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 fusionstudio@vt.edu if you have any questions.


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



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: info@octavemodular.com
  • 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 Oldmillsteel.com 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: cmull@vt.edu
  • Old Mill Steel: contact@oldmillsteel.com


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 d.school. 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, laleigh@vt.edu

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:

The University Libraries at Virginia Tech is pleased to invite undergraduate students in all disciplines and academic programs to apply through a competitive process to receive funding for sustainability research and projects.

Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Ecological sustainability
  • Environmental 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. Recipients will also become members of the Newman Library Fusion Studio.

Please contact Sara Sweeney Bear at sweensk@vt.edu with any questions about the grant.


  • March 29, 2019 – application closes
  • April 15, 2019 – grant recipients are notified
  • Summer or Fall, 2019 – 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 29, 2019.