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Old Dominion University formally opens its Tri-Cities Higher Education Center and headquarters for its Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 16. The facilities are in The MAST Center at Hampton Roads Crossing, which is located astride the Portsmouth-Suffolk border, just a few miles up Interstate-664 from Chesapeake.

The new tenants are expected to be a boon to education, workforce training and economic development in the region.

"These new facilities will advance Old Dominion University's commitment to providing accessibility to Virginians who are seeking a first-rate college education, to meeting workforce development needs and to advancing cutting-edge research with the latest technologies," said Roseann Runte, the university's president.

"These state-of-the-art centers will host dynamic modeling and simulation research collaborations and educational partnerships for undergraduate and graduate degree programs," Runte said. "They will also enable Old Dominion to build on already successful, strategic alliances with military and industrial organizations in the area, the region and beyond. They present a 'win-win' endeavor for everyone involved."

James W. Holley III, the mayor of Portsmouth, said of The Mast Center, "A modern facility such as this with its advanced technology serves to strengthen the appeal of the city from an economic development and quality of life perspective. The addition of The MAST Center development provides the city with Class A office inventory. It will not only be a magnet for new corporate entities, but it illustrates that Portsmouth is in a position to host office users looking for newly designed and constructed buildings. This will set the stage for the future success of other planned developments in the Victory and downtown areas of the city."

The mayor of Suffolk, Linda T. Johnson, added, "Investing in the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center is one of the best decisions we ever made in the city of Suffolk. The fruits of that
investment are evident here for the grand opening of the new MAST Center - a dedication that celebrates the pairing of ODU's Tri-Cities Higher Education Center in Portsmouth with the university's new VMASC
building in Suffolk."

The $12.2 million, 60,000-square-foot VMASC headquarters offers an abundance of modeling and simulation laboratory space, reconfigurable research areas and meeting facilities. The two-story, modern, glass-and-brick building features a 7,800-square-foot conference room able to host a wide variety of high-tech tabletop simulations, video demonstrations and research projects. Another conference room will feature a 26-foot x 6-foot screen capable of linking with more than 64 video inputs (eight simultaneously) for everything from PowerPoint briefings to virtual environments and remote video viewing.

The modeling and simulation center also includes space for secure research projects, facilities for several small-business incubators, a Gigabit Ethernet network, connectivity via the National LambdaRail and office space for more than 40 researchers. The facility also includes room to expand as the industry grows.

"In this building, our research teams have the ability to expand our efforts into new cluster areas beyond the work we are doing in transportation, military, homeland defense and medical modeling and simulations," explained John Sokolowski, VMASC research director.

"We will be able to conduct research in game-based learning, enterprise engineering, the social sciences and artificial intelligence/robotics. And, we will be able to support much larger simulations and larger-scale venues with partners like the Joint Forces Command," Sokolowski said. "Ultimately, this new headquarters gives us the ability to realize exponential growth of our research programs. We should be able to triple our funded research over the next five years."

Next door, the $10.6 million, 53,000-square-foot Tri-Cities Higher Education Center is a modern, full-service educational facility providing advanced learning opportunities. Faculty there will offer upper-level undergraduate and graduate classes, as well as certificate programs. Academic programs will concentrate on engineering, education, health sciences, criminal justice and business administration. Master's programs will be available in business, engineering, health sciences and education.

The wireless building includes 23 state-of-the-art, fully mediated classrooms, a computer lab with nearly 50 computers, and stations for 10 laptops. On-site counselors can offer student assistance in advising, registration and admissions.

"This new center greatly expands our ability to offer a much wider variety of education opportunities to students in the tri-cities area and beyond," said site director Barry Smith. "Now we offer more courses, more majors, more programs, continuing education offerings and better support for workforce development initiatives, including career switchers.

"This increased, dynamic ODU presence, the expansion of offerings and this magnificent facility has resulted in nearly 200 more students attending classes this fall than attended last fall," he added. "As folks learn more about what we offer here, I foresee expanded opportunities for outreach way beyond our current student population."

The MAST Center at Hampton Roads Crossing, a 32-acre research, education and technology park, also includes a 60,000-square-foot speculative technology building. There are plans for as many as nine other technology buildings for businesses and industries in the park. The mixed-use Hampton Roads Crossing development, which also is designed to include 600 homes and a retail center, is at 7000 College Drive near State Route 164 (Western Freeway).

This article was posted on: November 14, 2007

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Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.