Attract and Inspire New Generations of Scientists, Engineers and the General Public to Atmospheric Science
The promotion of atmospheric science is crucial to inspire the development of the next generation of observational scientists and engineers, and is an institutional charge that EOL considers extremely important. With the assembly of observational facilities that EOL manages, we are in a unique position to provide exceptional education and training to new observational atmospheric scientists and engineers, and to inform and excite the public with the impact of observational research.
Students in science and engineering can be motivated to pursue careers in observational meteorology through exposure to NSF LAOF, and to EOL development activities. EOL can also help the public understand better the value of observational atmospheric science through demonstrations of direct measurements of the atmosphere combined with explanations of what scientists learn from these observations. Contributing in this way is part of the EOL mission, and the mechanisms EOL provides to support and inspire undergraduates and graduates, high school students, teachers, and faculty will ensure the field of atmospheric science remains vibrant well into the future.
In FY 2011 EOL participated in seven educational field deployments, including one aimed primarily at minority-serving institutes. FY 2011 also saw the 11th year of EOL’s Summer Undergraduate Engineering Internship Program, and the development of a Technical Internship Program for science support students.
NSF makes a subset of NSF/LAOF available for educational purposes to colleges and universities across the continental United States every year. This effort is managed by EOL and is designed to expose undergraduate and graduate students in science and engineering to observational meteorology, without requiring faculty to design and propose a full-scale scientific field campaign.
NSF funded seven educational projects in FY 2011, all involving the Doppler On Wheels (DOWs) radars:
- The Northern Autumn Plains Echo Patterns (NAPEP) at St. Cloud State University, Minnesota in October 2010
- The University of Illinois DOW Education, Research and Outreach (UIDOW) Project at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in November 2010
- Student Nowcasting & Observations of Winter Weather with the DOW at University of North Dakota Education in Research (SNOWD-UNDER) in November-December 2010
- DOW Observations of New England Storms (DOWNEWS) at Lyndon State College in northern New England in February 2011
- Coordinated Mesoscale Measurements in Mississippi (CM3) at Jackson State University, Mississippi in February-March 2011
- University of Nebraska DOW Education and Outreach (UNDEO) in March-April 2011
- Teaching flow Over Mountains (TOM), which was a collaborative effort by the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science (ATOC) at the University of Colorado (CU) and the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences (MEAS) at North Carolina State University (NCSU), held in Boulder, CO, March-April 2001
Funded by the NCAR Diversity Program, CIS is a special Educational Deployment aimed to expose approximately 500 students from accredited post-secondary minority-serving institutions in three states to various career opportunities that exist within a scientific institution such as NCAR, and to encourage them to pursue further education in the fields of technology, engineering and science support. The CIS team, comprised of EOL, UCAR Education and Outreach, and Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR) staff, visited three colleges in the greater Chicago area in late October, 2010. At each school, the team showcased a variety of jobs that support field campaigns, discussed a specific field campaign (VORTEX II), and had the CSWR Doppler on Wheels (DOWs) available for a hands-on demonstration after the initial presentation and discussion. A total of roughly 170 students attended all three presentations, and 140 students attended the following demonstrations on the DOWs. The visits proved to be excellent opportunities to gain insight about what techniques might be most effective to foster a pool of diverse students in the atmospheric research disciplines that will ultimately feed into careers at NCAR and other research institutions. An idea that grew out of CIS was to develop an internship more closely focused on the technical and mechanical support side of atmospheric science. The EOL Technical Internship Program (TIP) was created in FY 2011 as a result of this and targets two-year technical and vocational schools in the Denver/Boulder Metro area; the first TIP cycle, also funded by the NCAR Diversity Program, will run in spring of FY 2012.
EOL staff members are also routinely involved in education and outreach (E&O) activities spearheaded by the requesting investigators for a particular field campaign. In FY 2011, EOL staff mentored and assisted University of Utah graduate students in the execution of the Persistent Cold-Air Pool Study (PCAPS) in winter 2010/2011, and gave lectures on instrumentation and science to the students. The students were in charge of all aspects of planning and implementing day-to-day PCAPS operations including forecasting, scheduling and directing intensive observing periods. The graduate students also helped EOL staff with the launching of soundings, instrument maintenance of both the ISS and the ISFS, and teardown of the systems at the end of the campaign.
EOL has pioneered a variety of Education and Outreach programs, and we consider our Summer Undergraduate Engineering Internship Program one of the most successful. Now in its 11th year, the internship focuses on undergraduate students in various fields of engineering, complementing existing programs within NCAR that primarily target students in geosciences. Each year, EOL receives hundreds of resumes from engineering students vying for three or four positions on projects proposed by EOL staff. The internship runs for 12 weeks each summer, during which each student works with EOL engineers on a well-defined and manageable project that is of direct significance to EOL’s activities. EOL coordinates SUEIP activities with UCAR’s Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research (SOARS) program, including joint social events for students and mentors. In FY 2011 nearly 150 students applied for the three available positions proposed by EOL staff. The internship ran from the end of May and lasted into August. The three students participating in the program were:
- Monica Jacobs, who had just finishing her first year at Cornell University (NY), worked with Janine Aquino of the Computing Data and Software Facility (CDS) helping to modify EOL's production website and reviving software to help with research-grade processing of sounding comparisons.
- Krishnakumar Ramkumar, a senior at Portland State University (OR) in electrical engineering, worked under Brad Lindseth in EOL’s In Situ Sensing Facility (ISF) to develop the front-end for the new 449 MHz Wind profiler RF power amplifier and produced designs to fit the assembly into a movable box.
- Kyle Quintero has one more semester to finish at Colorado School of Mines. He also worked with Brad Lindseth in ISF, modeling optimal shipboard placement of the 915 MHz Wind profiler for DYNAMO as well as designing the RF power amplifier section for the 449 MHz Wind profiler.
In addition, Lucas LaPlace, an intern from the University of St. Croix, worked with Jim Ranson in the Design and Fabrication Services (DFS) Facility to design a 1/2 scale Chaotic Pendulum for UCAR Education and Outreach. Lucas used SolidWorks mechanical design software and took field measurements of the full scale Chaotic Pendulum at the Mesa Lab. Using the measurements, he modeled a scale model of the Pendulum, defining both custom machined parts and off the shelf components.
SUEIP has been renamed for 2012 as the Summer Undergraduate Program for Engineering Research (SUPER).
NCAR Research Experience for Teachers Institute (RETI)
An example of how observational data gleaned from EOL-driven research is used in the classroom can be found in RETI, a teacher internship program for secondary level teachers to build a climate change science component into their classroom curricula. It is sponsored by NASA, coordinated by UCAR’s Office of Education and Outreach, and involves the efforts of UCAR, NCAR, and the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) Math and Science Teaching Institute (MAST).
In April 2011, the 12 teachers participating in RETI began the program with staff from UCAR, NCAR and UNC. EOL staff highlighted how the teachers could use data from the HIPPO project in their curriculum. Some of the RETI projects were relevant to HIPPO data, including Teaching Basic Climate Change Science to Middle School Students, Modeling and Climate Science, Effects of Climate Change, and Modeling and Atmospheric Science. The RETI program will continue into fall 2012.
Expanding Your Horizons (EYH)
In February 2011, nearly 300 middle school girls descended upon the Engineering Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder for the annual Expanding Your Horizons Conference. EYH is aimed at encouraging young women to engage in hands-on activities and explore career opportunities available to them in engineering, math and science. At the conference, each girl attended three hands-on workshops given by professional women in the community.
EOL and RAL staff jointly conducted a series of workshops, titled "Up Up and Away: Measuring the Atmosphere using a Weather Balloon.” During this workshop, they gave a demonstration balloon launch and then conducted a science experiment with the attendees to measure the RH in the room and answer a series of questions.