Challenge Ambassador: John Deskins, Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Assistant Dean for Outreach and Engagement, Chambers College of Business and Economics
The American economy is amid a transformative shift in the nature of work – from workplace culture and practice to digital disruptions to rapid advances in automation and artificial intelligence impacting traditional workforces and workplaces across industry sectors. Meanwhile the Center for Rural Innovation notes that COVID-19 has challenged assumptions about where influential jobs and talent can thrive. As tech industries have come to embrace distributed teams, and as more workers have left or are considering leaving urban areas to work remotely in rural America, this poses opportunities for communities and industries prepared to adapt to and support new workers.
Team #1 — Remote Work/Small Businesses/Entrepreneurships
Ascend 2.0: Pathways to Stay
The “Ascend 2.0” program aims to retain West Virginia’s “best and brightest” human capital while diversifying the state’s economy. The program will connect graduate students with remote work opportunities, while offering networking and mentorships.
This project was offered up to $10,000 in planning funding.
- Ajay Aluri, Founding Director of the Hospitality Innovation and Technology Lab, Associate Professor, John Chambers College of Business and Economics
- Nathan Harlan, Executive Director of Office of Student Wellness, Adventure West Virginia
- Dan Twilley, Assistant Dean for the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative
- Liz Vitullo, Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives, John Chambers College of Business and Economics
- Facilitator: Kristen Dieffenbach, Associate professor, Director of the Center for Applied Coaching and Sport Science, College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences
Team #2 — Automation and Advanced Manufacturing
SmartAg WV (FUNDING RECIPIENT)
The “SmartAg WV” will use data and automation to improve the efficiency and capacity of small-scale farming in West Virginia and the related artisan food production industry.
This project was allocated $131,000 by the review panel.
- Yu Gu, Associate Professor Interactive Robotics Laboratory, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
- Thorsten Wuest, Associate Professor, Smart Manufacturing, Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, WVU Launch Lab
- Jason Gross, Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Research, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
- John Saldanha, Sears Chair in Global Supply Chain Management and Associate Professor, John Chambers College of Business and Economics
- Matt Wilson, Associate Dean for Research, Associate Director of the Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station, Professor of Reproductive Physiology, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
- Trina Wafle, Assistant Director, Program Development and Research Services, WVU Energy Institute
- Facilitator: Heather Henderson, Director of Accreditation, Planning and Evaluation, School of Public Health