The Conn Center offers numerous opportunities for high school and college students to participate in research. We work closely with groups that have the mission of promoting college education and pre-college participation in research with short-term goals toward participation in science fair competitions. These include various high school groups and the non-profit Lincoln Foundation in Louisville. In addition, the Conn Center supports numerous research opportunities for students at UofL, including the UofL Solar Decathlon Team and the Speed School Engineering Expo.
Science Fair mentoring
Conn Center faculty and researchers mentor students from Louisville-area high schools each year who win grand prizes at Intel Science Fair competitions and also pursue majors in science and engineering. Every year, these professors also involve about ten high school students in research. These students spend approximately 4-6 hours per week in their labs. In addition, Sunkara and his students offer two hour-long workshops on the fabrication and testing of solar cells to all freshmen in engineering and Louisville Science Center on its annual “NanoDays”.
The Lincoln Foundation is led by the African-American community in Louisville; its goal is to help develop successful leaders in K-12 students by providing year round non-traditional educational programming for academically talented, economically disadvantaged youth. Each year, about one dozen 8th grade students join the program. They meet monthly with the community leaders throughout their 9-12 grades in high school. The Conn Center faculty regularly visit the Lincoln Scholars, to participate in their meetings, and to promote careers in science and engineering.
The Conn Center supports a team of undergraduate students from UofL that compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. In this decathlon, 20 collegiate teams design and build energy-efficient houses powered exclusively by the sun. These teams spend almost two years creating houses to compete in 10 contests on the National Mall. The winning team produces a house that is: affordable, attractive, and easy to live in; maintains comfortable and healthy indoor environmental conditions; supplies energy to household appliances for cooking, cleaning, and entertainment; provides adequate hot water; and produces as much or more energy than it consumes.
Engineering Expo at the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering celebrates the many facets of the engineering profession. This annual event hosted by Speed School showcases undergraduate research, pre-engineering competitions and activities for younger students, guided tours, exhibits, and the cutting edge research facilities at UofL. E-Expo fosters an atmosphere of progress and competition in order to promote the exciting developments of the engineering profession to the public. University of Louisville undergraduate and graduate students compete in different divisions of research competitions for a total of $2,500 in awards. High school students travel to E-Expo from all over in order to compete in design competitions hosted by the local chapters of professional engineering societies. The Conn Center hosts the Mickey R. Wilhelm Solar-powered Flight competition.
UofL offers renewable energy and related courses through the Speed School of Engineering, including:
- CHE 694: Energy Challenges, Chemical Engineering. An overview of challenges for renewable energy technologies, including history and theory, basic science and technological concepts underlying all of the renewable energy technologies, including basic concepts involved with thermodynamics of energy conversion and storage technologies, solid state physics concepts for materials, passive and active solar, solar fuels, energy storage, and biofuels. The students are required to design and demonstrate systems incorporating the concepts learned in the course.
- ME 570: Sustainable Energy Systems, Mechanical Engineering. Analysis and design of sustainable energy systems, and exploration of concepts such as carbon capture and sequestration for making traditional energy systems more environmentally acceptable.
- ECE 500: Renewable Energy, Electrical and Computer Engineering. This course explores renewable energy systems, including biomass, solar, wind, and hydro technologies, primarily for electrical power generation along with environmental and economic impacts. Use of power generation methods in home-based systems, interfacing with the national power grid, energy storage systems, and concepts of intelligent power grid technologies, e.g. Smart Grid, will also be explored as related to renewable energy technologies.