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Virginia Tech and Ashby Ponds Partner for STEM Program Designed for Senior Scholars

October 2, 2015

The eight-week program will explore the latest innovations in science and tech

(Ashburn, Virginia) – The Virginia Tech Creative Learning Academy for Senior Scholars (VT CLASS) has partnered with Ashby Ponds for an eight-week program focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) research and innovation.  The program, called VT CLASS-Tech Institute, began on September 30th with a field trip to the Occoquan Watershed to explore environmental engineering technologies.

In early 2015, Carter began discussions with Ashby Ponds regarding this program.  "We chose to partner with Ashby Ponds for our initial launch in northern Virginia because of their prominence in this community," said Jennifer Carter, Associate Director of the National Capital Region, Virginia Tech Continuing and Professional Education.  "VT CLASS has been offering in Blacksburg for nearly 10 years.  We are expecting that this northern Virginia offering will soon be incorporated with the new Lifelong Learning Institute that Virginia Tech is launching this fall in the New River Valley," said Carter.

Carter visited Ashby Ponds in the fall of 2014 for the community's second STEM panel, hosted by the resident STEM group.  More than two dozen members make up the group at the Ashburn retirement community.  The majority of the group's members had former careers in one or more of the STEM occupations.  Resident Polly Liss, who coordinates the STEM panels at the community, served for several years (and still serves as an ex officio member) on the Arlington County Public Schools Citizens Advisory Committee on Career, Technology, and Adult Education.  For the STEM panel last year, they hosted Carter from Virginia Tech, as well as panelists from George Mason University, GW's Virginia Science and Technology Campus, and Northern Virginia Community College.  This year, the group's STEM panel will take place in November and will include current STEM students and recent STEM graduates working in relevant fields.

Throughout the VT Class-Tech Institute program, participating residents will have the opportunity to take trips to the Lake Anna Nuclear Plant, as well as other sites to learn about 3D printing and unmanned aerial systems.  Each trip will be followed by a presentation at Ashby Ponds by one of Virginia Tech's research professors.  The program will conclude in November.

"It's crucial that we don't forget that learning does not stop after formal education ends," said Carter.  "We all have opportunities to learn more about new ideas, technologies, arts and crafts, and the world around us and to actively pursue these keeps us all sharp and more alive.  We hope that the participants in this course have an opportunity to experience, hands on, some of the facilities and experts that Virginia Tech has in the area."

About Ashby Ponds:  Ashby Ponds, one of 18 retirement communities managed by Erickson Living, is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Virginia (approximately 30 miles west of Washington, D.C.).  The community is home to over 1000 residents and more than 120 resident-run and resident-driven clubs and groups, an indoor pool, a fitness club, transportation services, 24-hour security, and flexible dining options. More information about Ashby Ponds can be found at

Photo:  Ashby Ponds resident Polly Liss introduces representatives from Virginia Tech, George Mason University, GW's Virginia Science and Technology Campus, and Northern Virginia Community College during the community's 2nd annual STEM panel in November 2014.