Providing Mentorship in Undergraduate Science and Engineering

HAO is committed to serving a broad community of scientists and engineers. In doing so, it strives constantly to provide mentorship through real life experience to aspiring students in these fields. While our commitment runs broad and deep, our involvement in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and the CU BOLD Engineering program are two examples that we think exemplify this commitment; and we are really excited to be involved.

Research Experience for Undergraduates

Every year, HAO works collaboratively with the University of Colorado through the NSF REU Grant program to invite undergraduates to apply for paid summer Research Experience. The candidates are chosen from a pool of highly motivated students interested in solar and space physics. Students come to Boulder, Colorado for 10 weeks to work on a research project with a mentor. The topic areas span the field of solar and space physics, from instrument development to observations and modeling.

The four REU students selected had a mix of backgrounds and areas of interest.

Eryn Cagni, from the University of Oregon, was mentored by HAO scientist Astrid Maute. Her topic was titled "Delineating the migrating solar and lunar semidiurnal atmospheric tides in general circulation models."

Emilyanne English was from the Wentworth Institute of Tecnology and was mentored by HAO scientist Yuhong Fan. Her topic was titled "MHD simulation of X-ray coronal jet produced by flux emergence."

Rosa Wallace was from the University of Colorado Denver. She had three mentors—HAO scientists Mausumi Dikpati, Giuliana de Toma, and Joan Burkepile. Her topic was titled "Three-dimensional potential-field source-surface modeling of the evolution of coronal structures."

Anna Parker was from Middlebury College and her mentors included HAO scientists Bidya Binay Karak, Lisa Upton, and Mark Miesch. Her topic was titled "Seeing Spots! Exploring the variability of sunspot tilt angles of sunspot cycles in observations and a supercomputer model."

Increasing Diversity Through BOLD Collaborations

“We value the diversity of our staff and visitors, in perspective, gender, ethnicity and background, recognizing that this diversity is important to our organizational strength and excellence.” HAO’s mission statement is aligned with NCAR’s dedicated directive to increase diversity in the sciences and as part of our efforts, we created an engineering summer internship program for students in the CU BOLD program. Each summer HAO hosts three or four students.

The four BOLD students selected were varied in backgrounds and areas of interest.

Engineering Interns of Summer 2016 image
BOLD engineering interns of summer 2016, Lauren McIntire, Diego Gomes, McKenzie Weller and Valerie Lesser

Lauren McIntire developed a LabVIEW software interface for controlling a Fourier transform infrared spectrometer. Her work enabled the rapid and synchronous acquisition of signals from both an infrared detector and from a visible photodiode sensitive to interference fringes generated by a stabilized reference laser passing through a time varying interferometer. This instrument will be used during the total solar eclipse of 2017 by Principal Investigators Paul Bryans (HAO) and James Hannigan (ACOM) to search for spectro-polarimetrically useful lines in the solar corona.

Diego Gomes spent the summer redesigning and fabricating a solar panel battery charge control printed circuit board. The improvements he made to the boards circuitry will allow higher solar panel currents and better handling of the systems switching between load and no-load conditions during flight. He also added additional telemetry channels to that the system can record engineering system data during future flight operations.

McKenzie Weller developed software graphical user interfaces (GUI’s) for controlling opto-mechanical linear stages developed for the Visible Spectropolarimeter (ViSP) Instrument. She wrote methods for both simulated and actual hardware control of the three camera focus stages as well as the concurrent motion control of the spectrographs slit station mechanisms.

Valerie Lesser investigated control systems for high altitude scientific ballooning systems. She interfaced with the SUNRISE gondola pointing platform and was able to write a standalone test environment for accelerating and decelerating the azimuthal positioning motor at the same time as writing diagnostic engineering data to a log file for subsequent analysis. Her work will enable balloon platform pointing control engineers to better investigate the non-linear behaviors’ of stiction (and other effects) within the system at low control velocities.

Our interns work on a diverse set of projects. Our 2016 interns were supported with NSF Base funds (M0856145) from the HAO directorate as well as from the NCAR Diversity Office, from an AURA grant (C22017AS), from a NASA Hi-Wind project grant NNX15AK75G, and from a NASA grant for Sunrise II, NNX13AE96G.