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Virginia Tech to Offer New “Destination Areas”

Tuesday, April 26, 2016  
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Virginia Tech wants to change the way students experience college. The school plans to put an initial $2.6 million into five “destination areas”. The university will offer a voluntary educational path in which students can take core classes but also pursue multiple, cross-disciplinary opportunities.


The five destination areas of focus are:

• Adaptive Brain and Behavior Across the Lifespan: understanding the inner workings of the human brain.

• Data and Decision Sciences: using big data to solve problems.

• Integrated Security: finding ways to mitigate vulnerabilities to increase security.

• Intelligent Infrastructure and Human-Centered Communities: building effective and sustainable infrastructure by using technology.

• Resilient Earth Systems: finding ways to use technology to deal with issues from population growth.

Faculty members will be recruited to create new majors that will cross disciplines and subjects. Undergraduate students will also work on real-world scenarios instead of in traditional classroom settings. The new programs will alter funding and create new ways to draw in students, said Theresa Mayer, vice president for research and innovation.

Students will be able to pursue traditional degrees while majoring in destination areas, Mayer said.

For example, students will still complete their core classes in something like engineering, said Rachel Holloway, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs. The student can also take a multitude of classes where they’re working with students of other majors to solve real-world problems.

The program is designed to end with a capstone class where students tackle a major problem with a group of people, Holloway said. “This unique curriculum will make students more well-rounded and prepared for the real world”.

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