WMU Innovations

5 WVU Innovations That Have Changed the World

Some people think of West Virginia University as a “party school,” but that is far from the case. Sure, we like to have fun around here, but we also have a lot of great education going on. What you may not realize is that many world-changing innovations started at WVU. Let’s take a look at some of the fantastic, creative, first-of-their-kind advancements that began at WVU.

1. Expanding Wireless Internet through Vacant TV Channels


You know those static noise that used to drive you nuts while flipping through TV channels?  The Federal Communications Commission found a way to use those channels to expand the reach of wireless broadband internet. WVU was the first university in the country to utilize this innovation on campus, making internet faster and more accessible to students and faculty members alike. You probably don’t even notice static channels anymore thanks to the menus and guides from most TV providers (if you even use cable at all), but they’re still there and they still boost internet signals across the country.

2. Providing Affordable, Energy Efficient Public Transit

ecofriendly transit

WVU was one of the first universities to provide eco-friendly public transit options for students and residents alike. The Personal Rapid Transit system, PRT, was around long before the “go green” revolution swept the country, and it remains one of the most efficient transportation services for universities in the U.S. Since the program launched in 1975, more than 83 million people have traveled with PRT. All of the vehicles are powered with electric motors to save fuel and lower costs at the same time.

3. Developing Transportable Emissions Testing Labs


Researchers at WVU invented the first heavy-duty vehicle emissions testing facility that was fully transportable. This work has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of an ongoing study on emissions levels in diesel-engine vehicles. The lead engineer for the research team, Dan Carder, was listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2016, and the team continues to work on more ways to improve emissions testing in the United States.

4. Providing Respiratory Treatments for Pediatric Patients

WVU medicine

Photo: WVU Medicine Facebook

The medical center at WVU was the second in the country to use diaphragm pacing for pediatric patients. This process utilizes electric pulses to stimulate the diaphragm and reduce the risk of respiratory failure. It is often used in patients with sleep apnea to help them rest soundly at night and continue breathing as normal. While most diaphragm pacers are used on adults, they can be used on children under specific circumstances – and of course, with the help of a talented medical team like the one we have at WVU.

5. Understanding How the Brain Works


The chimera state has long perplexed members of the scientific community. Recently, a team of WVU chemists have been able to reproduce this phenomenon in a laboratory, which could be a huge breakthrough in neuroscience. By recreating the chimera state, scientists will be able to analyze it thoroughly within a lab to gain a better understanding of how the brain works and why this event occurs in the first place. WVU created the world’s first institute designed specifically to study human memory, now known as the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute.