Top Five Stories of 2016 from Wake Forest Innovation Quarter

5 minute read

A good story is one worth telling again. In 2016, a lot happened in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter—new tenants, renovated buildings, innovative programs. Each change helped shape the community in and around the innovation district.

As a new year begins, let’s take a look at the favorite stories of 2016. Here are the top five most-read stories from the Innovation Quarter with an update on the story:

No. 5

An Education in Possibilities: How SciTech Inspires Students to Pursue STEM Careers 

In August, we explored how SciTech Institute—a community enrichment STEM program for upper-elementary and middle school students—is helping prepare the STEM workforce of tomorrow. Get an inside look at SciTech’s flagship program: a two-week summer camp that introduces local students to possible careers in STEM-related fields through hands-on activities and field trips.

In 2017, the SciTech Institute will pilot new programs to engage students and their families about opportunities in STEM careers, including a Spring STEM Expo. SciTech will host the Expo—held in conjunction with the North Carolina Science Festival in April 2017—to offer Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School students and their families a chance to explore STEM careers by engaging in hands-on activities with local scientists. Their flagship program, the two-week summer camp, will be held on June 19-30, 2017.

Students and teacher in SciTech lab

No. 4

Saving Football: How One Collaboration is Advancing Safety in Youth Sports

In January, we met a team of biomedical engineers from the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences located in the Innovation Quarter who are conducting cutting-edge research on safety in youth sports, primarily football. Using state-of-the-art biomedical engineering equipment and techniques, the researchers study head impacts in youth football with the hopes of identifying ways to improve football equipment and rules to make the game safer for kids.

Since publication of the article, these researchers have expanded their studies to evaluate practice drills in youth football in order to determine if specific drills expose players to more frequent or higher severity impacts. The scope of the work also includes a pilot study in a competitive girls’ soccer team and has led to improvements in the mouthpiece-based sensor technology the researchers are developing. The sensor technology could help answer questions related to head impact safety in a variety of helmeted and non-helmeted sports.

Football helmets lined up on a bench

No. 3 

Big Hills and Even Bigger Dreams: How Winston-Salem Emerged as a National Cycling Hub

In May, we covered the rise of cycling culture in Winston-Salem as a city known for arts and innovation emerges as an international hub for cycling. What started as a conversation around a dining room table has become an annual event that attracts 2,000 professional and amateur riders and thousands more spectators to downtown for the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic.

In 2017, the Cycling Classic—held on Memorial Day Weekend in the Innovation Quarter—is bringing back some of the fan favorites. Returning this year is the Gran Fondo, a community bike ride open to anyone who wants to participate. Notably, the Cycling Classic hosts Union Cycliste Internationale road races for men and women, making the Cycling Classic one of only two World Cup professional races for women in the country.

Cycling man competing in a race

No. 2 

Wake Downtown: Liberal Arts Education in an Innovation Ecosystem

In October, we learned about the new undergraduate programs from Wake Forest University that are finding their home in the Innovation Quarter. These new programs include studies in engineering, biochemistry and molecular biology and will focus on creating strategic partnerships and an entrepreneurial spirit as part of the students’ education.

Construction on the Wake Downtown building is now complete, and classes in the new space began January 10, 2017. The space boasts 115,000 square feet of state-of-the-art classrooms, research labs and unique amenities, including a meditation room. This spring 18 courses from nine college departments will be offered in the renovated tobacco warehouse.

Older man standing in front of Wake Downtown building

No. 1

Bailey Power Plant: Powering a New Kind of Energy

In 2016, the most-read story from the Innovation Quarter was a deep dive into the story behind the renovation of Bailey Power Plant. The renovation will turn what used to power tobacco factories through steam and electricity into a mixed-use building that will power community through collaboration and recreation. 

Construction on Bailey Power Plant began in the summer of 2016. Services like water and electricity have been brought into the building, and workers have started refurbishing the power plant’s historic windows. The renovation includes creating new floors within the building, and in the winter of 2016 construction began on the steel structures inside the building that will support the new floors.

The renovation project is slated to wrap up by the end of 2017.

Renovation of Bailey Power Plant

If 2016 was an eventful year, the new year promises to bring even more change to the Innovation Quarter community. We look forward to developments like the start of Venture Café, the partnership of Flywheel and the Center for Design Innovation and the opening of the renovated Bailey Power Plant.

If you want to learn about these and other developments in the Innovation Quarter, sign up to be on our mailing list and follow us on Facebook (@InnovationQuarter), Twitter (@wfiq) and LinkedIn (Wake Forest Innovation Quarter).

by Jessica Brown