SBA Officials Learn about Cutting Edge Microclimate Research created by a West Virginia Small Business
Did you know that the eighth longest cave in the United States, which is also the home to almost half of the world’s population of Virginia big-eared bats, is located in West Virginia? Located in Germany Valley, the cave is aptly named Hellhole. The only known entrance to the cave is a funnel-shaped pit opening on the lower slopes of the North Fork Mountain with a sign that reads “Make Peace with God.”
For nearly 10 years, Extreme Endeavors has performed microclimate research for a West Virginia company to monitor the cave and assure that nearby mining does not change the environment for hibernation. Every two years Extreme Endeavors enters Hellhole to replace environmental monitoring sensors.
This year the Owner and President of the company, Mike Masterman, invited SBA Regional Administrator Natalia Olson and District Director Judy McCauley, to accompany the Extreme Endeavors team while they changed a sensor in a nearby cave, called Schoolhouse Cave. While Hellhole is too dangerous for the adventurous duo, they enjoyed their exploratory excursion into the neighboring cave where they learned about the cutting edge technology that the small business was developing and was able to witness the processes of changing the sensors.
Masterman is no stranger to working with the SBA. In 2009, Extreme Endeavors secured an American Recovery Capital Loan and was able to re-organize their organization and add the ability to service private industries with research and development services. They also participated in Federal Acquisition Management training taught by the SBA and received assistance in becoming HUBZone certified. Masterman participated in a networking event where he credits the SBA for the key introduction to a chemical production company that Extreme Endeavors is in discussion with regarding remote automation and reordering of their products.
Olson and McCauley raved about their experience traveling into the cave. “I’m so pleased that Mike took us to Schoolhouse Cave and explained the cutting edge technology that he and his team are developing,” states Olson. “It’s empowering to see technology like this being developed right here in West Virginia,” states McCauley.
The sensors created by Extreme Endeavors are so precise that they can detect when people are in certain sections of the cave based on the changes in air flow and added heat source. The company is now developing an Environmental Monitoring System, which is software that will automate the cave monitoring system.
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The mission of the SBA is to aid, counsel, assist and promote the interests of small businesses by providing financial, procurement and business development assistance and advocating on their behalf within the government. All SBA programs are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by SBA of any opinions, products or services of any private individual or entity.