ERC Expands its Outreach Activities to Provide Research Experiences for Veterans
The NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies (QESST), which is headquartered at Arizona State University (ASU), has implemented a Research Experience for Veterans (REV) program to engage students with a military background in cutting-edge, solar-energy research.
The REV program has been instrumental in providing veterans with access to resources and colleagues that significantly enrich both their learning experiences and employment opportunities. Through this program veterans have had the opportunity to conduct investigations central to the QESST research agenda, which supports the ERC's central mission of sustainably and affordably meeting rising energy demand by harnessing the power of the sun. The program also expands the employment horizons of veterans and creates for them a scholarly community that enriches their studies in ways directly related to their military service.
QESST is addressing many of the barriers to increasing the implementation of photovoltaics (PV). Issues addressed range from developing advanced technologies to generating student interest in solar engineering. One engagement route is the QESST Student Led Pilot Line, which familiarizes students with all aspects of solar-cell fabrication processes. Students use the equipment, work-flow, and procedures employed in cutting-edge industrial settings. They will come into the workforce understanding the theory, the equipment, and the process.
In collaboration with the Pat Tillman Veterans Center and ASU’s transfer advisement center, the ERC has been successful in recruiting veterans to join the Student Led Pilot Line through the REV program (see figure). The pilot line is also an opportunity for students to learn about leadership and project administration as well as an opportunity to engage with young scholars thorough K-12 outreach programs. These experiences have broadened the perspectives and opportunities for all veterans involved.