Student Experience

Student Experience

The Calhoun Discovery Program prepares students to be leaders in collaborative technology innovation for societal impact.

a faculty member sits with students at a table

our student experience has six main characteristics:


Transdisciplinary studios
where students engage real-world problems through a collaborative process with the goal of innovating technology for societal change. Faculty and students from all participating disciplines, as well as experts from our industry and non-profit partners, work together in the studios. Students take one semester-long collaborative studio in their first two years and one studio per semester in the third and fourth years of study.  The Discovery Studios count toward disciplinary experiential learning requirements, including the senior capstone project.

Customizable interdisciplinary general education. The Discovery Program offers over 40 one-credit Honors course modules that cover key concepts in the participating disciplines related to collaborative technology innovation for societal impact. Students choose the modules that best fit their interdisciplinary collaboration interests. All modules employ a flipped classroom format, combining rich faculty-student interactions both in person and online, which facilitates flexible scheduling. All modules count toward Pathways general education requirements.

Check out sample four-year plans to see how the program could work with your field of study. Note: these are sample plans and students will need to work with their college advisors and CDP faculty mentors to determine which modules they should take.

Each student is assigned an Honors faculty mentor who helps the student connect their disciplinary education within their degree area to transdisciplinary education in technology innovation.

Mentors help students by:

●     Meeting with the students regularly and reviewing progress in the disciplinary degree and transdisciplinary honors diploma
●     Offering guidance to students on their applied projects and research ideas
●     Working with students to prepare proposals for Discovery Program research grants that support each student’s research interests.

The Calhoun Discovery Program student body is diverse in terms of disciplinary preparation, gender, race, and socioeconomic background. The generosity of David Calhoun and our industry partners allows us to be need-blind when recruiting students. The commitment of the program and of the University to a diverse and inclusive definition of excellence allows us to go beyond the traditional measures of performance (grades, SAT scores, etc.) when recruiting students. For example, we utilize the non-cognitive variables rubric promoted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to consider our applicants’ broader potential, review student portfolios (when available), and use one-on-one interviews to explore students’ commitment to collaborative and community-focused work, open-ended exploration, and a reflective approach.

Specialized facilities and experiences. All Discovery students have exclusive 24/7 access to the Discovery Collaboration Studio and Prototyping Lab. Students are given individual storage space in the lab. All students also participate throughout their studies in the Discovery Distributed Collaboration and Learning Platform that helps students connect their learning to peer, faculty, and partner perspectives. Students working with industry and professional organization partners may also carry out part of their work at partner facilities across the United States. 

The Calhoun Discovery Program (CDP) offers a year-long dinner series intended for students to interact with industry partners. There will be five dinners over the course of the year, and CDP students are expected to attend three of the five dinners. Students enrolled in the Honors College Studio+ will also be invited to attend.

In its first phase, the Calhoun Discovery Program will engage a total of 200 students within the Honors College, with the first cohort of 50 students starting in fall 2019.  After four years of learning the process of discovery, innovation, and problem-solving, students will be prepared to face the real world. Under this new learning platform, students will graduate from Virginia Tech with the skills and knowledge needed to lead collaborative technological innovation and live out our motto Ut Prosim, “That I May Serve.”