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Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation to enhance the university's economic impact


The Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation (VT-ARC, pronounced Vee Tee Arc) is ‘open for business’ with creative, skilled expertise to address the complex challenges of government and industry. VT-ARC will extend the impact of Virginia Tech’s fundamental research enterprise by developing, managing, and performing applied research under contract with government and private sector clients, thereby supporting innovative applications of science and technology and technical assistance to enhance global competitiveness. Projects will focus on the disciplines of intelligence, cyber and information technology, national security, energy, and health. VT-ARC is a private nonprofit corporation affiliated with Virginia Tech that will collaborate with the university to leverage its broadly respected research capabilities.

Thomas M. McNamara Jr., president and chief executive officer of VT-ARC, answers questions about the new corporation.

Q. What does VT-ARC add to Virginia Tech's research accomplishments?

McNamara: Virginia Tech has a great reputation and recognition for fundamental or basic research. VT-ARC will extend that reputation by adding new accomplishments in applied research that solve some of the complex problems facing our nation.


Q. How do VT-ARC programs differ from what university researchers are doing?

McNamara: Much of the university’s research is performed with a focus on knowledge creation, fundamental understanding, and scholarly research. This is often called basic or fundamental research. VT-ARC’s work will based on the application of basic research to a problem. And our work will be “problem driven” rather than knowledge driven. That means we will focus on problems and finding solutions to them.


Q. What will be your focus?

McNamara: VT-ARC has identified five areas of national importance in which to pursue applied research: intelligence, national security, cyber and information technology, health, and energy. There are big challenges facing our nation in these five areas, and VT-ARC intends to innovate science and technology solutions. And many of these problems are complex requiring an inter-disciplinary approach. In addition to a focus on the five business areas, we will also focus on solutions to complex operations that can be put into practical operation.


Q. Where will VT-ARC be headquartered?

McNamara: VT-ARC’s headquarters is in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, where the preponderance of our technical programs will be conducted. We will have a strong presence in the National Capitol Region, too, at the new Virginia Tech Research Center ­-- Arlington. Our National Capitol Region operations will emphasize business development, strong customer relationships, and problem understanding.


Q. How will VT-ARC work with the university and the community?

McNamara: We believe “unique access” is an important feature that will characterize how we work with others. We intend to establish unique access to government and industry leaders and combine that with our unique access to Virginia Tech’s deep and extensive science and technology expertise. We expect that our technical staff in the National Capitol Region will work closely with prospective customers to gain an in-depth understanding of their problems, and build trust and confidence. We will then discuss that understanding with Virginia Tech researchers, students, and technology companies in Blacksburg and the local technology corridor. That discussion will lead to possible concepts to solve a problem, and will be a basis to form technical teams to work on customer programs and deliver effective solutions.


Q. How is VT-ARC being funded?

McNamara: VT-ARC does not draw financial resources from the university. We are a non-profit corporation, but will operate with a fee structure that allows the corporation to operate on its own financial resources. VT-ARC seeks to operate primarily through cost reimbursable ‘task order’ contracts delivering superior cost, performance, and schedule results for its customers.


Q. Will you apply for grants and contracts?

McNamara: VT-ARC does not intend to apply for grants or compete with university researchers in their traditional technical disciplines and roles. We will primarily work under contracts with our customers. And those contract vehicles will generally be associated with tasks and programs that require well-defined deliverables and cost and schedule constraints. Our business systems will be accredited to meet government and industry program and fiscal management standards, and this will enable us to participate in a greater number of program opportunities.


Q. Will there be jobs?

McNamara: Yes. Obviously we have plans for growth in the five business areas we discussed earlier, and we will need both administrative and technical staff to conduct that business. VT-ARC is seeking highly qualified and motivated technical professionals who possess personal integrity, a commitment to excellence, and a desire to build innovative teams with an attitude of service to others. We are very interested in Virginia Tech graduates with technical degrees who are seeking full time permanent positions. We will be announcing these opportunities on our website as they occur.


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