Build Season is Open: FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) / Rocktown Robotics

Rocktown Robotics is a community-based FIRST Robotics Competition team, in partnership with JMU X-Labs and open to all students in the area in grades 9-12.

With a set of regulations, budgetary constraints, and limited resources, groups of high school students work together in teams to design, construct, and program industrial-sized robots to play a challenging game against competitors on a field about the size of a basketball court.  It is a real-world engineering challenge in which the students learn teamwork, leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills.  Roles incorporate every aspect of a real engineering project, including project and budget management, marketing, communication, and business planning, in addition to learning sophisticated software, programming, electrical, and technical skills.

The 2019 competition season has just begun and runs through April.  The team is currently recruiting new members AND mentors, so please email for more info.  

You can learn more about FIRST Robotics Competition here:


Tracy Tynan Joins CIT as Director of Virginia Center for Unmanned Systems

October 8, 2018 (Herndon, Virginia)

The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) today announced that it has hired Tracy Tynan as the new Director of the Virginia Center for Unmanned Systems. Tynan joins CIT with more than 15 years of economic and community development experience in Virginia. In this role, Tynan’s main focus will be to increase collaboration and communication among the various entities engaged with unmanned systems across the Commonwealth, with the goal of growing unmanned systems economic activity and benefit in Virginia. Tynan has forged numerous strategic relationships within the aerospace community, and has a first-hand understanding of the issues and challenges of growing such an important industry in Virginia.

Before joining CIT, Tynan served as Project Manager for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) Business Investment Group, where she was the primary contact for the unmanned systems and aerospace sectors as well as many highly visible corporate headquarters relocation and expansion projects. Prior to the VEDP, Tynan served as Vice President of Business investments at the Greater Richmond partnership. Previously, Tynan held positions in the commercial aviation sector, including Sales and Marketing Manager for Japan’s All Nippon Airways after their inaugural U.S.A. flight service from Tokyo to Washington D.C. Her background also includes entrepreneurial experience as part of the start-up teams at People Express, Presidential, and Jet Aspen airlines. Tynan earned her B.S. in Education from the University of Virginia.

“I am thrilled to take on this role with CIT, and to play an important part in creating a much needed, centralized hub for the resources and information that is available to the unmanned systems community,” said Tynan. “In addition to advocacy, our focus for the Virginia Center for Unmanned Systems will be to serve as a clearinghouse and coordination point for related information, assets, and programs throughout the Commonwealth.”

The UAV industry requires a large variety of resources for development, testing, and applications. Virginia is uniquely positioned to provide ideal conditions and locations for the land, maritime, and aerial unmanned systems industry and our universities and research centers continue to improve with programs designed to match the skills and expertise needed by all types of employers. In October, CIT will launch a benchmark study to establish a base line of unmanned systems companies within the Commonwealth, including the services and products they provide. With Tynan’s leadership, these initiatives will help position Virginia as a national leader in what is a growing multi-billion-dollar industry.

“CIT is excited to welcome Tracy to the unmanned systems team. Her track record for driving growth in Virginia’s economy, as well as her relationship building experience in the aerospace community makes her a great fit for this role,” said Ed Albrigo, President and CEO of CIT. “We look forward to her contributions, and seeing the Center continue to bring leaders in both cyber security and UAV industries together to ensure that Virginia’s future of unmanned systems will promote collaboration with businesses, investors, universities, entrepreneurs, and government organizations to build a world class ecosystem that will create opportunities for every region of the Commonwealth.”

For more information about the Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence, please visit

About the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT)

The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), a nonprofit corporation, has been Virginia’s primary driver of innovation and entrepreneurship since 1985. CIT accelerates the next generation of technology and technology companies through commercialization, capital formation, market development and revenue generation services. To facilitate national innovation leadership and accelerate the rate of technology adoption, CIT creates partnerships between innovative technology start-up companies and advanced technology consumers. CIT’s CAGE Code is 1UP71. To learn more, please visit You can also follow CIT on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook.

GO VA Region 8 Grant Funds Available for Eligible Projects

HARRISONBURG (March 13, 2018)


The GO Virginia Region 8 Council of the Shenandoah Valley is now accepting proposals for eligible projects to be funded through the Commonwealth’s GO Virginia initiative to grow and diversify regional economies.  GO Virginia is an initiative by Virginia’s senior business leaders to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration by business, education, and government.  The Region 8 Council has approximately $828,000 in per capita GO Virginia funds to award for collaborative projects that involve two or more localities and a private sector partner.  Projects should be focused on the targeted industries and eligible activities identified in Region 8’s Growth and Diversification Plan. In addition to the per capita funds, approximately $11.3 million in competitive statewide GO Virginia funds are also available for projects where two or more GO Virginia regions partner.

The most recent project funded by GO Virginia in Region 8 is the Rockbridge Area Advanced Manufacturing Program (RAAMP). RAAMP is a 40-week training program for welders at Byers Technical Institute, a new technical training center in Rockbridge County. The $200,000 needed to implement RAAMP will include a mix of GO Virginia funds and matching public/private investments from the Rockbridge County Economic Development Authority, the City of Buena Vista, and Byers, Inc., and will go towards expanding facilities and instructors to meet a critical demand for skilled welders in the region.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the project application guide available on the Shenandoah Valley Partnership website prior to completing an application.  The upcoming application deadlines are April 6, 2018, for per capita applications, and June 1, 2018, for per capita and competitive statewide applications.

GO Virginia Region 8 covers a large region from Winchester to Lexington and includes ten counties and six cities in the Shenandoah Valley, with a combined population of 525,000.  The 28-member council that oversees the GO Virginia program is made up of representatives from small and large business, higher and K-12 education, elected officials, and economic and workforce development organizations.

For more information on GO Virginia, visit online at Shenandoah Valley Partnership or Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

About GO Virginia:  The Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity (GO Virginia) is a voluntary, business-led, bipartisan initiative that was formed to foster private-sector growth and diversification across nine economic development regions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. State financial incentives designated for regional projects that encourage collaboration among private sector companies, workforce, education, and government are administered by the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board.

DHS S&T Partners With James Madison University

Students from James Madison University (JMU) will be tackling air travel security issues for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) as part of their spring semester of the Hacking 4 Defense (H4D) class.

GO Virginia | Region 8 | 3rd round proposals accepted | Pre-app. due Feb. 7

GO Virginia Region 8 Council is now accepting the third round of proposals for per-capita projects to be funded through the State’s GO Virginia initiative.  For a project to be considered by the Region 8 Council, the pre-application has to be received by the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) by Wed., Feb. 7, 2018.

SVAI Launches New Website

We’re delighted to share that our local investors group, Shenandoah Valley Angel Investors (SVAI), has created a website, and contacting them is now easy to do. Shenandoah Valley Angel Investors: From startup resources to an easy-to-use contact form, SVAI has now provided several online-accessible elements to advance their mission. Please use the contact form on their website to apply for funding consideration. 

About SVAI
Shenandoah Valley Angel Investors (SVAI) is a network of private investors that help fund entrepreneurial enterprises located in our communities. SVAI’s founding members have broad experience, spanning multiple market sectors, including: Manufacturing, Healthcare, Construction, Public Accounting, Outdoor Recreation, Legal, Senior Assisted Living, Insurance, Distribution and Logistics, Agriculture, Commercial Real Estate, Property Management, Government and Technology.

SVAI’s primary interest is Start-Up/ Early Stage business ventures with funding needs in the range of $50,000 to $300,000 that leverage technology to create a new product or service. A review committee assesses and ranks business proposals based on several factors, including: market potential, scalability, new job creation, intellectual property, competition, management team, business acumen, capital intensity and potential return on an equity investment.

To check out their new site, visit

CIT | Request for Innovators (RFI) for the Smart Cities Internet of Things Innovation (SCITI) Labs

Today, the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) announced a Request for Innovators (RFI) for the Smart Cities Internet of Things Innovation (SCITI) Labs. CIT, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), TechNexus, and Smart City Works are seeking to prototype new internet of things (IoT) and smart city technologies for emergency response and management.

The SCITI Labs effort focuses on extensive validation and go-to-market support through its network of industry partners.  SCITI creates an accelerated pathway to market through prototype funding and access to first responders (end users) across the United States. Selected performers will be funded at $50,000 for an initial first cut prototype. Some performers will be identified for a second funded validation prototype (at $100,000) over a total period of 18 months. The goal at the end of the second round is to have commercially-relevant capabilities that will be available for first responders by 2020.

The team is seeking new capabilities to support first responders in three specific areas of interest:
  • Navigation and Sensors. Autonomous navigation for indoor drones in support of search and rescue missions in difficult environments such as fire or earthquake damaged structures. Separate prototypes are also sought for two sensors either hand-carried or mounted on the drones: a WiFinder sensor for smart phone signals, and a thermal sensor for detecting the heat signatures of people or other living creatures.
  • Indoor building sensor suite. Prototypes are sought for sensors such as digital image, video, thermal or WiFinder to be mounted on fixed indoor building features such as smoke detectors or EXIT signs. Sensor processing will be able to establish baseline layout of indoor space throughout a building, and perform change detection in case of events that impact interiors and/or occupants.
  • Smart Hub. Prototypes are sought for a body worn responder interoperability platform that integrates personal area network communications with third-party sensor packages (e.g. integrated voice/coms, indoor building sensor suites). Additionally, the Smart Hub will be required to communicate with non-body worn sensors such as smart building or smart city technologies. Use cases include, First Responder situational awareness and enhanced support of mission-critical operations.

CIT invites parties to express initial interest by January 18, with invited final responses due by February 15, 2018. Final selection will be announced in March 2018. More details about funding, evaluation criteria and the application process are available at Please direct inquiries to for general questions or additional information.

About the Center for Innovative Technology,
Since 1985, CIT, a nonprofit corporation, has been Virginia’s primary driver of innovation and entrepreneurship. CIT accelerates the next generation of technology and technology companies through commercialization, capital formation, market development and revenue generation services. To facilitate national innovation leadership and accelerate the rate of technology adoption, CIT creates partnerships between innovative technology start-up companies and advanced technology consumers. CIT’s CAGE Code is 1UP71. To learn more, please visit  Follow CIT on Twitter @CITorg and add the Center for Innovative Technology on LinkedIn and Facebook.

STEM takes Flight | Hands-on Research Experience Opportunities Available for Summer 2018 @ NASA Wallops Flight Facility

Program Goals

  • To foster enhanced community college retention in STEM academic tracks through graduation or transfer to a four-year institution.
  • To strengthen VSGC’s relationships with and build NASA linkages with/for Virginia’s community colleges.

These paid opportunities will be identified by both NASA Centers with current Center missions and projects that are at a point which would maximize hands-on engagement of the students at project critical stages, while inspiring students, teaching them the nature of project work, communications and teamwork, and providing strong exposure to a wide range of technical and scientific career paths. Student researchers will work with NASA research advisers on the designated research project over the course of a 10 week, 40-hour- per-week, summer research experience. Students will receive a $5,000 stipend. Application packages are due February 26, 2018.

Supporting objectives are to nurture diversity; to pipeline STEM students to their next academic and workplace steps; and to foster STEM career awareness and workplace skills.

Application and all the details from the Virginia Space Grant Consortium

A professional development opportunity for Community College STEM Faculty is available at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility
May 21 – May 23. Details for the May 2018 STEM Faculty workshop



Virginia ICAP’s Lean Launchpad Short Course | Shenandoah Valley Cohort

Business Model Development for Technology Start-Ups

[The application deadline has passed. The organizers have judged the applications received and communications have gone out to each applicant on Dec. 22, 2017.  The cohort will meet on Jan. 26, 2018 for the first time.]

ICAP is a statewide technology-commercialization program offered by the Virginia Network of Small Business Development Centers, George Mason University, and local sponsors (SVTC, SBDC, JMU X-Labs).

Based on the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps™ program for Lean Startups, ICAP 2.0 helps inventors and entrepreneurs take the right first steps in bringing new technologies and innovations to market.

During this FREE 3-week program, you will work with ICAP instructors and your teammates to learn techniques that will help you identify potential customers, learn their needs and how you can build a successful business model from that knowledge.

The Short Course is the beginning of an ICAP process that guides companies through the Five Steps to Startup Success:

  • Validate your business model
  • Build the right team of three or more members
  • Develop a minimum viable product (MVP)
  • Create early sales traction
  • Establish distribution channels and key partnerships

Who is Eligible?
All Virginia early-stage technology innovators and entrepreneurs (faculty, students, or the community at large) who are seeking to explore the commercial prospects for their innovations are encouraged to participate in this regional cohort.

Important Dates

  • December 15, 2017 – Applications due by midnight
  • December 22, 2017 – Acceptance notifications and communication from Bob Smith, a seasoned advisor, with next steps and instructions, including how to prepare for the first session.
  • January 26, 2018, 9:00am-3:00pm – Kick-off Classroom Introductory Session.
    We meet in JMU’s Lakeview Hall, Harrisonburg. (Location | Google Maps)
  • February 2, 2018 – Each team participates in a pre-scheduled telephone review of the team’s Customer Discovery Progress over the first week
  • February 9, 2018, 9:00am-Noon – Final Team Presentations at JMU’s Lakeview Hall

During this 3-week program, there is extensive work done outside the classroom. In addition to the two class meetings, participants should expect to spend another 10-15 hours per week on customer discovery and course assignments.

At the conclusion of the program, you will remain connected with your ICAP trainers and SBDC Business Advisors to continue your progress on the Five Steps to Startup Success.

The program is designed to generate a maximum impact over a relatively short duration, and should be considered a required first step for anyone interested in commercializing a technology or product, whether through a startup or licensing arrangement.

Some graduates of this cohort may be eligible to apply to NSF’s full National Seven-week I-Corps Program in which includes non-dilutive grants for customer discovery and prototype development. Additionally, this program can help teams develop better submissions for SBIRs and CRCF grants from Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technologies.

For more information email:

This Cohort is hosted by the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development CenterJMU X-Labs, and the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council.

Launch of ‘Virginia is for Entrepreneurs’ Initiative |

Virginia is for Entrepreneurs (VA4E) is an initiative to better match entrepreneurs with potential investors across regions, backgrounds and industries.