George Mason University is announcing a large-scale expansion of its Arlington Campus to grow its computing programs, advance research in high-tech fields and rapidly increase the number of highly skilled graduates for Amazon and other regional employers.
The university has pledged to invest more than $250 million over the next five years to grow programs, hire large numbers of new faculty and expand its campus in Arlington. The campus currently occupies 700,000 square feet adjacent to the new Amazon headquarters, but will grow to 1.2 million square feet.
Mason is Virginia’s largest public research university and currently enrolls more than 6,500 students in its computing programs. These initiatives are expected to grow Mason’s enrollment in these programs to 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students in computer science, computer engineering, information technology and other closely related fields by 2024.
Specific new initiatives include the creation of the Institute for Digital InnovAtion (IDIA), a university think tank and incubator to serve the digital economy. IDIA will be the center of innovation in Arlington, housing over 1,200 entrepreneurs, researchers, technologists and business leaders in the bustling Ballston-Rosslyn corridor.
The university is also planning to launch a new School of Computing to help meet growing demand for computing professionals. The school is the first of its kind and will bring the power of computing to a wide variety of fields. It will collaborate across the university to advance the application of computing technology and data sciences to fields ranging from government to business to education to health care.
“This is a significant moment for the region and the result of our tremendous collaboration with partners in the public and private sectors,” said Mason President Ángel Cabrera. “Our goal is to not only produce high-quality graduates who can take on big roles at existing companies like Amazon, but to also have graduates who can start the Amazons of the future. These initiatives will ensure that happens.”
Amazon’s decision to establish its headquarters in the D.C. region is expected to triple the number of students seeking degrees in computing majors.
“Mason’s role has always been to create a pipeline for talent and innovation that serves the region,” said Provost and Executive Vice President S. David Wu. “The School of Computing will help attract some of our most promising students and prepare them for success in the innovation economy.”
The Institute for Digital InnovAtion will be located in a new 400,000 square-foot building planned for the university’s Arlington Campus. The IDIA facility will house private and public sector entities and Mason’s thriving research and graduate education programs.
“This new Institute for Digital InnovAtion will bring together Mason’s diverse faculty and student community with partners in the public and private sectors,” said Mason Vice President for Research Deborah Crawford. “Together, they will learn, create, ideate and innovate, helping to strengthen Northern Virginia’s reputation as a global center for innovation in computing.”
The university’s strategic partnership with Northern Virginia Community College – through a new program called ADVANCE – will help develop future tech talent while also managing the cost of higher education for Virginia students and their families. Year-round, immersive internships with industry ensure that Mason graduates are well prepared to join Virginia’s world-class innovation workforce.