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Irrigated water in the Columbia Basin. Photo Zach Mazur
Fall 2018

Three economists on the Columbia river

Retired Washington State University economist Norm Whittlesey is sitting at his kitchen table with two other retired economists, Walt Butcher and Ken Casavant. They are reminiscing about the collective 150 years they have worked on and around the Columbia River.

“We used to catch steelhead on the Snake River before the dam,” says Whittlesey. “I’ve got a picture of Walt with, what, a 25 pounder?”

Walt Butcher chuckles and says, “That fish might be up to 25 pounds by now.”

Casavant adds, “It’s been growing, even after being eaten.”

With a sweep of his hand across a map of the Columbia River watershed on the … » More …

Illustration of laptop as a slot machine
Summer 2018

Betting your digital dollar

Vast, haze-filled casino floors where rows of flashing colors light up expressionless faces endlessly feeding coins into a machine. Men sporting Hawaiian shirts rake piles of plastic chips across green felt tabletops, all seeking the hedonistic rush of hitting a jackpot seemingly just out of reach.

This is gambling as many of us know it. However, the combination of luck, wagering, and a chance at a payoff is far from a modern concept. As far back as the Paleolithic era, humans wagered on the roll of crude dice made from knuckle bones. Nonetheless, the staples of contemporary gambling—slot machines, card games, craps tables—may be considered … » More …

A WSU student takes a virtual trip to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Photo Robert Hubner
Summer 2018

Virtually yours

How do you walk through a building in Atlanta when you’re in a classroom in Pullman?

If you can’t be there physically, virtual reality can deliver a new level of engagement, whether it’s watching Shaun White’s snowboard whoosh inches from your head, or working collaboratively on construction projects with students from Georgia.

Virtual reality is also a rapidly growing business. There were an estimated seven million VR headsets in 2016, which is expected to balloon to 47 million by 2020.

That acceleration has pushed companies like Intel to ramp up their VR offerings, including the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The VR technology … » More …

Book - Briefly Noted
Spring 2018

Briefly noted

 

On the Arctic Frontier: Ernest Leffingwell’s Polar Explorations and Legacy

Janet R. Collins

WSU Press: 2017

Arctic explorer and geologist Ernest deKoven Leffingwell(1875–1971) helped determine the edge of the continental shelf—the first solid evidence that searching for land north of Alaska was likely futile. He also left detailed, accurate maps of Alaska’s northeast coast, groundbreaking permafrost studies, and charted the geology and wildlife of the region. Collins, a Western Washington University librarian intrigued by Leffingwell’s work, reveals a relatively unknown, meticulous, and detailed explorer devoted to the Arctic.

 

Re-Awakening Ancient Salish Sea Basketry: Fifty Years of Basketry Studies in Culture and Science

Ed … » More …

First Words
Spring 2018

Forged by fire

The intricate mastery of Japanese swordmaking relies on a smith’s deep understanding of fire, metal, and techniques to control both. Each unique sword shimmers with thousands of layers from the folding of the metal, a work of art in steel. That steel, though, traditionally comes from an iron-rich sand full of impurities, pounded and blended by the smith. A smith then uses a secret mix of water, clay, ash, and other ingredients over the blade as they once again plunge the sword into fire to create a keen edge. Only when the blade glows a certain color is it quenched in water.

Humans have learned … » More …

Spring 2018

Communities for the golden age

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made

(From poem Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning)

It’s never easy to find a new home.

Just ask Barbara Nelson, a former account manager from Seattle. When her husband passed away, she moved from the century-old house where they had lived for 48 years. She has piercing eyes and a strong voice, but it trembles slightly as she explains: “It was so traumatic. After the estate sale, I took five things out of that house and walked away. I felt like I … » More …

Alicia Cooper
Fall 2017

Alicia Cooper

Many college students balance a full load of classes and activities, but it’s pretty rare to juggle all that plus the crown of Miss Washington 2016. Alicia Cooper, a senior at Washington State University Vancouver, works as a real estate broker as she studies personnel psychology and human resources—and she was third runner-up for Miss America in 2016 after winning the Miss Washington competition.

Cooper credits her grandmother with inspiring her. When she passed away after a 13-year battle with breast cancer, “I realized how significantly she impacted every person who knew her,” says Cooper. She took her grandmother’s lessons to heart, volunteering as … » More …

Alumni News
Fall 2017

Bounty of the Palouse

Each fall, the WSU Alumni Association’s wildly popular Feast of the Arts dinner series brings together some of the very best aspects of WSU for a can’t-miss evening. These special dinners feature wines from a different Coug winery expertly paired with exquisite food courses by Executive Chef Jamie Callison of the Carson College of Business School of Hospitality Business Management and his talented students.

“I work with my students to craft a menu inspired by WSU-focused fare—like fresh vegetables from the WSU Organic Farm and Wagyu beef from the Premium Beef Program,” Chef Jamie explains. The Feast also incorporates the WSU » More …

SafeShot device
Summer 2017

Healthy innovators

A safe and sterile needle seems to be a basic idea when preventing infections. But how that needle is sterilized, especially in places where reuse is a common practice, spurred a good idea for a pair of Washington State University student entrepreneurs.

Emily Willard and Katherine Brandenstein came up with the idea of SafeShot, a lid that sterilizes a needle each time it enters the vial of medicine, as part of an entrepreneurship class. The two students started a company, won a health business contest last spring, and headed to Tanzania early this year to research how their product could be used in a real … » More …

Disappointed football fan
Summer 2017

3 cheers for the losers

Cheering fans are as ubiquitous to competitive sports as coaches and clipboards.

And something about that had always puzzled Yong-chae Rhee, an assistant professor in Washington State University’s sports management program.

After all, far more teams fall short of the ultimate goal each season than achieve it. There’s just one Super Bowl champion, for example, and 31 franchises that end up promising a better season next year. Only one of the 30 Major League Baseball teams wins the World Series. Of the 351 NCAA Division I men’s basketball programs, just 68 advance to March Madness and only one claims the title.

“This was … » More …