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Professors Offer STEM PlusSM Workshops in Energy Science

by Prof. Dr. Tony Pereira - UCLA ME PhD

The STEM Plus Workshop on Energy consists of a two week, nine to five, full immersion program for K10 thru K11 High School students. The program consists of lectures during the morning by two University professors, 1-2 High School instructors per group of 5-6 student group, lectures on math, science, physics and chemistry by High School instructors, and lectures on various relevant topics needed to lead a successful college life by selected prominent guest speakers. In the afternoons, the students work on projects in 5-6 team members, coached by the High School instructors and the University professors. All the STEM subjects are covered, math, science and technology, with emphasis on the latest state of the art in engineering technology, biomechanics and nanotechnology, among many others. The math, physics and chemistry knowledge required to successfuly meet the requirements for college/university degrees in science. In addition, concepts and topics of critical importance in sustainability science, engineering, policy and architecture, renewable energy, solar, wind, geothermal and hydro, fuel cells, electric vehicles, water, food, biodiversity, state of the world's rivers, soil, oceans, desertification, among many others, are covered extensively.

Rice and Lamar professors offer STEM PlusSM workshops in energy science

Students and their teachers in Southeast Texas were offered the opportunity to learn about the latest in energy science thanks to a partnership between Lamar University engineering professor Dr. Tony Pereira and Rice professor Dr. Enrique Barrera.

Sustainable Cities

The first workshop was held in Jasper, Texas, at the Jasper High School June 18-22 and 25-29-2012. The two-week workshop hosted 36 students and a dozen teachers from the Tri-County area. This innovative workshop brings state-of-the-art ideas and opportunities to learn about the future of energy sciences. Additional workshops are planned. Individuals interested in the program should contact their school principal or superintendent, Pereira said.

City of Tomorrow

“We believe it is very important to bring creative thinking and motivational messages to the students and teachers of Southeast Texas,” Pereira said. “Today’s students are the leaders of tomorrow. We want to help them become big thinkers – individuals who will advance our world by solving many of the challenges we face today.” The workshops will help students learn about developments in science and engineering with a focus on energy and opportunities in energy fields, Pereira said.

Energy in Third World Countries

“We want to encourage students to become leaders in science, technology, engineering and math.” The two university professors developed curriculum for teaching energy topics in high schools that will give students valuable tools for entering college. “We will seek to connect classroom instruction with real-world situations – so it’s not all theory, but practical things that translate into skills useful in the workforce and strong preparation for college-level work.”

Odd Sources of Energy

The Southeast Texas Workshop on Energy has received numerous endorsements, among the most important from US Texas Sen. Cornyn, and the Texas School District Superintendents from Brookland, Buna, Burkeville, Chester, Colmesneil, Evadale, Woodville, Kirbyville, Newton, Spurger, and Warren.

Advances in Gas and Oil

Professors

Prof. Dr. Enrique V. Barrera - Rice University - Mechanical Endgineering and Materials Science Dept.

Barrera is a recognized educator, researcher, and mentor of students on faculty at Rice University for 21 years. He holds 56 patents and is known internationally for his research. In 2002, Barrera received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, a national honor that was bestowed on him at a White House ceremony. From 2004 to 2010, Barrera served as chair of the mechanical engineering and materials science department. Barrera also chairs a national committee established by Congress to broaden participation in research and education for historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions. This summer, he was appointed by the Mayor of Houston to serve on a board that will establish the new forensics center for the city.

Prof. Dr. Tony Pereira - UCLA MAE PhD - Lamar University - Civil & Chemical Engineering Depts.

Pereira holds a Ph.D. from UCLA and has published more than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, proceedings, and reports. He has given hundreds of presentations and seminars in the energy fields. At Lamar University, Pereira is a researcher in the College of Engineering’s Fuel Cell Research Center and the Green Composites Laboratory, and has been a pioneer in sustainable engineering for over two decades. He was recently honored by the UN/Unesco in an international engineering competition on sustainability hosting thousands of contestants from top universities like MIT, Stanford, Princeton, Cambridge and Yale.

Invited Speakers

Prof. Dr. Robert Floyd Curl, Jr. - University Professor Emeritus - Rice University

Dr. Curl is a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry with Richard Smalley and Harold Kroto, best known as a member of the team that discovered the carbon cage compounds known as the fullerenes. Dr. Curl gave a lecture on energy to the students of the workshop.

Prof. Dr. Neal F. Lane - University Professor at Rice University

Dr.Lane was the former Director of the White House Office os Science and Technology Policy, and Director of the National Science Foundation. Dr. Lane gave a lecture on science and physics to the students of the workshop.

Prof. Dr. George J. Hirasaki - Chemistry Professor - Rice University

A Beaumont native, Dr. Hirasaki gave a lecture on chemistry to the students of the workshop.

Prof. Dr. Richard Tapia - Computational and Applied Mathematics Professor - Rice University

Dr. Tapia gave a lecture on the critical importance of mathematics to the students of the workshop.

Walter G. Diggles - Sr. Ex. Dir. DETCOG

Mr. Diggles gave a lecture on the importance of 'Becoming a Responsible Voter' to the students at the workshop, and led a discussion afterwards.

Dignitaries

Rep. James White, Texas House of Representatives - 12 District, addressing the workshop students during the final certificate awards cerimony to students with District Superintendents, families and friends attending.

Prof. Barrera, Dr. Tony with Nobel Prize Winner Prof. Curl and former National Science Foundation Director Dr. Neal at the Rice Auditorium with students and Rice research students after the lectures given by the world renowned scientists and researchers.

Rep. James White, Texas House of Representatives with Dr. Barrera and Dr. Tony.

Teachers

Eleven high school teachers coming from the participating school districts were engaged in the 2012 Southeast Texas Workshop on Energy to coach and guide the students during the execution of their projects, powerpoint presentations, model creation and project brochure.

Joseph Molina

Upon graduation from the University of Texas with a BBA in Accounting in 1986, Joseph Molina began his career with the Texas State Auditor’s Office. At the SAO, he specialized in performance audits and privatization issues. He assisted in the implementation of the State’s Competitive Cost Review Program and developed the Least Cost Review Program. He developed with the Sunset Commission, the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council, and John Sharp’s Texas Performance Review to develop the Texas Criminal Justice Department’s Cost per Day Analysis. Upon receiving his MBA from the University of North Texas in 2004, he worked with Paging Network, Inc. in Internal Audit and Accounting. He was a member of the National Accounts Division expansion team. He also worked with the Southern Region Office as an Assistant Regional Controller during the PageNet’s consolidation. Mr. Molina left PageNet in 2000 to become an Engagement Manager and Corporate Consultant at Jefferson Wells International (formerly “AuditForce”). At JWI, he was instrumental in the development of the JWI’s Sarbanes-Oxley and Internal Audit’s Co-Sourcing methodologies. While at JWI, he completed his MPA at the University of North Texas in 2004. He left corporate consulting in 2007 as a retired Certified Internal Audit, Certified Control Self Assessor, and a Certified Business Manager to pursue a career in Education. Currently, he teaches Economics, US History and Government at Jasper High School. He has remained active on civic boards and organizations service as Chairman of the Lewis ville Library Board and the Lewisville Parks and Library Development Corporation, Jasper Economic Development Corporation, President of the Jasper Evening Lions Club, local election judge, and local precinct chairman.

"The Southeast Energy Workshop provided a rare opportunity for the Tri-County students to interact with leading professors from Rice University and Lamar University. Dr. Barrera and Dr. Tony provided the students with an opportunity to explore and learn about the developments in the science of energy through hands-on projects, lectures, and field visit to Rice University. The professors also provided life lessons to help each student progress in their life and their academic career. Dr. Barrera and Dr. Tony took a real interest in enriching the life of each participant." Joe Molina.

Susan Gardner- Math, Social Studies, Language Arts - Spurger ISD

Susan has taught math for 18 years. Began teaching science about 2006. Certified in special ed in 2010. She has coached junior high UIL, number sense, calculator and mathematics and received numerous first place individuals and teams. Member of Region V's Science Collaborative for three years and their Math Collaborative for one year. The participation in these collaboratives made her realize the importance of making sure that students see the relationship between science and math, and learning these subjects to prepare students for their future careers. Susan believes in incorporating computers in all her subjects.

"The workshop on energy held in Jasper brought information to my students they would not otherwise have received. All three of my students now have some idea which direction their lives will be taking them and how to get there. One of the greatest things I believe they realized is that they have what it takes to go to any university they want. They also realized they do have the ability to make change in the environment in which they live. It is my hope to have this program continue and that more and more students will have the opportunity to attend." - Susan Gardner

Media Coverage

Jasper News Boy - Students learn about energy at summer workshop

Lamar University - Professors offer workshop on energy

Rice University - Rice expertise benefits southeast Texas students

Acknowledgements

Funding for the workshop came from the David F. Molina Foundation, Entergy Texas, the Jasper Newton Electric Cooperative, the Jasper Evening Lions Club, the Sam Houston Electric Cooperative, South Hampton Resources, the Jasper-Newton-Tyler School Districts, and Lamar and Rice universities.

Contacts

For further information on how to hold this workshop in your School District, please contact your school principal and/or your school superintendent, or email below.

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      (C) Dr. Tony Pereira, UCLA ME PhD - 2007-2014