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WVU offers students ‘gateway to world of possibilities’ at Lane Innovation Hub

Student welding

A student uses welding tools inside the WVU Lane Innovation Hub, a 9,500-square-foot industrial space on the Evansdale Campus where students, faculty and staff can design, build and fabricate anything they can conceptualize. (WVU Photo)

West Virginia University students training to be the engineers of the future or pursuing all kinds of other educational goals have opportunities to explore their ideas at the Lane Innovation Hub, a 9,500-square-foot industrial space located at the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.


Story by Holly Leleux-Thubron, Managing Editor, University Relations News
Photos by Statler College Marketing and Communications Office

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—

“The Lane Innovation Hub plays a crucial role in our commitment to fostering innovation in research, entrepreneurship and hands-on opportunities for our students,” said Pedro Mago, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College. “It is not just a facility, but an exceptional space that attracts students who are eager to explore the numerous opportunities it offers. The Lane Innovation Hub serves as a gateway to a world of possibilities for every engineering student with a creative mind, sparking inspiration and igniting a passion for groundbreaking discoveries.”

The facility combines three main workshops dedicated to advanced manufacturing, rapid prototyping and electrical prototyping, with an additional lab area for metal additive manufacturing methods. It’s a place where anyone connected to the University can design, build and fabricate anything they can conceptualize.

While researchers, faculty, staff and even West Virginia businesses are taking full advantage of the Hub’s expertise and resources, its impact on students is undeniable.

Daniel Givler is a senior from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, majoring in mechanical engineering, and chose WVU after touring the Hub during a campus visit. He’s always enjoyed working with his hands which he gets to do daily as a Hub student worker.

“When I was touring schools and trying to figure out where I wanted to study engineering, I saw things like the Hub on other campuses but not to the degree that we have here,” Givler said. “Most of those spaces were for upperclassmen only or limited to labs for a specific class. The Hub at WVU blew me away in terms of access and resources.”

Givler said he believes the many experiences he’s gained working for the Hub — learning how to work with a large aggregation of factory machines, real hands-on experience in a multifarious engineering environment and even leadership development — will put him exactly where he hopes to be after graduation.

“There is a gap that exists between engineers and machinists in the industry,” Givler noted. “One designs and the other builds. Neither one usually crosses over much. But I want to do both and my experience at the Hub is going to help me do both. I feel like because I already know how to do so much, my future employer won’t have to train me as much and I think that gives me a lot more room to negotiate.”

Anastasia Lucci, originally from the Pittsburgh area, is a graduate student studying mechanical engineering with a biomedical emphasis. Her research focuses on finding synthetic, 3D printable materials that mimic the properties of human organs for use in medical training. Lucci has worked as a 3D printing specialist for the Hub since May 2022 and said the education and experience waiting for students there is an “opportunity unique to WVU.”

“One thing that students don’t get enough exposure to in their coursework is how to get a design all the way through the manufacturing process to final production,” Lucci said. “Just because something can be designed doesn’t mean that it can be manufactured or manufactured well. Learning all the steps of the process from my time here at the Hub is really important and will make me a much better engineer.”

Engineering and manufacturing tend to be male-dominated spaces, Lucci said, and because of that she’s also tried to share her comfort level and confidence in the space with other females — faculty, staff and students — on campus. She and Givler organize events at the Hub specifically designed for women who are curious but not yet comfortable with operating power tools and large machinery.

“This was really a light bulb moment for me and I’m so grateful the Hub’s leadership has been supportive of our efforts,” Lucci said. “It’s so important to me to be able to share the knowledge I’ve acquired with others and it’s so gratifying to watch women leave our events impressed with the things they really can do.”

Dylan Printy, a dual major in mechanical and aerospace engineering, is set to graduate in December and had a light bulb moment of his own related to his work at the Hub. Originally from Frostburg, Maryland, Printy began his college career at WVU Potomac State College before transferring to the Morgantown Campus to finish his degrees. He also started his own business here and gives the Hub credit for making that possible.

“Once I got to Morgantown, I came across the Hub and got to fully understand its 3D printing capabilities. I decided to start my own company and talked to the Hub about creating a relationship,” Printy explained. “My niche is electrostatically discharging material printing, 3D printing and computer-aided design services, and I actually outsource some of my work to the Hub.”

Printy said working with the Hub team has helped him prove himself to clients, as well as expand his capabilities.

“There’s always someone there willing to talk through problems and help you find solutions,” he said. “Not only is the hands-on experience a huge selling point for the engineering program at WVU, but there are also great manufacturing and machinery industry mentors there just waiting to help you get ahead however they can. I feel like I’ve learned more here than through all my other college courses combined.”

Hub Director Dustin Spayde said he and his staff are always ready to help students who come to the facility from all over campus. On any given day, you’ll find a wide range of students from engineering, business, health care, fashion design and the arts utilizing the space or taking advantage of programs and workshops that equip students with the practical skills and confidence to pursue class projects, research collaborations or entrepreneurial ambitions.

“The mission of the Lane Innovation Hub is to empower our students, faculty and staff to make their dreams a reality,” Spayde said. “ We’ve been fully operational since 2021, and in that relatively short time we’ve already completed more than 1,200 manufacturing requests in our service center and held more than 1,500 trainings in our maker space in support of that mission.”


-WVU-

hlt/10/16/23

Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, contact our Marketing and Communications office:

Email: EngineeringWV@mail.wvu.edu
Phone: 304-293-4135