WVU hosts first-ever IDEA Hub Demo Day

MORGANTOWN — Maybe it’s because it was held in the sleek, contemporary confines of the Evansdale Crossings complex. WVU’s first-ever IDEA Hub Demo Day on Thursday did have a chrome-and-glass feel about it.

The school’s Office of the Provost created the IDEA Hub in 2015 as a platform for showcasing the creative collaborations between professors, students and others from the Morgantown community and region.

Inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs need apply.

The Hub’s built-in experts are there with resources and expertise to help the startup, well, start up.

There were student-created video game pitches, customized “stomp pads” for snowboards (to make exiting the lift that much easier) and interactive display after interactive display.

The high-tech stopped when Hub-goers hit the 5th floor.

There, it wasn’t artificial. It was organic.

Primordial, even.

That was where the landscape architecture students of Vaike Haas were stationed, to talk about their master plan proposal for the Core Arboretum.

Haas is a professor, researcher and activist known for her work, which melds urban climes to green spaces.

She’s an avid bicyclist who in recent weeks has also taken up the mantle of pedestrian safety, following a spate of accidents involving students struck by cars in crosswalks.

The students in her Landscape Design 331, 351 and 360 classes have taken that into account with some of the things they have in mind for the arboretum.

“I’m proud of their work,” Haas said. “I’m impressed by their ideas.”

“We’ve been working on this for a couple of months,” said Jack Bauer, a landscape architecture major from Huntington.

“The idea was to incorporate some additions without making it seem so jarring,” he said.

Arboretum dreams

Their suggestions include flora-and-fauna covered roundabouts and walkways — plus other ambiant and aesthetic turns.

“All of this is real-world,” Bauer’s classmate, Donovan Price said.

“You could actually do this.”

Price is a Washington, D.C., native who moved with his parents to Martinsburg when he was a youngster.

He knows all about real-world, urban encroachment: Martinsburg is now officially part of the Washington Metro area, with all the green-eating subdivisions to prove it.

“All the farms, all the orchards are gone,” Price said.

That’s what Earl L. Core didn’t want to see happen in 1948, when WVU bought two large family farms to build the Evansdale campus.

Core, a respected botanist and then-chairman of biology, successful lobbied for 91 acres of old-growth forest that made up the farmland.

The arboretum that now bears the late educator’s name is tucked behind the WVU Coliseum.

Zach Fowler, also a WVU biologist and the arboretum’s current director, said he can’t wait to explore the possibilities.

The Hub suggestions, he said, could make the arboretum even more accessible to the community.

“We’ve never had a master plan,” he said, as he regarded the proposals.

“You look at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Virginia, and you see they’re doing so much more with their arboretums. We’re dreaming big here.”

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