Northrop Grumman commits $12.5M to Va. Tech Innovation Campus

Sam Fried

Center of Quantum Architecture and Software Development to be funded Published November 17, 2021 by Robyn Sidersky Academic Building 1 of Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus is projected to open in August 2024. Rendering courtesy Virginia Tech Falls Church-based Fortune 500 aerospace and defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. has pledged $12.5 […]

Center of Quantum Architecture and Software Development to be funded

Robyn Sidersky


Academic Building 1 of Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus is projected to open in August 2024. Rendering courtesy Virginia Tech

Falls Church-based Fortune 500 aerospace and defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. has pledged $12.5 million to support research and teaching in quantum information science and engineering, becoming a partner of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Alexandria. Virginia Tech officials announced the donation Wednesday morning.

The $1 billion Virginia Tech Innovation Campus plans to invest an additional $15.8 million to establish the Center of Quantum Architecture and Software Development, bringing total support to $28.3 million.

“This partnership builds upon our longstanding relationship with Virginia Tech in a way that will fuel discoveries and talent development in a crucial, disruptive area of technology,” Kathy Warden, Northrop Grumman’s chair, CEO and president, said in a statement. She also is a member of the Innovation Campus Advisory Board. “We hope that other companies will also step forward in support of research in this area at the Innovation Campus and Virginia Tech. Quantum technology is something no single university or company can address on its own, so partnerships like this are essential.”

Northrop Grumman’s commitment will dramatically enhance the university’s work in a field that is connected to national security and many industries, but demand for quantum computing workers is higher than supply, and recruiting competition is fierce.

The company’s investment will be used to:

  • Establish an endowed faculty position that will help recruit an internationally recognized researcher to head the new Center of Quantum Architecture and Software Development
  • Endow five to 10 graduate fellowship positions to recruit nationally competitive doctoral and master’s candidates, with a focus on diversity
  • Build programs to connect Northrop Grumman experts with Virginia Tech quantum information science and engineering faculty based at the university’s Innovation Campus and Blacksburg campus
  • Create or enhance pathway programs that engage K-12 students — particularly those from underrepresented groups — to prepare them for STEM careers and ultimately help shape a more inclusive culture in the high tech sector.
Lance Collins, vice president and executive director of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus

“We are extremely grateful for this extraordinary commitment by Northrop Grumman,” Lance Collins, vice president and executive director of the Innovation Campus, said in a statement. “The emergence of quantum computing will affect all industries and alter the landscape for national defense. This new partnership enables us to expand our work in this field in powerful new ways and will sponsor a new Center of Quantum Architecture and Software Development on the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus that will lead the nation in this area of research.”

The relationship between Virginia Tech and Northrop Grumman is not new. Eight of Northrop Grumman’s vice presidents are Virginia Tech alumni, and more than 700 alumni work there, according to Tech. The company also recently sponsored a graduate degree cohort for 25 employees and 60 Tech students interned at NG over the summer. Other collaborative work has been done over the past decade and the new campus is 15 miles from NG’s headquarters.

“Advancing the new dynamics of quantum computing is important for Virginia Tech, Northrop Grumman, the greater D.C. region and the nation,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said in a statement. “We’re deeply grateful for Northrop Grumman’s generous support of research and education that supports innovation, security, and the development of technology talent in the commonwealth.”

Virginia Tech has received significan financial support from the government contracting sector. In May, aerospace and defense contractor Boeing made a record $50 million multiyear commitment to foster diversity at the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. Also, Mehul Sanghani, CEO of Reston-based contractor Octo Consulting Group, and his wife, Hema, donated $10 million in January for the Innovation Campus’ Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics.

The $1 billion Innovation Campus, which will anchor a 65-acre innovation district in Alexandria, is a major player in the state’s Tech Talent Investment Program. Created as part of Virginia’s successful bid to attract Amazon.com Inc.’s $2.5 billion-plus HQ2 East Coast headquarters under development in National Landing, the Tech Talent Investment Program aims to produce 31,000 in-demand computer science and computer engineering graduates during the next two decades, through a cooperative program with 11 Virginia universities.

Amazon alone plans to hire between 25,000 and 37,850 workers for HQ2 during the next 15 years. Nationally, the computer science and information technology sectors are expected to add 531,200 jobs between 2019 and 2029, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Virginia Tech held a groundbreaking ceremony in September for the campus’s $302 million Academic Building 1, which is expected to open in August 2024.

Northrop Grumman commits $12.5M to Va. Tech Innovation Campus

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