The Hague Security Delta Signs Cybersecurity Agreement with Fairfax County and VEDP

Friday, 16 October 2015 16:27 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last week, VEDP joined Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and The Hague Security Delta for a cybersecurity event in Tysons Corner, Va...

Last week, VEDP joined Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and The Hague Security Delta for a cybersecurity event in Tysons Corner, Va.

The Hague Security Delta is based in the Netherlands and represents the largest security cluster of businesses, governments and academic institutions in Europe. It establishes partnerships with global security leaders to share knowledge, increase business activity and create a more secure world.

A delegation of almost 30 Dutch and Flemish companies attended the event in Tysons Corner to discuss security issues with leading Virginia technology companies and institutions.

The Hague Security Delta, Fairfax County EDA and VEDP closed the program by having representatives sign a Memorandum of Understanding to increase cooperation between the cybersecurity centers.

The parties pledged to bolster innovation-based collaboration by promoting trade with each country's industry clusters; encouraging mutual exchanges with business, government and academic leaders; fostering R&D cooperation through joint enterprises and research centers; exploring joint initiatives at the highest levels of government on security matters; and joining efforts to identify technology commercialization opportunities.

This event and agreement illustrates Virginia’s leadership in technology, once again. The Commonwealth is a key part of the nation’s Cyber Capital and a major hub in the cybersecurity industry. To learn more about Virginia’s cybersecurity assets, click here.

Ulrich Seldeslachts, CEO at LSEC; Ida Haisma, executive director of The Hague Security Delta; Martin Briley, president and CEO of VEDP; and Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., president and CEO of FCEDA; sign the MOU in Tysons Corner, Va. Photo courtesy of FCEDA.

Leading Global Satellite Services Provider Intelsat Moves Headquarters to Virginia

Tuesday, 11 December 2012 12:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
At an event overlooking the site for the company’s new headquarters building in Tysons Corner, Va., Governor McDonnell announced Intelsat will move its U.S. headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Fairfax County in 2014. The project will bring at least 430 jobs and an investment of more than $24 million in leasehold improvements to Northern Virginia...

At an event overlooking the site for the company’s new headquarters building in Tysons Corner, Va., Governor McDonnell announced Intelsat will move its U.S. headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Fairfax County in 2014. The project will bring at least 430 jobs and an investment of more than $24 million in leasehold improvements to Northern Virginia.

With plans to lease 188,000 square feet, Intelsat will be the anchor tenant at Tysons Tower, a new, 20-story office building being developed by Macerich as part of a three tower, mixed-use project at Tysons Corner Center. 

The state-of-the-art tower will be the tallest building in Tysons Corner, offering Intelsat employees panoramic views of Northern Virginia, a modern workspace, prime access to the amenities of Tysons Corner, and direct connection to the Capital Beltway and planned extension of the Metro Silver Line.

In addition, close proximity to Washington Dulles International Airport gives the Luxembourg-based company access to 80 percent of the world’s economies.

As the world’s leading provider of satellite services, Intelsat has delivered information to leading media companies, multinational corporations, Internet Service Providers and government agencies for more than 45 years. 

Intelsat’s new headquarters location in Fairfax County is not only aligned with its growing customer base, but it also offers access to a strong pipeline of highly-skilled workers. According to Cyberstates 2011, Virginia has the highest concentration of high-tech workers.

To learn why global leaders continue to select Virginia as an environment that reflects their innovative culture, click here.

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Celebration Leads to Jobs in Martinsville

Friday, 14 August 2009 15:43 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Martinsville-Henry County community has reason to celebrate. Monogram Food Solutions, LLC, a meat manufacturer out of Memphis, announced it will purchase the meat snack business of American Foods Group, LLC (also known as Knauss Foods), including the Martinsville production facility. The company plans to invest $3 million to expand production capacity at the Patriot Centre Industrial Park facility. The company has committed to investing every dollar it can in the local economy. More importantly, Monogram Food Solutions has agreed to keep all of the current employees and add 120 new jobs. www.YesVirginia.org

This announcement is like a breath of fresh air for a region that has been wrestling with a double-digit unemployment rate that’s more than twice the national average. Monogram Food Solutions’ average annual salary of about $28,000 is right in line with the region’s prevailing average wage, and 120 new jobs will provide a welcome opportunity for some of the 800+ folks who have been laid off since January 2008. About 50 people have already been hired. Another 70 should be employed by the end of the year.

The job requirements? “Energetic, passionate people who are not afraid of hard work,” was what the company was looking for, according to Ches Jackson, President of Monogram Meat Snacks. They shouldn’t be too hard to find in Martinsville.

 

All eight graduates have received job offers. 

“The motivation of the students and employers made this first class a success,” said CCAM Director of Workforce Development Bruce Sobczak. “Driven by feedback from local employers, we’re currently looking at expanding the curriculum to include industrial maintenance technician and industrial CAD drafter certifications, as well as adding a location to serve the military workforce in the Hampton Roads region.”

To learn more about the Transitioning Military and Veteran Training Program, contact Bruce Sobczak at bruce.sobczak@ccam-va.com.

More than 18,000 people exit Virginia military bases each year and enter the civilian workplace. This initiative is another shining example of the public-private partnerships that keep Virginia’s workforce at the top of their game. To learn more, click here.

The Transitioning Military and Veteran Training Program students celebrate their graduation with CCAM’s Bruce Sobczak (center) and their Fort Lee program managers (in uniform). Photo courtesy of CCAM.

McKee Foods Celebrates 25 Years in Virginia

Wednesday, 26 August 2015 16:14 by Info@YesVirginia.org
McKee Foods recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Stuarts Draft manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va. McKee Foods is known for its Little Debbie® line of snack cakes. The family business has grown from a five-person bakery in the 1930’s to America’s No. 1 brand of snack cakes...

McKee Foods recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Stuarts Draft manufacturing facility in Augusta County, Va.

McKee Foods is known for its Little Debbie® line of snack cakes. The family business has grown from a five-person bakery in the 1930’s to America’s No. 1 brand of snack cakes.

The Stuarts Draft plant is one of the most advanced facilities in the baking industry. The company established the bakery in 1990 to produce oatmeal crème pies, honey buns and other bakery products.

The company’s most recent announcement in October 2014 included a $34 million investment and 54 new jobs to expand the facility.

McKee Foods employs more than 1,000 people and is the largest manufacturing employer in Augusta County. The company frequently credits the high productivity of its Virginia workforce as paramount to its success.

"We have found our Virginia workforce to be some of the most loyal and highly-skilled employees in the industry — and about 85 members of our Virginia workforce have been at the plant since it opened," said McKee Foods President and CEO Mike McKee.

In addition to a strong manufacturing workforce, Virginia provides McKee Foods with a strategic location, offering easy access to the company’s Northeastern and Canadian customers. Located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, the Stuarts Draft location offers McKee employees a high quality of life with close proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail and numerous national parks.

To learn why more than 580 leading food and beverage companies, like McKee Foods, have chosen to locate in Virginia, click here.

Representatives from McKee Foods, Augusta County and VEDP celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary in Stuarts Draft, Va. Photo courtesy of McKee Foods Corp.

Virginia Receives an “A” for Small Business Friendliness

Tuesday, 18 August 2015 14:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia received an A for overall friendliness on Thumbtack.com’s fourth annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. Virginia was the highest ranked state in the Mid-Atlantic and top 10 nationwide. Nearby competitors Maryland received a D+ and North Carolina a B-...

Virginia received an A for overall friendliness on Thumbtack.com’s fourth annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. Virginia was the highest ranked state in the Mid-Atlantic and top 10 nationwide. Nearby competitors Maryland received a D+ and North Carolina a B-.

Thumbtack.com surveyed 17,633 small businesses across the U.S. with 36 questions to evaluate the friendliness of state and local policies toward small businesses on more than a dozen metrics.

Highlights for the Commonwealth include an A+ for ease of starting a business, licensing regulations and environmental factors.   

“Small business owners on Thumbtack have consistently told us that they welcome support from their governments but are frequently frustrated by unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles,” said Jon Lieber, chief economist of Thumbtack.com. “Virginia's policies that support entrepreneurs could provide a helpful guide as we fight a general decline in business startups nationwide.”

“There is an excellent climate for small business in Virginia,” commented a translator and professor in Roanoke. “It is a great place to start and run a business because the state offers support, networking, referral and community enthusiasm.”

Richmond was ranked the No. 3 friendliest city in the U.S. and received an A+.

The survey results once again illustrate that Virginia is a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow a business. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s pro-business policies, strategic location, competitive operating costs, leading research institutions and highly educated workforce, click here.

Image courtesy of Thumbtack.com

Classes Commence at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s IT Academy

Thursday, 13 August 2015 13:32 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Classes start this Monday, August 17, at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s IT Academy. The IT Academy offers a fast track for students to gain the knowledge and credentials to quickly obtain employment in the technology sector...

Classes start this Monday, August 17, at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s IT Academy.

The IT Academy offers a fast track for students to gain the knowledge and credentials to quickly obtain employment in the technology sector.

Seventeen students are enrolled in the first cohort, with classes scheduled Monday – Thursday evenings over a four month period. Afterwards, students can test for the Computing Technology Industry Association A+, Network+ and Server+ certifications. SVHEC is a member of the CompTIA Authorized Partner Program. 

Classes will take place in the newly renovated, 5,013-square-foot lab at SVHEC in South Boston, Va. The lab includes a data center, hardware repair center, computer-based classroom and conference area to closely approximate a real-world environment.

“We are seeing what I call a market correction in education with an increasing emphasis on students earning third-party credentials. The hands-on, intensive nature of the program allows students to quickly learn the skills they need to be successful in the workplace. Initiatives like the IT Academy are critical to closing the skills gap and preparing the region with skilled workers needed for jobs available right here, right now,” said Dr. Betty Adams, executive director of the SVHEC.

SVHEC and its partners initially designed the academy’s core curriculum around the three certifications and will develop advanced training based on needs and recommendations from major employers in the region. SVHEC worked closely with the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, ATOS/Microsoft and HP to launch the acadeed_2">

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Broadband Access is Key to Economic Growth in Healthcare IT

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 15:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Access to broadband and faster internet speeds has increasingly become a catalyst for economic growth. This is especially important in high-tech sectors, such as Healthcare IT, as we move further into the knowledge economy...

Access to broadband and faster internet speeds has increasingly become a catalyst for economic growth. This is especially important in high-tech sectors, such as Healthcare IT, as we move further into the knowledge economy.

The Virginia Center for Innovative Technology recently released its annual 2013 Healthcare IT Assessment, which again points to Virginia’s position as a technology leader.

First, access to broadband has increased. Since 2010, the percentage of the Virginia population with access to broadband has grown from 33 percent to 97 percent.

Second, Virginia is a national leader in broadband speed. In 2013, the Commonwealth was able to increase its average download speed by 33 percent to 11.1 Mbps (megabits per second), moving Virginia up to a No. 3 national ranking. Virginia remains well ahead of the national average, which is 8.7 Mbps.

Third, Virginia also improved its average peak connection speed. In 2013, the Commonwealth increased its peak connection speed to 44 Mbps, vs. the national average of 36.3 Mbps. This puts the Commonwealth at a No. 6 ranking and reflects a year-over-year improvement of 29 percent.

These increases in broadband access and speed are helping to grow sectors, such as Healthcare IT, that require the transmission of large amounts of data. In 2013, Virginia ranked No. 3 in hospital-based adoption of Electronic Medical Records. Over the last four years, Virginia hospitals have consistently shown greater than 90 percent adoption rate of EMR. Other medical providers across the Commonwealth are also closing the gap in early adoption of EMR, with 86.5 percent of Virginia physicians participating in 2013.

To continue improving care and offer a higher quality of service to patients, the next step for healthcare providers is participation in initiatives, such as Healthcare Information Exchanges and Telehealth Services. According to the study, 50 percent of Virginia hospitals participated in HIE and 58.6 percent offered Telehealth Services in 2013.

The CIT study illustrates how Virginia’s leadership in building a robust broadband network has laid the groundwork for growth in high-tech sectors like Healthcare IT. To learn more about Virginia’s innovative, technology-driven environment and how the Commonwealth can help your business, click here.

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Virginia Values Veterans — Helping Employers Reenergize their Labor Pool

Monday, 27 January 2014 14:15 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia Values Veterans, also known as V3, is an initiative to help Virginia companies better reach out to veterans as part of their talent acquisition strategy and make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the country...

Virginia Values Veterans, also known as V3, is an initiative to help Virginia companies better reach out to veterans as part of their talent acquisition strategy and make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the country.

More than 18,000 people exit Virginia military bases each year and enter the civilian workforce. While most programs are geared towards helping veterans navigate this change, V3 is unique because it trains the employers on how to attract and retain these valuable workers.

V3 is managed by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. Since the program was first announced in June 2012, 161 certified organizations have pledged 5,218 jobs to veterans and made 3,099 hires to date.

The program offers employers access to training, coaching and networks for best-practices sharing on how to build their veteran-employment pipeline. V3 is targeting companies with less than 1,000 employees because this group represents the majority of total hiring decisions.

Interested employers begin by taking a free online assessment test to determine their current level of vet friendliness and readiness for the V3 Certification Process. By completing milestones at each stage, employers earn V3 Certification from Bronze to Gold level.

The program is expected to be a win-win, reducing veteran unemployment and helping companies gain access to a skilled pipeline of workers they might otherwise miss out on.

V3 is hosting its 2014 Kick-Off Conference in Richmond on February 11. To sign up and learn more, visit http://virginiavaluesvets.com/.

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The Launch Place Brings Entrepreneurs to Virginia’s Dan River Region

Tuesday, 14 January 2014 16:22 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The Launch Place is bringing businesses to Southern Virginia. As the leading entity to recruit and support entrepreneurs in the Dan River Region, the organization announced its first seed fund investment in KSI Data Sciences...

The Launch Place is bringing businesses to Southern Virginia. As the leading entity to recruit and support entrepreneurs in the Dan River Region, the organization announced its first seed fund investment in KSI Data Sciences.

KSI will receive an initial investment of $150,000, and another $100,000 after successfully testing its prototype for video and data management solutions used in remote sensing platforms on unmanned aircrafts, vehicles and mobile devices. The KSI team plans to relocate to the Dan River District later this month.

Formerly called the Southside Business Technology Center, the Launch Place has assisted start-ups and early stage companies since 2005. After receiving a $10 million grant from the Danville Region Foundation in 2012, the organization was able to add seed funding to its capabilities as a business incubator and rebranded itself as the Launch Place.

What makes the Launch Place unique is its strategy of recruiting entrepreneurs, and then providing the support to allow their businesses to organically grow in the Dan River Region. Through a partnership with VT KnowledgeWorks, entrepreneurs in the program receive free mentoring through the planning, launch and growth stages of starting a business. The Launch Place team also provides a variety of business consulting services, including business plan development, market research, financial modeling and competitor analysis.

The Launch Place helps entrepreneurs reduce start-up costs by offering residential housing and office space subsidies to entrepreneurs that commit to stay in Danville for three years. The Dan River District provides a great place to live, work and play through its historic downtown area, riverfront walking and biking trails, plentiful water sports, concerts, festivals and other recreational activities.

The Launch Place is another example of the innovative support that Virginia offers to entrepreneurs and small business owners. To learn more, click here

A view of the Launch Place headquarters in the historic downtown area of the Dan River District.

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Orbital Sciences Launches First Cargo Resupply Mission to the International Space Station

Thursday, 9 January 2014 16:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
At 1:07 p.m. today, Orbital Sciences successfully launched its first resupply mission to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore...

At 1:07 p.m. today, Orbital Sciences successfully launched its first resupply mission to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket launched the Cygnus spacecraft into Earth’s orbit, where it is currently traveling towards the ISS at approximately 17,500 mph. The spacecraft is expected to rendezvous with the ISS early Sunday morning.

Cygnus is carrying 2,780 pounds of supplies to the Expedition 38 crew, including science experiments, provisions for the crew, spare parts and experiment hardware. The payload includes 23 science experiments that will involve more than 8,600 students across the U.S. and Canada.

Known as the Orb-1 Mission, this is the first actual resupply mission to the ISS following a successful demonstration mission to the ISS in September.

As part of its $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA, the Orb-1 Mission is the first of eight resupply missions to the ISS, expected to deliver approximately 20,000 kilograms of cargo through 2016.

The Orb-1 Mission comes right on the heels of a positive announcement from the Obama Administration — the president approved an extension of the ISS through 2024, allowing for the possibility of more resupply missions past 2016.

The success of today’s launch is another illustration of Virginia’s leadership in the space industry. Through MARS, Virginia offers one of only four commercial sites authorized for orbital space launches.

To learn more about Virginia’s thriving aerospace industry, click here.

A view of the Antares rocket ready for launch from Pad-OA of MARS at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls.

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FAA Selects Virginia Tech as Test Site for Unmanned Aircrafts

Friday, 3 January 2014 16:03 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The FAA recently announced that Virginia Tech was selected as one of six test sites across the country to conduct research on unmanned aircraft systems...

The FAA recently announced that Virginia Tech was selected as one of six test sites across the country to conduct research on unmanned aircraft systems.

This initiative will help the FAA establish safety standards that will allow UAS, such as drones, to share airspace and integrate with commercial airlines. Test sites were selected for their geographic and climate diversity, as well as existing infrastructure and aviation experience.

The test site at Virginia Tech will focus on UAS failure mode testing, and identify and evaluate operational and technical risk areas.

Virginia Tech led the submission of a joint proposal for Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland called the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership. In order to enhance the region’s competitiveness, the governors of each state agreed to support the initiative, and Virginia Tech will partner with Rutgers University and the University of Maryland, College Park.

Virginia has already shown its support for UAS and securing the Commonwealth’s position as an aerospace leader. In December, Governor McDonnell announced Virginia Tech would receive more than $2.6 million in Federal Action Contingency Trust funds to operate the UAS test site.

In addition, the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership successfully completed its first flight in October with a team from the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems, a research partnership between Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science and the College of Engineering. The team attached sensory equipment provided by American Aerospace Advisors to an unmanned 250-pound helicopter. Using ultraviolet and infrared cameras, the group was able to gather data on the health of five acres of tobacco crops.

This type of research could help farmers quickly survey their land to gain a better understanding of crop health, reduce pesticide use and improve yield. Agriculture is expected to be a prime growth market for UAS technology.

This win for Virginia Tech illustrates the Commonwealth’s premier higher education system, as well as its leadership in the aerospace industry. To learn more click here.

A team from Virginia Tech prepares to launch an unmanned 250-pound helicopter for a research mission to determine if UAS can gather meaningful data for crop management.  Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech.

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Dan River Region Launches Workforce Readiness Pilot Program for Virginia

Thursday, 19 December 2013 14:48 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Companies, employees and economic development professionals in the Dan River Region have been participating in a workforce readiness pilot program in Virginia since June...

Companies, employees and economic development professionals in the Dan River Region have been participating in a workforce readiness pilot program in Virginia since June.

This program would allow the region to be recognized by ACT as a Certified Work Ready Community by helping individuals obtain a National Career Readiness Certificate. ACT is a not-for-profit public trust dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success.

ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate includes four levels — platinum, gold, silver and bronze — that measure cognitive and behavioral abilities critical for on-the-job success. Specific skills that are measured include math, reading comprehension, problem-solving, discipline, teamwork, customer service and managerial potential.

The individual certificate can help job-seekers distinguish themselves, as well as help companies identify training needs for their employees. The community certification assists regions in quantifying the quality of their workforce and promoting this asset to attract additional companies and investment.

The Dan River region is located in Southern Virginia and includes the cities of Danville and Martinsville and the counties of Henry, Pittsylvania, Patrick and Halifax. The region has a strong legacy in furniture and textile manufacturing, and through workforce training programs at its numerous community colleges, offers a deep advanced manufacturing labor pool that has attracted investment from plastics, automotive, and food processing companies.

“This initiative represents an opportunity to change our workforce story from focusing on census data around educational attainment to a story that focuses on the skills of our workforce and how those align with industry needs,” said Dr. Julie Brown, project director at DRRC.

According to the Dan River Region Collaborative, if 2,300 residents earn certificates during the next two years, the region will be recognized as a Certified Work Ready Community. The region is well on its way with more than 1,200 certificates earned to date. The region is also actively recruiting corporate partners to join the program — almost 50 companies have signed up to date.

To learn how to participate in the ACT program as an individual or corporation, visit http://www.danriverrc.org/work-ready-community.

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University of Mary Washington’s Convergence Center Joins Learning and Technology

Tuesday, 30 June 2015 16:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The University of Mary Washington’s energetic new learning facility, the Information and Technology Convergence Center, was completed fall 2014...

The University of Mary Washington’s energetic new learning facility, the Information and Technology Convergence Center, was completed fall 2014.

This technology-rich, four-story building offers UMW students and faculty a “commons” space that includes a digital auditorium, 10 conference rooms, four high-tech classrooms, audio/video production space, and multiple collaboration, study and meeting spaces through an open design. It also houses UMW’s speaking and writing centers, along with a café.

Visitors are greeted by a multi-story media wall in the atrium that uses laser phosphor display technology to showcase student work. The digital gallery on the third floor also features student artwork on interactive touchscreens.

The Convergence Center houses a production studio with a 180 degree green screen, high definition cameras, teleprompters, a control room and an audio recording booth. The multimedia editing lab has five iMacs loaded with a full suite of A/V editing software so students obtain real-world experience.

The center also holds a two-story digital auditorium that can seat 150 people for classes, lectures or performances. The auditorium has three screens and a full theatrical lighting system. It also opens up into a lobby and garden that can be used to host events holding up to 300 people.

Sprinkled throughout the center are collaboration spaces and conference rooms that have conferencing capabilities, projectors and flat-panel displays. There is even an incubator classroom that allows professors to experiment with the latest technology. The modular design is complemented by high definition projectors, cameras, flat screen displays and wireless microphones.

UMW’s Convergence Center has become a central gathering place for students to learn and engage with their schoolwork in an interactive, high-tech environment. It is another example of the state-of-the-art technology Virginia’s higher education institutions are using to train the 21st century workforce. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s premier educational offerings, click here.

VEDP gets a tour of the digital auditorium at UMW’s Information and Technology Convergence Center.

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Virginia Western Community College Offers Cutting-Edge Mechatronics Training

Monday, 22 June 2015 15:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Mechatronics is a growing interdisciplinary field that incorporates mechanical and electrical engineering with computer science and looks at industrial operations from a system-wide perspective...

Mechatronics is a growing interdisciplinary field that incorporates mechanical and electrical engineering with computer science and looks at industrial operations from a system-wide perspective.

Students in this field become well-versed in electro-mechanics, computers, digital control systems, robotics and mechanical CAD, and go on to pursue careers in the automotive, aerospace, defense, consumer and manufacturing industries.

Virginia Western Community College offers three programs in mechatronics. First, students can earn a certificate that will allow them to take Level 1 of the Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program. Second, students earning a two-year associate degree can sit for Level 2 of the Siemens certification. And, third, students completing the two-year program who go on to a university and earn a four-year degree can sit for Level 3 of the Siemens certification.

The Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification is an industry standard with worldwide recognition allowing students to illustrate to employers that they are qualified and ready to work as technicians. The college began offering mechatronics courses in 2008, and now has 100 students in the program.

VWCC is one of only 35 colleges in the world that offers a certified Siemens Mechatronics program.

VWCC is actively engaged with high school students in the area. Through The Regional Academy for Advanced Technology it offers both engineering and mechatronics training for high school juniors and seniors interested in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career. Currently, about 250 students are enrolled in The Regional Academy.

VWCC maintains an active dialogue with companies in the Roanoke Valley to ensure its training closely aligns with industry requirements. They have held two annual manufacturing summits where faculty meet with employers in the area to better understand their needs. Regional employers have also made commitments to mentor students and donate lab equipment.

“The goal of the mechatronics program at Virginia Western is to prepare students with globally, in-demand skills through local engagement to be well-educated, work-ready engineering technicians,” said Professor Dan Horine, Mechatronics Program Head at VWCC.

VWCC is a great example of the cutting-edge STEM education available through Virginia’s 23-member community college system. To learn how Virginia’s higher education institutions are preparing the workforce of tomorrow, click here.

VWCC mechatronics students commission the FESTO Modular Production System at one of the labs in the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

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Specialty’s Our Name — Expanding a Family Business Through the Generations

Friday, 29 May 2015 09:19 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va. His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders...

Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va.

His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders. When their dad passed away in 2009, the brothers took ownership and proudly carried on the family name and reputation for a superior product and customer service at S.O.N. Inc.

“We do the work other people don’t want to do,” said Brandon Harrison. “Our high-end, custom sheet metal work is in the White House Visitor Center, the American Civil War Museum at Tredegar and the Virginia Historical Society, and our customers include Homeland Security, Architectural Graphics Inc., Dometic Corporation and Showbest Fixtures.”

The company has successfully grown from two people in a 2,500 square foot building to more than 30 people in a 32,000 square foot facility. The company delivers custom products and can offer consulting, drafting, welding, deburring, powder coating and precision parts, all from one location.

The Harrison brothers not only weathered the recent economic downturn, but were able to continue growing their company. “We did feel some of the effects, but we manage our finances well and purchase equipment as we need it, so we don’t carry a lot of debt.” said Harrison. “We also have a broad customer range, from the marine industry to railroads to store fixtures. Being diverse helped us stay strong and grow our company through the tough times.”

The brothers also took a calculated risk and started a sister company in 2008, Pro Powder & Paint Inc. “About 90 percent of our customers want a finish on their steel or aluminum products. We provide that and do our own powder coating and wet paint at a facility just down the street,” said Harrison.

The company just had one of its best years and has a solid plan to grow both businesses and eventually combine them into one larger building.

“We are lucky,” said Harrison. “The three of us are all equally responsible and we get to expand on what our father built. We really try to keep the family atmosphere throughout the company as we grow. We have several cousins and family members working in the shop, and we treat all of our employees like we are one big family. Without every piece of the puzzle coming together, this wouldn’t be possible.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Specialty’s Our Name serves as another great example of the ingenuity and dedication of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why the Commonwealth is a great location to grow a business, click here.

Specialty’s Our Name owners Brandon, Utley and Kevin Harrison at their company headquarters in Ashland, Va.

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About VEDP

Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a state authority created by the Virginia General Assembly to better serve those seeking a prime business location and increased trade opportunities, provides confidential site selection and international trade services. VEDP's mission: To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities.

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VIRGINIA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP

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