At West Virginia University, students, faculty and staff are charged with pursuing world-changing discoveries, innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges, academic engagement and excellence, and they are responding to the call. WVU’s second annual Demo Day (April 25) is an example in living color of the University-wide commitment to cultivating a robust and dynamic culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and design.
In just one year, Demo Day has expanded tenfold, from holding eight events with some 200 participants in 2018 to featuring around 30 events with more than 1,600 participants in 2019. Nearly all colleges, as well as both regional affiliates, are sponsoring and hosting activities this year and hundreds of individuals of all ages and backgrounds are expected to attend.
Demonstrating the scope of new discoveries, inventions and business ventures, Demo Day is showcasing the power of multidisciplinary, cross-departmental collaboration. From the Expo to various events across all majors and disciplines, faculty and students are joining forces to share their skills, area-expertise and know-how to create new ideas and inventions that can change the trajectory of West Virginia and beyond.
From pitch competitions, social action challenges, interactive exhibits, prototype stations and engineering showcases, to fashion displays, landscape architecture designs, open houses, creative arts performances, business and economics exhibits and lemonade stands to teach elementary school students business operations, there are opportunities for all ages, professions and interests to embrace news ideas across WVU.
For the second year in a row, the Reed College of Media and the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources are joining forces with the School of Art and Design to bring students together and collaborate to design, develop and program a video game. Based on local history, the students are revealing their collaborative results at the Video Game Pitch competition, where they are showcasing how they created their interactive websites and 3D printed game consoles.
Not only are students competing for the best video game program, but they are also presenting their innovations, inventions and unique ventures at the Demo Day Expo, where contestants can win up to $1,000 to help develop their idea or innovation. Nearly two dozen WVU Tech students and staff are also participating in the Expo. A total of seven competitions are being held across all campuses, including the Hovercraft Show and Race, the Social Action Showcase and Challenge, the Women's and Gender Studies Showcase and the "Is there an app for that?" Pitch Challenge.
More than 500 Statler College students and faculty are racing radio-controlled hovercrafts, pitching new product and/or service ideas and presenting semester-long innovative projects from low maintenance hydroponic systems to recycling/composting sorting devices and even robotic-based systems utilizing an Arduino board. While 200 John Chambers College of Business and Economics students are displaying their innovative business ventures at their expo, Hospitality Innovation and Technology Lab students and staff are greeting attendees with robots, interactive kiosks and augmented virtual reality devices.
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design has dedicated the entire day to host award ceremonies, showcase displays and presentations in agriculture education, interior design, landscape architecture and fashion design merchandising. Teams of students are presenting semester-long projects to Chris Yura, founder of SustainU, in a "shark tank" style competition where one team's product development line will be selected as the best option for SustainU’s brand. Fashion design draping students are showcasing final garment designs as an evolution of their study of Dior fashions, past and present. To finish the day, Davis College is hosting its E. Lynn Miller Lecture in landscape architecture, featuring innovator and industry insider, Walter J. Hood.
Not only are collaborative events occurring throughout the day, many are also focusing on how to positively impact West Virginia. The Center for Service and Learning, in partnership with the Social Action Clinic and the Honors College, is hosting the inaugural Social Action Showcase and Challenge to drive constructive social change in the state. In addition, the Center for Women's and Gender Studies is showing the work of more than 250 students from WVU's and Potomac State College's introductory courses to engage in conversation on student-led activism and explore ways that social justice can be addressed through entrepreneurship and innovation.
“We recognize the importance of building a more robust and diverse economy for our state. That begins by infusing an entrepreneurial mindset across WVU, increasing the opportunity for collaboration and educating our next generation of leaders to innovate and problem solve,” said Carrie White, assistant vice president of innovation and entrepreneurship and director of the IDEA Hub. “We are thrilled that so many students, faculty and staff have embraced new ideas and want to showcase their talent, innovations and inventions at Demo Day.”
Demo Day is hosted by the WVU IDEA Hub, which was founded by the WVU Office of the Provost only four years ago. The center aims to coordinate and elevate creative and inventive work, connecting individuals to the resources embedded in the colleges, units and programs that harness entrepreneurship and innovation. The organizations of the IDEA Hub are trained to help nascent entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators develop and launch their ideas by providing the resources, expertise and coaching critical to every stage of the startup process.
Communications Director & Marketing Strategist, Office of the Provost
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