ERC Representatives at STEM Fair Engage Visitors on Solar Energy and Pathways to Solar Engineering

Achievement date: 
2014
Outcome/accomplishment: 

Scholars and faculty affiliated with the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies (QESST), which is headquartered at Arizona State University (ASU), partnered with National Instruments to get hundreds of students, teachers, parents, and community members who attended the Change the World: Science and Engineering Careers Fair excited about careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Impact/benefits: 

The QESST Education and Outreach team designed the interactions to emphasize three key points to attendees: (1) motivation to study engineering, (2) the ERC's solar-energy mission and technological achievements, and (3) ability of universities to collaborate and advance solar technologies.

Explanation/Background: 

In September 2013, the NSF and U.S. House Representative Frank Wolf co-sponsored the Careers Fair at Dulles, Virginia. Aimed at addressing the issue of the shortage of students pursuing degrees in STEM-related fields, the goal of the Fair was to inspire our nation’s youth by showcasing science and innovation. The Fair was targeted at students in grades 7-12 and featured projects funded by the NSF and other federal agencies. Through the use of LEGO™ solar cars (see figure) and student-produced, single-cell solar photovoltaic devices that convert sunlight into energy, QESST representatives were able to engage students and the community in extended discussions about solar energy and the pathways to becoming a solar engineer.