RET Site: Next-generation Clean Energy Sources and Storage
Due to climate change, supply scarcity, and an impetus to expand access to electricity and improve energy system resilience, there is an increasing need for new types of renewable energy sources (RESs) and energy storage devices (ESDs) that are environmentally friendly, efficient, sustainable, and affordable. Simultaneously, there is an urgent nation- and state-wide need for educated scientists and engineers to generate new ideas and technologies, due in part to inadequate student enrollment in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The main goals of this Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Site project are to
- Immerse middle and high school science teachers in a hands-on research experience.
- Promote discoveries and innovations in this field among middle and high school students and expose them to STEM career opportunities.
- Increase awareness of society’s need for environmentally-friendly sustainable energy sources.
The goals of the project will be achieved through the following objectives:
- Train a cadre of middle and high school teachers in the fundamental concepts of RESs and ESDs and engage them in hands-on research experiences.
- Help teachers develop curriculum knowledge units and introduce those units to their students.
- Expose K-12 students to current energy and environmental concerns and STEM career opportunities.
The impacts of the RET Site project extend well beyond the specific research and curriculum development activities described above. First, the problem of discovering environmentally-friendly RESs and ESDs is timely, since the impacts of climate change and manufacturing waste on human and animal health are becoming increasingly obvious. Second, the proposed activities will have direct and indirect impacts on research, education, training, and professional development for science teachers and the developed materials will be used to attract K-12 students to STEM disciplines. This RET Site project will develop a sustainable and interactive research and education program, expose middle and high school students to STEM research and career opportunities, and narrow the gap in the workforce by equipping students with necessary skill sets.
- Engage in applied research
- Develop cutting-edge curriculum
- Earn $8,000
Clean, sustainable, accessible, and efficient
While the objective of this proposal is to train a cohort of middle and high school teachers and renovate middle and high school science curricula, the overall goal of proposed integrative research and education activities is to make RES and ESD technologies more clean, sustainable, accessible, and efficient and to seamlessly integrate them into power grids. We propose five research projects, led by eight faculty from different engineering departments, that are carefully selected to advance the state-of-the-art technologies by (1) developing new fabrication methods and materials for RESs and ESDs; (2) developing control and operation architectures for seamless integration of RESs into the power grid; and (3) reducing the environmental impacts of manufacturing and degradation of RESs and ESDs. While the potential for any individual teacher participant to advance the state-of-the-art through this RET Site is small, as a group, the individual projects have innovative potential, and the teachers’ contributions to these projects will be essential to the research teams’ success. The proposed research activities will contribute to the development of a transformative mathematical framework and methodology that will enable—both through direct consequences and through promotion of further research—solutions to hurdles that presently impede the development and integration of RESs and ESDs.