robbie Morris was an engineering student at Virginia Tech when he started making decals for his brother’s stock car racing team. Robbie actually ran the decal machine out of his dorm room in the fall of 1995...

Founder Robbie Morris was an engineering student at Virginia Tech when he started making decals for his brother’s stock car racing team. Robbie actually ran the decal machine out of his dorm room in the fall of 1995.

While out on an engineering co-op, Robbie realized he enjoyed the creativity of the sign work much more than the structure of his engineering internship and decided to pursue the sign business full-time.

Today, Performance Signs makes a variety of signs, banners, vehicle lettering, vehicle wraps, window lettering and real estate signs for commercial businesses, public safety vehicles and highways.

Self-awareness is an important trait for entrepreneurs, and surrounding oneself with the right people and skillsets is critical. Robbie found the perfect business partner in his wife Katherine. She came on board full-time in 2004 and made improvements with her ability to manage, schedule and handle the day-to-day business, allowing Robbie to focus on the creative side.

Robbie and Katherine focused on building relationships with their customers and that paid off. “We were doing work for a sign company that supported a police department in Southwest Virginia,” said Performance Signs Founder Robbie Morris. “Those decals were an exact match for the Albemarle police department near us. We were able to approach them and found that there was a need for somebody to serve the public safety vehicles in our area. There’s a tightknit community among the police, fire department and rescue squad, and our relationship with that core group has helped us grow.”

When the recession hit, Robbie and Katherine looked at everything they did in order to be more efficient, from the number of phone lines they needed to the amount of equipment. They also took a calculated risk when a property became available. 

“All indications were that it would be crazy to buy something right now, but it completely came together for us,” said Robbie. “We really felt like God was moving in our lives and the timing was right. We did an SBA 504 loan. It was a lot of work, but through that process it helped us see our business in a new way.”

Robbie and Katherine closed on their building in the fall of 2009, and continuing their quest for efficiency, installed a solar-paneled roof on the 8,000-square-foot facility. Depending upon the time of year, the solar panels generate anywhere from 55-100 percent of the building’s electricity. 

Robbie and Katherine’s tenacity allowed them to successfully bounce back from the recession. The company has doubled sales since 2010 and grown from four to 12 people.

Performance Signs was also just selected to participate in the inaugural class of Ones to Watch, a business mentoring initiative run by the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Award Program for Virginia.

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Performance Signs stands as another great example of the innovation and creativity of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Performance Signs CEO Katherine Morris and Founder Robert Morris outside their company headquarters in Ruckersville, Va.

MAAP Unmanned Aerial Test Site at Virginia Tech Declared Fully Operational by FAA

Monday, 18 August 2014 15:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, a group of government, academic and business leaders gathered at Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute to celebrate the FAA declaring the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site program fully operational...

Last week, a group of government, academic and business leaders gathered at Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute to celebrate the FAA declaring the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site program fully operational.

In December 2013, the FAA announced that Virginia Tech was selected as one of six test sites across the country to conduct research as part of an initiative to establish safety standards for integrating UAS, such as drones, with commercial aircrafts.

Virginia Tech led the submission of a joint proposal for Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland, along with Rutgers University and the University of Maryland, called the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership. MAAP is headquartered at Virginia Tech’s Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Sciences, with test sites located across Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland.

The ceremony included a simulation flight involving an unmanned, multi-rotor helicopter called the Smart Road Flyer. It was modified for transportation research by Dr. Kevin Kochersberger, a professor with the College of Engineering and the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems, and engineering students from the Unmanned Systems Laboratory at Virginia Tech. The simulation gathered information from a mock accident scene on an interstate highway.

This scenario illustrates the wide-ranging future capabilities of UAS. Potential uses of this technology include disaster response, search and rescue missions, utility and pipeline inspections, agricultural monitoring, wildlife management, cargo delivery and weather observation.

This is another win for Virginia’s burgeoning aerospace industry. With flights to the International Space Station taking off from MARS/NASA Wallops Flight Facility and UAS launched from MAAP at Virginia Tech, the Commonwealth has the assets to stake its claim as a national aerospace leader. 

To learn why more than 250 aerospace companies have chosen to call Virginia home, click here.

Dr. Kevin Kochersberger (right) describes a UAS simulation flight at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute during the MAAP First Flight Ceremony. University President Timothy Sands, Virginia Delegate Joseph Yost, Governor Terry McAuliffe, and MAAP Executive Director Rose Mooney (left to right) discuss the future of unmanned and autonomous aviation at the event. Photo Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Virginia Schools Rank High on the Forbes and Money Top Colleges Lists

Tuesday, 12 August 2014 09:46 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia’s higher education institutions once again ranked high on the Forbes America’s Top Colleges 2014 list. Forbes partnered with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity on its seventh annual ranking.

Virginia’s higher education institutions once again ranked high on the Forbes America’s Top Colleges 2014 list. Forbes partnered with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity on its seventh annual ranking.

Three Virginia schools made the Top 25 in the Best Public Colleges category:  University of Virginia was No. 5, College of William and Mary was No. 6, and Virginia Tech was No. 23.

In the Overall category, eight Virginia colleges made the Top 200 list: Washington and Lee University (No. 33), UVA (No. 40), College of William and Mary (No. 41), University of Richmond (No. 96), Virginia Tech (No. 117), Virginia Military Institute (No. 129), Hampden-Sydney College (No. 171), and James Madison University (No. 188).

Washington and Lee University was also ranked No. 15 on the Best Liberal Arts Colleges list.

Forbes is a unique ranking because instead of focusing on the metrics of how competitive an institution is to get in to, it focuses on what students get out of college in terms of ROI. The five factors that determine the ranking include student satisfaction, post-graduate success, graduation rates, academic success and student debt.

Money also gave Virginia high marks on its Best Colleges for Your Money 2014 ranking. The Commonwealth scored well in the Best Public Colleges category with UVA at No. 3, VMI at No. 4, Virginia Tech at No. 12, JMU at No. 17 and the College of William and Mary at No. 20.

In the Overall category, 10 Virginia institutions made the Top 200:  UVA (No. 16), VMI (No. 18), Washington and Lee University (No. 39), Virginia Tech (No. 42), JMU (No. 53), College of William and Mary (No. 60), George Mason University (No. 101), University of Mary Washington (No. 107), University of Richmond (No. 120), and Hampden-Sydney College (No. 156).

Money only included schools with an above-average six-year graduation rate, and then based the ranking on a number of factors in three main categories — quality of education, affordability and outcomes.

Virginia’s substantial higher education system includes more than 100 in-state institutions that are preparing 450,000 students to enter the workforce. From large universities, to small private colleges, to the 23-member Virginia Community College System, the Commonwealth’s world-class education system stands ready to support industry demand with a strong pipeline of highly skilled workers.

To learn more about Virginia’s premier education system, click here.

A view of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. UVA was ranked No. 3 on Money’s Best Public Colleges list. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corp.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Holds Its First Commencement Ceremony

Friday, 9 May 2014 12:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will hold its first-ever commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 10 at 8:30 a.m. at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke.

The ceremony will be held for the school’s first 40 graduates, who are all continuing on to a residency. U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, who as a former governor of Virginia signed legislation to support the creation of the new school, will be the keynote speaker.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute serves as a model of collaboration between public and private partners. The institute combines Virginia Tech’s sciences, bioinformatics, and engineering with Carilion Clinic’s highly experienced medical staff. The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute collaborates with 75 institutions around the world, and has 168 research employees.

In addition, the institute’s unique, patient-centered learning model and small class size allows students to learn through real-life situations with ample student participation. Only 15 percent of medical schools in the U.S. have a patient-centered learning curriculum.

Virginia has a number of nationally recognized medical training and research institutes around the state, including the VCU School of Medicine and the UVA Department of Biomedical Engineering and School of Medicine, and now adds another major medical school in the western part of the state.

Virginia’s nationally acclaimed universities and community colleges, ensure businesses have a knowledgeable and highly trained workforce. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute is a great example of how Virginia is preparing for jobs of the 21st century. To learn more about Virginia’s more than 100 in-state institutions of higher education, click here.

A view of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute—located in Roanoke, Virginia.

Bioplastics — How One Virginia Company is Making Plastic out of Feathers

Friday, 28 March 2014 11:45 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Eastern BioPlastics has successfully commercialized a process to make plastic out of chicken feathers. By using what was formerly a waste product, the company is making plastic components in a sustainable way...

Eastern BioPlastics has successfully commercialized a process to make plastic out of chicken feathers. By using what was formerly a waste product, the company is making plastic components in a sustainable way.

Co-founders Sonny Meyerhoeffer and Dr. Justin Barone established the company in Mount Crawford, Va., in 2008. They combined Meyerhoeffer’s background as an entrepreneur in the poultry industry with Barone’s engineering expertise as a professor at Virginia Tech to accomplish a difficult task — commercializing R&D into an effective process.

The company replaces up to 50 percent of the petroleum component of plastics with fiber made from chicken feathers. This chicken feather fiber, called feather fiber intermediate, has a number of advantages over petroleum. It is a renewable resource and makes use of something that was previously viewed as a waste product. In addition, the chicken feather fibers are very strong yet lightweight, making them ideal for plastic products.

Eastern BioPlastics has developed a proprietary technique that cleans and processes the chicken feathers in a cost-competitive way. The feather fiber intermediate is blended with polyolefins in a resin, and then extruded into pellet form. These pellets are then sold to original equipment manufacturers that use injection molding to form any number of end products for use in the automotive, furniture and sports equipment industries. The company is currently beta testing this product with customers.

Eastern BioPlastics has also developed a second product called Environmental BioProtector. Feathers are extremely oil absorbent; news coverage of massive oil spills illustrates how birds suffer because the oil becomes trapped in their feathers. The company has developed a product using chicken feathers to help clean up oil spills, from large-scale disasters to consumer use for car oil leaks. Environmental BioProtector is USDA certified and made of 99 percent bio-based material, making it one of the most eco-friendly and low cost oil absorbing solutions on the market today. The company has been selling this product since May 2013.

Creating an entirely new product in 2008 was no easy feat, especially during the economic downturn of 2009-2010. According to co-founder Meyerhoeffer, “Back then nobody wanted to take a chance on anything new. We had to figure out how to break in and create a market with a brand new product.”

When asked why he kept going during these early days, Meyerhoeffer responded, “I was never led to quit and we stayed at it because we knew there was something there that was better. You have to persevere through the tough times. I think a lot of entrepreneurs are that way. You know you’ve got something viable and it’s just about continuing through to the end.”

The founders of Eastern BioPlastics exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that’s alive and well in the Commonwealth. To learn what Virginia offers and why it’s a great place to start a business, click here.

Eastern BioPlastics co-founder Sonny Meyerhoeffer displays his Bioplastic Composite Resins made from chicken feathers. 

Virginia’s Focus on Cybersecurity Remains Strong

Thursday, 6 March 2014 14:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Governor McAuliffe recently announced the launch of Cyber Virginia, a plan to establish the Virginia Cybersecurity Commission and augment Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity...

Governor McAuliffe recently announced the launch of Cyber Virginia, a plan to establish the Virginia Cybersecurity Commission and augment Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity.

The Commonwealth has a strong legacy in cybersecurity, and is well-positioned with the infrastructure to grow this sector. Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers, according to Cyberstates 2013, and up to 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic flows through Northern Virginia every day. Growth in the Commonwealth’s data center industry remains robust — investment topped $1 billion in 2012 — positioning Virginia as the place to be for companies moving towards cloud computing.

Virginia’s close proximity to the federal government’s cybersecurity operations also played a role in establishing its leadership position. The Commonwealth is home to the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Center, and DARPA.

Virginia’s premier institutions of higher education are poised to maintain the Commonwealth’s leadership in technology through a healthy pipeline of skilled technology workers. Twenty-two of Virginia’s 23 community colleges offer training programs in cybersecurity.

In addition, the NSA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security named five Virginia schools as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education: George Mason University, Hampton University, James Madison University, Marymount University, and Norfolk State University. Virginia Tech was named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research.

To highlight a couple of these programs, Virginia Tech offers the Hume Center for National Security and Technology, which researches intelligence applications of cyberattacks and defense. The university also provides students with real world experience through its IT Security Lab. In partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School and L-3 Communications, Virginia Tech hosts the Cybersecurity Innovations Laboratory at its Arlington campus.

In one of our recent blogs, we mentioned George Mason University’s expertise as the author of the VEDP Cybersecurity Export Market Report. GMU is home to the International Cyber Center and founded the Center for Secure Information Systems in 1990, which was the first academic center in security in the U.S. and one of the NSA’s original Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

To learn more about Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity and the overall technology industry, click here.

A view of the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington, which houses the Northern Virginia location of the Hume Center for National Security and Technology.

FAA Selects Virginia Tech as Test Site for Unmanned Aircrafts

Friday, 3 January 2014 16:03 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The FAA recently announced that Virginia Tech was selected as one of six test sites across the country to conduct research on unmanned aircraft systems...

The FAA recently announced that Virginia Tech was selected as one of six test sites across the country to conduct research on unmanned aircraft systems.

This initiative will help the FAA establish safety standards that will allow UAS, such as drones, to share airspace and integrate with commercial airlines. Test sites were selected for their geographic and climate diversity, as well as existing infrastructure and aviation experience.

The test site at Virginia Tech will focus on UAS failure mode testing, and identify and evaluate operational and technical risk areas.

Virginia Tech led the submission of a joint proposal for Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland called the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership. In order to enhance the region’s competitiveness, the governors of each state agreed to support the initiative, and Virginia Tech will partner with Rutgers University and the University of Maryland, College Park.

Virginia has already shown its support for UAS and securing the Commonwealth’s position as an aerospace leader. In December, Governor McDonnell announced Virginia Tech would receive more than $2.6 million in Federal Action Contingency Trust funds to operate the UAS test site.

In addition, the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership successfully completed its first flight in October with a team from the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems, a research partnership between Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science and the College of Engineering. The team attached sensory equipment provided by American Aerospace Advisors to an unmanned 250-pound helicopter. Using ultraviolet and infrared cameras, the group was able to gather data on the health of five acres of tobacco crops.

This type of research could help farmers quickly survey their land to gain a better understanding of crop health, reduce pesticide use and improve yield. Agriculture is expected to be a prime growth market for UAS technology.

This win for Virginia Tech illustrates the Commonwealth’s premier higher education system, as well as its leadership in the aerospace industry. To learn more click here.

A team from Virginia Tech prepares to launch an unmanned 250-pound helicopter for a research mission to determine if UAS can gather meaningful data for crop management.  Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program Celebrates 30 Years

Thursday, 28 February 2013 13:21 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP) recently celebrated its 30-year anniversary at an event in Richmond, Va., hosted by CGEP and VEDP...

The Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP) recently celebrated its 30-year anniversary at an event in Richmond, Va., hosted by CGEP and VEDP.

CGEP offers Master’s degrees and certificate programs for engineers and scientists seeking to further their education while remaining in the workforce. Students can pursue degrees in Computer Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Administration, Environmental Science & Engineering, and Systems Engineering.

What is most unique about the program is its distance learning model, which includes both online courses and televised courses offered at more than 25 sites across Virginia. CGEP uses the latest interactive video conferencing technology, allowing for two-way audio and video to provide an interactive classroom experience for students.

In addition, graduate students can personalize their program by taking advantage of courses offered by any of the five participating universities, which include George Mason University, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, total enrollment in CGEP increased by 10 percent to 6,759 students. CGEP attributes this growth to increased offerings in online coursework, allowing busy graduate students to take classes anywhere, anytime.

CGEP is another example of the innovative programs offered by Virginia’s prestigious higher education institutions to ensure a solid pipeline of skilled employees is ready to fulfill industry needs. 

To learn more about CGEP or Virginia’s higher education offerings, click on the highlighted links.

Virginia’s Wind Industry Gains Speed with Two Federal Announcements

Monday, 17 December 2012 16:12 by Info@YesVirginia.org
In the last few weeks, Virginia’s wind industry has won validation with two positive announcements from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Department of Energy (DOE)...

In the last few weeks, Virginia’s wind industry has won validation with two positive announcements from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Department of Energy (DOE).

On November 30, the BOEM announced federals waters off the Virginia coastline qualified as one of only two wind energy areas (WEAs) for the upcoming competitive lease sale process. This is the first-ever wind energy lease sale on the Outer Continental Shelf.

The Commonwealth’s WEA encompasses 112,800 acres located about 23.5 nautical miles off Virginia’s coastline. According to the BOEM, this area would have the capacity to produce more than 2,000 MW of wind generation, enough electricity to power 700,000 homes.

On December 12, the DOE announced that a Virginia team led by Dominion Virginia Power was one of seven projects awarded an initial grant of up to $4 million for the engineering, design and installation of an offshore wind turbine demonstration facility.  

Dominion will install two Alstom 6-megawatt turbines off the Virginia coastline using an innovative “twisted jacket” foundation that requires less steel. In addition to Alstom Power Inc., the Dominion team includes KBR; the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME); the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute; and Newport News Shipbuilding.

Virginia-based Fugro Atlantic has also been selected by the DMME to conduct a geological survey to study the seafloor of Virginia’s WEA in the Outer Continental Shelf.

Recognition from both the BOEM and DOE highlights the Commonwealth’s strengths in the offshore wind industry. Virginia is well-positioned as a leader in this renewable energy field, offering the ideal combination of strong Class 6 winds, shallow waters off the coast, an experienced maritime workforce, a robust transportation network, and access to a fully operational high voltage transmission grid close to shore.

Often called the “Energy Capital of the East Coast,” Virginia is home to more than 380 energy companies and has seen more than $4.6 billion invested in energy projects over the last decade. To learn more about Virginia’s burgeoning energy industry, click here.

A rendering of the Dominion offshore wind turbine demonstration facility, consisting of two Alstom 6-megawatt turbines. Courtesy of Dominion Virginia Power.

National Tire Research Center Displays New Tire Testing Machine “Flat-Trac LTRe”

Friday, 26 October 2012 15:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
This week, the National Tire Research Center (NTRC) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of its new tire testing machined called the “Flat Trac LTRe”...

This week, the National Tire Research Center (NTRC) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of its new tire testing machine called the “Flat Trac LTRe.”

This high-performance, $11.3 million machine is the only one of its kind. It allows speeds up to 200 mph on car, truck and motorsports vehicles and tests tire performance during acceleration, brake and burnout events, as well as wheel torque capability.

Located in the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park adjacent to the Virginia International Raceway track in Halifax County, the NTRC provides easy access to real-world testing right on a premier race track.

NTRC is an applied research and testing facility established in 2010 through a public-private partnership between the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, General Motors, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

By combining the industry leadership of General Motors with the research prowess of Virginia Tech, NTRC will focus on developing safer tires that are environmentally friendly, providing higher fuel economy with lower emissions.

Southern Virginia has become quite a hub for the automotive industry. NTRC has partnered with nearby Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion Lab (SoVa Motion), a facility also operated by Virginia Tech that rounds out the region’s offering to automotive manufacturers by providing shock and suspension testing, on-vehicle sensing, and full-motion driving simulation.

Virginia's advanced manufacturing capabilities cover all aspects of the automotive industry. To learn why automotive companies have invested more than $1 billion in the Commonwealth over the last decade, click here.

Dr. Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, addresses the crowd at the National Tire Research Center ribbon-cutting event in Halifax County.

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