U.S. News & World Report Recognizes Virginia’s Colleges and Universities

Once again, Virginia received high recognition in U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Best Colleges ranking. On the Top Public Schools – National Universities list, the University of Virginia placed No. 2, followed by The College of William and Mary at No. 6 and Virginia Tech at No. 25.

Virginia Military Institute came in at No. 4 again on the Top Public Schools – Liberal Arts College category. Virginia schools showed prominently on the Top Public Schools – Regional Universities (South) list, with James Madison University coming in at No. 2, the University of Mary Washington at No. 5, Christopher Newport University at No. 7, Longwood University at No. 12, and Radford University at No. 13.

In the Best Value Schools – Liberal Arts Colleges category, Washington and Lee University came in at No. 10 and University of Richmond came in at No. 14. In the Best Up-and-Coming – National Universities list, George Mason University was ranked No. 6 and Virginia Commonwealth University was ranked No. 14.

Virginia Tech was once again recognized for its world-class engineering capabilities. Its College of Engineering undergraduate program was ranked No. 15 and graduate program was ranked No. 24.

UVA’s business program also received high marks — its undergraduate program was ranked No. 5 and the Darden School of Business was ranked No. 12.

The U.S. News & World Report rankings confirm what companies in Virginia already know — the Commonwealth’s premier education system and workforce training programs provide employers with a solid pipeline of highly-skilled workers. To learn more, click here.

FAA Selects Virginia Tech as Test Site for Unmanned Aircrafts

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, former 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.

Virginia’s Transportation Infrastructure Posts a Banner Year

2013 was a banner year for augmenting Virginia’s transportation infrastructure. The General Assembly passed HB 2313, known as Virginia’s Road to the Future, which provides almost $6 billion in funding over the next five years.

Virginia’s premier logistics network includes six interstate highways, 14 commercial airports, nine of which are located in the state, 14 railroads, including two Class I lines, and the international Port of Virginia. Maintaining and expanding this network is crucial for job creation and economic growth.

The Commonwealth’s leadership in logistics has been recognized by Infrastructure Investor, a global magazine covering transportation investment. The publication named former Governor McDonnell to its "Public Infrastructure Officials of the Year" in 2013 and went on to say, "The numbers, although impressive — Virginia currently has 22 public-private partnership projects in the pipeline, more than all other states combined — are not the only testament to success. Industry experts everywhere often refer to Virginia as a role model when it comes to public-private partnerships."

Some of the marquee transportation projects currently underway include expanding the I-495 and I-95 Express Lanes in Northern Virginia, improving the Midtown Tunnel in Portsmouth, extending Phase II rail service to Dulles via the Silver Line, and returning Amtrak Service to Roanoke and Norfolk.

Centrally located on the East Coast, Virginia is within a two-day drive time of approximately 70 percent of the U.S. population and more than 307,000 manufacturing establishments. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s global logistics capabilities, click here.

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