A Successful Tomorrow Starts Today

Thursday, 7 July 2011 11:31 by Info@YesVirginia.org

With the changing economic landscape, companies both large and small are increasingly relying on a skilled and educated workforce. Higher technological competencies and experience with service-oriented positions are just a few of the skills employers are looking for to ensure their business’ success.

Preparing students to enter this business environment is an important task and one that Frederick County and Winchester, Virginia are taking seriously. Check out the video below on how educators, employers, and government officials are equipping students to thrive in tomorrow’s workforce.

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Third Time's a Charm- Virginia Ranked CNBC's Top State for Business

Wednesday, 29 June 2011 11:42 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Virginia has done it again—CNBC announced that Virginia has reclaimed the award for “Top State for Business.” Since the rankings began five years ago, Virginia has remained in the top two spots, with first-place finishes in 2007, 2009 and now 2011, and second place awards in 2008 and 2010. This year, Virginia was followed by Texas at number two, North Carolina as number three, and Georgia and Colorado coming in at fourth and fifth.

The news was announced live from Mount Vernon, Virginia. Speaking about Virginia’s win, CNBC Senior Correspondent Scott Cohn, said, "With an unprecedented fiscal crisis at the state level, never has it been tougher to stay competitive. But Virginia met the challenge on every level, achieving the highest point total in the history of our study, and finishing in the top half of every category. In the see-saw battle between Virginia and Texas, Virginia is back on top--for now."

CNBC took an in-depth look at why Virginia again came out on top. Using publicly available data, each state was scored on 43 different measures of competitiveness. States received points based on their rankings in each metric, which were then separated into 10 broad categories: Cost of Doing Business, Workforce, Quality of Life, Economy, Infrastructure & Transportation, Technology & Innovation, Education, Business Friendliness, Access to Capital and Cost of Living.

Not only did the Commonwealth win the highest ranking—Virginia received the highest point total in the history of the rankings, finishing in the top-half of every category ranked.

Virginia has often been lauded for its strategic location, friendly business climate and diverse economy, and this year’s CNBC top ranking was no different. The Commonwealth also showed marked improvements in its tax burden and education. Not only that, Virginia finished in the top ten in five categories: Infrastructure & Transportation at number 10, Economy at number 8, Education at number 6, second in Business Friendliness and tenth in Access to Capital.

So when people ask why they should “Say Yes” to Virginia, don’t just take our word for it—ask the experts.

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Volvo Trucks Achieves Energy Efficiency Goals

Monday, 27 June 2011 09:41 by Info@YesVirginia.org

 Volvo is currently working toward a corporate goal of making all of its manufacturing facilities carbon dioxide neutral by 2012- a goal that requires alternative uses of renewable energy, as well as reducing overall energy consumption at its plants.

Volvo Trucks, located in Dublin, Virginia, took the goal even farther, hoping to reduce consumption by 25% in a single year at its New River Valley plant.  Check out this article on the U.S. Department of Energy’s site, which highlights Volvo Trucks’ success in achieving its goals, and the steps it took to get there.

 

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Virginia Tech Corporate Research Park Receives Award of Excellence

Thursday, 23 June 2011 11:20 by Info@YesVirginia.org

 “Outstanding”, “Exceptional leadership in innovation”, “Driving innovation in communities” –These are just a few of the attributes describing Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Park, which was recently awarded the 2010 Award of Excellence by the Association of University Research Parks (AURP). In its 15th year, the Award of Excellence recognizes the achievements of research parks and industry partners. The award looks to research parks that successfully bring technology from its initial stages in the laboratory to applicable business solutions, which in turn promotes sustainable economic development in the region through jobs, revenue, and overall business growth.

The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Park currently houses over 140 high-tech companies and research centers that employ more than 2,200 people in 27 buildings. A Phase II build-out is planned for the park, adding 28 buildings totaling 950,000 square-feet, and housing 3,000 employees over the next decade. The park is adjacent to the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Check out the link below for more information on the 2010 Award of Excellence and a video about the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Park:

The 2010 Award of Excellence

 

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From Rebuild to Reopen

Monday, 23 May 2011 08:24 by Info@YesVirginia.org

During the month of April, the South was devastated after hundreds of tornados tore through the region.  Homes and businesses were damaged and even destroyed, leaving those affected with little to do but pick up the pieces.

In the face of such destruction, it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel—and for many—getting back on their feet could take months.  So when we heard the news that Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company was already reopening their manufacturing facility in Washington County, we were thrilled.

Utility’s dry van plant was struck by a tornado on April 28,th leaving considerable damage to the roof and building, but fortunately sparing the company’s 340 employees.  The plant manufactures Utility’s 4000D and 4000D-X Composite™ dry van trailers and it was a priority to get the facility up and running after the storm. Utility’s President, Harold Bennett praised employees and contractors saying, “[they] have done a masterful job of clean-up, debris removal, clearing damaged inventory, and helping the community rebuild what was lost from the tornado devastation.”  He went on to say, “the committed effort by Utility employees at cleaning up and restarting Glade Spring reinforces [his] faith in the human spirit and people’s ability to rise above near tragedy.”

Bennett’s praise is certainly not news to us here in Virginia. Our workforce is continually lauded by companies as hard-working, highly-skilled and educated, and diverse in their abilities and skill-sets. And as Virginians, we know that our workers aren’t just ready to perform the tasks at hand, they are also invested in their communities and in the lives of fellow citizens. So while disaster is never welcome, our workforce— one of Virginia’s biggest assets—continues to prove that they are the backbone of successful industry.

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The Big Apple

Monday, 23 May 2011 08:21 by Info@YesVirginia.org

Last Tuesday, Governor Bob McDonnell and members of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership traveled to the Big Apple to promote the Commonwealth.  A short, but busy one-day marketing trip, the Governor met with corporate partners throughout the morning and hosted a luncheon for business representatives and consultants from the greater New York area.  Following the luncheon, the Governor headed to NASDAQ to preside over the day’s closing ceremony and spoke from the floor with Bloomberg Business Week and Cavuto from Fox News.  Check out some of the photos from the day.

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We're wired up!

Friday, 22 April 2011 13:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org

A new industry sector continues to gain momentum here in Virginia and we’re not the only ones spreading the word. Southern Business & Development magazine ranked three Virginia data center sites in their winter 2011 “Ten Best Data Sites in the South” list. Scott County Regional Business and Technology Park in Duffield, Quality Technology Services in Richmond and GigaParks in southern Virginia all made the cut.

IT operations are an essential aspect of most companies’ operations today, and maintaining a functional data center is crucial to continuing business success. Virginia’s multiple data center locations offer an array of necessary resources to meet the increasing demand for these sites.  From existing infrastructure to ready-to-develop sites, Virginia has locations across the state- both in close proximity to Washington D.C. as well as throughout rural southern Virginia. In fact, Southern Business & Development said, “Southern Virginia is so wired up that we really couldn’t pick a specific site in that part of the state as one of our best data center sites simply because there are so many of them."

InAugust 2010, Microsoft Corp. announced their plans to open a $499 million next generation data center at one of these sites in southern Virginia. The largest investment in southern Virginia history, this project in Mecklenburg County demonstrates Virginia’s commitment to meeting the needs of businesses through a continual development of state-of-the-art infrastructure.

As data centers continue to be a buzz word across the south, you can count on Virginia to remain a front runner in providing top-notch data center sites in a pro-business environment.

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VEDP VALET Graduate Receives Prestigious National Award

Tuesday, 4 January 2011 10:18 by Info@YesVirginia.org

SteelMaster Buildings, LLC of Virginia Beach has been honored with the Growth Through Global Trade Award, a prestigious national award created by UPS in support of the National Export Initiative. SteelMaster Buildings, which recently completed VEDP’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program, was the only company in the entire United States to receive the award.

Recognizing that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S., SteelMaster Buildings began to develop an international sales strategy five years ago. The company added a multilingual employee to work with its sales team. In July 2007, SteelMaster Buildings joined VEDP’s VALET program and began implementing its international sales strategy.

VEDP's VALET program incorporates services from a team of experienced international service providers who assist the VALET companies with their international goals. Service providers such as attorneys, Web designers, bankers, translators and freight-forwarders contribute essential skills for expansion into international markets.

When SteelMaster joined the program, the company’s international network consisted of four representatives. In less than two years, SteelMaster Buildings’ network grew to more than 40 representatives. Today, the Virginia company has more than 40,000 buildings worldwide in more than 40 countries and on six continents. SteelMaster Buildings graduated from the VALET program in July 2009 and continues to work with VEDP’s International Trade team to reach new goals of establishing relationships in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and China.

Read the article about SteelMaster Buildings’ success. For more information about VEDP and the VALET program, e-mail Leslie Parpart at lparpart@yesvirginia.org or Oscar Ruiz at oruiz@yesvirginia.org.

Preparing Virginia's Future Engineers

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:16 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program is a long-standing program that has demonstrated Virginia's higher education partnerships for many years. It continues to support the workforce needs of significant advanced manufacturing employers in the Commonwealth. This article is worth the short read.

A Rolls-Royce Style Celebration

Monday, 19 October 2009 15:37 by Info@YesVirginia.org

It’s not unusual for companies to recognize their customers at milestone celebrations.

It’s not even that atypical to give customers some podium time.

But when the customer is the United States Marine Corps, and they arrive at a Rolls-Royce North America event in a Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, a multi-mission, military tiltrotor aircraft powered by a Rolls-Royce engine, that’s a bit out of the ordinary.

Not one—but two—40,000-pound V-22s appeared from out of nowhere this morning to usher in construction of Rolls-Royce North America’s first U.S. built-from-the-ground-up manufacturing facility in Prince George County, Virginia. Located on more than 1,000 acres, Crosspointe is the company’s largest site by area in North America, where Rolls-Royce will manufacture, assemble and test a range of aerospace components and products. Initial Rolls-Royce investment is $170 million, with a project total anticipated to be about $500 million. The first phase of work will create about 140 jobs, and Rolls-Royce expects to hire a total of 500 workers before all is said and done. The project was announced in November 2007.

Instead of the typical shovel-piercing-ground ceremony, Rolls-Royce North America CEO Jim Guyette and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine hoisted two flags—one bearing the Rolls-Royce logo and the other symbolizing the Commonwealth of Virginia—with help from none other than the Marines themselves.

 

 V22 Osprey Lands in Prince George County

 

Governor Kaine attends ground breaking

We Blow a Lot of Hot Air

Monday, 14 September 2009 09:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org

We tout Virginia’s East Coast location as both a premium tourism destination and an economic development plus. For tourists, Virginia offers beautiful beaches and an oasis for water sports enthusiasts. But Virginia’s geographic fortune, particularly in the Hampton Roads region, also lends itself to an industry that is growing in importance. Our coastal seat is a cream-of-the-crop location for offshore wind projects.

The Hampton Roads region is well positioned to become a hub for offshore wind supply.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Virginia offers a class 6 (outstanding) wind power classification within 10-15 miles of shore and within close proximity to major power demand centers. The risk of major hurricane strikes is minimal in the Commonwealth, which boasts a robust coastal transmission grid, and Virginia is one of only 10 states to possess a shallow water resource base, which is important for turbine placement.

Class 6 winds are located virtually beyond the visual horizon, so those folks who loathe the idea of a turbine view need not worry. They would barely be seen, even on the clearest of days.

Virginia and its partners are working to leverage the Commonwealth’s assets to become a leading provider of wind energy. University partners, including James Madison University, Old Dominion University, William & Mary (VIMS), the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech are engaged in wind research and development, as are corporate partners such as Dominion Power, AREVA, GE Energy, SAIC, and NASA Langley Research Center. Most recently, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College began assembling a wind energy turbine technician training curriculum that covers everything from wind safety to turbine troubleshooting and repair. The college plans to offer the curriculum in 2010.

When the companies come a knockin, we hope to be ready. The Commonwealth’s wind potential is already attracting attention from energy industry leaders such as AREVA, a major Virginia employer that is seeking a location for future wind turbine manufacturing plants. In a recent Daily Press article (http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-local_windfarm_0904sep04,0,7182547.story) , it was estimated that construction of 100 wind turbines off of Virginia’s coast could create 8,000-10,000 new jobs. How’s that? Turbine manufacturers want to be close to their client.

Wise County in Southwest Virginia last week approved BP Wind Energy’s and Dominion’s plans to move forward with construction of a wind farm within its borders. Nearby Tazewell County is considering a similar proposal. The Southwest region of the Commonwealth provides class 4 (good) wind.

We look forward to working with energy prospects to leverage the potential of our wind—regardless of the region. For more information about VEDP’s energy industry efforts, visit www.YesVirginia.org.

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The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a state authority created by the Virginia General Assembly to better serve those seeking a prime business location and increased trade opportunities, provides confidential site selection and international trade services. VEDP's mission: To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities.

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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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