Virginia Tech’s football team periodically earns a Top 25 spot in the NCAA college football polls, but the ranking that really matters is the annual National Science Foundation (NSF) listing of the nation’s top research universities.
Although university spending on research and development was flat nationally in fiscal 2012, Virginia Tech managed to inch ahead to a No. 40 position, according to the most recent NSF ranking, reports the Roanoke Times. The standing was Tech’s highest-ever R&D ranking, and a testimony to the achievements of outgoing President Charles Steger. Research spending has grown from $193 million in 2000 to $454 million in 2012.
Tech’s football team may bring attention to the university through nationally televised games, but it doesn’t stimulate job creation like Tech’s R&D programs. The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center houses 150 research, technology and support companies near the Tech campus.
The University of Virginia ranked 59th nationally with about $383 million in R&D expenditures. Virginia Commonwealth University ranked 101st with $201 million, and Old Dominion University 145th with $105 million.
The frustrating thing, as fellow blogger D.J. Rippert has frequently pointed out, is that neither of Virginia’s top two research universities are located in the state’s major population centers, which offer greater opportunities than Montgomery County to build wealth-creating industry clusters around emerging technologies. Given the impossibility of picking up Virginia Tech and transplanting it elsewhere, I guess that’s something we’ll just have to live with. As it is, the university is arguably the leading economic engine of western Virginia, which desperately needs one.
Kudos to Virginia Tech. In the Virginia R&D standings, Hokies reign supreme.