Big Business

Major corporations are giving students an edge in the classroom.

VHCC precision machining student Robbie Murray receives on-the-job instruction from Jason Keith of General Engineering. 

Photo by Kellie Crowe / courtesy of VHCC

Most schools strive to prepare students for the workplace, but a few Virginia schools are going even further by working with corporations to create classes that give their students a unique advantage.

Hollins University in Roanoke is one of only 11 schools chosen by Google as a partner institution in its Applied Computing series. The first in this series of classes will be offered this fall and doesn’t require any prerequisites, making it perfect for students from other disciplines to get acquainted with data science. Two associate mathematics professors, Julie Clark and Steve Wassell, worked with vice president of academic affairs Patricia Hammer to bring the Applied Computing series to Hollins. Eighteen students have signed up so far, and the professors attended a training session this summer at Google’s New York headquarters to help them put together the second class. Programs like this one are “taking liberal arts into the modern world,” says Clark.

At Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon, General Engineering Company began offering a paid internship program this spring to general engineering students at a competitive wage. The 12-week-long program allows students to pursue education in engineering specialties like precision machining. Students must also complete a formal interview process, giving them a chance to practice their resume-writing and interviewing skills.

Amazon is getting into the education game as well by offering scholarships to students at a variety of levels, including high schools like Saint Michael the Archangel in Fredericksburg. In an effort led by principal Ann Lewis, the school received a grant for a new computer science program.


For more about Hollins University, Virginia Highlands Community College, or Saint Michael the Archangel High School, check out Top High Schools and Colleges 2019. This article originally appeared in our October 2019 issue.

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