TechConnect West Virginia 2015 “Spirit of Innovation Awards”
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
State Capitol Complex
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
TechConnect’s Spirit of Innovation Awards, designed to celebrate success and showcase innovation in the State of West Virginia, were presented November 16, 2015 at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston. West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead delivered keynote remarks.
“This was an opportunity to celebrate the individuals and organizations who are leaders in innovation and innovation-based business development throughout the state,” said Anne Barth, executive director of TechConnect. “We congratulate all who have been nominated, and we’re eager to share their stories,” she added.
“With many exciting developments underway in our state’s innovation and technology economy, the goal of this awards program is to showcase success stories and inspire others who have an entrepreneurial spirit,” she said. Awards were made in the following categories:
Innovator of the Year
Winner: The J-Star Team (Represented by Scott Zemerick)
The Jon McBride Software Testing and Research (JSTAR) team is a subgroup within the NASA Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Program, composed of 15 engineers with TMC Technologies serving as the lead contractor company. The JSTAR team develops software-only, fully-functional, spacecraft simulations to assist with flight software testing, including verification and validation (IV&V) activities. The innovative simulation technologies are used to find and fix significant faults in flight software development on high-profile NASA missions, providing assurance that a single fault won’t result in loss of mission. Their development has paved the way for West Virginia’s first small spacecraft mission to be designed, built, and tested by West Virginia University students and engineers and launched by NASA in 2017.
StartUp Innovation of the Year
Winner: CereDx, Inc. (Taura Barr, Richard Giersch, & Valerie Gionis)
CereDx, Inc. is a West Virginia startup company developing point-of-care diagnostic tests that will aid in the clinical decision making for patients with stroke, the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the U.S. The firm’s current goal and primary focus is to diagnose and improve the treatment of stroke patients through the development of next-generation precision diagnostics and therapeutics. These diagnostic tests include a stroke/no stroke and a stroke time-of-onset blood test that will be optimized for clinical use in a large clinical trial scheduled to begin in the fall of 2015. CereDx’s innovative technology was developed at West Virginia University by two West Virginia natives. The company holds a worldwide exclusive license from WVU for a first-in-class approach to stroke diagnosis, and is in negotiation with the National Institutes of Health to license technology developed by Dr. Taura L. Barr as a graduate student on the NIH campus.
Student Innovator of the Year
Winner: Samantha Melroy, Terra Response LLC
An undergraduate majoring in mechanical engineering at WVU, Samantha’s research has led to a patent-pending technology that uses electromagnetic waves to detect underground objects, including utility lines, landmines, or other metallic or non-metallic objects. While initial use would be on Earth, it could also be used in exploring other planets. Building on lessons learned from the first prototype, she’s working to develop a commercially viable device for manufacture by Terra Response LLC.
Entrepreneurial Support of the Year
Winner: WVU College of Law Entrepreneurship and Innovation Law Clinic (Represented by Nancy Trudel)
The Entrepreneurship & Innovation Law Clinic (EILC) gives students the opportunity to provide legal services to start-up companies, small businesses, non-profits, and individuals. The clinic works with clients in counseling for a product plan or business organization; licensing; employee and contractor agreements; intellectual property; financing and venture capital; planning and negotiation; dispute resolution; and generalized assistance in business formation, planning, and strategy. Annually, the EILC assists over 55 West Virginia businesses with a variety of legal services, representing nearly 2,000 hours of work by student-attorneys and 2,550 hours of work by supervising attorneys. The EILC is a member of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Trademark Certification Program.
Outstanding Woman in Technology
Winners: Megan Bacorn and Gabrielle Rhodes
Teachers Megan Bacorn and Gabrielle Rhodes have seamlessly integrated technology in their classrooms at Union Elementary School in Buckhannon, and are committed to providing excellence in teaching to their students and sharing strategies and tips with fellow teachers.
Ms. Bacorn, who teaches fifth grade, is a facilitator for infusing technology and a key member of her school’s West Virginia Innovation Zone Grant team. She uses digital story-telling, whiteboard apps and gaming to help students achieve, earning recognition as a Learning Media Digital Innovator by PBS. In her class, students learn how to code and then put their new skills to work in the community, such as creating QR codes to enhance a visitor’s experience at the West Virginia Wildlife Center in French Creek.
Ms. Rhodes, who teaches third grade at Union Elementary, uses innovative strategies to teach mathematics and science, earning a Presidential Award for Excellence in the process. A certified technology integration specialist, she trains fellow teachers on best practices in utilizing technology in the classroom. Her students apply the knowledge learned to real-world studies, including tracking the path of migrating Monarch butterflies, building and launching rockets, and exploring NASA Space Camp.
TechConnect thanks the sponsors of this event, including the High Technology Foundation, the West Virginia Department of Education & the Arts, West Virginia University, the Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau, Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, and the West Virginia Department of Commerce.
Congratulations to the 2015 Finalists! To view winners and finalists in each category, click on the links below: