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TransTech Events

FROM 11/2/19

TransTech Energy (TTE) congratulates 2019 TTE Conference and Pitch Competition award winners 

1. First Place, $10,000 - Conservation Labs, Brownsville, PA - Mark Kovscek, CEO, presenter

 Conservation Labs’ H2knowTM system is a smart water technology for homes, apartment buildings and other properties that uses an app, a $1 easy-to-install sensor, and machine learning to understand water flow by interpreting the sound of water and deliver actionable water insights, leak alerts, and custom conservation recommendations that can save up to 20 percent water use. 

2. Second Place, $5,000 - HiberSense, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA - Jacob Kring, Co-Founder and CEO, presenter 

HiberSense offers Smart Comfort Control for every room in a home using a patent-pending, easy retrofit solution of vents, thermostats, sensors, and a hub that analyzes data and user preference to provide HVAC automation and control resulting in maximum comfort and up to 40 percent energy savings. 

3. Third Place, $2,500 - PacketViper, LLC, Pittsburgh, PA - Ken Wolf, CRO, presenter

PacketViper’s Deception 360 is a dynamic cyber deception platform (software) that eliminates cyber threats and increases attack difficulty by misleading and deceiving threats throughout their attack cycle. This cybersecurity solution is well aligned with the energy sector’s cyber-defense mission and uniquely suited for IP connected Operational Technology networks. 

4.  WVU Research Corporation Technical Assistance Award,  $10,000 to a West Virginia University Researcher to work with the Award Winner - Agri-Tech Producers, LLC, Columbia, SC - Joseph James, President, presenter

Using the recently patented Combined Remediation Biomass and Bio-Product Production (CRBBP) Process, Agri-Tech Producers plants and multi-tasks biocrops and their resulting biomass for uses including the uptake of pollutants from soils and waters, a clean coal substitute, and feedstock for energy pellets and biofuels. 

 5.  T ransTech "One to Watch" Award, $1,250 to a person or company that has the potential to be a “Game Changer” - Oil/Water Separation Technology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH - Italo Silva, ThinkEnergy Fellow, presenter

This oil/water separator is a low cost, compact, highly efficient coated mesh screen that filters and separates oil from water for use in oil spill cleanups.

Crowd Choice Awards:

1. First Place - Agri-Tech Producers, LLC, Columbia, SC - Joseph James, President. Uses a recently patented process to multi-task biocrops and their resulting biomass for uses including the uptake of pollutants from soils and waters, a clean coal substitute, and feedstock for energy pellets and biofuels. 

2.  Second Place - OrionBlock Systems, Inc., Morgantown, WV - Jacob Lysick, COO and Chip Gerber, CEO.  An Artificial Intelligence powered blockchain that guards against supply chain attacks and data breaches.

3. Third Place - Advanced Magnetic Core Technology – National Energy Technology Lab/Carnegie Mellon
University combined project
. A novel manufacturing process that creates smaller, lighter, more efficient electromagnetic cores that will revolutionize technological innovation for power electronic applications.

Student Poster Competition:

 1.  First Place - Thermal Degradation of Superhydrophobic Coatings, Case Western University, Cleveland, OH - Italo Silva, Think Energy Fellow

  2. Second Place - Turning Coal Waste Management into Revenue-Generating Operation for the Region, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV - Musfique Ahmed, MS Candidate

3. Third Place - West Virginia University Industrial Assessment Center (IAC), Morgantown, WV - Rupa Das, Vivash Karki, and Pradyumna Bettagere Jagadish: IAC student members

FROM 10/11/19

College Students Invited to Showcase their Energy-Related Research  
The TransTech Energy Conference offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to showcase their energy-related research to experts in the West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio Tech Belt Region.
Students will have the chance to interact with other researchers, start-up companies, investors, strategic industry partners, and business and technical experts from across the Tech Belt Region.  Awards will be given for the top three posters displayed during the "Link Up and Learn! Conference Reception".
Students may set up a poster on the morning of Tuesday, October 29 and Wednesday, October 30 —or during the main exhibitor event, the “Link Up and Learn! Conference Reception” on Tuesday, October 29 from 5:00pm - 6:00pm. 

The conference will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn—Southpointe, Canonsburg, PA (55 miles north of Morgantown, WV on I-79; 22 miles south of Pittsburgh on I-79).
For more information about the Student Poster Conference and student discount fees, contact Sandra Fallon at or Angela Shock at

FROM 10/4/19
NETL Deputy Director will Discuss Innovation and Commercialization Efforts at TTE 2019

Dr. Randall Gentry will discuss the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s (NETL) current innovation and commercialization efforts and the types of technologies NETL is developing for potential licensing and commercialization at the 2019 TransTech Energy Conference. Examples of these innovative technologies include the Advanced Magnetic Core Technology, a novel manufacturing process with the potential to revolutionize technological innovation for power electronic applications, and the Low-Cost Optical Sensor, a new optical sensor technology that can help prevent power transformer power failures.
Dr. Gentry serves as NETL’s Deputy Director of Science and Technology Strategic Plans and Programs, which develops strategic direction to support NETL’s missions of effective resource development, efficient energy conversion, and environmental sustainability. He has more than 20 years of experience in environmental science and engineering with a focus on water resources. He came to NETL after serving as Deputy Division Director of the Argonne National Laboratory’s Environmental Science Division.
Dr. Gentry has also served as an associate editor of the Journal of Hydrologic Engineering and was a tenured faculty member at the University of Tennessee for more than nine years. During that time, he held senior leadership positions overseeing the technology transfer operation for the University and led the State’s Higher Education Centers of Excellence in Energy and Environment.
Dr. Gentry’s research career has focused on the intersection of science and engineering with a goal of attaining a better understanding and ability to better characterize complex system behavior using computational techniques and tracer techniques. Dr. Gentry earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in civil engineering from the University of Memphis, and a B.S. in civil engineering from Memphis State University.
Before joining Argonne National Laboratory, Dr. Gentry was Director of Environmental Services Division with the National Exposure Research Laboratory in the Office of Research and Development at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

FROM 9/26/19

Biometrics, Cybersecurity and WVU’s New Entrepreneurship Programs Featured at TTE 2019

  • The panel, “Securing our Identities: Biometrics, Cybersecurity & HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)” will be presented and moderated by Dr. Thirimachos Bourlai, Professor in WVU’s Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. HIPAA provides security rules for maintaining the privacy of protected health information held by health care institutions, which face increasing cybersecurity threats including ransomware, data theft, financial theft, interference with medical devices, and attacks on critical infrastructure.
  • Sara h Biller will discuss WVU’s new Startup Engine Incubator in the John Chambers College of Business and Economics (B&E). Ms. Biller is the Incubator’s Executive Director. Dr. Erienne Olesh, Director of Vantage Ventures in WVU’s College of B&E, will provide an overview of this new innovation space.
FROM 9/19/19

Karen S. Evans was sworn in by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) on September 4, 2018, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 28, 2018.

The increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats pose increasing risks to the American power grid. Breakdowns in the flow of electricity can impact communications, commerce, transportation, citizens’ health and safety, and all aspects of daily life. Ms. Evans will discuss CESER’s role in addressing emerging cyber and security threats to the nation’s energy infrastructure while protecting its reliability and security. 

CESER works with industry and the nation’s Federal Laboratories to develop the next generation of cybersecurity technologies, and leads the DOE’s emergency preparedness and response efforts to the nation’s energy sector disruptions, including physical and cyber-attacks, natural disasters, and man-made events.

Before being nominated by President Donald J. Trump to lead the DOE’s cybersecurity efforts, Mrs. Evans was the National Director of the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a public-private program designed to help address the skills gap in the cybersecurity field. She also served as an independent director and outside manager for publicly-traded companies.

Mrs. Evans was previously a top IT official at the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush and has served as DOE’s Chief Information Officer.

She received her MBA and BA in Chemistry from West Virginia University.

FROM 9/17/19


The deadline for submitting Pitch Applications for the 2019 TransTech Energy Conference has been extended to Friday, September 20 at midnight All inventors, researchers, startups, and entrepreneurs working on energy, security, and advanced manufacturing technologies are invited to apply! 
Apply here to make a pitch at the 8th Annual TransTech Energy Conference.

Conference dates: October 28-30, 2019 at the Hilton Garden Inn-Southpointe, Canonsburg, PA. 

Register to attend now and receive the Early Bird rate!  Save $100 until September 30, 2019!
This year’s 2019 TransTech Energy Pitch Applicants continue to inspire! The Tech Belt Region’s innovators are developing new and exciting solutions in cybersecurity, energy efficiency, and environmental monitoring and clean up. 

Two West Virginia companies hope to pitch their cybersecurity innovations using blockchain to prevent data breaches and biometrics to increase security and positive identification.

Three applicants offer energy efficiency innovations:
  • Automated diagnosing software to reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings to reduce energy waste;
  • A system for bridge inspections that uses robotic technology, reducing carbon emissions;
  • A retrofit solution for homes and buildings that provides room-by-room temperature control, resulting in energy savings up to 40%.
Environmental monitoring and clean-up innovations:
  • A proprietary hardware and software solution that detects and analyzes hazardous gases and pollutant emissions associated with energy production operations; 
  • A system for identifying and quantifying methane gas emissions across a natural gas operation’s entire supply chain; 
  • A materials innovation for solving problems associated with oil spills that filters and separates the oil from water;
  • A process using electric arc furnace technology to vitrify coal fly ash, a byproduct of coal-burning power plants, into a coarse-sand like material, neutralize toxins, and extract rare-earth elements that may be present. 

FROM 9/6/19

Experienced entrepreneur Bill Pollock will moderate the 2019 TransTech Energy Conference panel: “Microgrids and Securing the National Electrical Grid.” The panel, made up of innovation and cybersecurity experts, will explore how microgrids—local energy grids with control capabilities--can supply localized energy during times when portions of the traditional grid may need to be repaired due to storms or other power interruptions, as well as how microgrids that are connected to the traditional grid can present operational and reliability challenges such as undesirable power flow patterns or stability issues.

“With so many parties considering microgrids we want to provide a useful framework for their planning,” says Mr. Pollock. “We’re aiming at plans that are practical and that make sure the considerations of the major utilities in the tri-state area are considered.  I believe this panel can serve to show entrepreneurs and investors where the opportunities with microgrids are and how to effectively pursue them.”
Mr. Pollock has over 40 years of experience in the energy sector from managing the design groups that supplied 40% of the industrial co-generation and utility fossil fuel generating plants to founding a new company to deliver 24x7 low-cost shale gas as CNG to off-pipeline energy consumers. In addition to managing several companies in the energy supply sector, Mr. Pollock also founded and operated a successful consulting company for over 20 years utilizing detailed knowledge of energy supply costs and technology. He has developed new power facilities, raw energy supply sources and founded new companies in response to new technology-enabled opportunities. He is a graduate of the MIT Sloan School of Management, an MIT Sloan Fellow, and received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from West Virginia University.

FROM 8/29/19

Charles “Chuck” Zelek, Senior Economist, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy, will present “The Future of the Appalachian Economy”, followed by a panel discussion with state directors of business development.

Dr. Chuck Zelek, who has worked in the field of energy economics for more than 20 years in both academia and government, will discuss his work in advancing these fossil energy technologies. As a senior economist with the US DOE Office of Fossil Energy in Washington, DC, he conducts energy market analyses to inform the agency’s fossil energy research, development, and demonstration programs, and contributes to related policy and regulatory decision making. His insight into the Appalachian petrochemical industry will be particularly helpful in light of the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemical Complex, currently being constructed in Beaver County, PA, and its potential to spur both the regional and northeastern US economies.

The U.S. Department of Energy is committed to boosting domestic energy production, providing a reliable and resilient power grid, replacing jobs lost due to the decline in coal mining, and providing a secure energy supply for the country.  A key U.S. DOE strategy to achieving these objectives is through its continued investment in carbon capture, CO2 utilization, and carbon storage processes and technologies. 

FROM 8/8/19

Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D., Director, West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University, will discuss “Securing the U.S. Supply of Rare Earth Elements”.

Rare earth elements (REE) are essential for many high-technology products such as rechargeable batteries, high-performance magnets, medical equipment, and many defense applications. China currently produces more than 90 percent of global REEs, however, its export quotas add risk to the global supply, and conventional REE recovery methods are difficult, expensive, and generate large volumes of contaminated waste.

Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz will discuss WRI's research and development initiative focused on extracting REE from a promising source: acid mine drainage (AMD) from coal mines. The value of REEs that can be extracted is estimated at up to $150 million. Researchers are currently scaling up to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of extracting REEs from AMD precipitates, identify process improvements, and incorporate the process into a commercially viable facility. The program is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

FROM 7/31/19

Breaking News—a half day “Introduction to I-Corps” workshop has been added to TransTech

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has just sponsored The TransTech Energy Business Development Program to host an introduction to the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) workshop. The introduction will be a half day session devoted to explaining what I-Corps is all about and the benefits of receiving the training.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) launched the “Innovation Corps” (I-Corps) program about 8 years ago to move more funded research to commercialization and to benefit the world; and the Department of Energy (DOE) has since adopted it. I-Corps helps prepare faculty, researchers, students—really anyone with an innovative idea and an entrepreneurial spirit —to identify valuable product opportunities and gain skills in entrepreneurship through training in customer discovery with guidance from established entrepreneurs.

According to Randy Quinn, director of the I-Corps program at WVU, “Essentially, I-Corps is an “entrepreneur bootcamp” for anyone to discover what it’s like to take a product to market and determine whether their idea for a new product or technology can be successful.”

  The new dates for TransTech are now:

  October 28 – 30, 2019

  Hilton Garden Inn, Southpointe, Canonsburg, PA

  More info on the Intro to I-Corps workshop to come soon! In the meantime, if you have questions, contact .

FROM 7/23/19

2019 TransTech Conference & Pitch Competition Update

Save the Date! Plans are underway for TTE’s 8th annual conference and pitch competition set for October 29 – 30, 2019 at the Hilton Garden Inn - Southpointe, Canonsburg, PA. TTE will again showcase early-stage energy innovations in the Tech Belt Region and offer networking opportunities with entrepreneurs, investors, academics, and industry experts. TTE remains one of the most important events of the year focusing on early-stage clean-energy-enabling technologies in the region.

The Theme for TransTech this year: Infrastructure Security.

This includes energy security as well as security for other critical infrastructure—like the region’s economic future, the U.S. access to a supply of rare earth elements, identity security, and cybersecurity for the nation’s defense, financial, food production and other industries.

            Topics for keynotes and panel discussions will include:

    • Securing the National and Worldwide Electrical Grids physically

o   Microgrids and solar as grid backup

o   The current state of batteries—what kinds of breakthroughs are possible? Needed?

    • Cybersecurity and securing our computer networks and controls

o   Biometric security/securing our identities

    • Securing the region’s economic future

o   StartUp West Virginia—what is it and what does it mean for West Virginia and the Tech Belt region?

o   What is the current status of the Appalachian Storage Hub?

    • Securing the U.S. supply of rare earth elements

o   DOD’s perspective

o   Computer technology

o   Possible new sources

o   How do we build a secure supply chain? What rare earth elements do we actually need?

    •  Additional topics:

o   Securing the Food Supply Chain, Securing the Internet of Things, global water security

o   What are the unmet needs in these security spaces? Where are the business opportunities and what are the enabling technologies that will help?

o   An SBA workshop and discussion of the new WV matching fund for SBIT/STTR grants; a USDA workshop

o   Plus the staples of business development conferences like: how do I raise money for my startup?  Where do I find great talent to help me grow?


TransTech Energy Business Development Program has a New Director:  Randolph (Randy) B. Quinn

Randolph (Randy) B. Quinn has been appointed TransTech Energy’s new Director with the program reporting to the WVU Research Corporation through the Office of Technology Transfer. In his position as Associate Director of Innovation and Research Commercialization, TransTech is one of Randy’s top priorities.

“I’m proud to take the reins of this great program led by West Virginia University working in cooperation with other regional universities like Case Western Reserve University, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh,” said Mr. Quinn. “And I am grateful for the support of the many great entrepreneurs, investors, industry executives and technology experts who make up the entrepreneurial ecosystem. In its 7 years of existence, TransTech has managed to help grow over 100 regional startup companies in the clean energy space, acquire investment and create jobs. And I look forward to continuing that winning tradition.”

  Mr. Quinn earned his MBA and Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the University of Pittsburgh. He is also an Adjunct Professor for WVU’s Statler College of Engineering and the John Chambers College of Business and Economics. Mr. Quinn comes to this role from private industry working in new product development for the healthcare and information technology sectors.

Contact: , at  304-293-1797 for more information.


The Father of TransTech, Dr. Carl Irwin, Announces his Retirement

The TTE staff and larger TTE community extends a hearty thank you and best wishes to TTE’s past director, Carl Irwin, in his retirement. Carl’s vision for supporting the development of transitional energy technologies has been instrumental in helping many of the region’s researchers, innovators, and business startups engage with financial investors and move towards commercializing their products.

  “TransTech is really Carl Irwin’s brainchild,” said Bruce Sparks, Director of the WVU Office of Technology Transfer.  “He has been instrumental in its success and we thank him for it.”


Attention: Innovation Centers Working with Entrepreneurs and Start Ups

Be sure to share information about the Pitch Competition with entrepreneurs and innovators who are developing new energy and/or advanced manufacturing technologies.  Check out THIS LINK for pitch competition information. TTE offers mentoring to pitch applicants for making an investor pitch, and pitch presenters can compete for $30,000 in cash prizes and $20,000 in in-kind technology support and mentoring.

TTE’s October 29 pre-conference workshop will be presented by Small Business Administration representatives. It will address Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) opportunities and other incentives to attract or support small businesses in West Virginia, including the state’s new SBIR/STTR matching program (see this new program’s description below in “Economic and Entrepreneurial Developments in WV”).


Inviting New and Current Partners for the 2019 TTE Conference

TTE welcomes new and long-term partners to join us for this year’s conference! We invite you to take advantage of the many opportunities to be involved - as a pitch application reviewer, pitch event judge, exhibitor, participant, and co-sponsor. Contact Angela Shock for more information at

TransTech will continue its University and Federal Laboratory partnerships with The National Energy Technology Laboratory, DOE, ARPA-E, Case Western Reserve University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh and new this year: the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center located in Warren, OH.

TTE would like to publicize your energy- and entrepreneurial-related events. Please send information to