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Fusion Studio

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The Fusion Studio brings groups of students together in a co-working space for brainstorming, prototyping, and extended project management. Access is offered on a long-term basis—from several weeks to multiple semesters—in order to sustain the entire lifecycle of a project. With flexible workspaces and programming that facilitates the development of collaboration skills, the Fusion Studio brings to life the University Libraries’ mission to provide cutting-edge services and support emerging research practices.

The University Libraries at Virginia Tech developed the Studios Network as a means to lower barriers to the spaces, resources, and communities that support collaboration, innovation, and creativity. Our spaces are designed to be as open as possible, allowing folks from across the campus community to engage our services.

The Fusion Studio was envisioned as a space to support student teams engaging in collaborative projects. Universities are increasingly asking their students to engage in project-based learning, develop new technologies, and become entrepreneurs. As we looked around our campus, we found that students often had a difficult time finding consistent space to engage in such endeavors. With that in mind, the University Libraries opened Fusion with the following goals:

  • Provide a consistent workspace for students engaging in collaborative work.
  • Offer the material, monetary, and human support those students need to succeed.
  • Help students develop the skills and mindsets necessary for successful collaboration. 
  • Build a community that supports students as they engage in the high-risk, high-reward work of creativity.
  • Create a safe environment to engage in creative risk taking and serious play.


Benefits of Membership

  1. As a member of the Fusion Studio, you can expect the following benefits:
  2. Membership in a community of other students engaging in collaborative, creative work.
  3. Swipe access to the Fusion Studio whenever the library is open.
  4. Open access to the materials and technology in the space.
  5. Increased access to other resources offered by the Studios Network.
  6. Advising and support from the studio manager on topics including but not limited to:
    •  Collaboration skills
    • Project management
    • Conflict mediation
    • Finding resources (e.g. connecting with expert, pursuing grants and awards, or procuring supplies)
    • Professional communication and presentations

Please see our Membership Agreement for information about membership requirements and expected conduct in the studio. Advanced Tier Membership is also available for teams who have been members of the studio for at least one month and would like to apply for a stipend for their project.

Apply for Membership

To submit a proposal, please complete the application HERE.

The Fusion Studio manager will review proposals on a rolling basis, looking for the following criteria:

  1. Resource Needs – Can the studio meet the space and resource needs of the project team?
  2. Team Size – Will the studio be able to accommodate the size of the team based on the number of students already using the studio?
  3. Studio Contribution – Will the nature of the project allow for cross-pollination of diverse ideas and topics with other projects in the studio?

After review, the Fusion Studio Manager will contact you regarding your proposal status. Please contact us at if you have any questions.


CO2 Fuel Cell Project

We are currently experimenting with a patent pending invention for a "carbon negative" fuel cell. Carbon dioxide is withdrawn from the atmosphere into the fuel cell, where it reacts with carbonate ions inside the cell, resulting in an electrical charge to power the motor. The carbon dioxide is converted into bicarbonate form which will not re-enter the atmosphere. If effective, the use of this technology could potentially reverse human carbon emissions. We are doing preliminary testing for efficiency and effectiveness. 

Team Members & Major/Department Affiliation:

  • Rachel Smith, Environmental Science
  • Clay Mowry, General Engineering
  • John Stout, Environment Resource Management
  • Ryan Berotti, Environmental Conservation and Sociology
  • Kavan Shah, Mechanical Engineering
  • Emil Bissoondharry, Environmental Science


  • Rachel Smith,
  • John Stout,

Emerald Heights

Our research consists of building 4 aeroponic towers reaching 5 feet tall. We will be testing different growing mediums by growing several crops over the 2019 - 2020 academic year. We will be testing its effect on the plant, longevity of such medium, overall sustainability, labor saving, and more. Our control is rockwool, the industry leader, and we will be incorporating coconut fibers in one tower and clay gravel in another. We hope by the end of this research, we will be able to help the industry to find a better alternative than rockwool that's most cost efficient and overall better for the environment.

Team Members & Major/Department Affiliation:

  • Jennifer Gerhards, Agribusiness/Horticulture 
  • Caitlyn Hand, Environmental Horticulture/Agribusiness
  • Ryan Kirk, Agribusiness



FreshCoat fearlessly pursues new paradigms in wearable design. Where others accept the status quo, FreshCoat re-examines the possibilities. For us, good enough just isn't good enough. We come across existing products and see existing potential. If people are comfortable with the fit and functionality of a wearable product, there's a good chance we think they need a FreshCoat.

We are pursuing new perspectives in the wearable device market by re-examining features used in traditional clothing. There are a few locations and features which we are confident could become aesthetic platforms for smart features, such as RFID, sensing, and controls. FreshCoat paints a perfect intersection of design and engineering.

Team Members & Major/Department Affiliation:

  • Dominic LoPinto, M.S. Mechanical Engineering
  • Ranger Turner, M.S. Mechanical Engineering, Minor in Industrial Design


  • Dominic LoPinto,
  • Ranger Turner,

ISE Senior Design Team

Our team is working on a VR VT recruitment project as our Industrial Systems Engineering Senior Design Project. 

Team Members & Major/Department Affiliation:

  • Kate Malcolm, Industrial Systems Engineering
  • Grant Muir, Industrial Systems Engineering
  • Quynh-Lan Ngo, Industrial Systems Engineering


  • Kate Malcolm,


We think electric pianos are too bulky.
We wanted a piano that felt authentic,
yet could also fit inside a backpack.
So we built one.
Here at Octave, we build modular, collapsible, stackable, electric pianos. Our piano disconnects at every octave, or 8 keys. Strong magnetic connections between the octaves carry your note
signals to a power module, that outputs the sound to your favorite amp or app. Because an octave is the foundational set of repeating notes on a piano, we’ve named ourselves after it.

Team Members & Major/Department Affiliation:

  • Jamie Rotbert, Octave Founder and Lead Designer
  • Nick Gazillo, Industrial Design
  • Nick Render, Mechanical Engineer
  • Zach Treiber, Business Development
  • Andrei Rizescu, Business Development


  • Email:
  • Phone: (540) 254-0912

Old Mill Steel 

Old Mill Steel is a business venture that is focused on making products in the custom home decor and signs market. We are working on growing and managing volume and raising money for our long-term goals. Please, follow us on Instagram @Oldmillsteel. Also check out our website if you are interested in seeing what we do!

Team Members & Major/Department Affiliation:

  • Connor (Kai) Mulligan, Industrial Design at Virginia Tech
  • Kurt Steinke, Business and Political Science at UNC Chapel-Hill


  • Kai Mulligan:
  • Old Mill Steel:


ThermaSENSE is a startup company that specializes in Non-Invasive Thermal Interrogation and Testing. The team’s flagship technology is AccuTemp, a non-invasive sensing technology that can determine the INTERNAL temperature of almost any object– in real-time. Applications of AccuTemp range from healthcare to agriculture and the team is working hard to identify and develop solutions to commercial opportunities.

Team Members & Major/Department Affiliation:

  • Ali Roghani, Mechanical Engineering
  • Mohsen Roghani, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Parker Lannom, Computer Science


University Innovation Fellows (UIF)

University Innovation Fellows is an international initiative created at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. UIFs empower students to envision their university’s future and serve as change agents with strategic campus partnerships. Virginia Tech’s inaugural cohort of interdisciplinary students, endorsed by Virginia Tech’s President and Provost, as a way to engage students in Beyond Boundaries initiatives, received training by the Stanford In their first year, they supported the first Student Experiential Learning Conference at Virginia Tech through a strategic partnership with the Office of Experiential Learning. Their work led to more than 600 student presenters and increased interest in the impact of experiential learning in higher education.

2018-2019 UIF Team Members:

  • Connor Mulligan; Sophomore, Industrial Design
  • Sydney Grace Miller; Junior, Interior Design
  • TJ Cosby; Junior, Finance
  • Shafe Ahmed;  Sophomore, Finance
  • Leigh Lally, Faculty Champion, Office of University Planning
  • Bradley DeWet, Faculty Champion, iScholars Program Coordinator

2017-2018 UIF Team Members:

Contact: Leigh Lally,


Our project is designed to transform our small team of Instructional Design and Technology graduate students into an internship team that works with small business stakeholders and subject matter experts who desire instructional design services. In collaboration with Virginia Tech's Apex Center for Entrepreneurs, the internship team will meet with small business owners and develop design strategies for their instructional, training, and user direction needs. Our team analyzes the stakeholders' needs and follows Instructional Design strategies to design, develop, and evaluate instructional and training solutions. 

Team Members & Major/Department Affiliation:

  • Ghadah Almutairy, Instructional Design
  • Ginny Clark, Instructional Design 
  • Rebecca Clark, Instructional Design
  • Dr. Alicia Johnson, Instructional Design
  • Mingyu Li, Instructional Design
  • Henry Yang, Instructional Design


  • Dr. Alicia Johnson,
  • Henry Yang,

Baxter International

Baxter creates products to treat hemophilia, kidney disease, immune disorders and other chronic and acute medical condition. Our team has been assigned to help the company target key wastes in the facility, and help optimize the preventive maintenance process.

Team Members & Major/Department Affiliation:

  • Mohammed Ali, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Kirn Kaur, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Glenn Cheatham, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Andrew Saba, Industrial and Systems Engineering


4U (United to Understand the Unsaid for the Unbreakable) - RETIRED TEAM

Using a data-driven solution, the 4U team intends to predict and safely warn against panic attacks, reducing anticipatory anxiety. We are UNITED to UNDERSTAND the UNSAID for the UNBREAKABLE in order to defeat the stigma surrounding mental illness. It’s all 4U.

Team Members & Major/Department Affiliation:

  • Dominic LoPinto, Mechanical Engineering
  • Michael Folta, Architecture
  • Ansh Mathur, Mechanical Engineering
  • Simran Singh, Aerospace Engineering
  • Corbin Harrison, Construction Engineering


Bikesburg - RETIRED TEAM

Bikesburg is an interdisciplinary team of undergraduate students who endorse cycling as a valid means of commuting to and from the Virginia Tech Campus. Created in response to an increased population of off-campus students, as well as an over-encumbered public transit system, Bikesburg seeks to improve the cycling culture in the Blacksburg area by:

  • Educating potential cycling commuters on safety and local policy differences between the VT campus and the town of Blacksburg.
  • Encouraging a sense of community by fostering relationships between VT students and relevant community partners (Office of Alternative Transportation, NRVBA)
  • Engineering products and amenities for cyclists to improve their quality of life while cycling in the Blacksburg area. 

Bikesburg is under Design for America, a national student-run organization that encourages interdisciplinary teams to tackle contemporary issues with a human-centered design perspective. The current prospects of the Bikesburg team are to design informative safety signs at bike racks and design cheap reflectors to attach to bike handles to hand out to students.

Team Members & Major/Department Affiliation:

  • Justin Redman, Public and Urban Affairs
  • Erod Keaton Baybay, Physics
  • Taylor Bennett, Biological Systems Engineering
  • Josh Stutton, Electrical Engineering
  • Dalton Phillips, Mechanical Engineering



We are uTour. Three students who desire to leverage technology to empower students across the nation. Specifically, we use VR technology to create virtual environments of campuses and various resources within it, such as resident halls, dining locations, labs, studios, and much more. Our mission is to provide high transparency and knowledge of resources for incoming and current students of a certain university to help them succeed within their years at university.

Team Members & Major/Department Affiliation:

  • Adarsh Ramesh, ISE
  • Gordon Quach, ISE / Entrepreneurship & New Venture Minor
  • Mohammed Ali, ISE / Entrepreneurship & New Venture Minor


Learning Opportunities and Experiences

Information about Intellectual Property for Students

  • VTip – Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, a VT affiliated corporation. From their website: “VTIP facilitates the licensing of technology to companies, encourages new faculty startup ventures, works with publishers and distributors of software, and supports the transfer of research and knowledge to other universities, research institutes and companies.”
  • VT News Article – about the 2015 change in the university’s policy on intellectual property
  • Policy 13000 – Virginia Tech’s official policy on intellectual property. You can visit this page for a brief summary, but we encourage you to review the policy carefully.

Funding Sources

While the studio has a small budget for software and supplies, groups will otherwise need to seek out any funding they need. The following are a few potential sources:

An image of the box, cards, and dice for the tabletop role playing game Weave.

Participate in a Tabletop RPG as part of a University Libraries research study.

Join us for a two-session campaign of the tabletop role playing game Weave. Virginia Tech students and employees are eligible to participate in the campaigns. Participants will play two 90-120 minute sessions and complete a few short surveys.

These sessions are part of a study on using play for 21st century skill development in adult learners. For more information about the research study, please see the full study information in the consent form below.

If you are interested in participating in a two-session campaign, please read and complete the consent form. At the end of the consent form, there will also be a link for you to provide your availability.

If you have any questions, please contact the Fusion Studio Manager, Sara Sweeney Bear, at

Due to the extension of Spring Break, the timeline for the grant has changed. Please see the updated dates below. The finalist presentations will now be submitted as videos. Funding for travel is contingent upon the current moratorium on university-sponsored travel.

The University Libraries at Virginia Tech is pleased to invite undergraduate students in all disciplines and academic programs to apply through a competitive process for the Keesee Sustainability Grant. This grant provides funding for sustainability research and projects.

Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Ecological sustainability
  • Environmenntal sustainability
  • Environmental conservation
  • Policy and sustainability

Interdisciplinary projects are welcome.

Applicants may request up to $2000. Funding may cover project expenses such as supplies and travel costs. Three finalists will be selected to give a brief (15-minute) presentation about their proposed project. Recipients will also become members of the Newman Library Fusion Studio.

Please contact Sara Sweeney Bear at with any questions about the grant.


  • April 3rd, 2020 (formerly March 20, 2020) – application closes
  • April 10th, 2020 (formerly March 27, 2020) – finalists notified, presentations scheduled
  • April 29th, 2020 (formerly April 10th, 2020)  - all finalist presentations completed (these may now be submitted as videos rather than in-person presentations)
  • May 1st, 2020 – grant recipients notified
  • Summer or Fall, 2020 – funded projects begin

Applicants will be asked to supply the following information in their application:

  • Name
  • Major
  • Email address
  • Project title
  • Project description (250 words or fewer)
  • Resource needs (including estimated costs)
  • A description of how the library can support your project

Submit your idea by March 20, 2020 at