October 20, 2022

New ODU data science institute coming to Virginia Beach

Old Dominion University plans to open an Institute of Data Science at Town Center next fall and is seeking grants from the city to help pay for it.

The project, in collaboration with Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Laboratory and NASA Langley Research Center, will offer undergraduate data science programs specializing in cybersecurity and marine engineering. The facility will be in offices on Town Center Drive formerly occupied by Hampton University and will include a wind-energy lab.

“Data science is no longer one person at a computer just sort of banging away,” Virginia Beach’s Director of Economic Development Taylor Adams said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “Data science today is a broad range that spans all of technology and really is a core component to general business operation.”

The facility will include seven new faculty positions and support 250 enrolled students. It will feature labs for research on offshore wind and 5G networks. ODU’s Coastal Virginia Center for Cyber Innovation also will be based out of the institute, Vice Provost Brian Payne said.

The university chose Town Center because it’s in the “heart of Virginia Beach economic development,” Payne said.

The university plans to lease the space from Armada Hoffler for 10 years and is asking the city for assistance toward the $1.8 million project. The university is also requesting a grant from the city to offset annual real estate taxes, which are $70,000, Adams said.

The plans follow a national trend of colleges and universities seeking to provide training for the data sciences workforce and to advance research and innovation.

William & Mary’s leadership announced last month it’s also exploring a new academic unit in computing and data science.

Data science jobs are projected to grow 36% in the next 10 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 2021 annual media pay for a data scientist was $100,910.

Council members agreed to send the university’s requests to the Development Authority, which offers economic development incentive grants to organizations that invest in and bring jobs to Virginia Beach.

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