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Demand Soars for Foreign Tech Workers

The Tennessean
August 3, 2012

Pietro Valdastri visited Nashville for the first time almost a year ago, not as a tourist but as a new hire.

Valdastri joined Vanderbilt University as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in September. In doing so, he left the university where he taught and earned a doctorate in bioengineering and moved his family nearly 4,900 miles from Pisa, Italy.

“I really enjoy it here,” Valdastri said. “Nashville is very nice.”

Like Valdastri, roughly 300 other Vanderbilt employees also have crossed national borders to work for the region’s largest employer. And more likely will follow as Vanderbilt, as well as other Middle Tennessee companies struggling to fill high-tech jobs, increasingly turn to foreign countries for skilled workers under a specific portion of federal visa provisions.

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