Virginia Tech’s growing impact in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area will receive a significant boost thanks to a multimillion-dollar gift from Octo founder and CEO Mehul Sanghani and his wife, Hema Sanghani.
The couple’s $10 million gift primarily supports the newly renamed Sanghani Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics, which will be headquartered in the first academic building at the university’s Innovation Campus in Alexandria.
A majority of the gift is endowed to support recruiting, research, and fellowships at the center, which has operated since 2011 and was formerly known as the Discovery Analytics Center. Funding will also be allocated toward a Sanghani Center scholars program which will afford scholarship opportunities to underrepresented minorities to pursue graduate degrees with a focus on artificial intelligence.
“We thank the Sanghanis for their landmark contribution,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “This gift fuels growing momentum as we expand the university’s footprint in the greater D.C. area and explore the human-computing frontier. The Sanghanis’ investments in data analytics and artificial intelligence will advance Virginia Tech as a catalyst for discovery, growth, and opportunity.”
The gift comes as Virginia Tech continues to build momentum for its $1 billion Innovation Campus, which played a key role in the commonwealth’s successful effort to lure Amazon’s second headquarters to Virginia. The campus will be located in the Alexandria portion of National Landing near Potomac Yard, about two miles from Amazon’s new location in Arlington, Virginia.
“Higher Education is the perfect vehicle for a gift like this,” said Mehul Sanghani, who earned degrees from Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering and College of Science and founded Octo, a company that provides emerging technology and IT modernization services — including artificial intelligence — for the federal government. “With Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus coming online, we were presented with the unique opportunity to be part of growing our university’s standing as a world class institution that uses innovation — specifically artificial intelligence and data analytics — to transform our society for the greater good.”