With Amazon HQ2 on the horizon, the Commonwealth is investing millions in education

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“Roughly half of the employment at Amazon’s new Northern Virginia headquarters is expected to be technology jobs — including software development engineering, artificial intelligence and machine learning.” said Governor Ralph Northam at Amazon’s Virginia, HQ2 announcement Tuesday November 13.

Amazon’s second headquarters, or “HQ2,” will be split between Queens, New York and Northern Virginia.

The state of Virginia, and the city of Arlington, helped secure the corporate giant with over $800 million in incentives.

Though some are less traditional than others.  

The Commonwealth is investing millions of dollars in education. From grade school, to PhD’s, they’re looking to feed, “Virginia’s tech talent pipeline,” supplying Amazon with a skilled workforce and research.

“Honestly, a company like Amazon, like all the leading companies, all the software companies in the country in the world. They go where talent is, that’s the key, that’s the key. You go where you can get the best talent.” said George Mason University President, Ángel Cabrera.

George Mason is expanding its Arlington campus, programs and research. $125 million will come from the Commonwealth. The university has pledged to match the number through its own fundraising efforts.

“Right now, we have the largest population of students in computer science and related disciplines which is about 5,000. We expect that to triple to about 15,000.” Cabrera said.

Cabrera adds that they’re creating a school of computing, the first one in Virginia. 

“It’s a dedicated academic unit that will bring together all the computer science related disciplines, cyber security, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, data science and so forth,” Cabrera said. 

The “new facility” will be the institute for digital innovation, a university think tank and incubator to serve the digital economy. But George Mason is not the only Virginia school making a big investment.

Virginia Tech will build a $1 billion innovation campus in Alexandria.

“Virginia’s enhanced focus on preparing our students for the jobs and the skills of the future directly aligns with Amazon’s needs and creates a pathway for success for our students.” Northam said.

Read an excerpt from Northam’s speech:

“Virginia led the nation by adopting computer science accross the k-12 continuum. As part of this project we will invest an additional $25 million over two decades to provide ongoing professional development to teachers, develop new curriculum and resources, support summer and after school programming and implement work based learning opportunities for students.

We will also invest $25 million over two decades to expand internship opportunities for college students studying computer science and related fields, to expand our higher education programs.

Virginia will establish a tech talent investment fund through which both our community colleges and our universities will have access to funding for faculty recruitment, capital investment and enrollment support to expand their tech related bachelors degree programs.

These undergraduate programs in computer science, computer engineering, and other closely related fields will be located at institutions accross the Commonwealth and will serve to strengthen the tech talent marked in Virginia.

We will also invest in new masters degree programs at two institutions — Virginia Tech and George Mason University.

Virginia Tech will establish an innovation campus in Alexandria just a couple miles from Amazon’s new headquarters. This campus, will support graduate education attract top flyer faculty, spark research, search and discovery and strengthen the states innovation economy. Within a few years, the campus will boost 750 masters degrees annually while engaging hundreds of PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, in cutting edge research.

George Mason University will launch a new institute for digital innovation to drive research advances into new digital products and services. This will be located at Mason’s Arlington campus. The new institute will house private sector entities, along with Mason’s thriving research and graduate education programs including computing.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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