In 1986 the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) established the Commonwealth Centers program at various universities. With funding from SCHEV for a five-year period, these centers were to become the flagship research groups in the commonwealth. SCHEV established three Commonwealth Centers at Virginia Tech:
Commonwealth Center for Wood Science and Technology - The center brings together firms in the forest products industry, public agencies, and relevant departments at Virginia Tech to help forest products companies improve operations management and product marketing.
Materials Research Institute (MRI) - Initially called the Virginia Institute for material Systems, MRI was established in 1988 to coordinate polymeric materials research across several disciplines. The institute functioned until 2005, when it, several centers, and an interdisciplinary degree program merged into the Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute.
Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Mathematics (ICAM) - Initially called the Commonwealth Center for Applied Mathematics, ICAM enhances historical links among mathematics, engineering, and the sciences. It received its first grant in 1988--$1.37 million—to develop an integrated research program to model, analyze, and control aerospace systems. The center continues to function, meeting the growing demand for research in applied mathematics.