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Lance Collins, who was featured in US Black Engineer‘s magazine’s 2011 Deans edition, is currently vice president and executive director of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus.

Collins joined Virginia Tech in August 2020 from Cornell University where he served as the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering for 10 years. As engineering dean, Collins led one of the largest capital campaigns in the college’s history. He also accelerated efforts to diversify the faculty and student body.

During his tenure, the proportion of minority students increased from 8 to 19 percent and the undergraduate female enrollment from 33 to 50 percent. Prior to Cornell, Collins spent 11 years as an assistant professor, associate professor, and professor of chemical engineering at Penn State University. Collins earned a bachelor’s degree in 1981 at Princeton University and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in 1987 at the University of Pennsylvania, all in chemical engineering.

“We launched this campus with an ambitious vision to diversify the talent in high-tech fields,” said Collins, who aims to develop the most diverse graduate technology program in the country at the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus.

“It takes partners like Boeing to help us achieve such big goals, ” Collins added. “This gift allows us to begin initiatives now that would otherwise take years to start. We are honored to receive this record gift, and we look forward to delivering on what it has empowered us to do.” Collins said.

Along with supporting the creation of a new campus, Boeing’s investment will go toward scholarships, fellowships, and academic programs.

“We are grateful to Boeing for this extraordinarily generous show of support,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said. “This is a milestone moment in our university’s history, and it will propel our work to help establish the greater Washington, D.C., area as the world’s next major tech hub.”

According to Virginia Tech, Boeing’s $50 million investment in the Innovation Campus in Alexandria, Virginia will fund science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) pathway programs for K-12 students looking to pursue a college degree and enter high-tech career sectors.

The 65-acre innovation district is a major component of Virginia Tech’s commitment to that program. Boeing is the first foundational partner of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus.

“Virginia Tech has a bold and unique vision to unlock the power of diversity to solve the world’s most pressing problems through technology, and we are proud to help make that vision a reality,” said Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun, a Virginia Tech alumnus. “Boeing is dedicated to advancing equity and inclusion, both within our company and in our communities, and we look forward to partnering with Virginia Tech to build a robust and diverse STEM talent pipeline to drive the future of aerospace.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Boeing’s support is great news for Virginia Tech and the country. “The U.S. must maintain international leadership in advancing technology, and talent is our most critical resource,” Warner said. “It’s exciting to see a world-class company like Boeing invest in a program that will help bolster the depth of our nation’s tech talent and drive economic growth in the Washington, D.C., region.”

The Commonwealth of Virginia has committed to creating 31,000 new computer science and computer engineering graduates over 20 years through its Tech Talent Investment Program agreements with 11 universities.

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