Friday, August 5, 2011

ISAS 2011 Academy 2 Day 6

The students walked back from breakfast this morning to the Boise State Engineering department in order to hear an address from the Dean of Engineering, Dr. Amy Moll. Her conversation with the students was to help prepare them for applying to colleges and what the freshman year of engineering is typically like at Boise State University. The students were encouraged to ask questions about different types of degrees & minors offered at the College of Engineering. She stressed to the students that their ideal college, should be a perfect fit for their education style, and should fit their needs. She also thoroughly described what engineering is and how it can help students in 9their future, “Engineering is trying to find solutions that improve the quality of life.” The students asked many important questions that reinforced their understanding of engineering and what they can expect in their college years.

“Engineering is trying to find solutions that improve the quality of life.”
-- Dr. Amy Moll

Immediately after the address by Dr. Amy Moll, the students organized themselves into their groups and presented the results of their projects to the entire Academy in order to finalize all of their information. The students asked questions of one another and clarified specific details. Through this exercise, the students smoothed the rough edges of their mission in order to make it as streamlined and polished as possible. When prompted, they presented constructive criticism as professionals. The students were exceptionally impressive as they compromised with one another.
Students presenting final information

After the presentation, the students split up into their groups once again to continue work on their projects. The students were able to remedy any problems they flushed out during the previous process.
With some questions answered, the students then listened to a presentation by Dr. Michelle Sabick of Boise State University. Her presentation was about the field of Biomedical Engineering and its uses in society. She discussed how many different STEM fields are combined to create this engineering department. The students were interested in the motion-capture technology and the experiments centering on athletics.
Afterwards, the students were taken on a tour of the Boise State University Engineering building and shown four different research projects. The first project dealt with a concept known as Extraterrestrial Dust Mechanics. Basically, this project studied dust motion and would be used to accurately measure the size and velocity of thousands of dust particles. This NASA funded project will possibly be used to sample Mars dust and better understand its makeup. Another project that the students were able to see was in the CMEMS Lab, where Dr. Don Plumlee gave a short presentation on his department. One of the projects he discussed with the students emphasized energy scavenging with the creation of a small unit in a backpack that would generate power due to the vibrations of the backpack as an individual walks. Dr. Jim Browning was another professor who was willing to show his laboratory to the scholars. He told the students how his research concerned small ion thrusters which can be placed on a spacecraft to more efficiently maneuver the spacecraft. The last presentation was of the Electron Microscope by Dan Osterberg and Nikki Lundy. The students were even shown images of individual atoms from the high powered microscope.

After a rushed lunch the students returned to the Bosie State Engineering buildings to work further on the rover projects, design and test landers built out of art supplies, and work on their projects. The students who had volunteered to work on the robots were finalizing their programs and preparing their robots for a Rover rumble competition. Every student was busy working. However, whenever given a free moment, the students were able to poke their heads outside and try their hand at driving a Segway. Students would run back and forth to get their work done and squeeze as much time as possible out of their Segway experience.

When the students finished their work on the lunar landers, they held a single competition which combined the two challenges of seeing which team could suspend their lander in the air longest, and which lander arrived closest to a destination. The rovers were dropped  from three stories up in the Boise State Engineering Department’s main lobby. Students counted down loudly so the teams dropping could know when the timer started. Most of the landers managed to reach the ground, while others, unfortunately, hung up on balconies. Upon completion of multiple drops, the students returned to the main lecture hall where they chose their best combination of scores.
Let the competition begin!
The robot rover competition utilized the robots which the students had put together earlier in the week.e week. The competition consisted of the robots driving within a rectangular ring, searching for colored strips of paper. The rover which found the most papers and relayed that data correctly to a computer would win the event. Students crowded around the tiny ring as they watched their creations struggle around the ring. For many of the students, it was their first time using robotics and programming equipment. Every student found it interesting and fun to put them together and put them to the test.
Robot Rover Rumble
The students also gave their team’s presentations to the entire academy in order to prepare for the VIP luncheon tomorrow afternoon. They also wanted to have a critique of their presentations so the students could fine-tune any mistakes or problems that would arise. The students gave professional presentations which did require some corrections. However, the students have learned what types of presentations are required of a professional organization. With this knowledge, students can take their experiences from this Academy back to the classroom and possibly even further.

ISAS Academy student Jamie Lunders volunteered to say a few words about how influential the program has been for her.  
 "Before I got involved in the ISAS program, I didn't have any idea what I wanted to do after high school. Now, after learning so much about engineering and science, I've decided that I want to do something in those fields. The summer academy has been a fun, educational, and exciting experience- I'm glad I got the opportunity to be involved with NASA and interact with the ISAS students and mentors."
-- Jamie Lunders
These blogs will continue to be uploaded daily, once the students have completed their final activities each night. A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS Summer Academy Facebook  page, as well as to Twitterat ISAS_Academy. The students look forward to another difficult day as they finalize their missions and presentations.

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