The engineering dean from the University of California at Irvine will be the next president of George Mason University, school officials announced Monday, arriving as Northern Virginia is poised for further growth in the technology sector.

George Mason’s Board of Visitors voted Monday to select Gregory Washington, the dean of UC-Irvine’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and a researcher specializing in dynamic systems, to lead Virginia’s largest public research university.

Washington, 54, is expected to join George Mason, a fast-growing university with multiple campuses in Northern Virginia, on July 1.

“Mason’s story is my story,” Washington said in a phone interview. “I’m a first-generation student. I know how first-generation students getting exposed to education will change the fortune of a family.”

“What attracted me to Mason was its reputation for having real impact, providing access and for its commitment to inclusive excellence,” Washington said in a written statement. “I look forward to helping continue to accelerate the trajectory of the institution.

Washington, who earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at North Carolina State University, will be George Mason’s first African American president.

Shannon Davis, who leads George Mason’s Faculty Senate and co-chaired the search committee, said in a statement that Washington’s “experience as a first-generation college student who rose through the ranks of higher education, coupled with his honesty and ability to bring people together, will enable him to connect with our community on a level that is rare for a president.”

Nearly 40 percent of George Mason students are the first in their families to attend college, and one-third qualify for federal Pell Grants.

Washington brings years of engineering expertise to the role, something he said is important in an economy that relies heavily on science and technology. The University of Maryland also recently named an engineering dean to serve as its next president.

Jimmy Hazel, the vice rector of the Board of Visitors and co-chair of the search committee, said Washington’s engineering background was an important factor in the selection. “That’s a good indicator of where the national economy is going,” Hazel said.

Kenneth Ball, dean of George Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering, said Washington’s appointment represents a shift in higher education; universities are starting to view engineering as a discipline that intersects with other fields, including sociology, business and the humanities.

“I would certainly not view it as prioritizing engineering. I would view this as catalyzing all the other fields. Engineers today have a very broad, multidisciplinary perspective,” Ball said. “It’s not about designing gears. It’s about bringing in people from all different backgrounds to identify problems facing society and come up with solutions to those problems.”

George Mason’s rector, Tom Davis, said Washington stood out in a competitive search.

“He showed tremendous vision for the future of our region and how we fit in, and displayed the ability to motivate and inspire our community,” Davis said in a written statement.

At UC-Irvine, Washington is credited with having hired one of the most diverse engineering faculties in the country, and expanding undergraduate and graduate enrollment during his tenure. He launched a freshman learning initiative that led to more than 60 percent of the school’s undergraduate engineering students conducting research.

He established a nonprofit in Orange County, Calif., OC STEM, working with thousands of K-12 students, teachers and administrators to promote education in science, technology, engineering and math.

“The prestige, popularity and external resources of UCI’s Samueli School of Engineering rose steadily during his tenure as dean,” Enrique J. Lavernia, provost and executive vice chancellor at UC-Irvine, said in a written statement. He said Washington worked closely with colleagues “to establish integrated research opportunities and a robust pipeline of future engineers.”

Anne Holton, who served as state education secretary, has been George Mason’s interim president since August. She took over after Ángel Cabrera, who led the campus for seven years, was named president of Georgia Tech.

The university embarked on a months-long search in July that included listening sessions with members of the campus. Nineteen people — including faculty, Board of Visitors members and one student — served on the search committee.

Faculty senators, a member of the staff senate and a student government representative met with four finalists in the presidential search on Saturday, according to a statement from the university. The candidates answered questions about several topics, including recruiting diverse faculty, fundraising and the arts.

Washington and his wife will be introduced to the university Thursday at the Board of Visitors meeting.

Camden Layton, the student body president at George Mason, served as the sole student representative on the search committee. Layton said he was looking for a president whom students could encounter in the student center or in the dining hall.

“School spirit and campus community engagement has been low. We’re just missing a lot of that,” Layton said. “Students wanted to see a more engaged president. Greg is very energetic, very passionate, very student-driven.”

George Mason, with more than 38,000 students, began as an affiliate of the University of Virginia and became independent in 1972.

It has evolved from a regional commuter school to an increasingly large, ambitious and competitive academic center. In 2016, it reached a milestone when it was designated “highest research activity” known as “R1” from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, moving it into the top tier of doctoral universities.

The school’s endowment doubled during Cabrera’s tenure, and the university opened a campus in South Korea.

More change is expected: With Amazon planning a headquarters in Northern Virginia, university leaders anticipate a sharp increase in demand for technology education. The commonwealth has committed $235 million to expand the number of graduates in technology programs at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels during the next 20 years. Some of that money will be used at George Mason’s Arlington campus, which is a few miles from the planned Amazon site. Projects include a new building to house incubators and other initiatives along with the university’s research and graduate education programs in computing.

The school plans to launch a school of computing this year; initial enrollment of more than 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students is expected to grow significantly.

Last week, the school announced it had received approval from state officials to create a Department of Cyber Security Engineering, which officials said they believe will be the first of its kind in the country.