Phase II Update

Special Update

On April 3, 2017, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Intelligent Infrastructure and Human Centered Communities Destination Area. With this strong endorsement, we will accelerate the design and implementation of this new direction for Virginia Tech. Thanks to the president’s vision, the determination of faculty, staff, and students, the strong commitment of our donors, and support from the state and external partners, we can expedite this important step in providing the educational opportunities for our students that will uniquely prepare them for success in the 21st century and will advance large scale transdisciplinary research partnerships for our faculty and industry colleagues.

Expanded content and invitations to submit participation interests for the implementation stage of destination areas will be launched through this site over the next weeks.

Thanassis Rikakis


Virginia Tech is building transdisciplinary teams to tackle the world’s pressing problems through research, education, and engagement.

Destination Areas, along with related, smaller-scale Strategic Growth Areas, provide faculty and students with new tools to identify and solve complex, 21st-century problems in which Virginia Tech already has significant strengths and can take a global leadership role. The initiative represents the next step in the evolution of the land-grant university to meet economic and societal needs of the world.

The process will result in the creation of transdisciplinary teams, tools, and processes poised to tackle the world's most pressing, critical problems. As a result, Virginia Tech will become an international destination for talent, partnerships, transformative knowledge, and significant outcomes in these areas, enabling it to effectively fulfill its land-grant mission and apply its university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world.

Destination Areas will be supported by large-scale partnerships with industry, government, and communities around urgent problems of common interest. They will advance large-scale funding opportunities and diversify the university's resource portfolio. They provide faculty with multifaceted opportunities and diverse communities for developing disciplinary and transdisciplinary activities to solve critical world problems. They will provide tools and processes for integrating the disciplinary, interdisciplinary and translational dimensions of our VT-shaped knowledge framework and will help make the framework available to all interested students at Virginia Tech.

Destination Areas connect the full span of relevant knowledge necessary for addressing issues comprehensively. Humanistic, scientific, and technological perspectives are addressed in relationship to one another and they are treated as complementary to overcome traditional academic boundaries, such as those that separate science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) fields and liberal arts.

What are Strategic Growth Areas?

Strategic Growth Areas are similar to Destination Areas in structure but are of smaller scale and aim for regional or national leadership. Strategic Growth Areas represent additional areas of strength, identified by a faculty survey conducted in January 2016. They may mature into Destination Areas.

Faculty steering committees have developed descriptions and plans for the following Strategic Growth Areas:

  • Creative Technologies and Experiences
  • Economical and Sustainable Materials
  • Equity and Social Disparity in the Human Condition
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Policy

What happens next?

The university prepared for this initiative by holding faculty town hall meetings and collecting survey data in spring 2016. In the first design phase, completed in September 2016, faculty took a deeper dive into the vision and goals of Destination Areas and further defined the Strategic Growth Areas. The second design phase, which will take place over the next 18 months, will include crucial steps to develop curriculum, design research, implement cluster hires in each Destination Area, and initiate facilities planning studies. Once the curriculum is ready, undergraduate students will be able to enroll in minors and concentrations related to Destination Areas.

Who may participate?

Over 400 faculty are already engaged in the design teams of the Destination Areas and Strategic Growth Areas. Any faculty not already participating may submit an expression of interest online. The submissions will be reviewed regularly by the stakeholder committees of each DA and SGA. The review process will start in Spring 2017.

Once the curriculum is ready, undergraduate students interested in participating will be able to enroll in DA/SGA-related minors and concentrations by consulting with their advisor.


Preparation Phase (November 2015-June 2016) Utilized university wide survey, research and curriculum data review, university wide town hall meetings, external stakeholder input, and consultation with College and Institute leadership to select five DAs and five SGAs to move forward to the design phase and to select initial membership of design teams for each DA and SGA. Charged design teams for implementation of design phase Stage I.

Design Phase Stage I (August 2016-December 2016)

  • Design team meetings and authoring of reports
  • Review of white papers developed by the design teams by interested members of the VT community (October-December 2016)
  • Selection of faculty leadership committee for Stage I
  • Invitation to deans and institute directors to express interest for participation in relevant stakeholder committees (November 2016)
  • Invitation to academic vice presidents and vice provosts to express interest in (and formats for) supporting stakeholder committees and design phase stage II overall (November 2016)
  • Preliminary membership of Stakeholder Committees charged for implementation of stage II (December 2016)

Design Phase Stage II (January 2017-May 2018)

  • Stakeholder Committees will be charged to manage the second stage of the design process. Stage II will include:
    • development of start-up requests
    • review of expressions of interest from faculty not yet in design team
    • selection of faculty leadership committee and finalization of stakeholder committee for stage II
    • evolution of the vision and membership of the DA/SGA
    • development of curriculum and research
    • facilities planning studies
    • DA/SGA hiring plans
    • external validation and partnership actions
    • development of communication materials
    • development of final proposal (May 2018) that shows how the DA/SGA plans and actions meet assessment measures established above


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The First Five

Virginia Tech has five original Destination Areas. You can read about each by clicking the buttons below.

Strategic Growth Areas

Visit Beyond Boundaries

Learn more about Virginia Tech's 2047 vision for VT-shaped individuals who prioritize purpose-driven engagement with disciplinary depth and interdisciplinary capacities.