Radford family gathers to dedicate Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab
Local entrepreneur and enthusiastic Radford University partner and supporter Vinod Chachra, Ph.D., has given the university a significant financial donation that will support its new competency-based education (CBE) program, IMPACT (Innovative Mobile Personalized Accelerated Competency Training). In recognition of his generosity, Radford University will name the program’s laboratory the Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab.
Dr. Chachra, of Blacksburg, is the founder of VTLS Inc. and until recently served as its President and CEO. He is an internationally recognized lecturer, consultant and innovator in the field of information system planning. As a Radford University partner, Dr. Chachra has strongly supported the implementation and creation of IMPACT, a first-of-its-kind program among four-year public institutions in Virginia. IMPACT officially launched Oct. 1, 2017 with an initial focus on cybersecurity, an information technology security program in which Radford University is nationally recognized. Radford University was designated in 2016 as a Center of Academic Excellence in cyber defense by both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
IMPACT will focus on geospatial intelligence in early 2018, a program in which the university is also well-positioned and acclaimed. In addition, the Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab was awarded a historic three-year, $13.9 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education’s Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Grant Program (Grant #(U423A170051). The grant began on Oct. 1, 2017 and runs through Sept. 30, 2020 and is the largest grant in the history of Radford University. Moving forward, additional programs will be added.
The SEED grant will expand IMPACT to include Appalachian Support for Specialized Education Training (ASSET), which includes the development, implementation and evaluation of online, self-paced, competency-based education (CBE) training designed to increase teacher effectiveness and workforce capacity in underserved rural communities in Appalachia.
IMPACT is aligned with the CBE approach, which focuses on teaching specific job-related skills that are needed to perform a critical task in the workplace. The program is delivered online in an asynchronous, self-paced manner and is available at a fixed cost, regardless of the timeframe in which it is completed. Working professionals who successfully complete the cybersecurity program will earn 18 credit hours. IMPACT training also prepares them for professional certification exams.
As a result of Dr. Chachra’s generous gift, Radford University is at the forefront of higher education technology innovation and providing lasting benefits in the region, across the Commonwealth of Virginia and throughout the nation and the world.
“This gift will be instrumental in Radford University’s innovative efforts to continuously infuse technology in all facets of teaching and learning,” said Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill. “Additionally, it will forever etch the internationally renowned Chachra name in the history of Radford University and inspire the next generation of Highlanders and others to make a significant and lasting impact in the cyber defense sector.”
The Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab will enable one of the first instructional design teams to embed learning science principles into every aspect of CBE design, thereby aligning with Radford University’s traditional image and mission as a teaching university. In addition, with this approach, the Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab has the opportunity to become a national leader in highly innovative and emergent fields of study (e.g. CBE instructional design, personalized learning, learning analytics, story-based learning environments, gamification, self-organizing learning environments and virtual reality).
The lab will be the incubator that lays the foundation for the sustainable future of learning and business practices at Radford University and possibly other universities in the Commonwealth and throughout the country.
The Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab will be an established lab space physically separate but adjacent to Radford University’s main campus. It will house office space and computer equipment.
About Vinod Chachra
After earning his Ph.D. in industrial engineering and operations research at Virginia Tech, Dr. Chachra served the university in many capacities. From 1972 to 1985, he successfully assumed roles of director of software development, director of computing and information systems, vice provost and then vice president for computing and information systems.
Dr. Chachra was responsible for the creation of VTLS Inc., an international leader in integrated library automation, digital imaging services and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. The company provided state-of-the-art library automation systems to more than 1900 libraries worldwide. VTLS was the first spinoff from Virginia Tech and the first tenant of the Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg.
Dr. Chachra has been active in the library profession for more than 25 years. He represented Virginia in the White House Conference on Library and Information Sciences in 1979, served on the legislative committee for library networking in Virginia, and is a former member of the White House Conference on Library and Information Services Task Force. He worked with several countries in the design and implementation of their national bibliographic information resources and national union catalogs.
Dr. Chachra has written two books, a chapter in a third book and numerous journal articles. In 2012, he was inducted into the Faculty Entrepreneur Hall of Fame at Virginia Tech. He is a long term member of the Ut Prosim society.