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Boeing Makes Commitment To Calhoun Honors Discovery Program
August 3, 2018

In a significant marker of industry support, Boeing has made a substantial commitment to Virginia Tech’s Calhoun Honors Discovery Program.

Boeing's support for Virginia Tech's Calhoun Honors Discovery Program will allow students to engage in collaborative, transdisciplinary projects under the supervision of Discovery Program faculty and with Boeing experts available for advice. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech.

According to information, Boeing has agreed to contribute $3 million, a gift that will impact students and faculty members in the Discovery Program, which is a pilot model of transdisciplinary collaborative learning within the Honors College that is scheduled to enroll its first students in the fall 2019 semester. Boeing’s financial support includes funding for student scholarships, experiential-learning grants, and salary support for program faculty.

Boeing is the first founding industry partner of the Discovery Program. Boeing’s support establishes the Boeing Studio as part of the Calhoun Honors Discovery Program, which will allow students to engage in collaborative, transdisciplinary projects under the supervision of Discovery Program faculty and with Boeing experts available for advice.

“We are honored and excited to expand Virginia Tech’s partnership with Boeing in such a transformative way,” university president Tim Sands said. “The Calhoun Honors Discovery Program is focused on high-impact technology innovation that advances society, which occurs at the intersection of areas of knowledge. As a global leader in using highly engineered systems to solve complex problems, Boeing is an ideal partner for this bold new program.”

Boeing will support the studio by funding full-time Boeing Distinguished Professors of Practice, who will divide their time between Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus and at Boeing. In addition, Boeing staff will lend technical expertise by serving as visiting industry mentors, leading workshops, giving lectures and demonstrations, and helping to place Discovery Program students in internships. Additionally, Boeing will engage with the College of Engineering and the larger Virginia Tech community through special events.

Boeing experts will be invited to participate in the Discovery Program Advisory Board and to take part in recruiting activities that focus on underrepresented students, a leading priority for Virginia Tech. Some of these activities will take place through the College Access Collaborative, a program of Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth of Virginia to enhance recruiting and retention from underrepresented areas.

Boeing will also participate in the research of the Calhoun Center for Higher Education Innovation. The Calhoun Center is partnering closely with the Honors College in the development of the Discovery Program, and in the connection of the program to a small cohort of academic, industry, and community partners.

The goal of the Calhoun Center is to connect the Discovery Program to national best practices for structuring and assessing adaptive, cross-cutting curricula for life-long learning. One outcome will be a set of blueprints that can be applied by forward-looking educators inside and outside Virginia Tech.

The Calhoun Honors Discovery Program was founded in March, when alumnus David Calhoun ’79 made a $20 million gift to the Honors College, the largest in the college’s history. Five million of Calhoun’s gift is being used to develop and teach the curriculum of the Discovery Program and to launch the Calhoun Center. Fifteen million is helping Virginia Tech recruit and retain Honors College participants, which ultimately will benefit 200 Honors College students each year.

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