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Board 49: Renewable Resources: Theme with Broad Societal Impact for REU Students

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30045

Download Count

8

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Paper Authors

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Susan L. Burkett University of Alabama

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Dr. Susan L. Burkett earned the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri in 1985, 1987, and 1992, respectively. She joined the University of Alabama in 2008 as the Alabama Power Foundation Endowed Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering. From 2005 to 2007, she served as program director at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Undergraduate Education. Her research interests are in the areas of electronic materials and methods to offer support for student success. Dr. Burkett is a senior member of IEEE, a Fellow of the AVS: Science and Technology Society, and a member of the ASEE Women in Engineering Division.

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Sally Gerster University of Colorado

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Sally Gerster is a senior in Architectural Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder and plans to graduate with a combined BS/MS degree in May 2019. She studied abroad at the National University of Singapore for one semester. Sally has been a part of Bridges to Prosperity - CU Chapter, and helped build a footbridge in the Andes of Bolivia with a team of CU students in summer 2016. In summer 2017 she participated in UA’s REU Site: Innovative Engineering Using Renewable Resources. In this program, she worked on a project focusing on Seismic Performance of Bamboo Framing Systems. Currently, Sally is the President of the CU Chapter - Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. In January 2018, she teamed with CU students to use bamboo in rebuilding homes in Ecuador after they were destroyed in the 2016 earthquake.

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Todd Freeborn University of Alabama

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Todd Freeborn, PhD, is an assistant professor with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Alabama. His current research focuses on techniques to collect and analyze the electrical impedance of biological tissues and their potential applications.

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Debra Moehle McCallum University of Alabama

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Debra McCallum is a Senior Research Social Scientist and Director of the Institute for Social Science Research. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Furman University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a social psychologist interested in evaluations of education and community intervention programs and research on social issues, such as career choices related to STEM fields, social-psychological aspects of health behavior and outcomes, and safety and well-being of children and youth. She has led program evaluation activities for a variety of NSF-funded projects.

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Rachel M. Frazier University of Alabama Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-3697-5785

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Rachel helps entrepreneurs plan sustainable businesses as part of her work at the University of Alabama. She is currently the Assistant Director of the Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs center on campus. She teaches entrepreneurship, assists faculty with building and testing minimum viable products, and mentors STEM faculty and student teams through customer discovery, technology commercialization, and starting a company. In addition, Rachel started a performance materials company that serves the automotive and coating industries, and she actively encourages and supports women startups. Rachel has a B.S. in Physics (2001) and a Ph.D. (2005) in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Florida, and was an ASEE sponsored postdoc at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC (2005-2007).

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Eric R. Giannini RJ Lee Group

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Eric R. Giannini earned his PhD in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012. He is currently a Principal Investigator at RJ Lee Group, Monroeville, PA. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at The University of Alabama from 2012 to 2017, where he was co-PI on the NSF REU Site: Innovative Engineering using Renewable Resources (EEC-1559867). His research interests include concrete durability and the mechanical behavior of bamboo.

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Abstract

Renewable Resources, as our Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site theme, provides a socially relevant context and unifies the student cohort. In our nine-week program, ten students are immersed each year in projects related to renewable resources. They also engage in professional development seminars and a six-week entrepreneurship course (Crimson Startup). Each research project involves investigating various properties of bamboo. Bamboo was chosen based on recent interest in Alabama as a product with potential for economic benefit. Faculty mentors were brought together during the proposal phase of the program to discuss ways of getting involved in bamboo research. Our team’s advisory board is invested in marketing, distributing, and commercializing bamboo products. The board includes members of a non-profit group, a small business, and the owner of a bamboo nursery. They provide inspiration and support for our REU Site. Students engage with the board members during a field trip to observe a fully developed bamboo nursery. In the second summer, a speaker from the University of Pittsburgh was invited to campus to initiate collaborations due to his NSF-funded research project using bamboo as a nonconventional building material. One of our recent students worked on seismic performance of bamboo framing systems and found an opportunity to work on a project in Ecuador rebuilding homes from bamboo in low-income communities after a disastrous earthquake in 2016. Assessment of program activities led to improvements in both the professional development and entrepreneurial training aspects of the project. After the first summer, bi-weekly professional development seminars became weekly seminars to give students more time as a cohort and to incorporate some equipment training. Changes in the Crimson Startup course include: adding a half-day orientation to describe the program, assigning a coach to every team, requiring weekly office hours between teams and coaches, and clarification of the business model canvas (format used for weekly presentations). In focus group discussions and on questionnaires, students indicated that the renewable resource focus is a very attractive aspect of the REU. The students also expressed appreciation of the social value of renewable resources in general and bamboo specifically. Many were attracted to the REU particularly because of its emphasis on these materials. Evaluation results show that overall, the students have been happy with the program, and there was somewhat improved satisfaction with the Crimson Startup program in the second year. On nine-month follow-up surveys with students from the first year, all students said they would recommend the REU to other students; and students from the second year who completed a survey at the end of the summer all rated the REU experience as “excellent” and said they would recommend it to others.

Burkett, S. L., & Gerster, S., & Freeborn, T., & McCallum, D. M., & Frazier, R. M., & Giannini, E. R. (2018, June), Board 49: Renewable Resources: Theme with Broad Societal Impact for REU Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30045

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