STEM

On Wednesday, September 14, the White House will host a summit on Computer Science for All, marking progress on expanding computer science (CS) education and celebrating new commitments in support of the effort. Colorado School of Mines is a key member of the initiative and will be doubling its outreach to CS educators in 2017.

Mines has formed a strong partnership with the Front Range Computer Science Teachers’ Association (CSTA) to improve K-12 computer science education in Colorado. Under this new initiative, Mines has committed to recruit, engage and train over 100 Colorado teachers in computer science content and pedagogy during the next year, doubling last year’s outreach. Mines will also offer ongoing support to all new computer science teachers in the state who request support.

Mines and Front Range CSTA will continue working together to create a thriving community of Colorado computer science teachers in order to offer both mutual support and the opportunity to share curriculum and best practices. Mines also commits to helping prepare over 300 K-12 educators from around the country to teach CS courses by hosting CSPdWeek next summer.

These commitments build on Mines efforts to improve CS education in Colorado and the country. In 2015, the Division of Computer Science created C-START: Colorado – STrategic Approach to Rally Teachers, which aims to improve the skills of existing computer science teachers in Colorado. The division also ran two coding camps for middle school students and hosted the 2016 CSPdWeek.

Computer Science for All (CSforAll) is a White House initiative to empower all American students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science and be equipped with the computational thinking skills they need to be creators in the digital economy, not just consumers, and to be active citizens in our technology-driven world. Our economy is rapidly shifting, and both educators and business leaders are increasingly recognizing that computer science has become a basic skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility.

For more on the National Science Foundation’s “Computer Science for All” (CSforAll) program, visit www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/csed/csforall.jsp

To view the White House summit via livestream, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live from 1–3 p.m. on September 14. 

 

Middle school participants and Mines CS student leaders at the 2016 Exploring Tech Camp.

 

Contact:

Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Anica Wong, Communications Specialist, CSM Foundation | 303-273-3904 | acwong@mines.edu

In a state with an energy economy as purple as its politics, it can be hard to decide where to stand.

The Payne Institute for Earth Resources at Colorado School of Mines has teamed up with Inside Energy to host Spark! Unpacking the Politics of Energy in Colorado at 5 p.m. on Sept. 8 in the Ben H. Parker Student Center (1200 16th Street, Golden), Ballrooms A and B.

Join the Payne Institute and Inside Energy to explore everything Colorado’s energy portfolio stands to lose, gain or change in the 2016 election. Journalists from Inside Energy will press a panel of experts on critical energy issues to help the public make their own decisions in November.

The panel includes Ian Lange, PhD, Mineral and Energy Economics Program Director, Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines; Tracee Bentley, Executive Director, Colorado Petroleum Council; Meghan Nutting, Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs, Sunnova; and Lee Boughey, Senior Manager, Communications and Public Affairs, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

“This panel covers the full spectrum of the Colorado energy landscape,” says Dr. Lange. “I’m excited to hear the views of my fellow panelists and share my thoughts on how Colorado could be impacted by the policies on the ballot this fall.”

The event is now SOLD OUT, but you can catch all the action via Facebook Live. Tune in right here at 6 p.m. on Sept. 8.

Visit EarthPolicy.Mines.edu for more information.

About the Payne Institute at Colorado School of Mines
The mission of the Payne Institute for Earth Resources at Colorado School of Mines is to inform and shape sound public policy related to earth resources, energy and the environment. Its goal is to educate current and future leaders on the market, policy and technological challenges presented by energy, environmental and resource management issues, and provide a forum for national and global policy debate. For more information, visit EarthPolicy.Mines.edu.

About Inside Energy
Inside Energy is a collaborative journalism initiative among public media with roots in Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota. It is funded by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Its mission, in collaboration with its partner stations, is to create a more informed public on energy issues. Inside Energy seeks to make energy issues a household topic and to inspire community conversations on the topic of energy. Learn more at InsideEnergy.org.

Contact:
Kelly Beard, Communication Specialist, Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3452 | kbeard@mines.edu
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu

Water-Energy Education for the Next Generation, a Colorado School of Mines Research Experience for Teachers sponsored by the National Science Foundation, kicked off its first summer training with nine teachers from Colorado public schools. The six-week summer program focused on impacting K-12 STEM curricula by infusing standards-based, active-learning lessons with current research in the water-energy nexus.

                                 

Left to Right: Stephanie Spiris, Melissa McVey, Professor Timothy Strathmann, Renee Adams-Lee, Associate Professor Chris Higgins, Jill-Maria Kuzava, Assistant Professor Chris Bellona, Patricia Brandenburger, Professor Terri Hogue, WE²ST Education & Outreach Specialist Amy Martin, Shannon Garvin, Associate Professor Josh Sharp, Research Assistant Professor Andrea Blaine, Research Associate Cassandra Glenn, Liz Hudd, Julie McLean, Professor Tzahi Cath, and Amy Dehne

Participants shared what they learned and how they would apply it in their classrooms in culminating presentations July 22. Melissa McVey, a sixth-grade science teacher at Bell Middle School in Golden, credited the faculty and graduate students she worked with for new ideas on how to incorporate lessons on biomagnification and contaminants. She plans to have her students study how plants can improve water quality, and ultimately design and create their own mini-wetland.

                                       
Melissa McVey shares insights gathered during her summer research experience at Mines.

Patricia Brandenburger, an eighth-grade STEM teacher at Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton, was similarly enthusiastic about the program, saying, “I learned a lot about hydrology, geology and geochemistry, which has made me rethink the way I want to teach our energy transformation unit.”

WE²NG is an outreach component of the ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE²ST, led by Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Terri Hogue and Research Assistant Professor Andrea Blaine. The program included technical, professional and pedagogical training, as well as weekly field trips to connect teachers with industry contacts. WE²NG will continue collaborative relationships with the teacher participants throughout the academic year.

Blaine hopes to see the program evolve and include even more local teachers next summer. “This first cohort of teachers has set the bar high,” said Blaine.  She also expressed her hope that the collaboration between K-12 teachers, Mines faculty and industry leaders will change the way STEM education is delivered. Blaine added, “I believe that a systemic, sustained method of bringing real and exciting science problems into the classroom could revolutionize the way the next generation of scientists addresses critical issues.”

 

Contact:

Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-384-2622 | ramirez@mines.edu

Colorado School of Mines and Lockheed Martin hosted 150 students from five local high schools on campus Feb. 23 to celebrate National Engineers Week. Students spent the day touring research centers including the Center for Space Resources, Mines Geology Museum, Advanced Water Technology Center, ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE2ST, the Colorado Fuel Cell Center and the Critical Materials Institute (CMI).

“The beauty of being able to lead a tour through the Geology Museum while discussing Critical Materials, is that you are able to impress upon visitors a better understanding of the complex network of global mineral resources, their susceptibility to supply chain disruption, the importance of minerals in our future, and the dire need for continued advancement of technologies through research,” said geology graduate student Mandi Hutchinson. “It is really great to see in the future workforce a cognitive recognition of these concepts.  That’s what I saw in the gazes of many of our high school visitors.”

Twenty-five Lockheed Martin engineers and Mines alumni participated in a luncheon roundtable mentoring session focused on career mentorship where they shared advice on discipline, teamwork, study skills and work/life balance.

“Engineering is a building block of society, and at Lockheed Martin we’re engineering a better tomorrow by developing new solutions for our customers toughest challenges,” said Mark Pasquale, vice president of Engineering and Technology at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. “This week we’re celebrating our brilliant engineers who are solving some of the world’s most difficult challenges, and we are committed to inspiring future generations to pursue STEM careers for missions to Mars and beyond.”

National Engineers Week is Feb. 21-27. The event aims to celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world, increase public dialogue about the need for engineers and bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents.

 

Contact:
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines / 303-273-3088 / kmorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines / 303-273-3541 / kgilbert@mines.edu

Jeanette Alberg, Manager, Community Relations, Lockheed Martin / 303-977-5841 / jeanette.a.alberg@lmco.com
Gary Napier, Communications Manager, Lockheed Martin / 303-971-4012 / gary.p.napier@lmco.com

Consider the top 30 innovations in the last 30 years, and Tracy Camp will tell you that none of them would have happened without computer science. “Think of what computer science has done for our world,” says Camp, a computer science professor at Mines. “Online shopping, medical applications, robotic surgeries, DNA mapping—all that stuff has been created or vastly improved because of computer science.”

Camp came to Mines in 1998; since then she has moved up in her role from assistant to full professor. She currently teaches the introduction to programming course, Programming Concepts in C++. In her class, students develop a final project related to a topic they’re passionate about, such as a game or data storage utility.

Looking at Camp’s resume (25 pages of grants, awards, and publications), you might assume she knew at an early age that she wanted to be a teacher, but that wasn’t the case. Although she loved logic and math as a child, she didn’t have any interest in teaching. It wasn’t until she was ready to graduate from Michigan State University with her master’s degree in computer science that her parents encouraged her to pursue a PhD.

After receiving a PhD in computer science from the College of William and Mary, Camp began working at the University of Alabama. A few years later, she and her husband decided to move west, and Camp wanted to work at a smaller school. So, they pulled out a map of the United States, and Camp applied to four schools. Although she received three interview offers, she only accepted one of them: Mines.

When she’s not teaching, Camp is focused on three areas: technical research, educational research, and women in computing. In total, her research projects have received more than $20 million in external funding. She has been awarded more than 20 grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), including a prestigious NSF CAREER award.

Camp is an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Fellow, and recently, she also became an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellow for her contributions to wireless networking. “Within my research area, there are only eight women that are both ACM and IEEE fellows,” Camp said. “I am the first ACM fellow at Mines and the first IEEE female fellow at Mines. We need more!”

The lack of women in Camp’s field is something she works on here at Mines. “Research shows that a diverse team creates a better product, so we need diverse teams. And to accomplish that, we need more women at the table,” she said.

To that end, Camp works with the CRA-W (Computing Research Association—Women). She also serves as the faculty advisor for the ACM women’s student chapter at Mines, through which she founded “Discovering Technology,” an after-school STEM program for elementary school girls that includes computer science education. Approximately 300 girls in grades 3-6 visit Mines each semester to learn about a different science and engineering topic. The program has been so successful that Camp is expanding it to include a separate day for girls in grades 7-8.

“We’re currently at about 13 percent female computer science undergraduate students at Mines, which is a bit less than the roughly 15 percent national average,” Camp said. “My goal is to move Mines to 25 percent women in both the computer science major and the computer science minor by 2020.”

 

Contact:

Kathleen Morton, Digital Media & Communications Manager / 303-273-3088 / kmorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / kgilbert@mines.edu

Travis Ramos, an environmental engineering student, was selected along with 21 undergraduates from diverse institutions to spend a fall semester as part of the study abroad program, Sea Education Association (SEA). Ramos spent six weeks onshore in the oceanographic research community of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, before spending another six weeks on a 135-foot tall vessel studying the sea creatures below him and traveling between the islands of New Zealand.

We asked Ramos about his experience at SEA, what he learned and what he has planned for his remaining time at Mines.

Why did you apply for Sea Education Association Semester?

I chose to apply for Sea Education Association (SEA) because I wanted a travel experience on top of an academic adventure. SEA offered a domestic component in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, a premier scientific research community, and an international component sailing on a 135-foot tall ship. That combination, paired with the ability to earn academic credit, made SEA hard to ignore.

Why did you choose this particular program?

This particular program, The Global Ocean, tied together science, history, and leadership in a very attractive way that fit well into my environmental engineering track at Mines. Having the shore component first and then the sea component second also made sense to me from a learning progression standpoint. The opportunity to visit different parts of New Zealand through various port stops was also a factor.

What did you learn in Massachusetts?

In Woods Hole, Massachusetts we completed the shore component of the program. During the shore component we did our initial work for our research projects at sea. My project was based on ocean currents, seawater chemistry, and the bathymetry of the northeast waters of New Zealand. Throughout our classes, we focused on the Ocean Health Index (OHI)—a tool developed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) to access the health of the world’s oceans annually, and prepared work to take with us to sea to gather data for the OHI. We also learned about ocean navigation, oceanography and sailing techniques. For all of the five classes we took onshore, we developed drafts of our papers and had to perform all our initial research, as there was no Internet access on the ship.

What was it like doing lab work on a research vessel?

Lab work on the research vessel was very demanding. The lab room was constantly swaying with equipment shifting and your balance was a challenge to maintain. But being able to process samples directly from the ocean next to you and see creatures under a microscope that you scooped out of the water literally minutes ago was thrilling. We would deploy meter, Neuston nets and the Hydrocast (big piece of equipment that would measure seawater chemistry parameters) during the day and in the middle of the night. The ocean was our lab and our ship was just a means to process anything we gathered. It was a blast having the opportunity to collect data in a way much different than I’ve ever done before.

What was it like studying with students from different schools?

In my program I was the only engineering student with everyone else majoring in fields ranging from environmental science to communications. I was able to bring an entirely different perspective to the group because of my academic background. At Mines, I’m used to constantly studying and doing schoolwork, which prepared me well for what was demanded of us at SEA. Most others were accustomed to different workloads, but they taught me to relax a little in my studies and enjoy the experience. It was great to have different backgrounds mix together to learn about different approaches to not only enjoying the SEA life, but also appreciating other opportunities of the academic experience.  

What kind of food did you eat on the ship?

The kitchen of the ship was known as the “galley,” which had a stewardess that did the cooking for the entire crew. Each student got the turn to be assistant steward for an entire day, helping the stewardess prepare all the food. When my turn came around, we made burritos for breakfast, Buffalo wings for lunch, and steak with mashed potatoes and salad for dinner. The typical meal schedule would consist of breakfast based on your “watch,” snack around 10 a.m., lunch based on your “watch,” snack around 3 p.m., dinner based on your “watch,” and then midnight snack prepared for each “watch.” We ate all sorts of things—from tuna poke to shakshuka (a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and onions)—it was always a surprise at mealtime. For Thanksgiving, we had a huge feast, with everyone contributing their favorite recipes as well as three whole turkeys for the crew and guests. I can say with certainty we did not go hungry on the ship.

What were some of the rewarding parts of the trip?

The most rewarding parts of the trip came with the small victories in integrating into the ship’s company. We had to learn how to tie knots useful for sailing, the locations of lines, names of sails, conduct boat checks, prepare weather and navigation reports for the ship, and perform oceanographic research all while attempting not to let seasickness get the best of us, balancing with the swaying seas, and managing our time with our demanding watch schedules. Being able to do these things not only individually, but also with others was definitely a challenge, but something that we all felt a reward in accomplishing. It was also rewarding to arrive at a port stop after working hard at sea and to take in the sights and get some well-deserved rest.

What challenges did you encounter?

By far the most difficult thing to get accustomed to on the ship were the watch schedules. Our ship’s crew was divided into three “watches”—A, B, and C—in which we took turns operating the ship through steering the helm, being on bow lookout, running boat and engine room checks, navigating, preforming lab research, and helping man the engine room. The watches would rotate through the shifts, each getting different times when their turn would come around. I always thought that “night watch” (1700-2100) was the most taxing, because then your next turn would be “morning watch” (0700-1200) and you would only realistically be operating at a maximum of six hours of sleep. Finding time to rest up was the real challenge, and I was constantly finding ways to sneak naps in throughout the day.

Other challenges included balancing our academic workload with the ship life and growing our “sea legs” (the ability to walk steadily on the deck of a boat or ship) during the first week onboard.

What did you learn in your research on the vessel?

Through the research we did onboard I realized how abundant our oceans really are. In our net tows we captured so many zooplankton that it gave a generous indication of the diversity and quantity of life in that region of the global ocean. We were also able to observe how water chemistry parameters were associated with productivity and abundance parameters—for example how water temperature was linked to chlorophyll-a concentrations.

My particular research project looked at how variations of water chemistry, bathymetry, water masses, and ocean currents were connected in the northeast Pacific Ocean region of New Zealand. My partner and I were able to use depth sensing programs and other interesting equipment onboard to collect and relate all the data. It was definitely a big learning curve but we were able to understand it all by the end with the help of the chief and assistant scientists.

What was your favorite place to travel and why?

My favorite port stop along the trip was at Bay of Islands in Russell, New Zealand. It was our first port stop of the trip, but it was nice to get on land for a little bit and stretch out our legs. The area has such a rich whaling and traditional Maori history and it was very apparent throughout both towns with museums, sculptures and community identity.

What wildlife did you see?

At sea we saw all sorts of mega fauna and zooplankton. There were birds such as shearwaters and albatrosses; fish such as Mola mola, pilot whales and tuna (which we caught a few of to eat); and zooplankton such as salps, crab larvae and jellyfish.

It was also breathtaking when we would have dolphins swim along with our ship and jump out of the water. But the thing I was most fascinated with was the bioluminescence of the plankton in the oceans at night. When the conditions were right at night, our ship would hit swells in the oceans and light up the water along with organisms that would be floating along. It was almost surreal to be out in the vast open ocean and yet be surrounded by so much life.

Do you think this experience will change your studies or experiences at Mines? 

This experience has certainly made me think about plenty of new things—from graduate school options in ocean engineering and oceanography to my passion for sailing. It was an adventure but also an academic challenge that pushed me to rely not only on myself, but my shipmates as well. I’m not sure if I would have gotten the same experience in such a dynamic environment anywhere else. It will give me an outlook at Mines to take everything in that I can, to not be afraid to rely on others, and to keep my head up through the hard times.

What do you have planned for this semester at Mines?

At Mines I plan to continue pursuing my environmental engineering degree. New experiences and this trip have also made me strongly consider double-majoring in civil engineering, so that is something I might soon turn my sights to as well. I also plan on continuing to be involved with Blue Key, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the Harvey Scholars Program, and the Phillips 66 Shield Scholars Program—as well as exploring other clubs and organizations that interest me.

 

Contact:

Kathleen Morton, Digital Media & Communications Manager / 303-273-3088 / kmorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / kgilbert@mines.edu

GOLDEN, Colo., Jan. 19, 2016 – What would you design and build with $2,000? How about $30,000? Colorado School of Mines and Newmont Mining Corporation want to see what products students can develop that will make the mine of the future safer, more sustainable, energy efficient and environmentally sound. On Jan.

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