Over the years, the university has initiated a number of special programs. Those still in existence include the following:
Alexandria Research Institute—Established in Old Town Alexandria in 1998 in order to put the university in closer proximity to high technology companies in Northern Virginia. It enables faculty to have easier access to funded research, laboratories, industry research centers, and opportunities to interact with industries and organizations in the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area.
Cooperative Education Program—Adopted by board of visitors in April 1952. Initiated at Norfolk Branch in June 1952; initiated at Blacksburg campus in September 1952. Initially offered programs in civil, electrical, chemical, industrial, metallurgical, and mechanical engineering that allowed students to intersperse their campus education with real-life jobs. The program, popularly known as Co-op, was extended to graduate students in industrial engineering in January 1965. By 1997 the program was available in 47 majors.
Honors Program—Begun on freshman level in fall 1965; extended to all classes in fall 1970.
Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center—Established in Leesburg in 1984 as an arm of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, the equine medical center is a hospital for horses.
Metropolitan Institute—Located in Alexandria and founded in 2001 by the College of Architecture and Urban Studies to conduct basic and applied research on national and international regional development.
Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory—Founded in 1971 in Manassas by the Department of Civil Engineering to build a hydrologic and water quality data acquisition and analysis system to form the basis of regional watershed management decisions. The lab makes it possible for local governments in Northern Virginia to successfully deal with competing uses of urban development and public water supply.
Study Abroad Program—Begun in summer 1967 (initially in Mexico, Germany, and Russia). In 1991 the Virginia Tech Foundation purchased a 200-year-old villa (Casa Maderni) in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, to serve study abroad initiatives and to house the newly created Center for European Studies and Architecture. The longest continuously running study-abroad program is offered by the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.
Virginia Water Resources Research Center—Formed in 1965 following the 1964 passage of the Water Resources Research Act by Congress. Virginia Gov. Albertis S. Harrison Jr. designated Virginia Tech as the site for the commonwealth’s center, whose purpose was to develop, implement, and coordinate water and related programs and to transfer research results and new technology to potential water users. Initially, funding came principally from the federal Office Water Resources Research, although the center received some state support. In 1982, as federal monies began to dry up, the center became a state agency. Initially, it reported to the Research Division, but it is now housed in the College of Natural Resources.
Washington-Alexandria Center—The College of Architecture and Urban Studies opened the Washington-Alexandria Center in 1980 as its metropolitan extension. In 1985 the center formed a consortium, allowing faculty and students from other colleges and universities, both in the United States and abroad, to participate in and contribute to the offerings of the center.