New Virginia Tech initiatives target region’s brain drain

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — New initiatives launching next year at Virginia Tech aims to develop the region into a blockchain hub and keep students from looking elsewhere for high-skilled job opportunities.

One initiative called Developing a Destination for Talents focuses on connecting students with local opportunities in engineering, health care, and the technology field.

“The big idea is that we want to create pathways for Virginia Tech students to get great hands-on, real-world work experience,” said Donna Ratcliffe, Director of Career and Professional Development at Virginia Tech.

“We also want to introduce students to the idea that the New River and Roanoke valleys are good places to work, live, and play after graduation.”

The program will cover about 50% of wages, permitting companies to set more competitive pay rates to attract students.

Local companies often compete with larger, national businesses at campus job fairs. The program addresses this by developing relationships with local businesses and fostering connections with students.

With this initiative, the university will develop relationships with local businesses to foster access and connections to students.

Organizers have scheduled an event on Nov. 21 with local companies about developing internships.

Another initiative will launch a blockchain hub in Blacksburg, called the Blockchain Ecosystem Catalyst.

According to Virginia Tech, blockchain is a system for distributing digital information made of blocks of data linked through codes.

“It’s an emerging technology and one that is increasingly important for businesses to embrace,” said Kirk Cameron, a professor of computer science at Virginia Tech who teaches blockchain courses.

The hub will focus on increasing the understanding and use of blockchain technology by educators, local businesses, and attract blockchain companies to the area.

“People need opportunities like this to gain expertise in a field that is a growing area,” Cameron said. “It’s an outreach and engagement activity, a service that we can provide to the region because of who we are as Virginia Tech.”

Both initiatives received grants from the Growth and Opportunity for Virginia funding program totaling $546,800.

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