Dozens of New York City area secondary school students spent their summer vacation enrolled in programs conducted by the School of Engineering to encourage talented young people to prepare to build tomorrow’s technologies.
The programs were conducted at three of the major research centers and institutes at the college, the NASA Center for Optical Sensing and Imagining, the DoD Center for Nanoscale Photonics and the Summer Transportation Institute of the CUNY Institute for Transportation Systems.
The NASA Center‘s mission is to develop enabling optical technologies, laser instrumentation and methods for sensing and imaging of the Earth and the environment. It is also designed to recruit and train under-represented minority students and women at the high school level and other educational levels.
NASA-COSI was established with support from a five-year, $6 million grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is headed by Dr. Robert R. Alfano, Distinguished Professor of Science and Engineering, and Dr. Sam Ahmed, the Herbert G. Kayser Professor of Electrical Engineering at CCNY.
The Center for Nanoscale Photonics, which Dr. Alfano heads, was established at CCNY under a five-year, $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to fund advances in photonics at the nanoscale.
Photonics involves the use of small units of light called photons, which emit short pulses measured in picoseconds (trillionths of a second), and femtoseconds, which are a thousand times briefer. Photonics techniques are used to study biomedical systems and offer great promise for quick, accurate and non-invasive diagnosis of various types of cancer. Other applications include biomedical optics, primary events in photosynthesis, vision and tissue diagnosis, and studying fundamental energy transfer processes in liquids, semiconductors and solids.
Nanotechnology involves objects that are measured in nanometers, a billionth of a meter or a millionth of a millimeter. A major goal of nanotechnology is to create tiny nanomachines that would be capable of manufacturing other objects one atom or molecule at a time and of processing information on a molecular scale.
Like NASA-COSI, the DoD Center for Nanoscale Photonics includes an important and innovative education and outreach program to promote student participation in research and increase the number of science, mathematics and engineering graduates who are under-represented minority groups and women.
On August 9, 2005, the fruits of these outreach efforts were on display at CCNY during NASA Research Day, whose theme was “Becoming a Scientist: The Pathway from Middle School to College.” This event was organized by Dr. Manuel Zevallos, who is the coordinator of NASA-COSI and the deputy director of CCNY’s Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers.
From left to right: Prof. Alfano, NASA Guest Dr. Jack Kaye, Prof. Ahmed, Prof. Moshary, Dean Barba, AMNH guest Dr. Laura Danly, and program coordinator Manuel Zevallos.
Sixteen students in CCNY’s NASA-COSI and DoD-CNP programs, along with 40 students enrolled in similar programs at six other participating colleges, presented their research results. They also heard presentations by Dr. Jack A. Kaye, director of the Division of Research in the NASA Office of Earth Science, whose topic was “From Science Classroom to NASA Careers,” and Dr. Laura Danly, senior manager of astrophysics education at the American Museum of Natural History, who spoke about “NASA and the Exploration of Space: Latest Achievements.”
The third secondary school program offered was a four-week Summer Transportation Institute of the CUNY Institute for Transportation System. Using the complex network of New York City’s public transportation systems, the program focused on technological innovations that affect the industry. Included were computer training, field trips, student projects and on-campus educational and recreational activity for the students.
Dr. Neville A Parker, the Herbert G. Kayser Professor of Civil Engineering, is the director of STI.