New Summer Pre-College Program Focuses on Sustainable Energy Engineering

The Ralph O’Connor Sustainable Energy Institute is launching a four-week summer program for high school students to learn about sustainable energy engineering. Offered by the Whiting School of Engineering Engineering Innovation ProgramThe program builds on ROSEI’s efforts to train future leaders in the field of energy, one of the institute’s core missions.

Described as a crash course in all things sustainable energy engineering, the High School Sustainable Energy Educationor SEE, will offer a program co-developed by rachel sangreeassociate researcher at ROSEI and associate professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering, and Claire VerHulstDeputy Director of Engineering Innovation.

“Our goal is to help these students determine if they want to pursue this area of ​​engineering in college,” VerHulst said. “There are so many aspects of being an engineer, like working on problems that don’t have a single correct solution, or being part of a group that collects and analyzes data. We want to give students a overview of the landscape and develop the skills to ask good questions and identify good sources.”

ROSEI has already built into its mission paths for Johns Hopkins students to learn more about sustainable energy engineering. In addition to the opportunities offered by the institute to conduct energy-related research, ROSEI has created a new energy minor for students at the Whiting School of Engineering and the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences. The SEE program represents a significant foray into educating and recruiting high school students into the field.

The program begins with some basic lessons: the impact of energy on everyone’s daily life, the sources of energy currently in use, and the fundamental science and engineering concepts that are essential to solving energy problems. . Highlighting how climate change is pushing both policy and business towards more renewable energy sources, students will then learn how energy is harnessed from hydroelectric, wind, solar and biomass sources, as well as ways to make two of the most power-hungry systems in the world. society — transport and buildings — more energy efficient.

The program will include both lectures and hands-on experiences, which will help students translate the fundamental theories and concepts they learn in the classroom into real-world applications. Over the summer, Sangree and VerHulst worked with Cecilia Doyle, a fourth-year civil and systems engineering student, and Vedant Gabhawala, a third-year mechanical engineering student, to design and test the program’s curriculum to making sure it was neither too easy nor too difficult for high school students. The students provided valuable feedback and ideas.

“The students worked in the lab every day this summer, consistently showing a high level of energy and enthusiasm for the project. Not only did they test the experiments that Claire and I developed, but they also designed and tested their own experiences,” Sangree said. said. “Having two people who weren’t as far removed from high school as Claire and I was crucial not only to ensure the level of work was appropriate, but also that the lessons were engaging and achieved the intended learning goals.”

The program’s inaugural cohort of approximately 20 students will arrive at the Homewood campus in the summer of 2023. Over subsequent summers, the SEE program will be offered virtually and on campuses across the United States during the summer, while like other engineering innovation programs.

VerHulst hopes the program will spark participants’ interest in pursuing the study of sustainable energy engineering in college. But even those who don’t pursue further education in the field will likely be impacted by what they learn over the summer.

“Because these students are so young, climate change will have a huge impact on their lives. We hope this program will prepare students to make positive changes in the world through engineering and technology,” VerHulst said. . “Even if a student decides engineering is not for them, they will leave the program as a more informed citizen and better able to take action to support sustainable energy and mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.”

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