Latest News

West Virginia Secures $1.2 Billion in Broadband Funding

Date: May 20, 2024

West Virginia has secured $1.2 billion in Broadband Enhancement Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding, which will be used to improve reliable high-speed internet for residents statewide. The Office of Broadband, which is part of the West Virginia Department of Economic Development, helped obtain these funds. The state is among the first states in the nation to secure this NTIA approval, according to a news release.

The US Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA), approved West Virginia's BEAD Initial Proposal Volume II (IPVII) in April. The BEAD program is a $42.45 billion state grant program authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The application process includes 20 program requirements divided into two separate sections known as Volume I and Volume II. Read more.

WVDOH Rolls Out $191 Million  in Federally Funded Paving Projects

Date: May 20, 2024

The West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) has more than $191 million in federally funded paving projects scheduled for fiscal year 2024. The total includes $76.7 million for projects on state interstates, $40 million for projects on US highways, and $74,387,500 for other state and US routes, according to a news release.

Interstate projects include an estimated $22 million project to rebuild Interstate 77 from Tuppers Creek Road to the Jackson County line, an estimated $16 million project to rebuild Interstate 79 from Servia to Frametown, and an estimated $15 million project to rebuild I-77 from Fairplain to Ripley.

Other interstate projects include an estimated $2.2 million to resurface Interstate 64 from Clintonville to Lewisburg, $8 million for a pavement overlay on I-79 from Amma to Wallback, $6 million to resurface I-79 between Big Chimney and Frame Road, and $7.5 million for concrete slab repairs on I-64 between Dawson and Sam Black Church.

For the past several years, Governor Jim Justice has asked the West Virginia Legislature to approve supplemental budget appropriations to allow the WVDOH to undertake additional paving. In addition to Governor Justice’s $2.8 billion Roads to Prosperity construction and maintenance program, the supplemental budget appropriations have allowed the WVDOH to build and repave record numbers of roads. Read more.

A/E Services Being Sought for WV CREATE Center Project

Date: May 20, 2024

A step is being taken toward creating a facility that will help bring technology, energy and advanced manufacturing to John Nash Boulevard in Mercer County, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports.

The Bluefield Economic Development Authority recently advertised in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph for consulting architectural and engineering firmed interested in providing advice and professional engineering services for the potential creation of the West Virginia CREATE Center on John Nash Boulevard. "Basically, what we're trying to do is continue to look for ways to develop the John Nash Boulevard corridor," said Jim Spencer, executive director of the Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority.

CREATE stands for Creating Resilient Economies by Assisting Technology Entrepreneurs, Spencer said. The project would focus on engineering, energy and manufacturing. Spencer said the West Virginia CREATE Center is a "long-term" project at the John Nash Boulevard corridor, so a date for starting any construction or a completion date have not been established. The West Virginia CREATE Center was among projects which received federal funding last year. US Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV., announced the grants when they were secured in the Senate Appropriations Committee's fiscal year 2024 funding bills. Read more.

Water Development Authority Approves Over $38M in Enhancement Projects

Date: April 22, 2024

The West Virginia Water Development Authority (WDA) has approved 18 new Economic Enhancement Grant Fund (EEGF) projects worth $38,171,352.00, according to a news release.

In April 2022, Governor Justice called a special session to fund the Economic Enhancement Grant Fund, at the time securing an initial amount of $250 million. Since then, the program has seen exceptional success, and the WDA has approved EEGF projects worth $427 million, which has resulted in $1.8 billion of projects getting across the finish line. Over 605,000 West Virginians have been affected by these projects, which have touched every corner of the state.

The WDA manages the EEGF, which provides matching grants to municipalities for upgrading infrastructure such as water, sewer, economic development, commerce, and tourism projects. To date, the EEGF has helped a total of 170 projects. Read more.

New Solar Power Plant Approved for West Virginia

Date: April 22, 2024

The Public Service Commission of West Virginia has announced that a 100-megawatt solar power plant with accompanying battery storage in Mineral County was recently approved, WTRF reports.

According to officials, the Commission canceled a hearing planned for April 25 on the siting certificate of Potomac Hills Energy, LLC. The Commission said no letters of protest were received concerning the plant, which will be located on 650 acres formerly used for strip mining. n addition to the wholesale generating facility, officials say the company also proposed a 200-MWh battery storage system with the plant. The plan is to install 265,000 solar photovoltaic modules organized in rows. A substation to be constructed will deliver power to FirstEnergy Corp.

The company, which is owned by Energix US, LLC, of Arlington, VA, applied for the site certification on December 20, 2023. Energix said it is “one of the leading solar energy entities” in the mid-Atlantic region. Commission staff said the plant has a useful projected life of 35 years. The order said the company estimates construction will have a $64.7 million economic impact on the county. In its application, the company estimated the facility represents an investment of $243 million. Read more.

WVU Grad Student Researcher Aims to Remove ‘Forever Chemicals’ From WV Water

Date: April 22, 2024

When Paola Perez-Vega completed her bachelor’s degree in 2023, she had the option of choosing between an industry job or graduate school. She went the graduate school path. The luring power of her undergraduate research in water separation was one of the key factors that made her flow with the tides into the chemical engineering graduate program at West Virginia University, according to Eureka Alert.

Through her research, she is utilizing a combined destruction and filtration system to remove “forever chemicals” from drinking water sources in West Virginia. “The research I am working on is in the separation of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, or ‘forever chemicals,’ from our drinking water,” Perez-Vega said. “It utilizes membrane technology and microwave technology to separate and also break down PFAS.”

Just as it is difficult to break down “forever chemicals,” breaking the love for chemical engineering in the Perez-Vega family might be a difficult task. Her parents are both chemical engineers and it is unsurprising they have played an important role in inspiring her to be a chemical engineer, too. “I fell in love with the work that my parents do, as they are both chemical engineers,” Perez-Vega said. Read more.

Clearway Energy Bets Big on the Future of West Virginia Wind

Date: March 19, 2024

Clearway Energy, one of the nation's largest renewable energy companies, is betting big on the future of wind energy in the Mountain State, according to The State Journal. The company owns and operates three wind farms in the state — which are capable of generating enough electrical energy to power more than 200,000 homes.

Clearway already has made substantial investments into its West Virginia operations and has plans to continue expanding its footprint in the years to come. "One of the reasons we've been able to make these investments — and these are multi-billion dollar investments — is that really business-friendly environment that the state has created," said Hannah Muller, senior director of market and external affairs for Clearway's East Coast operations.

The power generated at each of the farms goes directly onto the PJM Interconnection, the electrical grid that serves nearly 70 million Americans in the eastern United States. "With the nature of electricity, that means it's used locally wherever the demand is," Muller said. "So if it flows onto the grid and there is a business nearby or a house nearby, that's where the power is going. Or, in this case 210,000 houses." Read more.

West Virginia Native Honored as Modern-Day Technology Leader

Date: March 19, 2024

Richard Thomas, a Huntington, West Virginia native, was honored as a Modern-Day Technology Leader at the Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) STEM Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, on February 16, MSN reports.

Thomas is an area engineer for the US Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District’s, Robins Area Office in Warner Robins, Georgia. He graduated from the West Virginia University Institute of Technology in 2003 with a civil engineering degree, and is also a licensed professional engineer in Kentucky, and a warranted contracting officer. Read more.

West Virginia PEs Named Top FEYA Finalists

Date: February 21, 2024

NSPE recently announced the top 10 finalists for the Federal Engineer of the Year Award. The award winner will be announced during a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on February 23. Sponsored by the Professional Engineers in Government, this award honors engineers employed by a federal agency that employs at least 50 engineers worldwide.

Capt. Stephen Martin Jr., Ph.D., P.E.

Capt. Stephen Martin Jr., Ph.D., P.E.
US Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Morgantown, West Virginia

Dana Moses, P.E.

Dana Moses, P.E.
US Department of the Army
US Army Corps of Engineers
Huntington, West Virginia

Learn more about the FEYA finalists.

WVU Secures $3M Research Funding to Reduce Industry Energy Use

Date: February 21, 2024

West Virginia University has announced that engineers at the school have secured $3 million in US Department of Energy funding to research a new chemical reactor system that uses microwaves to reduce industrial heat and carbon emissions.

The first-of-its-kind technology would allow industrial facilities to simultaneously produce ethylene and ammonia, two chemicals that contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, within a single microwave reactor. That device uses heat from microwave electromagnetic radiation to carry out chemical reactions. The carbon-negative process would reduce energy consumption by 85%.

Lead researcher John Hu is the Statler Chair in Engineering for Natural Gas Utilization at the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, a professor of chemical engineering and director of the WVU Center for Innovation in Gas Research and Utilization. Hu emphasized that, while the study focuses on ethylene and ammonia production, the technology can be broadly applied to many other industrial processes that need heat to work. Various industries need heat to do everything from removing moisture and creating steam to melting plastics and treating metals. Read more.

WV Gets $9.3M to Improve Access to Clean Water and Reliable Sewer Systems

Date: February 21, 2024

Lootpress reports that US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development West Virginia State Director Ryan Thorn has announced that Rural Development is investing $9.3 million to improve water and wastewater infrastructure for five West Virginia communities. “Having adequate, safe, and reliable basic infrastructure is the foundation for community and economic development,” said Thorn. “Strengthening public water and sewer services is at the heart of what we do at Rural Development. The investments announced today will have a lasting economic impact that allows for new opportunities and future generations to make a good life in rural communities across the Mountain State.”

In total, Rural Development is investing $9,253,000 in the five projects across West Virginia. The investments are made available through the Rural Development’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program helps fund clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage and solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage to households and businesses. Funding for these programs is made possible, in part, by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Read more.

Innovation Hub Coming to WV with $700M Investment

Date: January 19, 2024

LG Electronics announced a plan to create an LG NOVA innovation center in West Virginia, promising 275 new jobs and $700 million in investments to grow businesses in the state over the next five years. The plan was announced by LG leadership and Governor Jim Justice, The Center Square reports.

The LG Nova plan involves growing new businesses to advance technological development in renewable energy, health care and industries of the future. Sokwoo Rhee, the head of LG Nova, said that the company would bring innovation to health care along with using artificial intelligence in a smart way to advance technologies that improve the quality of life better for residents. Read more.

Mon Power Announces Completion of 80-Acre Solar Site

Date: January 19, 2024

WDTV reports that Fort Martin Power Station in Maidsville, West Virginia, has completed its solar site, the first of five solar sites Mon Power and its sister company Potomac Edison have planned to help bolster and diversify the region’s energy mix.

Officials say nearly 50,000 solar panels are now generating renewable energy at the approximately 80-acre Fort Martin site, which can produce up to 18.9 megawatts (MW) of solar energy per hour. One MW of solar energy powers a national average of 173 homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Mon Power hired more than 100 local union workers, primarily from the Morgantown and Parkersburg areas, to complete the work at the Fort Martin solar site. Additionally, the solar panels, racking systems and supporting electrical equipment were made in the United States.

Jim Myers, President of West Virginia Operations: “We’re proud to have achieved our goal of completing this solar site using local union workers. It is important to have this voluntary option available to customers, as renewable energy is a large economic driver in both attracting new industry to West Virginia and keeping existing companies that now require a portion of their electricity to come from renewable sources.” Read more.

WVU Unveils Undergraduate Degree Program in Robotics

Date: January 19, 2024

West Virginia University has announced a new four-year degree program to prepare students for the burgeoning job sector for robotics engineers. Offered by the mechanical and aerospace engineering department, the program is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills to excel in the engineering design and production of robotics and autonomous systems solutions and create mechanical, electrical and computer engineering systems to integrate and devise robotics solutions.

As one of less than two dozen undergraduate programs offered in the United States, the robotics engineering degree is a 124-credit interdisciplinary course of study created from partnering efforts of the MAE department and the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. To form a solid foundation, students will take courses equally distributed from both departments, followed by a group of core courses specifically on robotics and a robotics capstone design experience.

“Robotics is interdisciplinary by nature, so this provides an option where students can get the best of both worlds,” said Jason Gross, chair of the mechanical and aerospace engineering department. “We have a track record where our students and faculty have already had success in robotics for over a decade and we've already established a strong group of faculty in this area.” Read more.

WVU Research Helps Power Plants Recycle Water

Date: December 19, 2023

EurekaAlert reports that Simulations from West Virginia University researchers demonstrate their use of two kinds of industrial wastewater to decontaminate each other has the potential to slash a power plant’s total water use.

The researchers from the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources modeled various scenarios for using “cooling tower blowdown” and “produced water” to treat each other. Cooling tower blowdown is wastewater produced by thermoelectric power plants, while produced water is created by hydraulic fracturing mining for oil and gas. The cotreatment process yields valuable byproducts as well as water that’s clean enough to be reused in power plant cooling operations. The study’s findings were published in the journal Desalination.

According to lead author Hunter Barber, a doctoral student in chemical engineering from Fairchance, Pennsylvania, no other industry in the US uses as much water as thermoelectric power generation.

“Our cotreatment process reduces demand for chemicals to soften wastewater,” Barber said. “The treated water also has very high potential for reuse — treated water can be directly reused after cotreatment to make up 99% to 100% of the original volume of blowdown water, and that’s without optimizing or exploring different designs.” Read more.

West Virginia Contest Challenges Students to Engineer Low-Cost Bridges

Date: December 19, 2023

The 23rd annual West Virginia Bridge Design & Build Contest is now in progress, WVNews reports.

This competition, organized by the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT), BridgeWalk, West Virginia Department of Education, and WVU Tech in Beckley, challenges middle and high school students to create the most cost-effective bridge using specialized bridge design software. In addition, finalists will construct a balsa bridge to test its strength.

Jennifer Dooley, a spokesperson from WVDOT, explained that the aim of the contest is to provide students with a fun and competitive opportunity to explore engineering. She also highlighted the abundance of career prospects available in engineering at WVDOT, stating that "engineers are always in demand." The competition has been running for over two decades to introduce students to potentially new experiences.

The competition, which is free to enter, is open to all middle and high school students attending public, private, or homeschools in West Virginia. The finalists will convene at WVU Tech in Beckley during the spring to compete for cash prizes.

The primary purpose of the contest is to promote STEM education and inspire future engineers. Read more.

West Virginia 1,200 Roads to Prosperity Projects Complete

Date: November 16, 2023

The hard work put in by the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) in implementing Governor Jim Justice’s $2.8 billion Roads to Prosperity program is paying off for the citizens of West Virginia, the governor said in a press briefing on November 8.

Of 1,263 bridge and highway projects undertaken through the Roads to Prosperity program, approximately 1,200 are currently complete. Since 2017, the WVDOT has paved approximately 9,000 miles of road, more than at any time in the state’s history.

“You have done an amazing job,” the governor told state Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E. “That’s all there is to it. I hope to goodness that this audience and the media and many others would take heed to what has happened in the state department of transportation. We walked into a situation a few years back where we were upside. There were people who could not get to the grocery store because of the damage to the roads. Think about how this has changed.”

When Governor Justice took office in 2017, West Virginia was in dire financial straits and struggling with a highway system plagued by decades of underinvestment in infrastructure. The governor envisioned Roads to Prosperity as a way to immediately put people to work and rejuvenate the state’s ailing roads.

“The Roads to Prosperity program saved the department of transportation; it saved the state,” Wriston said. “It laid the foundation for all the growth that we’ve seen in every sector across the state. Read more.

WVU Engineer Aims to Combat Climate Change with Fleet of Marine Robots

Date: November 16, 2023

A West Virginia University engineer is working as part of a nationwide project to develop marine robots to probe underneath ocean ice and collect data to track the impact of climate change, The State Journal reports.

WVU associate professor Dr. Xi Yu is one of seven engineers and oceanographers from across the United States working on the project, which includes principal investigators from Oregon State University, Temple University, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The project has an end goal of sending a fleet of marine robots — led by a “mothership” — underneath ocean ice to reach otherwise inaccessible waters and crevices to collect critical climate change data.

Yu explained that ice melting underneath the glacier is problematic, explaining that the melts create cavities filled with fresh water, which flows out while ocean water flows in.

“This kind of circulation ... will destabilize the glacier and speed up the whole melting procedure even further,” Yu said. “It’s essential to take some sampling and measurements inside those cavities to understand how this melting is happening, how fast it’s happening and how bad the situation is.” Read more.

NSPE Member Gets Historic Appointment to Licensing Board

Date: October 19, 2023

Carol A. Stevens, P.E., F.ASCE, SECB

Carol A. Stevens, P.E., F.ASCE, SECB, was recently appointed to the West Virginia State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers. She is the first woman appointed to the licensing board and will serve until June 2026.

Stevens is president of CAS Structural Engineering Inc., an award-winning firm, located in the Charleston area, that provides structural engineering design and/or analysis on a variety of projects throughout the state. She is licensed in six states.

Stevens earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from West Virginia University (Morgantown) in 1984 and a master of engineering in engineering science from The Pennsylvania State University (Harrisburg) in 1989. She has been a member of NSPE since 1989.

Stevens resides in Alum Creek in Lincoln County. She is married and has three adult step-children.

West Virginia Officials React to Appalachian Hydrogen Hub Announcement

Date: October 19, 2023

Nearly two years after first forming a working group to convince federal energy officials to locate a regional hydrogen hub in West Virginia, those same state and congressional officials were pleased to see their work pay off. However, some remain skeptical about the potential for hydrogen, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reports.

President Joe Biden and officials with the Department of Energy recently announced that parts of West Virginia, Southeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania will play host to the Appalachian Hydrogen Hub, one of seven regional hydrogen hubs to be constructed nationwide.

According to Biden administration officials, the Appalachian Hydrogen Hub could create as many as 18,000 construction jobs between all three states and as many as 3,000 permanent jobs once completed.

The project is also a public/private partnership with the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2), which includes more than 40 partnering companies in the natural gas, energy and manufacturing sectors, West Virginia University and Marshall University, local transit authorities and the federal National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The $925 million investment in the Appalachian Regional Hub by the Department of Energy represents a portion of the more than $9.5 billion set aside for hydrogen research in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also called the bipartisan infrastructure law.

The bipartisan infrastructure law was passed at the end of 2021 after months of negotiations that first began between President Joe Biden and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), in the spring of 2021. The law included language requiring a regional hydrogen hub be placed in the Appalachian region. Read more.

WVU Engineer’s Laser System Aims to Prevent Space Junk Collisions

Date: October 19, 2023

A West Virginia University researcher is developing a method to prevent orbiting space junk from colliding with spacecraft or satellites by nudging it off potential collision courses using a coordinated network of space lasers, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.

Hang Woon Lee, director of the Space Systems Operations Research Laboratory at WVU, is a 2023 recipient of NASA’s Early Career Faculty Award for potential breakthrough research. The award provides Lee, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and his team with $200,000 per year for up to three years to support his rapid-response debris removal study.

Lee’s research team is verifying whether the algorithms they propose using to operate the laser system would provide a valid, cost-effective solution. But the long-term goal is developing a system of “multiple space-based lasers actively performing orbital maneuvers and collaboratively addressing orbital debris,” Lee said.

The suite of algorithms Lee’s team would develop could work on lasers mounted to large satellites or on lasers mounted to their own dedicated platforms. Either way, the technology would be able to make many decisions on its own, independently performing maneuvers and setting priorities on what combination of lasers should be targeted at what pieces of debris. Read more.

Major Clean Hydrogen Project Planned for West Virginia

Date: September 15, 2023

A Houston energy transition company, Fidelis New Energy, has announced plans for a $2 billion investment to produce clean hydrogen from natural gas in West Virginia, reports. The project, known as the Mountaineer GigaSystem facility, is estimated to create up to 800 permanent jobs. It will be located on a 1,000-acre site in Point Pleasant along the Ohio River in Mason County.

The facility will be built in four phases, with each phase producing over 500 metric tons of hydrogen per day. The hydrogen will be used to power the company’s data center campus on the site and will also be transported for use in various industries, including greenhouses, transportation, and steel production. One of the key features of the project is its commitment to environmental sustainability. The company plans to remove and store approximately 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions underground annually, beneath state forests, wildlife management areas, and other state-owned properties.

Fidelis New Energy CEO, Dan Shapiro, highlighted the unique geology of West Virginia as a significant advantage for the project. The state’s geology allows for the storage of carbon dioxide, making it an attractive location for clean hydrogen production. Read more.

University Engineers Study How to Pull Carbon Out of Building Air to Make Methanol

Date: September 15, 2023

WVU reports that researchers at the school have taken the first steps toward developing technology that can capture carbon dioxide in the air and use it for eco-friendly manufacturing of methanol. The process they have begun modeling — which involves pulling air from buildings — could increase the sustainable supply of methanol, one of the world’s most extensively used raw materials, while removing a planet-warming greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.

Project lead Xingbo Liu, who serves as professor, associate dean for research and chair of engineering at the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, explained “methanol, or wood alcohol, has so many applications — it’s one of the most common chemicals in the world. It can be used by itself or as a feedstock for making other products, such as paint, primer or insulation.”

Methanol is typically produced from fossil fuels like shale gas, but Liu and his partners said they believe they have found a way to erase harmful emissions from the production process by harvesting the carbon needed to synthesize methanol from the air of buildings like large apartment or office complexes.

The Phase I project is supported by $400,000 in US Department of Energy funding. Read more.

$32 Million Boosts Broadband in West Virginia

Date: August 16, 2023

West Virginia has received preliminary approval for over $32 million in funding for broadband projects at the West Virginia Broadband Summit, WVNews reports.

The funds will be allocated to two programs, Line Extension Advancement and Development (LEAD) and Major Broadband Project Strategies (MBPS), as part of the West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan. These projects are expected to benefit more than 6,000 targeted locations, creating approximately 793 miles of new infrastructure. An additional $16 million in matching funds has been added to the total fund, with more funding expected in the future.

Governor Jim Justice expressed his commitment to ensuring that all West Virginians have access to advanced internet connectivity. The West Virginia Department of Economic Development, Office of Broadband, will administer the program funds. The projects announced under the MBPS program will utilize public-private partnerships to maximize investment and prioritize community involvement. Read more.

Public Energy Authority Receives Solar Projects Update

Date: August 16, 2023

Two FirstEnergy subsidiaries in West Virginia hope to have small-scale solar power plants up and running between 2024 and 2026, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reports.

Members of the West Virginia Public Energy Authority received a briefing recently from Douglas Hartman, director of energy services for Akron-based FirstEnergy, on new solar projects being built by MonPower and Potomac Edison.

MonPower and Potomac Edison are constructing five solar sites on nearby coal ash disposal sites it owns in its service areas. Solar locations in phase one of the project include Wylie Ridge in Hancock County, Rivesville in Marion County, Fort Martin in Monongalia County, Davis in Tucker County and Marlowe in Berkeley County.

The effort is being made possible through Senate Bill 583 passed in 2020, which is designed to support economic development for solar projects targeting brownfields and other low-value sites. The bill allows each utility to develop 200 megawatts of solar generation, though the utilities are limited to only 50 megawatt increments to start. The bill also requires an 85% subscription rate and includes options for energy storage. Read more.

AI to Power ‘Forward-Thinking’ West Virginia’s Road Maintenance

Date: August 16, 2023

West Virginia is rolling out an experiment with artificial intelligence for its roadways that it hopes will make it the envy of the nation, Bloomberg Law reports.

A five-year Mountain State pilot program will test how AI, aided by lasers and other tools, can help maintain the state’s transportation network, one of the largest in the US. West Virginia’s concrete implementation of an AI solution comes as a number of states have begun to study the possibilities inherent in the cutting-edge tech.

“We’re trying to be forward-thinking,” said Clay Riley (R), a member of the state House of Delegates who co-sponsored the legislation (HB 3214) that established the pilot program. “I think you will see other states who say: ‘You know if we can spend our dollars more wisely by using technology, that’s what we want to do.’”

WV Infrastructure Website Gets Upgrades

Date: July 17, 2023

Governor Jim Justice recently announced major upgrades to the state’s comprehensive infrastructure website to give Mountain State residents complete access to the state’s plans and accomplishments under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

West Virginia is expected to receive $7 billion in federal funding between 2022 and 2027 through the IIJA, perhaps the largest federal infrastructure investment program in history.

“We have a ton of infrastructure projects already going, with more on the way,” Governor Justice said in a news release. “This website is the most accurate and transparent way for people to keep track of how federal dollars are being spent on those projects around the state. There is a lot of money rolling into West Virginia right now, and this is how you can keep track of how it is being used for you.”

The West Virginia Infrastructure Hub is designed to efficiently distribute IIJA funds throughout the Mountain State. The website aims to ensure that the historic investment in infrastructure is distributed to where it is needed most.

In the coming months, a statewide fund tracker tool will be rolled out to facilitate coordination among state and local agencies and economic development representatives, provide technical assistance and training, and support local communities across the state to secure federal funds through the IIJA, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and CHIPs funding. Read more.

Professor Investigates Drinking Water Quality in West Virginia

Date: July 17, 2023

A West Virginia University engineer is working to solve the unknowns about microorganisms growing inside pipes that bring drinking water to homes and businesses in West Virginia.

Supported by an award of $505,784 from the National Science Foundation, professor Emily Garner has launched a five-year study to learn more about biofilms, the West Virginia Explorer reports. Known as “cities of microbes,” biofilms are conglomerations of fungi, algae, bacteria, and other single-celled organisms that cling to each other and to surfaces like the insides of water pipes, where they become coated in a protective slime.

“Many things influence how biofilms grow in drinking water distribution systems—water chemistry, the presence of disinfectants like chlorine, and the forces exerted as water flows through pipes,” said Garner, who is an assistant professor in the university’s Wadsworth Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at its College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

“But past research about biofilms doesn’t account for the complexities of varied flow conditions in different parts of a water distribution system,” she said. “These systems can consist of hundreds of miles of buried pipes, so ensuring the chlorine disinfectant hasn’t decayed by the time it reaches all parts of the system can be a challenge.”

Garner’s lab will develop strategies for maintaining water quality throughout these complex infrastructures and offer recommendations to managers of drinking water distribution systems. The research also includes an outreach and educational component that will bring K-12 students across West Virginia hands-on activities about water treatment and information about water sector careers. Read more.

WVU Launches New Environmental Engineering Degree Program

Date: July 17, 2023

West Virginia University has announced that students interested in creating a sustainable environment will now have new degree options to consider with the launch of an undergraduate Environmental Engineering program at the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

This new degree program in the Wadsworth Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will utilize the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems.

“The Statler College is in a strategic position to offer this new degree program to prepare workforces to address regional and global environmental and public health problems,” said Lian-Shin Lin, professor in the Wadsworth Department.

The program allows students to choose from different areas of emphasis, including water supply and resources; water quality engineering for human society; air pollution, control, and climate change; and environmental health, risks, and public health.

To incorporate real-world training for students, faculty are building a network of industrial partners that include engineering firms, municipalities, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.

The new major will be the fifteenth Statler College undergraduate degree offered at WVU. Other engineering programs include aerospace, biomedical, biometric systems, chemical, civil, computer, engineering technology, electrical, industrial, mechanical, mining, petroleum and natural gas along with computer science and cybersecurity. Read more.

West Virginia Gets $18 Million for Broadband Improvement Projects

Date: June 20, 2023

Governor Jim Justice recently announced the preliminary approval of more than $18 million for various broadband infrastructure projects throughout the state. This announcement includes applications received under the programs Line Extension Advancement and Development, Major Broadband Project Strategies, and Wireless Internet Networks (WIN).

The programs are branches of the governor’s Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy – a plan to invest over $1 billion in state and federal funds to make broadband connectivity available for the first time to 200,000 West Virginia homes and businesses.

The announcement marks the first preliminary award made for the WIN program which covers state parks and forests by expanding wireless technology. Under the WIN program, funding will allow upgrades to the three towers with 5G and mid-band wireless technology to bring high-speed reliable connectivity to Coopers Rock State Forest, Watoga State Park, and the surrounding areas, significantly increasing public safety and elements of tourism. Read more.

WVU Researcher Explores Ways to Modernize Road Maintenance

Date: June 20, 2023

Motivated by extreme weather events, one West Virginia University researcher is looking to emerging technologies to reimagine how state and city agencies might maintain roads and other transportation networks, according to West Virginia Explorer Magazine.

Kakan Dey’s expansive research will delve into a variety of ways a data-driven approach can enhance roadway maintenance operations — from modernizing maintenance vehicle fleets and rethinking the placement of operational hubs to utilizing artificial intelligence that analyzes real-time information collected by sensors on consumer cars or at roadside observation stations.

With funding from a prestigious, highly competitive $540,000 National Science Foundation CAREER award, Dey, an associate professor at the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, will consider how to transition to all-electric maintenance fleets and how to handle maintenance operations in scenarios in which real-time data streams in from sources such as “connected vehicles,” or automobiles that can transmit data about road conditions.

Dey will also transform case studies from the research into educational activities for K-12 and higher education students and provide continuing education opportunities to transportation network maintenance professionals, with particular attention to engaging underrepresented groups. Read more.

WVU Engineering Program Gets $599K Boost

Date: June 20, 2023

US Senator Joe Manchin recently announced $599,999 in funding for an engineering education research project at West Virginia University. The funding comes from a grant from the US National Science Foundation, WVPB reports. The project involves examining different learning techniques in engineering curricula to improve student performance and improve retention rates in associated academic fields.

Manchin said the engineering education research project will bolster academic success and help retain students in the engineering disciplines.

The US National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that promotes science and engineering in all 50 US states and territories. Investments account for around 25% of federal support to colleges like WVU for basic research.

WVU Student Engineers Partner With Costa Rican Community

Date: May 11, 2023

West Virginia University engineering students will partner with the ecotourism destination of Monteverde, Costa Rica, to address its stressed sewage problem, which includes undersized and aging septic tanks and untreated water from sinks and washing machines, the university announced.

During the summers of 2024-2026, WVU graduate students from the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources will work on multi-university teams of civil and environmental engineers and social scientists, partnering with local water authorities, to conduct hands-on research and investigate different wastewater treatment technologies in the Monteverde region.

Kevin Orner, assistant professor in the Wadsworth Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is leading the project with support from the National Science Foundation. Orner said the research aims to help students develop global and interdisciplinary skills while teams quantify social, economic and environmental impacts of wastewater treatment and integrated resource recovery in Monteverde.

Researchers will be tasked with ensuring Costa Rican decision makers can knowledgeably consider an array of options. Those range from decentralized solutions that extract nutrients from wastewater at the level of the individual toilet, to more expensive centralized sewer networks that transport wastewater to large treatment plants. Read more.

Cleaner Power In Line To Join West Virginia’s Grid On The Scale Of Coal

Date: May 11, 2023

West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports that members of the state legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Energy and Manufacturing have been told that more than 12,000 megawatts of power will be added to the grid in the next several years, including about 10,000 megawatts of renewables and 2,000 megawatts of natural gas. Combined, that’s nearly as much as the entire footprint of coal in West Virginia of 12,500 megawatts.

Asim Haque, vice president of state policy and member services for PJM (the grid that includes West Virginia and 12 other states) explained that it’s not a 1-for-1 replacement.

Some coal and natural gas will still be needed on account of the intermittent nature of wind and solar. “And so we’re trying to balance both the infusion of these intermittent resources and also maintain system reliability,” Haque said. Read more.

Renewables Project Aims to Keep West Virginia on Map for Energy Transition Opportunities

Date: April 19, 2023

A new solar project in Jackson County will keep West Virginia on the map when it comes to energy transition opportunities, according to Alicia Knapp, the president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy (BHE) Renewables.

As reported by West Virginia Metro News, BHE Renewables is developing the project at the site of the former Century Aluminum plant in Ravenswood.

Knapp said they don’t only want to offer these kinds of facilities in states that typically see a lot of sunshine. She said it’s about investing in states that want to create a new pathway forward, too.

“It really addresses the energy transition in saying ‘if the only place we’re going to put solar panels and renewable energy in sunshine states and that’s where the companies are going to go that want renewables,’ that means places like West Virginia are going to be left out,” she said.

State leaders have helped BHE Renewables with planting roots, Knapp said. “To show up in this kind of way does send a signal to the rest of the investment community. It’s not just showing up in West Virginia. It’s the way we’re greeted when we get there,” she said. Read more.

Game-Changing High-Performance Semiconductor Material Could Help Slash Heat Emissions

Date: April 19, 2023

Researchers at West Virginia University have engineered a material with the potential to dramatically cut the amount of heat power plants release into the atmosphere, WVU Today reports.

A team led by Xueyan Song, professor and George B. Berry Chair of Engineering at the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, has created an oxide ceramic material that solves a longstanding efficiency problem plaguing thermoelectric generators. Those devices can generate electricity from heat, including power plant heat emissions, which contribute to global warming.

The breakthrough oxide ceramic Song’s team produced “achieved a record-high performance that had been deemed impossible,” she said. “We demonstrated the best thermoelectric oxide ceramics reported in the field worldwide over the past 20 years, and the results open up new research directions that could further increase performance.”

The research responds to the growing problem of waste heat, a contributor to climate change and byproduct of most operations that convert fuel into power. Waste heat is released into the atmosphere by systems as diverse as power plants, home heating systems and automobiles, and there’s enough of it being emitted that the global market for systems that recover it is projected to exceed $70 billion by 2026. Read more.

Steel Mill Planned in Mason County to Bring in More Construction Jobs

Date: March 14, 2023

A year after the project was first announced, progress is continuing on a new steel mill in Mason County, reports WOWK-TV, Channel 13 News. The company says construction will cost more than expected, but is also projected to provide nearly double the initially estimated construction jobs.

According to officials with Nucor Steel, the projected cost of building the new steel mill has risen from the initial estimate of $2.7 billion to $3.1 billion. Company officials say some of the factors contributing to the new estimated cost include general inflation, expanded requirements for port and rail infrastructure and the purchase of additional property and equipment. Read more.

More Electric School Buses Debut in West Virginia

Date: March 14, 2023

Three all-electric GreenPower Type D BEAST school buses will be deployed in West Virginia’s Mineral, Lewis, and Harrison school districts, while Upshur County will deploy the award-winning, all-electric Type A Nano BEAST. According to Lootpress, this round of the pilot project will continue to evaluate the performance of the buses on rural roads, in mountainous conditions and in cooler temperatures.

GreenPower Motor Company Inc. a leading manufacturer and distributor of purpose-built, all-electric, zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles serving the cargo and delivery market, shuttle and transit space and school bus sector, announced the launch of Round 4 of its pilot project to demonstrate all-electric school buses.

The round will also continue to assess charging options by including systems provided by S&B USAeMobility and Francis Energy in Lewis and Upshur counties. This infrastructure utilizes a state-of-the-art Level 2 charger that far exceeds the necessary charging rates for successful operations. Read more.

West Virginia Construction & Design Expo 2023

Date: March 14, 2023

West Virginia Construction & Design Expo 2023

Reserve your spot to attend the West Virginia Construction & Design Expo at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center, March 22–23. This is the region’s largest trade show for construction & design industries!

The Expo is a meeting ground for numerous trade associations and professional societies. A number of impressive speakers and seminars are offered to round out a complete educational experience. Most seminars offer continuing education credit. Registration is free for qualified attendees! Learn more.

Innovative Construction Method Results in Historic Bridge Build in Beckley

Date: February 13, 2023

Construction crews are working on an historic bridge project in Beckley, West Virginia, the Lootpress News reports.

Contractors are building a 190-foot span at Stanaford Road using an innovative construction method. The bridge uses a GRS/IBS (Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil-Integrated Bridge System) type of design instead of traditional concrete abutments.

“The WV 41 Stanaford Road GRS/IBS bridge contract is an exciting project for our team here at the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) due to the magnitude of the structure and to be underway constructing the largest spanned bridge, at 190 feet, of this type of abutment construction in the world,” said Josh Howell, P.E., WVDOH District 10 Construction Engineer.

Read more.

WV House Committee Approves Financing for Battery-Plant Incentives

Date: February 13, 2023

West Virginia’s House Finance committee approved a bill on February 6 that will help to finance part of the promised $290 million to Form Energy for its planned iron-air batteries production facility in Weirton, The Center Square reports.

The batteries are being touted as significantly increasing the ability for utility companies to store energy at a large scale for up to 100 hours instead of the current average of 4-6 hours.

House Bill 2882 includes a transfer of $105 million from an unappropriated surplus from last year’s budget to the Economic Development Project Fund, which would then be used toward Form Energy’s incentives. The deal was announced in December with Form Energy promising up to $750 million spent on the project and 750 new full-time jobs. Read more.

Form Energy to Build $760M Battery Plant in West Virginia

Date: January 19, 2023

Form Energy, a Massachusetts battery manufacturer, chose Weirton, West Virginia, as the home of its first commercial-scale manufacturing facility, Construction Dive reports.

Weirton’s heyday in the steel industry helped build the United States. The company and state officials hope that it can now make real the clean-energy transition. “At one point, Weirton was one of America’s most important steel towns— a national leader in steel production,” Governor Jim Justice said a news release. “Now, this historic city is looking toward the future, and it’s very bright with Form Energy opening its doors.”

The factory will be located at the site of a former steel plant. The town will help Form Energy commercialize its iron-air batteries. The startup touts the technology’s long-lasting storage, able to store electricity for up to 100 hours, as a way to ease strain on the electric grid. Read more.

Survey: Road Infrastructure, K-12 Improvements Most Important to West Virginians

Date: January 19, 2023

West Virginia residents believe improving road infrastructure and the K-12 education system should be top priorities, according to a new survey, The Center Square reports.

The public survey was aimed at looking at the attitudes and preferences of West Virginia residents. Survey respondents believed high-tech industry (21%), manufacturing (21%), tourism (13%) and the natural gas (11%) and coal industry (10%) have the best potential to create jobs in the state in the next five to 10 years.

Meanwhile, 65% said they are not at all or not very confident in the state’s job opportunities over the next 15 years while just 4% were very confident. Only 3% believe West Virginia’s K-12 public education system is excellent while 19% believe it is good, 41% average, and 36% believe it is poor or failing. Read more.

Year One of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Date: December 21, 2022

The Biden Administration recently updated state and territory fact sheets that highlight the nationwide impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the largest long-term investment infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. To date, over $1.9 billion in funding has been announced and is headed to West Virginia with 90 specific projects identified for funding. Access information about West Virginia projects here.

West Virginia Provides $2 million for Green Technology Project

Date: December 21, 2022

Governor Jim Justice presented organizers with a $2 million check on December 20 to aid in the development of a facility in Charleston’s East End aimed at providing space for green technology, training and more, according to a report.

The Charleston Area Alliance was presented the check to support the development of the Learning, Innovation, Food & Technology Center located on the current site of Kanawha Manufacturing.

Announced in September, the LIFT Center is one of eight projects under the ACT Now Coalition, which was a Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant recipient of $62.8 million.

The facility is expected to reuse the existing space to convert it into a 55,000 square foot space for the development of alternative/renewable energy, workforce training, and a commercial food hub. Read more.

AI Startup Moving to the Mountain State

Date: November 16, 2022

Xtremis, an artificial intelligence development startup, will relocate to Morgantown, West Virginia, from Nashville. Xtremis' business operations and product development activities will be based at the Civil Military Innovation Institute business incubator campus adjacent to the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory, according to a news release.

In addition to the move, Xtremis will collaborate with CMI2 to develop radio test and evaluation infrastructure at the Fola Multi-Domain Technology Test Bed site in Clay County. Once completed, the Fola site will provide a unique laboratory for the development of Xtremis' novel radio technologies in conjunction with realistic military training.

Xtremis was founded in 2021 by a team of researchers who won two Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency competitions. Leveraging technologies developed through the DARPA initiatives, Xtremis has experienced rapid growth since its inception, and was selected by the US Army's Pathfinder Program to develop a next-generation sensor network called the Advanced Dynamic Spectrum Radio. This allows legacy Army radios to adapt to changes in the Electromagnetic Spectrum, ensuring that soldiers can communicate even in the presence of adversary jamming. Read more.

Second Round of Green School Buses Coming to West Virginia

Date: November 16, 2022

GreenPower Motor Company has launched the second round of its pilot project with the state of West Virginia to demonstrate all-electric school buses in Clay, Grant, Monongalia, and Ohio County school districts. The second round of the pilot program will incorporate new terrains, colder weather, and longer school bus routes, allowing the company to test the buses in real world scenarios.

"The difference in topical geography and weather will provide us valuable data and a good understanding of how the buses will perform in more mountainous terrain and a colder climate," Fraser Atkinson, CEO of GreenPower stated in a news release.

GreenPower will collect data from the program including range, charging infrastructure needs and usage rates, operating and maintenance, student and parent acceptance, and more. The data will provide a look into the transition from diesel to electric school buses to better protect the health and safety of communities and children from the contamination of NOx emissions.

Atkinson added that the company offers a comprehensive turn-key program to school districts that include the zero-emission electric school buses, electric vehicle charging systems and infrastructure, vehicle training and maintenance, deployment assistance and general education of the benefits of all-electric, zero-emission school buses.

Save the Date: West Virginia Construction & Design Expo

Date: October 19, 2022

West Virginia Design and Construction 

The West Virginia Construction & Design Expo will be held March 22–23, at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center in the heart of downtown Charleston, West Virginia. This is the region's largest trade show for construction & design industries! Learn more.

State Licensing Board Meeting

Date: October 19, 2022

The West Virginia State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, November 16, at the board's office in Charleston. Access the board meeting information here.

West Virginia, Virginia Legislators Discuss Nuclear Power Generation

Date: October 19, 2022

Lawmakers from West Virginia and Virginia met recently to discuss the implementation of nuclear energy production in West Virginia, where the prohibition of the energy source was knocked down in the 2022 legislative session, West Virginia News reports.

West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw spoke with Virginia Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert to discuss how Virginia's experience with small modular reactors can be informative to the Mountain State.

"…Just as we locked arms with our border states to the north on shale gas development, we believe we are uniquely situated to collaborate to lead the way in this emerging economy, and so together we are putting a serious focus on doing just that in the coming year," Hanshaw was quoted. He feels the two states could become an "East Coast hub" for SMR Technology.

Renewable Energy-Powered Manufacturing Coming to West Virginia

Date: September 21, 2022

BHE Renewables has entered into an agreement with West Virginia to purchase more than 2,000 acres of land in Ravenswood to be developed as a first-of-its-kind renewable energy microgrid-powered industrial site.

Precision Castparts Corp. will be the first company to locate on the site and will develop a state-of-the-art titanium melt facility that will use 100% renewable energy to manufacture titanium products for the aerospace and other industries.

The West Virginia Economic Development Authority will work with BHE Renewables to bring additional businesses to the site to take advantage of the prime manufacturing location and renewable energy infrastructure.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the fact that West Virginia will help lead the way into a new era of renewable energy microgrid-powered manufacturing,” Governor Justice said. Read more.

Carbon Capture and Storage Station to Be Built in Mountain State

Date: September 21, 2022

Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) announced that it has selected West Virginia for a 1,800 MW combined-cycle natural gas power station utilizing carbon capture and storage. Following permitting and construction, the project will go into operation later this decade, according to a news release. The project was made possible by the advancement of the recently passed federal legislation known as the Inflation Reduction Act, which expanded the 45Q federal tax credit for carbon capture.

“Competitive Power Ventures’ multi-billion-dollar investment in this combined-cycle power plant demonstrates that West Virginia can provide natural gas to markets in our neighboring states, as needed energy supplies for our allies abroad, as a manufacturing input here at home and across America, as well as power generation here in West Virginia,” said US Senator Shelley Moore Capito. Read more.

WV Licensing Fees Update

Date: August 17, 2022

The West Virginia State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers has announced that a reduction in fees for licensees became effective on August 1, 2022. Per SB334 (passed during the 2022 legislative session), all fees outlined in West Virginia engineering law (specifically Legislative Rule 7-1-13.4) will be reduced by approximately 10%.

All fees submitted with a postmark date of August 1, or later, should be paid at the lower rate. Access the fees document here.

Project Will Upgrade Downtown Wheeling Streets

Date: August 17, 2022

Major upgrades to downtown Wheeling have been funded, bid upon, and awarded to Triton Construction Inc., WVNews reports. The $31.9 million project will include the addition of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curbs and street upgrades to 1.85 miles of roads. Other upgrades will be made to traffic lights, sidewalks, and general beautification.

Of the funding, $16.25 million comes from a US Department of Transportation Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant. The City of Wheeling is contributing $1.9 million toward construction costs and $100,000 toward design and engineering.

West Virginia’s Aerospace Industry Gets a Boost from Satellite

Date: August 17, 2022

West Virginia is on its way to launching the state’s second small satellite, thanks to more than $900,000 in US Economic Development Administration’s Assistance to Coal Communities grant. The grant supports projects that advance economic diversification, aerospace manufacturing, and provides STEM training opportunities in areas severely affected by the declining use of coal.

The money will not only support the Innovative Orbital Test Array mission, or IOTA, in which a second SmallSat will be produced and launched as STF-1’s proof of concept, but it will also enable the opening of the West Virginia Small Satellite Center of Excellence. The center will be a hub for small satellite research, development, testing, production, and commercialization.

West Virginia’s first small satellite, STF-1, launched from New Zealand in 2018 and vastly exceeded the usual three-month lifespan for a SmallSat – it’s still up there, transmitting from outer space, more than 1,300 days later.

A team from West Virginia University and the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium is leading the project. Find out more.

Local Water Infrastructure Projects Receive Grant Funding

Date: June 16, 2022

Governor Jim Justice has allocated the first grant awards from his new Economic Enhancement Grant Fund. A total of $12.8 million has been awarded to three water and wastewater infrastructure projects across the state.

The fund is managed by the West Virginia Water Development Authority. Working together with the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council and the West Virginia Department of Economic Development, the fund will provide matching grants to municipalities for use in upgrading infrastructure such as water and sewer systems.

The first grant recipients are the City of Lewisburg, which gets $7.586 million to improve its water system. The City of Ripley is receiving $3.433 million to construct a wastewater treatment plant for Ripley and the community of Evans. This completes the funding for Ripley’s $31.158 million project. And the City of Richwood gets $1.854 million for its Hinkle Mountain/Little Laurel water extension project. The $12.129 million project includes upgrades to the city’s water plant and an extension of water service to 118 customers.

“We all know that we still have places in West Virginia where water and sewer access isn’t as reliable as it should be,” Justice said in a news release. “Some of these projects would have been dead in the water without this funding.”

Battery Energy Storage Has Potential in West Virginia

Date: June 16, 2022

State lawmakers from the Joint Standing Energy Committee were recently advised by two industry representatives about the potential for battery energy storage in West Virginia. They discussed the usefulness of this type of storage to help power the state, which is rapidly expanding in the US energy market, Government Technology reported.

Battery systems can be used to store energy from various sources - like wind and solar - until customers need it. The legislators were considering the future of this technology in the state.

One of the presenters told the committee members that West Virginia is behind in pursuing battery energy pilot projects. In 2015, the state repealed a renewable energy portfolio standard that it had adopted in 2009, which would have required some electric utilities to own credits in an amount equal to at least 25% of the electric energy it sold to retail customers in the preceding calendar year.

Governor Announces $147.6 Million Project to Connect Welch with Coalfields Expressway

Date: May 16, 2022

Governor Jim Justice hosted an event on May 13 near the site where the state’s newest major highway (through his Roads To Prosperity program) will connect the Town of Welch with the Coalfields Expressway, according to a news release.

“This announcement today means we are one step closer to bringing this area of West Virginia to the world once and for all,” said Justice. “We have waited and waited in southern West Virginia for way too long. From what I understand, this section right here is a linchpin section and then the sections beyond that will move even faster.”

Justice joined officials with the West Virginia Division of Highways to announce that he has approved the bid award for this $147.6 million project to Bizzack Construction of Lexington, Kentucky.

Roadwork will involve building a 5.12-mile section of highway from Welch to WV 16, connecting the southern West Virginia town with the Coalfields Expressway.

The project includes the construction of two ramps, two bridges, and will require more than 16 million yards of excavation. More than 10,000 feet of large diameter drainage pipe will also be put in place for the project.

WV Highway Project Announcement

WV to Get $54 Million for Bridge Repair and Appalachian Development Highway System

Date: May 16, 2022

US Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that West Virginia will receive $54,790,795 from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as part of Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations. Of that funding, $40,000,000 will go towards bridge replacement rehabilitation and the remaining $14,790,795 will go towards the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS). Read more.

Proposed AV Research and Testing Facility Gaining Regional

Date: May 16, 2022

The Marion Regional Development Corporation was named master developer of the old Coke Works Site in East Side by Fairmont City Council. This means the economic development agency will begin working to develop the Fairmont Transportation Research Campus, an autonomous vehicle testing and research site, the Times West Virginian reports.

According to MRDC President Nick Fantasia, the goal is to complete water and sewer funding this year and dirt funding completed the following year to allow black top to be laid sometime in 2024. “So if all the dominoes lined up right, we could potentially have a significant piece of this done in 60 months,” Fantasia said.

Many details of the build have been planned out, but MRDC does not have all of the estimated $32.7 million they need for the project that is gaining interest in the sector. Fantasia said several big names in autonomous research and vehicle development have been in contact with the MRDC since the project was made public.

New Battery Facility Brings Jobs for Former Mine Workers

Date: April 19, 2022

SPARKZ Inc., a battery startup that intends to commercialize a cobalt-free lithium battery in the US, plans to open a research and development facility in the heart of coal country in West Virginia. It is hiring displaced mine workers to do factory production work, Yahoo Finance reports.

Removing cobalt from clean energy production reduces the environmental impact of the process and lowers costs. "We must end our reliance on cobalt and China's dominance in the global battery supply chain," said Dr. Sanjiv Malhotra, founder and CEO of SPARKZ. "We are delighted to make West Virginia our home and aid the state's transition from its roots in coal mining to the new energy economy."

Vantage Ventures, an initiative to scale innovative technology companies in West Virginia, helped SPARKZ secure equity financing and select a space for the research and development facility.

West Virginia Water Projects Receive Funding

Date: April 19, 2022

West Virginia has received funding for water resources projects and programs through the US Army Corps of Engineers. The funding comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

"This latest round of IIJA funding will help maintain important projects such as Summersville Lake, support water and wastewater services in central and southern West Virginia, and keep our communities safe from flood hazards," US Senator Shelley Moore Capito stated in a news release.

The funding will be invested in 10 areas within the state, the largest being $27.5 million for operation and maintenance at Jennings Randolph Lake, $6.5 million for Summersville Lake, more than $2 million for Central West Virginia Environmental Infrastructure, and $1.5 million for Southern West Virginia Environmental Infrastructure.

Infrastructure Investments Should Include Licensed Professionals, Experts Say

Date: March 14, 2022

In an opinion piece published in the West Virginia Gazette, David Meadows, P.E., and Judy Proctor, a licensed CPA, advocated for the importance of professional licensure in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public and in being sure funds are spent wisely. In particular, they advised that licensed professionals should be used whenever possible for infrastructure projects funded by billions of dollars from the federal infrastructure bill.

“The recent bridge collapse near Pittsburgh underscores the urgent need to shore up critical infrastructure with the skills and expertise of licensed professionals,” they wrote. “This need goes beyond just building new roads and bridges. It extends to upgrading and modernizing our existing roads and bridges to ensure they are safe.”

State Lawmakers in Agreement Over Fossil Fuel Issues

Date: March 14, 2022

Legislators in the West Virginia Senate and House agreed on minor changes to energy and environmental bills, including one that would give the state treasurer the power to restrict banking contracts with financial institutions that divest from fossil fuel companies, the West Virginia Gazette reports. Critics of the bill say it may be unconstitutional.

State leaders were quoted as saying they wanted to send a message that the state does not want to do business with companies that divest from the fossil fuel industry.

Governor Signs Bill Allowing Nuclear Power in West Virginia

Date: February 16, 2022

In an effort to move the state away from its dependence on coal, Governor Jim Justice has signed a bill eliminating the state's longstanding ban on nuclear power. He said any move toward using nuclear power plants should be done cautiously and thoughtfully, NPR reports.

In recent years, nuclear power has been increasingly considered a relatively safe energy option that produces less damaging emissions, making it an attractive option for combatting climate change. It had been banned in West Virginia since 1996.

Bridge Design Contest for Middle and High Schoolers to Award Cash Prizes

Date: February 16, 2022

A contest aimed at inspiring future engineers is going on this month in West Virginia. Middle and high schoolers can register to compete in a bridge design contest that will award cash prizes. Needed materials and information can be found at the Bridge Design & Build Contest website. The contest qualifying round ends on Sunday, February 27.

Gas Pipeline Gets One Step Closer to Implementation

Date: January 19, 2022

The Mountain Valley Pipeline gained a water protection permit from the Department of Environmental Protection for construction in West Virginia, The Hill reported. The 300-mile pipeline will extend into Virginia, where approval is facing a fight in the US 4th Circuit Court after having received initial approval. The project will cost $3-$6.2 billion and is expected to be completed this year.

Environmentalists oppose the construction of the pipeline by the Army Corps of Engineers because it could impact 12 acres of wetlands and miles of streams, according to the West Virginia News.

Nuclear Power Could Return to West Virginia

Date: January 19, 2022

In spite of opposition from some, State Senate President Craig Blair said the body will consider lifting West Virginia’s ban on nuclear power this session, reported. At a briefing of two interim committees, Government Operations and Government Organization, eight presenters gave their views on the controversial topic.

Marcus Nichol, director of New Reactors for the Nuclear Energy Institute, said newer, advanced reactors are cheaper and safer than older ones. Opponents of nuclear power are historically wary of nuclear waste. The waste can be recycled; currently, however, government plans focus on interim storage facilities.

Nuclear Energy Could Offer Alternative to Coal Industry

Date: December 15, 2021

Lawmakers in West Virginia will reconsider legislation that would repeal the state’s 25-year-old ban on construction of new nuclear power facilities. The shift in thinking stems from efforts to cut carbon emissions and replace jobs lost in the wake of closing coal plants throughout the state. Several other states have worked to lift nuclear bans and partnered with the federal government to build reactors in recent years, according to Bloomberg Law.

FirstEnergy Plans to Construct Network of Five Solar Farms

Date: December 15, 2021

FirstEnergy Corp. is seeking approval to build a network of five utility-grade solar farms throughout its state territory, the Williamson Daily News reports. If the West Virginia Public Service Commission approves the plans, construction will begin in 2022 and conclude in 2025. The farms, which would generate 50 megawatts of renewable energy, would be the company’s first solar projects.

Toxic Levels of Selenium Found in State’s Ecosystems Due to Coal Mining

Date: December 15, 2021

A toxic element has been found entering the food chain in West Virginia due to coal mining, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. Selenium was found in insects sampled from the Mud River basin in Lincoln County. The insects can then be ingested by land animals, according to the researchers who published their findings in Environmental Science and Technology. The watershed was the site of drainage from the Hobet Mine until it closed in 2015.

West Virginia has the highest toxic industrial selenium pollution levels in the country, according to EPA data the Gazette-Mail analyzed.

How West Virginia Will Benefit from Biden’s Infrastructure Package

Date: November 17, 2021

President Joe Biden’s recently passed $1 trillion infrastructure package includes a reauthorization of the Appalachian Regional Commission. This provides $1 billion for economic and community development activities in Appalachia, including broadband deployment. Under the legislation, West Virginia will also receive significant funds for a wide array of projects for highway repair, bridge maintenance, drinking water infrastructure projects and others. Find out more here.

West Virginia Rep. David McKinley, P.E., who has been a member of the West Virginia Society of Professional Engineers since 1972, was one of 13 Republicans who backed the legislation.

Study Reveals Full Effects of Mountaintop Mining on Endangered Species

Date: November 17, 2021

A study of satellite imagery and water-quality data has found that mountaintop mining has serious detrimental effects on aquatic life, often miles away from where the mining occurs, according to The study, centered on Central Appalachia, was published in the journal Plos One.

Toxic levels of aluminum, copper, lead and manganese, among other metals, as well as high acidity levels were found in 4,000 monitoring sites in various watersheds. “This research expands the ability for state and federal agencies to make better decisions that directly affect vulnerable people and wildlife,” said Mike Evans, a conservation data scientist and coauthor of the study.

Brownfields Site in Marion County May Have New Future

Date: October 19, 2021

The city of Fairmount in Marion County has issued an RFP for development of a 67-acre tract of land formerly known as the Fairmont Coke Works and Sharon Steel site. A brownfields project was recently completed to remediate the land. Officials are hopeful the site will be put to good use soon, the Fairmont News reports.

The city’s director of planning hopes the project will help the city’s economy and bolster surrounding neighborhoods. “We also want something that creates jobs, increases our economic output here in Fairmont and, even complements some of our community needs, such as maybe recreational or infrastructure assets,” Strait told the Fairmont News. Mixed-use purposes would be ideal, perhaps storefronts on one section of the property and industrial or manufacturing on the other.

Planned Gateway Park Moving Ahead on Wheeling Island

Date: October 19, 2021

Construction is set to begin on the Wheeling Gateway Park, a project that has been in the planning stages for two and a half years, The Intelligencer Reports. The park will be located on the riverfront banks of Wheeling Island.

The announcement came on the heels of news from the governor’s office last month that the state of West Virginia will rehabilitate the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. The new park will sit near the base of the bridge.

According to the Wheeling Gateway Park Master Plan, the overall project will include a terrace plaza with a shade structure, an overlook plaza with a view of the river and downtown, green space, street rehabilitation, riverbank stabilization, river access, trails and other outdoor features.

WV Taxpayers Would Foot the Bill for Work at Coal-Fired Plants

Date: September 13, 2021

Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power are asking state regulators to approve making West Virginia customers responsible for $48 million annually to cover wastewater compliance work at three coal-fired generating plants in the state, reports the Herald-Dispatch. The companies are asking West Virginia customers to shoulder all of the costs for these planned upgrades because Kentucky and Virginia utility regulators denied the companies’ requests to approve the upgrades required to keep the plants compliant with wastewater discharge guidelines. Critics object to the proposal that would make West Virginia taxpayers carry the full financial burden of the upgrades when they believe the plants should be retired.

Governor Reemphasizes Highway Projects

Date: September 13, 2021

Three major highway projects in the state remain a top priority for Gov. Jim Justice, according to WVNews, and he plans to use federal stimulus dollars to complete them. The Coalfields Expressway, King Coal Highway, and Corridor H, Justice said, are important to improve the state’s economic development, but they have taken too long. “It has taken 28 or 29 years to get it (Coalfields Expressway) from Slab Fork to Mullins,” he said. “Good gosh, we’ve got to do better than that.”

Centennial Celebration for WV PEs

Date: August 11, 2021

The 100th anniversary of West Virginia PEs and architects was celebrated July 27, as reported by the Weston Democrat. The West Virginia State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers held its first meeting on November 21, 1921, at the Coyle and Richardson Building in downtown Charleston. Today, nearly 9,100 professional engineers licensed to practice in the state.

Morgan County Growth Spurs Infrastructure Development

Date: August 11, 2021

To accommodate a recent growth spurt, Morgan County is expanding its water and sewer infrastructure, reports WDVM. The growth is attributed to the pandemic flight of Washingtonians to a less crowded and less expensive setting.

The county commissioner says the county is working with Berkeley Springs Water Works and the Warm Springs Public Service District on preliminary engineering. Additionally, a lagoon system, a batch plant, and a package plant are planned to be taken offline, and a highway bypass is in the works.

A potential partnership between Johnson County and Morgan County to bring sewer services to the future I-69 corridor, however, is off the table. The plan was for a new $3.1 million wastewater plant in Waverly.

Pipeline Project Slowed Over Permitting Issue

Date: July 21, 2021

The Mountain Valley Pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia hit a snag when the US Environmental Protection Agency asked the Army Corps of Engineers to deny a key construction permit for water crossings, reports Engineering News-Record. The project is nearly 92% complete, but last year a federal court struck down blanket permits, such as the one held by the Corps that allowed project-wide water crossings without individual impact review. Now, pipeline yare working toward a different permit that includes review of hundreds of water body crossings.

EPA’s wetlands branch chief said, “While EPA recognizes the proposed project’s purpose and need for providing transmission of natural gas, the extent of anticipated impacts, notably the large amount of temporary discharges from the proposal to the aquatic resources, warrants careful review.” According to the EPA, the project would permanently impact 1,198 linear ft of streams and temporarily affect 38,312 linear ft. It also would permanently affect 0.5 acres of wetlands, temporarily affect 13.92 acres, and convert 3.7 acres of forested and scrub-shrub wetlands to emergent wetlands.

WV and WY Senators Spar Over Hyperloop

Date: July 21, 2021

Development of the Virgin Hyperloop certification center on 800 acres of land crossing Tucker and Grant counties recently sparked a testy exchange between US senators, according to Metro News. US Senate Energy Chairman Joe Manchin, D-WV, supports development of the emerging technology, but US Senator John Barrasso, R-WY, offered an amendment to stop hyperloop’s eligibility for an Energy Department loan. Barrasso called hyperloop “expensive science fiction” and compared it to high-speed rail. “If high-speed rail is any guide,” he said, “this bill would allow millions in taxpayer money to be loaned to companies that will end up being hyperloops to nowhere.” Manchin, however, called the project “a giant leap forward into the future of transportation” and an opportunity for domestic manufacturing and job creation.

Barrasso’s amendment ended in a tie vote, killing it.

Mining Reclamation Program at Risk

Date: June 8, 2021

The state’s mining reclamation program is at risk of slipping into insolvency, according to a new state legislative audit, reports the Gazette Mail. The audit report, presented to a joint panel of state senators and delegates, “finds that the state Department of Environmental Protection has failed to comply with state and federal law in its reclamation program oversight, resulting in missed opportunities to financially shore up a program that will keep requiring hundreds of millions of dollars to reclaim permit sites per federal regulations.”

The report finds that the state’s current per acre coal mining reclamation bond limits may not be enough to guarantee the solvency of the program. “Rising reclamation costs have devalued permit bonds since the current bonding limits were established by state code in 2001, the report observes, while the cost of reclamation has increased significantly.”

An article in Grist that was published before the state audit was released, called the state’s reclamation funding system “broken.” An attorney for the Sierra Club said, “All of the backstops that are supposed to be in place to make sure that at the end of the day nobody has to live next to an abandoned coal mine — all of those backstops are now threatened.”

Meanwhile, a civil engineering team from WVU is in the final stages of developing a 10-year research project to restore a 40-acre abandoned mine refuse site in Greenbrier County. The project will use geomorphic landform design to mitigate acid mine drainage originating from the waste pile.

Council Rejects Engineering Education Proposal for Wheeling

Date: June 8, 2021

The West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education rejected Bluefield State College’s request to bring a new Engineering and Manufacturing Center to Wheeling, according to the Intelligencer. City leaders enthusiastically greeted the proposal and intended to lease the college space at the former Ohio Valley Medical Center campus. The proposal, however, met with opposition from West Virginia Northern Community College, Wheeling University, and West Liberty University due to concerns about bringing another institution of higher learning into the local market. The article says, “the council’s decision to nix Bluefield’s proposal focused on a lack of demonstrated workforce demand for the proposed programs.”

Engineering Attention Grabber: The Wellsburg Bridge

Date: May 14, 2021

Anyone looking for a case study on the excitement of engineering need look no further than Wellsburg. Over the past month, the new prefabricated Wellsburg Bridge was floated down the Ohio River, pivoted, and lifted into place, where it will connect Brooke County, West Virginia’s Route 2 and Brilliant, Ohio’s Route 7. The Division of Highways live streamed the entire trip. The project is scheduled for completion in fall 2022, reports Metro News.

Tony Clark, P.E., shares his thoughts in this video from WVDOT.

Tank Exemption Bill Fails

Date: May 14, 2021

A bill (H.B. 2598) that would have eased regulation of oil and gas storage tanks near drinking water intakes did not pass the legislature, reports the Gazette. The law, in part, requires tank owners or operators to ensure secondary containment area inspections once every 14 days, and have a PE or other qualified inspector inspect tank systems once every three years. The bill would have exempted the category of tanks closest to water intakes holding up to nearly 9,000 gallons of oil or gas from regulation under the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. The law was enacted in 2014 after a spill of approximately 10,000 gallons of a chemical used to clean coal contaminated the drinking water of about 300,000 West Virginia residents.

West Virginia Permits Tax-Free Savings for Licensing, Certification Fees

Date: April 22, 2021

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed legislation on March 19 allowing residents to save and invest funds to cover the costs associated with pursuing a trade or occupation and for business startups.

The Jumpstart Savings Act (H.B. 2001) authorizes tax-free contributions up to $25,000 each year to a state-managed savings account for the following expenses: 1) The purchase of tools, equipment, or supplies to complete an apprenticeship program or earn an associate’s degree or certificate for a specified occupation or profession, 2) Fees for required certification or licensure to practice a trade or occupation, and 3) Costs incurred that are necessary to establish and operate a business for a specified occupation or profession.

A savings account can be opened by an individual with a minimum deposit of $25 beginning July 1, 2022 with a single person named as a beneficiary. If the designated beneficiary is a West Virginia resident under the age of 18, the state treasurer will contribute $100 from the Jumpstart Savings Expense Fund. This contribution will also apply if an account has been opened within 180 days after a beneficiary has enrolled in an apprenticeship or educational program. Qualified employers can make matching contributions to an employee’s account and receive a nonrefundable tax credit up to $5,000 per year for each employee.

Tax on Professional Services Proposed

Date: April 22, 2021

The West Virginia Senate passed an amended income tax bill (H.B. 3300) by an 18-16 vote on April 7. This bill includes a statewide sales tax increase from 6% to 8%.

The legislation has raised concerns because it could place a 3% tax on professional services like accounting, architecture, engineering, and legal services.

Nitro-St. Albans Bridge Project Kicks Off

Date: April 22, 2021

West Virginia state leaders recently held a groundbreaking for a $225 million West Virginia DOT construction project involving the Nitro-St. Albans Bridge.

Nitro-St. Albans Bridge Project Kicks Off

Constructing a new bridge over the Kanawah River is part of the DOT’s I-64 multi-year improvement project that will widen I-64 from the US 35/I-64 Interchange to just east of the Nitro Interchange. The goal is to widen I-64 to improve traffic volume capacity, enhance safety, and support continued economic growth in the area. According to the DOT, the bridge now carries approximately 70,000 vehicles per day. An increase in traffic volume has resulted in congestion, sudden stops, and collisions along I-64.

Commuters recently expressed excitement and nervousness about the improvement project with a 2023 projected completion date. Once complete, the new bridge will be called the Donald M. Legg Memorial Bridge.

Highway Division Needs Engineers

Date: March 15, 2021

The West Virginia Division of Highways needs engineers, reports Metro News. A spokesperson said the agency needs to replace those engineers who are retiring. “What we’re trying to do is hire in some engineer trainees out of school, When someone retires, not only do you lose that knowledge as it goes out the door. That’s not something you replace overnight, you need to look long term into the future and hire people who can learn those things over a period of years,” the spokesperson said. The agency is seeing applicants from the University of Nebraska, Ohio University, and George Mason University in addition to the schools that are regular recruitment stops: WVU, Bluefield State, Fairmont State, WVU Tech, University of Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech.

Engineering Education Controversy Comes to Wheeling

Date: March 15, 2021

Wheeling’s efforts to bring Bluefield State College to the city are stirring some controversy over engineering education, according to the Intelligencer. The city and Bluefield State are collaborating to establish a new Engineering and Manufacturing Center, but officials at West Virginia Northern Community College, West Liberty University, and Wheeling University have expressed “strong disappointment” in the move. They argue the move will cause “negative consequences” for one or all of the local institutions, all of which dispute the assertion that there is a local void in engineering degree programs.

County To Hire Staff PE

Date: February 11, 2021

The Harrison County Commission voted 2-1 to hire an on-staff engineer, who is required to hold a West Virginia PE license, reports the Exponent Telegram. The commissioners who supported the new position believe the move will help the county save money. Commissioner Patsy Trecost say the engineer could assist with projects such as courthouse remodeling, removal of the courthouse jail annex, new roofing at the Public Safety Building in Nutter Fort, the law enforcement headquarters and storage facility in downtown Clarksburg and work at the Harrison County Senior Citizens Center. The salary range begins at $77,000.

Study: While Natural Gas Boomed, Local Economies Didn’t

Date: February 11, 2021

Despite the natural gas boom, the top gas-producing counties in the Ohio Valley still lag behind the rest of the nation economically, according to a study by the nonprofit think tank Ohio River Valley Institute. The study covers 22 Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia counties that produce more than 90% of the region’s natural gas.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on the study. “What we’re seeing is almost the definition of the resource curse, and that is great economic growth with very little, if any, impact on local measures of prosperity,” Sean O’Leary, senior researcher at the institute, said of the report during a webinar last week that focused on the so-far unrealized dream of a petrochemical boom in Appalachia.

Wind Farm Construction Begins

Date: January 27, 2021

On the Grant-Mineral county line, construction has started on a 23-turbine wind farm called Black Rock Wind, according to Metro News. The project, owned by Clearway Energy, is slated for completion before the end of 2021. Each turbine will generate 5 megawatts, and the power will be provided to Toyota and American Electric Power. “We still don’t want to forget, in any way, our coal mine jobs, our natural gas jobs, or our oil jobs and how important they are,” said Governor Justice. “But we have embraced our role as an all-encompassing energy state. We want to welcome alternatives, and this wind farm will absolutely amp up our wind production in this great state in a big way and will help us move forward with great jobs.”

The Bechtel-Reed & Reed Joint Venture will engineer, procure, and construct the farm. The Siemens-Gamesa SG 5.0-145 wind turbines will be on 107.5-meter tall towers.

Paul A. Hornor, Jr., P.E.

Date: January 27, 2021

Paul A. Hornor, Jr., P.E., a member of WVSPE and NSPE since 1962 and former leader of the oldest engineering firm in the state, passed away on January 15 at the age of 85. In 1902, brothers Carl L. Hornor and Paul S. Hornor opened Hornor Brothers Engineers, centered in Clarksburg. The firm was instrumental to the development of the city and north-central region of the state, providing surveying and engineering services for railroad, coal mine, and municipal projects. Hornor started his career at the company in 1963 and became president in 1983. Read the September/October 2019 PE magazine article about the firm and the obituary in the Exponent Telegram.

Firms in West Virginia and Wales Launch Energy Storage Partnership

Date: December 16, 2020

A Monongalia County manufacturer has been selected as the US partner for a Welsh technology firm that will be building a new facility for energy storage development in Morgantown. The facility is expected to bring up to 1,000 manufacturing and technology jobs to the state. According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the partnership between DST Innovations in Wales and Blue Rock Manufacturing “plans to build a reactor next to a source of coal in West Virginia to reduce the coal to hard carbon that can be used to create batteries and supercapacitors.” The facility is designed to be part of the Dragon Energy Island project that DST Innovations is working to launch in Swansea, Wales. No timeframe was announced for the launch of the facility.

New Telescope Planned for Greenbank Observatory

Date: December 16, 2020

An assistant professor in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at WVU, has received a grant to build a new radio telescope at the Green Bank Observatory, according to the Williamson Daily News. The telescope will work in concert with two others in Canada to triangulate the positions of targeted objects. These telescopes will then connect to a much larger telescope in British Columbia to identify precise locations. The telescopes will be searching for Fast Radio Bursts, among the brightest objects in the universe, to gain greater understanding of their nature and origin.

PE Wins Reelection to House Seat

Date: November 18, 2020

Longtime NSPE/WVSPE member David McKinley, P.E., won reelection to the House of Representatives, defeating Democrat Natalie Cline. He has represented District 1 in northern West Virginia since 2011. Born in Wheeling in 1947, McKinley graduated from Purdue University with a degree in civil engineering and spent 12 years in the construction industry before establishing his own firm. Today, McKinley Architecture and Engineering has offices in Wheeling, Charleston, and Pittsburgh.

WVU’s Engineering Expertise Helped Attract Hyperloop Center

Date: November 18, 2020

“A unique blend of expertise in multiple areas of engineering at West Virginia University, and a shared purpose have culminated in an integrated solution to meet the unique challenges of the Virgin Hyperloop Certification Center, slated to be located in the West Virginia highlands,” reports The university’s selling points include expertise in the integration of high strength polymer composites into various types of infrastructure, electromagnetic systems, vacuum systems, mining, autonomous systems, and advanced manufacturing. The area terrain and soil conditions were also optimal for the six-mile test track.

Hyperloop Testbed Slated for West Virginia

Date: October 28, 2020

Virgin Hyperloop has selected the site of a former coal mine in Grant and Tucker counties as the location for a new $500 million certification center and six-mile test track for an alternative high-speed transportation system, according to Engineering News-Record. The facility will be the first US regulatory proving ground for the high-speed travel system. Federal regulators will use the facility to establish hyperloop regulatory and safety standards, building upon regulatory framework guidance issued in July by the US Department of Transportation. Virgin Hyperloop says its system can propel passenger or cargo pods at speeds of over 1,000 km/h.

Plans for Natural Gas Plant Abandoned

Date: October 28, 2020

A developer has dropped plans for a 920-MW natural gas-fired power plant in Brooke County due to changing market conditions and alleged interference from the coal industry, reports Power magazine. The West Virginia Economic Development Authority approved $5.6-million loan guarantee for the project on September 9. The article says, “a political push and pull involving an array of business, industry, union groups, and state leadership appears to have doomed the project.”

2020 WV Construction & Design Expo

Date: March 25–25, 2020
Expo 2020

The WV Construction and Design Expo is all about helping you find better, faster, smarter, cleaner and more efficient ways to get things done. Get a snapshot of the latest and greatest products and companies in the design and construction industries.

E-Week Activities-Archives

During E-Week, on February 21, 2019 at the Four Points Sheraton in Charleston, WV, WVSPE held a Scholarship and Celebration Dinner. WVSPE member Ed Robinson, P.E., P.S., served as the keynote speaker. Several scholarships were awarded. Read the program for a list of all scholarship winners. 

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Pictured above: President, David Weaver, P.E. and a scholarship winner, Jared Neehouse

36th Annual MATHCOUNTS Competition

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The 36th Annual MATHCOUNTS competition was held at Braxton County Middle School on March 23rd. Representatives from 15 schools across West Virginia assembled to contend for the opportunity to represent West Virginia in the National Competition in Orlando, FL on May 11th -May 14th.
The middle school students gathered bright and early to put their math skills to the test. Those talented students took a math test that determined the top school teams and top individuals of West Virginia. The top four individual winners will represent West Virginia in the National Competition in Florida. Ryan Butler from Suncrest Middle School will coach the West Virginia National team.

Read the official Press Release for more information on the event and winners.

West Virginia Society at the 2018 Professional Engineers Conference

From July 18–22 in Las Vegas, at Caesars Palace, NSPE members enjoyed an exciting week full of exceptional education programs, speakers, and great networking.


West Virginia Society Members