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$3 million Boeing donation to help Virginia Tech honors program take flight

$3 million Boeing donation to help Virginia Tech honors program take flight

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Boeing is taking a big step to help Virginia Tech’s Calhoun Discovery Program take off.

The school announced Tuesday that the company agreed to donate $3 million to help pilot the Honors College program announced this spring and will begin including students in the fall of 2019.

Boeing will provide scholarships for honor students. The company will also have a full-time person contributing to the curriculum of the Calhoun scholars.

The discovery program was launched after a $20 million gift from Dave Calhoun, former CEO of Nielsen and managing director of Blackstone, a private equity firm in New York City. That was one of the largest donations in school history.

Thanassis Rikakis, former Tech provost and currently the founding chair of the Calhoun program, said Boeing will heavily influence teaching for the 200 students involved in the honors program.

“We’re very excited,” Rikakis said. “We think more companies will follow.”

Rikakis said he expects other companies will pledge financial and curricular support in the next year.

The pilot program in the center will bring a group of honors students from Virginia Tech’s architecture and urban studies, engineering, science and business colleges to tackle big problems by working together.

One problem the students will look at early on will be how to tackle issues with automation in the airline industry, Rikakis said.

He said the students who take part in the curriculum’s early days will end up shaping it for future students. And hopefully faculty will use it to determine ways to get the program to students on a wider scale so that pieces of the Calhoun curriculum can touch each Tech student’s college experience.

“This is a pilot program, an opportunity for us to figure things out,” he said.

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