Purdue, Duke Energy widen reach of upcoming STEM-focused program for high school students, teachers

June 11, 2014  

Duke Energy Academy

Ana Carneiro of Harrison High School in Tippecanoe County, Ind., conducts an experiment during activities at the 2013 Duke Energy Academy at Purdue. She will assist during this year's academy on the West Lafayette campus, June 22-28, before enrolling at Purdue this fall as a freshman planning to study chemical engineering. (Purdue University photo/Vivien Lai)
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Maureen McCann

Maureen McCann 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The expanded partnership between Purdue University and Duke Energy Corp. will allow the Duke Energy Academy at Purdue to open its innovative three-year program to more students and teachers this summer, exposing them to state-of-the-art laboratories, entrepreneurship opportunities and careers in energy.

Scheduled for June 22-28, the academy is aimed at inspiring students and teachers through science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or the STEM disciplines. While the demand for energy is increasing, the amount of students entering the STEM fields is declining. 

"Because this year's Duke Energy Academy at Purdue will offer 84 spots, or 22 more than were available in 2013, that many more children have the opportunity to be introduced to the STEM principles by way of field trips and hands-on activities," said Maureen McCann, director of the Purdue Energy Center, which organizes the annual event.

"Teachers involved in the academy will leave with insight into groundbreaking research. And they will receive resources on energy and STEM education that could prove to be invaluable when incorporated into their school curriculums," said McCann, also a professor of biological sciences.

The academy is free for both students and teachers to attend. Teachers also receive a $400 stipend for their participation in the event. For more information on the event, go to http://www.purdue.edu/energyacademy or contact Jill Wable of the Purdue Energy Center, 765-494-1610, jwable@purdue.edu.

The program, led by the Purdue Energy Center in Discovery Park, will immerse participants in hands-on activities, tours and field trips exploring sustainable issues and careers. Thirty-three students and 29 teachers participated in the 2013 event.

"Allowing students to explore a wind farm, visit a coal plant and stand in a room with a nuclear reactor may inspire passion in STEM disciplines and lead students to a career field that they would have been otherwise unaware of," said Doug Esamann, president of Duke Energy Indiana. "Showing students how they can impact the future through science, technology, engineering or mathematics is imperative to creating the future leaders of our energy economy."

Participants are divided into groups, focusing on the use of STEM principles to formulate energy-related projects and hands-on research activities, said Pankaj Sharma, Energy Center managing director. After a week of teamwork, residence-hall life and meals at the campus dining courts, the program culminates with group presentations on their energy-related projects to an audience of their parents and a panel of knowledgeable judges.

Sharma said participating teachers will receive resources on energy and STEM education that they can incorporate into their school curriculums. Teachers have been given guidelines in developing energy related lessons.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels is scheduled to welcome the academy participants to campus during a morning reception on June 23.

Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal 
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Leading speakers scheduled to participate in the event include Rakesh Agrawal, the Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering; Dennis Schatz, senior adviser for the Pacific Science Center in Seattle and a National Science Foundation program director; Matthew Montgomery of the gas turbine engineering unit at Siemens Energy; Dan Bates, president and chief executive officer at Wind Stream Technologies; Dan Hasler, president and chief entrepreneurial officer for the Purdue Research Foundation; Christopher Prince, application engineer for GE Digital Energy; and Melody Birmingham-Byrd, senior vice president of Midwest Delivery and Operations Services at Duke Energy.

An initial survey of past participants showed that 92 percent of teachers indicated that they gained knowledge that they would implement in their classrooms, while 93 percent of students said they would enter a STEM-related field in college.

"New this year, we are incorporating many hands-on activities ranging from power production, transmission and distribution, and energy consumption and efficiency to provide experiential learning," Sharma said. "Program participants learn at their own pace and decide what level of complexities they would like to try out. The goal of the Duke Energy Academy at Purdue is to facilitate this new innovative learning."

Duke Energy is the primary sponsor. Other co-sponsors and supporters are Bowen Engineering, General Electric, Kidwind Project, Siemens Energy and WindStream Technologies Inc.

The Energy Center in Purdue's Discovery Park is focused on advancing energy sciences and engineering for sustainable energy solutions. It is part of the university's Global Sustainability Institute, which was launched in Discovery Park to coordinate Purdue's research efforts in sustainability challenges such as climate change, energy, food security, the environment and water.  

Media Contacts: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

Angeline Protogere, 317-838-1338, angeline.protogere@duke-energy.com 

Sources: Maureen McCann, 765-494-1610, mmccann@purdue.edu

Pankaj Sharma, 765-496-7452, sharma@purdue.edu

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