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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Rep. Don Beyer joined the leaders of Boeing and Virginia Tech at the former’s Crystal City headquarters this morning to announce a new veterans initiative.

The announcement that drew the state’s top elected officials was the creation of the Boeing Center for Veteran Transition and Military Families at the new Virginia Tech Innovation Campus at Potomac Yard in Alexandria, just down the road.

It comes just over a month after Boeing announced that its existing Crystal City office campus would become the company’s global headquarters. While the move will only result in a relatively small shift of personnel from the existing headquarters in Chicago, it was highly touted by Youngkin, Warner and other elected officials.

“Boeing’s recent announcement to move its headquarters to Virginia and reaffirm its commitment to building the next generation of tech talent is a timely development for the Commonwealth, and is made more exciting by their extensive partnership with Virginia Tech,” Youngkin said in a statement.

“Their pledge to create the Boeing Center for Veteran Transition and Military Families ensures that the Commonwealth and its businesses continue to invest in diverse career pathways for veterans and students alike, all the while helping businesses thrive,” the governor continued.

The new Boeing Center, part of the company’s previously-announced $50 million investment into Virginia Tech’s new campus, is set to provide veterans with “economic and workforce programs,” mental health resources, and community service opportunities, according to a separate news release from Boeing.

“This is just a very important service that our military veterans need, a big assist to get into civilian life and to pursue civilian livelihoods, and to pursue tech degrees and all those things,” Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said during the announcement.

“Virginia has about 725,000 veterans that call Virginia their home, 155,000 active duty, reserve and National Guardsmen, and I’m biased, I want them to stay in Virginia,” Youngkin said during the announcement.

In addition to the veterans center, Boeing also plans to provide scholarships to Innovation Campus students, facilitate the recruitment of faculty and researchers, and fund STEM initiatives to underserved K-12 students.

“I hope it gets very big,” Calhoun said. “Just suffice to say, we’re going to take advantage of this location and try to attract as many young people as we possibly can to this trade and to our company.”

The press release from the governor’s office is below.

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Construction has started on a pair of multifamily towers in a corner of Crystal City experiencing a bevy of development.

The two towers by developer JBG Smith, located at the intersection of Richmond Highway and 20th Street S., will add 775 apartment units and nearly 27,000 square feet of retail, and will be separated by a new S. Clark-Bell Street.

Demolition of the office building that the towers will replace began last spring, after the project was approved by the County Board in May 2021. JBG Smith expects the project will be completed in 2025.

The West tower (2000 S. Bell Street) will be 25 stories tall and glassy with 355 units and 15,000 square feet of street-level retail. Coming in at 19 stories and 420 units, the East tower (2001 S. Bell Street) will feature “a bold, green-glazed brick façade” and 10,000 square feet of retail, the developer said.

In addition to the new S. Clark-Bell Street, the project will add a tree-lined pedestrian passageway along the East tower and an enclosed, climate-controlled underground connection from 12th Street S. to 23rd Street S.

The underground connection responds to concerns from neighbors who wanted assurances that JBG Smith would protect a network of tunnels known as the “Underground” when building residential parking.

The project also includes funding for parks and open space for a new library at 1901 S. Bell Street — made possible through another under-construction project from JBG Smith at 1900 Crystal Drive.

The developer is currently overseeing the construction of 1,583 apartment units and has another 1,760 units planned for near-term development.

These projects are intended to meet an anticipated influx in housing demand created by Amazon’s HQ2 in Pentagon City and the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Potomac Yard, the developer says.

“The start of construction at 2000 and 2001 South Bell Street is a major milestone in National Landing’s ongoing transformation and delivers on our pledge to build new housing in lockstep with Amazon and Virginia Tech’s growth in the neighborhood,” said Bryan Moll, JBG Smith’s executive vice president of development, in a statement.

The first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 is still on-track to be completed in 2023 and the Virginia Tech facility will be done in 2024, according to JBG Smith’s announcement.

When complete, 2000 and 2001 S. Bell Street will be a stone’s throw from a stretch of recently revamped dining and retail spaces, named Central District Retail.

The retail development, also by JBG Smith, has an outpost of New York City-based taqueria chain Tacombi, which opened last month, NYC bakery Mah-Ze-Dahr and a CVS.

There’s also a forthcoming, mysterious, grocery store — possibly an Amazon Fresh location — that could fill Crystal City’s longtime need for a grocer.

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Suspected oak mite bite (courtesy photo)

(Updated 8/19 at 12:25 p.m.) Some Arlingtonians suspected it a few weeks ago, and an entomologist with Virginia Tech has now confirmed it: those mysterious, itchy red bug bites generating a buzz here are likely from oak itch mites.

The Virginia Tech Insect ID Lab has not yet received a mite this year to study, Kirsten Ann Conrad, an extension agent for Virginia Cooperative Extension, tells ARLnow. But the mite theory nonetheless is likely correct, she says.

“No entomologist can identify a bug based on a bite. People have very different reactions to stinging biting insects,” she said. “In this case, there was plenty of circumstantial evidence that links outbreaks of oak leaf mites, and the resulting bites on humans, to cicada emergences.”

The mites are hard to track down because they’re between .2 and .8 millimeters and “nearly invisible,” according to a flier distributed by VCE’s Arlington and Alexandria offices. While they primarily feed on the eggs and larvae of the oak leaf gall midge and wood boring insects, they’re here because of the abundance of cicada nymphs. The mites bite humans when they run out of options.

“Humans are not their first choice of food,” Conrad said.

The author of the flier, Conrad said she has been getting complaints of “large raised, red skin welts and extreme itching” directly from residents and during VCE’s various educational sessions. (An Arlington County spokesman declined comment and referred us to VCE’s statements.)

The bites and mites have also been widely reported in the media. After ARLnow first reported that residents were being bitten and suspected oak itch mites, the phenomenon was covered by TV stationsthe Washington Post, and even other national and international outlets.

We later unscientifically polled readers to see if they think they’ve been bitten by these mites. About 93% of the 5,463 respondents reported that they have been bitten by the mites anywhere from once to “a lot.”

“It seems to be very local,” Conrad said. “And I don’t know what the extent of the problem is outside of the areas in which we had the Brood X emergence.”

The high response rate is not surprising, according to Conrad, who said that during a 2004 outbreak in Crawford County, Kansas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about 54% of the population suffered from the bites.

While the attacks have been linked to the Brood X emergence, a cyclical occurrence, people have told Conrad they’ve never been bitten like this before.

“People here say to me that when, 17 years ago, the last Brood X emerged, they don’t remember having such an outbreak of these itch mites then,” she said. “This is my first ever experience with them myself.”

The wet, windy weather could also be to blame.

“Their success is attributed to prolific reproduction and their dispersal by wind,” according to the flier. “These microscopic mites travel with the wind, and it is likely that moist weather and abundance of food supply has caused the population of these common insects to grow.”

As for how long they’ll stick around, Conrad says there has been speculation that the mites could be a problem until frost arrives.

“I hope not, because I’ve been getting those bites too,” she said. “I can tell you that — and this seems to be contradictory — cool, moist weather conditions favor the growth of the population, which is not what we’ve had this summer.”

As for the bites, they’re not life-threatening. Typically, the itching starts within 10 to 16 hours after the mite bites and can last up to two weeks. Conrad advised using over-the-counter products to reduce itching and inflammation, such as calamine lotion, Benadryl and After-Bite, and advised people to see their doctor if the irritation requires medical attention.

Dr. Hong Hanh Nguyen, with Virginia Hospital Center, said she’s been seeing a number of patients seeking treatment for bug bites.

“From what we’ve been seeing, the itching resulting from the bite can last about two weeks and experts have suggested that we may be seeing bites from the mites until about October,” Nguyen said. “We recommend using over the counter Cortisone ointment to decrease the swelling and itching and have also recommended the use of Sarna cream for itching, both can be used multiple times a day. Ice, even just rubbing on an ice cube on the bite for 10 seconds or so, can also help reduce the itch.”

When going outside, people can apply repellents such as DEET formulations, IR-3535, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, Conrad said. People who are particularly sensitive to bites should don long sleeves, a hat and long pants when outdoors, she said. Showering and washing clothing after coming inside can help.

Treating oak trees with pesticides, however, “is not recommended nor is treatment of trees showing cicada damage,” she said.

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Virginia Tech is launching its newest MBA program option, the Online MBA, in response to the changing needs of students and the workplace in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The new format allowed us to combine some of the tried and true features of our established in-person MBA formats and online master of information technology to craft the best possible educational experience for students who value consistent interaction with their classmates and also want the flexibility of an online program,” said Parviz Ghandforoush, associate dean for graduate programs.

“We’ve sought to include the best aspects of our top-ranked Evening MBA, experiential-focused Executive MBA and hybrid Professional MBA, both in curriculum development and online delivery,” said Dana Hansson, director of MBA programs. “We’ve integrated feedback from students in all formats to determine how we can offer the best educational experience online.”

It’s this feedback that informed some of the unique features of the 22-month Online MBA that distinguish it from other online MBA offerings in the marketplace.

While fully online, delivery of the new program will be evenly split between synchronous and asynchronous experiences. “While students appreciate the flexibility of asynchronous learning, many shared with us that meeting synchronously best mirrors an on-campus experience. It allows students to participate actively in class discussions and study teams, develop working relationships with their peers and engage with Virginia Tech’s top-notch faculty,” Hansson said.

The program is cohort-based, which means that students complete their studies in lockstep and have the opportunity to build meaningful professional relationships with their classmates.

Students can choose to specialize their MBA in areas where Virginia Tech has significant expertise, such as cybersecurity, entrepreneurism, health information technology and business data analytics. The program also includes an option to study abroad through the international business specialization.

Online MBA students will also share the support and resources available to all Virginia Tech MBA students. Hansson said this includes access to an established MBA alumni mentoring program, personalized academic advising and membership in Virginia Tech’s vast alumni network.

“We’re excited to provide this new opportunity to professionals across the globe who want to further their careers and join our talented group of students and alumni who are proud to call themselves Hokies.”

Applications for the inaugural cohort are due May 1, with classes starting in July and graduation expected in May 2023.

Learn more at mba.vt.edu/online.

The ever-evolving “security threat landscape” and changes in user behavior and IT infrastructure require IT professionals to keep their knowledge up to date and stay on top of the latest trends and developments.

Earning a 100% online Master of Information Technology or graduate certificate with cybersecurity specialization from Virginia Tech can help individuals meet these heightened demands in a number of ways.

Ranked one of the top online master’s degree for cybersecurity by Cyberdegrees.org and one of the top four online graduate IT programs nationwide by U.S. News and World Report, Virginia Tech’s VT-MIT program takes a unique approach to specialized education.

Core courses in areas such as information systems design, electronic commerce, software engineering and computer programming help students master technical expertise in a business context. After completing these core courses, degree students can choose to specialize in cybersecurity technologies, cybersecurity management or cybersecurity policy. Virginia Tech also offers these topic areas as standalone graduate certificates for those not pursuing the full degree.

Whether interested in running an in-house cybersecurity practice or exploring the legal and ethical concerns triggered by data breaches, students have the opportunity to tailor their education around their career ambitions.

Part of Virginia Tech’s core strength is its world-class cybersecurity research, supported by $15 million in research grants and contracts. Students can access six cybersecurity research centers, including the Ballston-based Hume Center for National Security and Technology.

The VT-MIT program’s 100% online format allows students to pursue higher education at their own by deciding their own course load each semester. Further enriching the student environment is the program’s openness to students with diverse backgrounds and interests, including business line leaders looking to improve their technology capabilities while leveraging their domain expertise.

Combating today’s cyber threats has never been more difficult — or more critical to business continuity. A Master of Information Technology degree with cybersecurity specialization or standalone graduate certificate from Virginia Tech can help leaders better understand the systemic nature of these threats and teach them strategies for dealing with an increasingly complex security landscape.

Learn more about Virginia Tech’s 100% online Master of Information Technology with cybersecurity specializations at vtmit.vt.edu.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact every aspect of modern-day life, from the way consumers buy their groceries to how employees connect to corporate systems. Learning is no exception.

Since the outbreak, online learning has become more central to people’s lives. And many plan to continue the trend: More than half of American adults who expect to need more education or training post-pandemic say they would do it online, according to an August 2020 survey by the Strada Education Network.

Yet not all online education is created equal — and IT pros looking to invest in a program should compare and contrast options carefully.

Whether pursuing a full-time master’s degree to deepen IT expertise or seeking a certificate to boost content knowledge in a specific area, there are many reasons why Virginia Tech’s 100% online Master of Information Technology program (VT-MIT) is a superior choice for IT leaders.

The U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Programs report ranks Virginia Tech’s MIT degree the nation’s fourth best. The program blends coursework and offers twelve areas of specialized study for a diverse education.

Courses are taught by world-class faculty experienced in translating a robust academic experience to an effective online format. For nearly 20 years, the VT-MIT program has relied on a two-tiered system of master faculty and distance learning instructors who together deliver a superior online classroom experience that encourages peer-to-peer support, faculty-to-student mentoring and real-time engagement, making VT-MIT a leader in the online education space long before COVID-19 forced other programs to go virtual.

Students can also expect to reap these advantages:

  • Increased Flexibility  Students can choose their own timeline and toggle between full- and part-time schedules, depending on employment status and current workload.
  • Greater Convenience –– A combination of synchronous and asynchronous online classes allows students to learn anywhere, anytime — ideal for remote workers unsure of when they may return to the office.
  • Enhanced Value Students can earn a VT-MIT degree at a universal tuition rate (no residency required) from a well-respected public institution.

Today’s IT professionals must act fast to keep pace with a rapidly evolving IT environment. Experience and specialized IT skills are critical to making the right technology decisions, at the right time. With the flexibility of an online VT-MIT degree or graduate certificate, IT leaders can strike the perfect balance: earn a respected credential that will help them confront the technological challenges of the 21st century while accommodating new realities.

As the COVID-19 pandemic extends, many professionals are taking this time to prepare for the future by investing in graduate education. And there might not be a better time to do so.

Whether it’s the increased flexibility in classroom formats, frozen tuition rates, relaxed admission requirements, or reduced interest rates on student loans, there are plenty of reasons why students feel like this time period is a unique opportunity for them to build the skills and professional network they need to advance their career.

While fall classes have already started, there are still options for individuals who want to take advantage of graduate study opportunities before next year’s back-to-school season. Virginia Tech’s local Evening MBA program offers a spring entry term with classes starting January 19.

The Evening MBA is a top 20 nationally ranked program designed with maximum flexibility for working professionals.

Students choose their own course load each semester, so those dealing with job uncertainty or working parents with new childcare demands can find the right workload for them and even easily switch between full- and part-time status.

While classes typically take place in-person on weekday evenings at Virginia Tech’s conveniently located Falls Church center, the current environment shifted instruction mode to primarily online, with some classes still offering an in-person option.

The flexible program format contributed to what associate director of MBA recruiting Rebecca McGill described as a “significant increase in applications and enrollments for the fall term.” She added that many also chose this time to apply because they can “take advantage of relaxed GMAT/GRE test score requirements that have never been offered before.”

For spring applicants, the Evening MBA reduced the number of years of work experience required for a test score waiver from ten years to five.

McGill expects the increased application trend to continue for the spring term “as more and more individuals use this time to invest in themselves and their future.”

Applications for the spring semester are due December 1. Learn more at evening.mba.vt.edu.

Not everyone has the time or financial resources to commit to a full master’s degree program. Some may already have a master’s and are just looking for a narrow update on a current skillset. For these reasons, Virginia Tech’s 100% online Master of Information Technology program now offers IT professionals the option to earn a graduate certificate in 10 specialized IT subject areas.

“IT leaders can find a certificate that speaks exactly to their professional needs without having to commit several years to pursuing a master’s degree,” says Barbara Hoopes, Associate Professor of Business Information Technology at Virginia Tech. In fact, students can earn a certificate in as little as 12 months as a part-time student.

Whether looking to simply enhance existing skills or prepare for a major career transition, students can expect to reap these rewards:

Enhanced Marketability — Both experienced and aspiring IT professionals can enhance their expertise through thoughtfully designed certificates that allow students to develop skills in areas where a current dearth of talent is driving competitive salaries and prime opportunities for career advancement.

Explore High-Demand Areas — Earning a certificate offers a relatively quick opportunity to explore a high-demand content area, like Cybersecurity, Business Data Analytics, or Health Information Technology, to boost marketability and stay abreast of IT trends. Employers can also use a certificate “to contribute to the skill sets and the knowledge base of employees without having to release them to earn a degree as a full-time student,” says Hoopes.

Greater Convenience — Exclusively online, a VT-MIT master’s degree or graduate certificate satisfies an increasing demand among IT workers for greater flexibility. Students can easily switch between full or part-time status and shift their course loads to match their personal and professional demands. An online VT-MIT degree or graduate certificate offers students the skills they need while at the same time balancing today’s personal, professional and academic demands.

Learn more about Virginia Tech’s 100% online Master of Information Technology and graduate certificate options at vtmit.vt.edu.

In an uncertain economy, professionals may find that returning to school for an MBA can be a productive way to sharpen skills and add credentials while working to launch the next stage of their careers.

Virginia Tech’s Evening MBA program, based in the university’s Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church, has attracted many new students this fall for several reasons, said MBA programs director Dana Hansson. These include its stellar reputation and top 20 national ranking; dedicated faculty, many with industry experience; extensive alumni network; and great value.

Those who majored in science, engineering and other nonbusiness disciplines as undergraduates — such as Ryan Feber, a 2003 Virginia Tech graduate in computer science, and Bryan Gassenmeyer, who earned a degree in industrial and systems engineering at Virginia Tech in 2006 — have found that not only is a prior business education not needed to enroll or excel in an MBA program, but that technical backgrounds can be a basis for diversifying or rounding out knowledge and skills for managing or leading change in today’s data economy.

Others like Cody Neder, a 2014 finance alumnus, and Alexis Monahan, a 2006 graduate in communications and psychology, have lauded the program for the business and management knowledge and skills they’ve gained and the rich contributions to their learning from faculty and classmates with diverse professional backgrounds.

And, because life circumstances can change, a program that offers flexibility and affordability — students can shift between full-time and part-time status and apply for paid graduate assistantships — are two more pluses.

Maryann Romero’s experience reflects both these benefits. A stay-at-home mom at the time with an undergraduate degree in communications and rhetorical studies from Syracuse University, Romero finished up in two-and-a-half years and credits the program for opening the door to a new career as a client insights analyst at a media analytics company.

Lastly, Virginia Tech’s caring and supportive community of faculty and staff left a lasting impression on Nicholle Clinton, who received a marketing degree in 2007 and currently expects to complete her MBA in December 2020. Clinton coped with a series of serious family illnesses and losses during her senior year as well as early in her MBA studies. She is grateful for the compassion and assistance she received during both periods from the teaching faculty and program staff.

Learn more about how Virginia Tech can support your career goals at mba.vt.edu.

For professionals on the rise, an MBA is a key credential. But while an MBA may help launch the next stage of a career, few are willing to put everything on hold to obtain one. Staying on top of course work while holding down a job and meeting personal obligations is challenging at best.

“Students nowadays aren’t willing to go to school to earn an MBA on a full-time basis and forego the economic benefits of a full-time job,” says Dr. Parviz Ghandforoush, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business.

That’s one of the reasons why business schools like Pamplin have developed an alternative: hybrid MBA program options that combine the flexibility of online courses with the in-person interaction of a traditional MBA.

Online collaboration and discussion modules give students flexibility to access coursework whenever and wherever they are located. In-person class lectures offer hands-on learning, face-to-face discussions and substantive interaction with instructors and classmates.

According to Dana Hansson, Director of MBA Programs at Virginia Tech, the hybrid nature of the programs deliver flexibility and “a personal touch” that encourages students from various industries, work settings and management layers to pool their experiential knowledge.

Both hybrid pathways to an MBA — the Ballston-based Executive MBA and multi-city Professional MBA — offer advantages that promise to resonate long after a program’s completion.

An in-person element and cohort format create lasting relationships that can deliver significantly more value and meaning than any LinkedIn connection. Membership in an elite institution also promotes close professional relationships among peers throughout Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C., metro area.

With more than 100,000 alumni in the mid-Atlantic region alone, an MBA from Virginia Tech provides students with access to industry professionals and mentors, many of whom can connect graduates with opportunities for career advancement.

A part-time format means applicants can maintain a steady income while also furthering their career aspirations. As a public university, Virginia Tech also offers a high-value tuition rate.

The part-time Professional MBA and Executive MBA programs can each be completed in the same amount of time as a traditional full-time program, and less than a traditional part-time program.

Learn more at mba.vt.edu.

In today’s digital environment, organizations must collect vast volumes of data, analyze that data to retain high-value customers, predict trends, identify emerging markets, mitigate risk, drive innovation and more.

This means IT leaders must know how to gather and store information, combine data into meaningful clusters, mine it for compelling insights, and present it in a way that can help the business.

“Nowadays every company needs data-literate IT leaders who understand how to manipulate data, hear the voice of data, and translate insights into a competitive advantage for the business,” says Barbara Hoopes, Associate Professor of Business Information Technology at Virginia Tech.

For those companies or individuals looking to deepen their data analytics skill set, Virginia Tech’s online Master of Information Technology (VT-MIT) program provides an excellent foundation.

Not everyone has the time or financial resources to commit to a full master’s degree program, however. Some may already have a master’s and are just looking for a narrow update on a current skillset. For these reasons, the VT-MIT program also offers IT professionals the option to earn a graduate certificate in six specialized IT subject areas, including Business Analytics and Data Mining.

“IT leaders can find a certificate that speaks exactly to their professional needs without having to commit several years to pursuing a master’s degree,” says Hoopes. In fact, students can earn a certificate in as little as 12 months.

Whether looking to enhance existing skills or prepare for a major career transition, VT-MIT students can expect:

  • Enhanced marketability as they develop skills where a current dearth of talent is driving competitive salaries and prime opportunities for career advancement.
  • Greater convenience through exclusively online courses and a flexible schedule that allow for VT-MIT students to stay in the workforce while they earn a credential, shift their course loads at busier times for their business, and benefit from the experience of peers from across the globe.
  • Rapid upskilling in high-demand areas through focused graduate certificate options. Employers often provide tuition reimbursement “to contribute to the skill sets and the knowledge base of employees without having to release them to earn a degree as a full-time student,” says Hoopes.

Data analytics can provide organizations with invaluable insights — but only if IT leaders know how to parlay data into insights that drive informed business decisions.

Learn more about Virginia Tech’s 100% online Master of Information Technology and graduate certificate options at vtmit.vt.edu.

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