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Texas State University
University Advancement

Big Ideas Project Descriptions

These projects have been selected to represent a culture of research and innovation that elevates the visibility, impact, and reach of Texas State.

Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE)

Bobcat Startup

Living Learning Community

Bobcat Startup is a living-learning community (LLC) for freshmen across all majors and colleges at Texas State who are interested in exploring the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem at Texas State and developing the skills, experiences, and mindset of an entrepreneur. 

The 20 students accepted into Bobcat Startup live together in a dedicated portion of a residence hall and participate in both academic and extra-curricular programming designed especially for them in weekly events and get-togethers. New funding can grow the program to 60 participants by AY2022-2023.

Five students celebrate a win at innovation reception
New Venture team

New Ventures Competition

A Competitive Accelerator Program

For several years, Texas State has run this small but successful competitive accelerator program which helps entrepreneurs build ideas into enterprises that take scalable, unique products and services to market. 

Last year, the 3 winners of the New Ventures competition each received one year of free space at STAR One, along with $20,000 in startup funding and mentorship from our entrepreneurs-in-residence. Each team has at least one contributing member who is a current student, faculty, or staff member.

Funding is sought to provide flexible funding for 4 incoming New Ventures teams, providing them with access to business mentors, capital, and incubation services while serving as a connector to other talent hubs in central Texas.

Scaleup

Sustainable Cultivation and Advancement of Local Enterprises for Underserved Populations

Even with the increase in the number of Latino-owned businesses, many of these enterprises are not scaling at the same rate as the majority-owned businesses.

SCALEUP helps minority business owners address challenges with respect to the growth (scale) of their businesses. Funding will support family business research, and training to educate students, current and future minority business leaders, and local community members on how best to overcome obstacles related to increasing the scale of their firms.

Scale up
Student team at innovation event

Enterprise Innovation

Knocking Down Barriers to Innovation

Innovating in an established organization is different than launching a new venture because there are more barriers that restrict innovation success.

Texas State has started up a process to guide innovation within larger organizations, using a customized adaptation of the most globally successful enterprise innovation framework, the open-source Adobe Kickbox program which helps "intrapreneurs" inside organizations to innovate. 

Funding is sought to train facilitators to deliver the Enterprise Innovation materials and educate our students and local business on the program's methodology. 

Innovation Series

Educate + Engage + Inspire

Our region's entrepreneurial community has historically lacked engagement opportunities to help them create and grow their ventures.

Texas State is taking a leadership role by establishing the CIE Innovation Series, which will be a monthly speaker series and networking event designed to educate, engage, and inspire a community of entrepreneurs and technology innovators. 

The new funding will formalize student-Industry networking, marketing and promotion, speaker honorariums, and content packaging and redistribution which are needed to bring together students, faculty, staff, entrepreneurs, researchers, innovators, business executives, and subject matter experts to learn from each other and develop their concepts.

I Series

Human Expression

Black and Latino playwriters group photo

Black and Latino Playwrights

Celebration

This project expands and extends Texas State's trailblazing Black and Latino Playwrights Celebration.

Additional plays and an extension of the Celebration's calendar will exponentially amplify the Celebration's footprint for all playwrights, audience members, and participants. Gifts directly expand the power and impact of Black and Latino stories in American theater.

The project gives voice to our Black and Hispanic students majoring in Theatre, fosters new plays by Black and Brown voices, and engenders palpable pride in the students performing the work of featured artists.

Interdisciplinary Performing

Arts Festival of the African, Hispanic, and Latin American Diasporas

Our Hispanic Serving Institution is launching a brand new annual performing arts festival to celebrate the artistic voices of traditionally underrepresented peoples from the African, Hispanic, and Latin American experience.
Through a competitive proposal process, select artists will be chosen in each discipline of music, theater, and dance.

This 4-5 day festival on the San Marcos campus will see visiting artists and Texas State faculty/students collaborate to create new works in a laboratory-like environment, participate in workshops on techniques and practices. The festival will take place in the summer and utilize the Performing Arts Center, the Theatre Center, and Jowers Dance studio to host workshops, classes, presentations, and the culminating showcase.

Students dancing
Students reading new music

Texas State New Music Festival

Celebrating New and Recent Music 

This project inaugurates the first annual festival of new and recent music, showcasing internationally-recognized guest composers and performers alongside the creative work of Texas State's top 10-ranked music faculty and students. This weeklong festival will include concerts, masterclasses, and collaborative projects held on and off-campus emphasizing the music of our time and presenting Texas State as a hub of artistic innovation.

The startup funding will procure one "anchor" artist/ensemble plus one composer, while School of Music resources will fill out the remainder of performer slots and activities. Additional funding will underwrite paying of commissions creating original purpose-composed music plus interdisciplinary projects extending the scope and reach of the New Music Festival throughout the region.

Undergraduate Research

IDEA Scholars

Innovation + Discovery + Exploration + Analysis: Implementing an Ongoing Undergraduate Research Program 

A proven way to retain underrepresented and first-generation students is through undergraduate research, which broadens career opportunities and provides a crucial sense of community. But unfortunately, Texas State’s percentage of students performing research with faculty is significantly lower than at competing institutions.

Now at Alkek One, Texas State is matching up undergraduates interested in any of Texas State’s approved Big Ideas projects with faculty who will serve as mentors.

In the first year, 9 IDEA Scholars will receive a financial aid award and their matching faculty member would receive a stipend; and each project would receive research supplies and travel allowance. 

IDEA Scholars will also take two courses and publicly present their collaboration at the project's end, before graduating with a research-intensive designation and a research cord accompanying their graduation regalia.

Student adjusting head gear for an experiment
Student volunteers drilling on wood at a building project

Civic Enrichment

Student Engagement through Service-learning

Service-learning is hands-on, experiential learning benefiting community nonprofits, and is proven to improve student engagement and retention above that of non-service teaching-method classes. Unfortunately, Texas State's Service-Learning Excellence Program has reached its capacity in providing activities across campus. 

The new funding will enable the creation of service-learning opportunities for Civic Enrichment, which will offer expanded application-based student workers with a pool of highly-skilled service-learning faculty fellows. Gifts will expand the range of classes incorporating service learning, provide scholarships to students who otherwise must find work to pay for school, and create a summer development course for the participating service-learning faculty fellows.

Exploring Research

Honors College Engages Undergraduates in Research                  

We know that students who engage in research and creativity at the undergraduate level benefit tremendously from the skills and mindsets they develop.

Unfortunately, Texas State lags our competitors as most of our undergraduates do not begin to engage in research until obtaining internships as juniors and seniors. 

Now the Honors College is using its cross-disciplinary leadership to ensure that students engage with research early and often. This program will offer a new series of 1-hour short courses that make it easy for any Texas State student to identify research opportunities across campus and connect meaningfully with other students and faculty through guided research mentorship. 

 

Student presenting poster on her research
Female talking to female in wheel chair wih computer in her lap

Research using Photos & Stories

Giving Voice to People Living with Disabilities

Many people living with disabilities lack the opportunities to voice their experiences, thus limiting their community inclusion. This undergraduate research project pairs up Texas State students across campus who are interested in research with community members living with a disability as "co-researchers" identifying a research topic and overseen by faculty mentors and nonprofits. 

The project uses a proven protocol involving photography and community members' quotations/stories to identify and represent issues of importance such as living with Alzheimer’s. The research results are then made into in-person and virtual public exhibitions normalizing the voices of those living with disabilities.

Funding will support conducting training in the methodology and protocols, purchasing digital cameras, stipends for researchers and faculty, printing photos and materials for an initial slate of 4 in-person and virtual exhibition creations.

Learning with Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality

Memorializing Veterans

Using Augmented Reality at National Cemeteries

Alkek One's Immersion Studio is applying augmented reality (AR) to a new project focused on memorializing veterans buried in national cemeteries. 

Traditional online repositories have not found great success with general audiences, but now AR provides the capability for graveyard visitors to shine their phones on tombstones and instantly see rich multimedia content that tells the stories of the veterans and their families.

Funding will enable Texas State to launch a pilot project to develop the technology and begin documenting stories that become part of a rich tapestry of public history honoring veteran heroes.  

Person adding a story on a cell phone at a grave site
Student recording motion capture video

AR/VR Student Workshops

Student Learn to Create AR/VR Applications for Industry

Alkek One is the new hub of technology-focused spaces located on the first floor of the Alkek Library which has all the technology necessary for students to immediately begin AR/VR development, including 30 VR-ready computers, 20 VR headsets, data-acquisition equipment, professional video cameras, 3D scanners, rendering machines, 360-degree cameras, and professional audio/video studios.

However, to date, our students have not yet learned to work with industry and faculty on their AR/VR development projects. To get our students involved in the AR/VR boom, we seek to hire 2 graduate students to become Alkek One's in-house experts responsible for developing a series of workshops with input from industry professionals that teach students how to make AR/VR platforms tailored to the needs of industry and funded faculty projects.

Funding will be used to create a scholarship that will attract high-caliber graduate students to pilot a curriculum in the business of making AR/VR apps for professional development, from ideation to product deployment.

Law Enforcement Skills Training

Using Virtual and Augmented Reality 

Texas State's ALERRT Center is the world pioneer in vastly improving law enforcement training through the use of augmented/virtual reality. But researchers have not yet collected longitudinal data pinpointing exactly how much better AR/VR training and regular re-training are for measuring skill retention and collecting body biometrics data chronicling changes in mind and body.

This 2-1/2 year research project will improve the all-important skill-retention aspect of law enforcement training by developing state-of-the-art VR training environments. The project will use the ALERRT's training facility, VR hardware, dedicated research team, and measuring officers' cardiometabolic changes in the College of Education's Metabolic and Applied Physiology Laboratory.
 

Police Chief Training with Virtual Reality
EMS persons training with virtual reality

First Responder VR Training

For Large-Scale Catastrophes

Texas State pioneered the use of AR and VR technologies for law enforcement, first responders, and the construction industry. But although our training continues to be critiqued and updated, there remains a gap in current training efforts to prepare first responders to address large-scale catastrophes like Hurricane Harvey. 

Funding is requested to revise the curriculum used in our Virtual Reality Technology Lab expressly for high-risk large-scale situations. We will create training that will help individuals with cue recognition, situational awareness, improved decision-making, and cognitive readiness. 

We will undertake VR environment development and evaluation for use by clients like the City of Austin whose cadets and first responders are trained on the curriculum including with Texas State's revolutionary AmBus (a bus-sized ambulance) for large-scale triage.

The Spring Lake VR Experience

Piloting Virtual Reality in K-12 Classrooms

The pandemic has highlighted the need for remote content including virtual reality (VR) content, but only 5% of K.-12 classes currently use this technology. It is critical that newly emerging VR curricula be positioned in a body of research fully supportive of student comprehension. 

The project will create an immersive underwater VR learning experience of the Spring Lake ecosystem, test the critical design features of the experience that support educational outcomes for K-12 students, and generate research-based design principles for implementing VR learning experiences within environmental education.

Funding will construct a professional-grade version of the Spring Lake VR experience, develop a curriculum around it to promote student learning and implement the curriculum with K-12 students and public visitors to The Meadows Center.

Teacher in classroom using virtual reality
Student using VR for Math

Overcoming Math Hesitancy

Using AR/VR Training

Many students avoid pursuing STEM degrees because of a lack of success with math, while campuswide around half of the students navigating precalculus math either fail or withdraw. 

Research shows games and simulations can increase interest, motivation, and retention while improving cognitive abilities. The solution is not to take pre-calculus in community college, but to use student support services including AR/VR training that we offer on campus.

This project will create an AR/VR training experience for Construction Management students working through their trepidations of precalculus, facilitated by research assistants helping them operate specialized equipment in the Virtual Design and Construction Lab, Virtual Reality and Technology Lab, and the XReality Lab. Ultimately this pilot can be scaled up to increase student retention in other majors requiring high-level mathematics.

VR Teacher Training

To Reduce Challenging Student Behavior

Texas State is the largest university producer of teachers in the state, but until now we have not used our university's pioneering VR technology to train the next generation of educators.

Our first project involves supporting teacher education of graduate students in the Special Education Program in working with vulnerable populations, including students with emotional and behavioral disorders, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; such children are disproportionately disciplined in ways that are ineffective and have negative long-term consequences.

This project uses the Virtual Reality Lab in the School of Social Work to virtually expose pre-and in-service teachers to learning experiences that would be impossible to simulate during a class lecture or natural practicum experience. Participants will practice specific, planned skills to mastery in a fully controlled environment in a project created by faculty from the College of Education, School of Social Work, and School of Art and Design.

Student using ARVR goggles
Studnet looking at results of test

Piloting a New Smart Headset

To Assess and Rehabilitate Sports Concussions

To date, assessing sports-related concussions involves a patient undergoing visual and sensorimotor tasks in a clinic setting; interpreting conclusions becomes more art than brain science.
Now Texas State faculty are pioneering ways to automate the assessment and rehabilitation of sport-related concussion by developing a multisensory wireless virtual reality (VR) headset which deploys emerging machine learning and big data analytics.

The project will improve our ability to accurately identify concussions, improve rehabilitation protocols for sports medicine professionals, and correctly determine when athletes can safely return-to-play.

Funding will finalize the initial technology development "proof of concept," pay faculty, staff, and students to perform the research, buy materials and supplies, pay human subjects, and travel to disseminate research findings.

 

LED Wall

Virtual Production Room

Shooting video in front of a green screen requires extensive post-production to finish out the scene.

Texas State plans to leapfrog that technology by being the first Texas university to offer students an LED wall virtual production set in Alkek One alongside its other next-generation equipment--giving our students the tools to learn the technology that will soon be an integral component to future film production, broadcast applications, live theater set design, and live performance. 

This project will install a 10 feet-by-20 feet LED wall with cameras powered by the open-source game engine called Unreal Engine most famous for its use in the popular Fortnight game. It allows users to project virtual creations onto a large LED wall and interact with it; LED screens work interactively with cameras, using motion detection to sync camera movement with backgrounds displayed on the LED wall to give the appearance of the world on-screen moving in sync with the live person in the room. 

Actor working in front of green screen
Groups of Veterans standing at a Veteran's Day celebration

VR Mindfulness Interventions

For Returning Veterans

Texas State gratefully accommodates more returning combat veterans than any other Texas University. Unfortunately, some of these students are prone to social anxiety, social isolation, PTSD, and suicide risk.

This project creates interventions in the form of virtual reality exposure therapy and mindfulness training designed to reduce PTSD symptoms and increase resilience. Participants will enjoy better engagement in day-to-day situations where overwhelming emotions of threat might be perceived (e.g. social relationships, group interactions, day-to-day social activity).

Subjects use wearable and remote-sensing devices propelled by machine learning algorithms to objectively assess the exposure effects in terms of emotional response, and track variations over time as the therapy progresses. 

Veterans gain moment-by-moment awareness of their thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, helping them mainstream back into civilian pathways.

Translational Health Research

Impact of Resistance Training

On Muscle Mass Across the Lifespan

This project initiates research on the impact of resistance training exercise as a strategy to mitigate the effects of sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass, strength, and physical function that occurs in half of the adults during the aging process.  

As people live longer and remain in the workforce beyond traditional norms, our society has a critical need to better understand the role of regular resistance training exercise as a potential mitigation strategy for sarcopenia across the lifespan. We know resistance training is a cost-effective therapeutic strategy, but it is unclear how it differentially impacts outcomes at various age groups all across the lifespan. 

Funding will create trailblazing longitudinal research with participants spanning ages 20-99, providing valuable funded research positions for graduate and undergraduate students mentored by Big Data scientists in Health & Human Performance, physical therapy, sociology, nursing and nutrition, and translational health research.

Physical therapist adjusting patient in equipment
Students in canoes

Mobile App to Track

 The Physical Activity of People with Multiple Sclerosis

It is well known that people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) benefit from physical activity to improve the functioning of their nerve signals.
But despite the benefits, regular participation in physical activity is low among persons with MS due to lack of motivation, support, and most of all, debilitating fatigue.

Texas State researchers and students are developing a mobile app that allows for the setting of goals, feedback on progress, and social support which will create lasting improvements on physical activity levels in a person with MS, allowing individuals to maintain or improve their quality of life and independence.

The project brings together faculty in the fields of health science, computer science, and engineering technology with undergraduate and graduate research assistants. 

Harnessing Big Data

Geo-profiling Epidemics

Quickly identifying a pandemic's point of origin is essential for timely interdiction and response. But this is difficult due to human mobility, ecosystem changes, and people's memories, and willingness to cooperate. This project will scientifically prove the epidemiological utility of using Geo-profiling to find out where diseases started spreading. 

Spatial information is important for understanding movement patterns and environmental intersections. Geo-profiling started out as a criminal investigation technique used to pinpoint the most probable area of offender residence in serial crime investigations.

But now this project uses Geo-profiling to focus on where diseases start and optimize resources above far beyond the current time-consuming, expensive, and error-prone contact tracing.  

Map of epdemics outbreat
Students in criminal justice seminar

Reducing Wrongful Convictions

Through Research and Web-Based Training

Criminal justice systems are rife with wrongful convictions, robbing innocent people of years of their lives while real offenders run free. Past research has focused far too much on the legal and technical causes of conviction failures. 

But now Texas State researchers are pinpointing the thinking errors causing wrongful convictions. Typically a high-profile crime leads to premature judgment, then tunnel vision and confirmation bias, resulting in a bogus suspect-led investigation and evidence biases. This project uncovers these errors by looking at how detectives evaluate evidence in a simulated but realistic murder investigation.

The Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation and the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology will draw from psychology, criminology, and mathematics to analyze and prevent criminal investigative failures through web-based follow-up training and education efforts to restore faith in the criminal justice system. 

Building a Statistics

And Bioinformatics Program at Texas State

Texas State faculty are leading "Big Data" scientists seeking new ways to train our students to meet the exponentially growing demand for workers with data science skills. A key discipline within Big Data is statistics and bioinformatics, which helps researchers obtain more objective answers through computational data analysis, including with biology data such as DNA sequences. 

The proposed statistics and bioinformatics program will be open to students from different programs and at different levels (graduate, undergraduate, and high school students), offering solid training of knowledge, skills, and cutting-edge research experience. Students will be well trained to do both independent and collaborative research on the analysis of big data from different fields. 

Funding will enable the creation of a well-designed course series to provide statistics, bioinformatics, data mining, and machine learning training for students to apply big data analysis to a variety of fields. Students who have advanced in the course series will be connected to research assistantships with faculty, which can benefit both parties.

Bioinformatics data

Material With Intelligence

Smart pavement technology

Smart Materials

For Multifunctional Civil Infrastructure

Texas State researchers are inventing new ways to use "smart materials" sensors in everyday objects and applications to detect and monitor change.
Now our smart materials experts are going to transform conventional construction materials like cement concrete by incorporating additives like graphite, carbon fiber, steel fiber, and polymers. The resulting infrastructure will be able to conduct electricity, harvest energy, self-heal, and use electric heat. The benefits will include enhanced transportation safety, overall cost saving in construction projects, and ease and accuracy of structural health monitoring.

Funding will enable Texas State's new crop of doctoral graduates to work with faculty in the burgeoning fields of materials science, engineering technology, mechanical engineering, chemistry and biochemistry, mathematics, computer science, geography, and more.

The project can immediately contribute to projects including the Austin City Council's $1.4 billion corridor construction program in which the bulk of 9 construction projects will occur between 2021-2024.