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Board # 66 : REU Site: Solar Energy Research for the Terawatt Challenge

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

5

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/27900

Download Count

75

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Paper Authors

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Zachary Holman Arizona State University

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Michelle Jordan Arizona State University

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Michelle Jordan is as associate professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. She also serves as the Education Director for the QESST Engineering Research Center. Michelle’s program of research focuses on social interactions in collaborative learning contexts. She is particularly interested in how students navigate communication challenges as they negotiate complex engineering design projects. Her scholarship is grounded in notions of learning as a social process, influenced by complexity theories, sociocultural theories, sociolinguistics, and the learning sciences.

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Jenefer Husman University of Oregon

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Jenefer Husman received a doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, in 1998. She served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama from 1998 to 2002, when she moved to Arizona State University. In 2008 she was promoted by ASU to Associate Professor. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Educational Studies Department at the University of Oregon. Dr. Husman served as the Director of Education for the Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technology Center - an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center from 2011-2016. Dr. Husman is an assistant editor of the Journal of Engineering Education, and is a member of the editorial board of Learning and Instruction. In 2006 she was awarded the U.S. National Science Foundation CAREER grant award and received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the President of the United States. She has conducted and advised on educational research projects and grants in both the public and private sectors, and served as an external reviewer for doctoral dissertations outside the U.S. She publishes regularly in peer-reviewed journals and books. Dr. Husman was a founding member and first President of the Southwest Consortium for Innovative Psychology in Education and has held both elected and appointed offices in the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Motivation Special Interest Group of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction.

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Kate Fisher

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Tiffany Rowlands QESST

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Abstract

The Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies (QESST) Engineering Research Center (QESST) is funded by the NSF and Department of Energy. Its mission is to generate innovative solutions to sustainable electricity generation. QESST’s interdisciplinary team consists of faculty from 8 universities, scientists and leaders from world-renowned companies, and leading PV entrepreneurs. Education and outreach are important to the QESST mission. The goals of QESST education program is to increase the PV workforce, recruit young people to PV, and provide learning and experiences to ensure QESST students are building the necessary skill sets. The QESST summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program is an important part of meeting those goals. Thanks to a recent three-year, $314,261 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), QESST funded a summer program aimed at exposing undergraduate students to opportunities in Photovoltaic research. Using grant funds, the QESST REU was able to add 8 undergraduates to its 2016 program, which took place May 31 to July 29. Student participants came from the states of Arizona, Mississippi, Ohio, Hawaii, South Carolina, California, and New Mexico. The specific aim of the QESST REU site was for undergraduate students to be introduced to research generally and solar research specifically, experience how coursework they are studying can be put into practice to tackle the terawatt challenge, and practice how the principles of scientific research can be applied to any engineering challenge.

The underlying approach to education through research during the REU program was to provide a mix of hands-on training, creative freedom within a structured environment (e.g., to design and implement experiments), and group activities and presentations. In particular, structured learning activities in the first two weeks included required safety and cleanroom training and an overview of solar cell processing, modeling, and characterization, after which each participant will receive in-depth, hands-on training in the tools and characterization equipment specific to their chosen project. The REU students then broke up into small groups of 2–3 and begin investigating a fundamental materials, device, or life-cycle research question of relevance to a terawatt solar future.

The students were supervised by graduate student mentors, who guided them in designing and implementing experiments and analyzing the results. Concurrently, the students attended lectures and workshops from the PIs and guest speakers on the theory of solar cell operation, fabrication and characterization techniques, the present status of the PV market, sustainability, policy, economics of solar cells, entrepreneurship, career opportunities in photovoltaics, engineering ethics, communication skills, and team building. The lecture series was designed to demonstrate how the students’ research projects fit into the bigger picture of the terawatt challenge. As a culminating event, participants shared their research during a poster presentation QESST faculty, post-doctoral scholars, graduate students, and industry members. Further, six participants received funding to travel to an energy conference to present their work in August.

Holman, Z., & Jordan, M., & Husman, J., & Fisher, K., & Rowlands, T. (2017, June), Board # 66 : REU Site: Solar Energy Research for the Terawatt Challenge Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27900

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