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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Signs Tech Talent Investment Agreement

As part of a statewide effort to stimulate the production of computer science and computer engineering graduates, Gov. Ralph Northam announced today that Old Dominion University was selected to participate in the Commonwealth's Tech Talent Investment Program.

"This initiative is an investment in Virginians," Northam said. "Virginia's tech sector will continue booming only if we can train the workforce those jobs require. With today's announcement, we are educating a workforce that will fill jobs at hundreds of tech companies around the Commonwealth, including at Amazon, helping boost our economy and quality of life in every corner of Virginia."

ODU will receive $29.2 million over the next two decades to help grow the number of computer scientists and computer engineers in the Commonwealth. Continued funding is contingent on meeting graduation targets in these key fields.

"We are excited to participate in the Tech Talent Program, which will offer access, diversity, cost-effectiveness, and affordability to Virginians," said President John R. Broderick, who led the ODU's effort to be a part of the program. "More importantly, as a leader in distance learning and social mobility, we will be able to leverage those strengths to make sure that residents from the Eastern Shore to Appalachia, and everywhere in between, have the opportunity to earn degrees in these high demand areas."

He also noted that Old Dominion produces the second-largest percentage of STEM-H graduates among Virginia's doctoral institutions.

As part of the agreement, the University has committed to producing an additional 765 bachelor's degree recipients in computer science and computer engineering by 2039. The vast majority of this growth is expected to come from online programming.

One of the university's first distance learning programs, enrollment in online computer science courses is expected to grow as students continue to seek innovative course delivery methods.

To provide additional opportunities for degrees in high demand, ODU will begin to offer its Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering online. It will be the first computer engineering program available in an online format in Virginia and one of only a few available in the nation.

"Whether working with degree completers or first-time freshmen taking classes online from anywhere in the Commonwealth," said Brian Payne, vice provost for academic affairs, "we will make sure that the curricula and support needed to help students succeed in these programs is available."

Other strategies planned include:

  • Growing on-campus enrollments in computer science and computer engineering through enhanced outreach, recruitment and partnerships with businesses.
  • Expanding 3+2 degree programs in computer science and computer engineering with universities that don't have Bachelor of Science programs in these areas.
  • Working with regional employers to offer cohort-based programs to up-train existing employees and serve as a pipeline for new employees.
  • Expanding outreach and support programs to help those leaving the military stay in Virginia and earn degrees in computer science and computer engineering.

Past trends highlight the demand for computer science and computer engineering programs at ODU. In fact, degrees awarded in these fields increased by 83.9% between 2013-14 and 2017-18.

"Building on ODU's ability to recruit a diverse student population, which includes a higher percentage of students of color, women and degree completers, and our legacy of giving access to nontraditional students who cannot always attend on-campus classes, these graduates will help to increase the inclusivity and reach of the tech talent pipeline," Broderick said.

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