Summer institute students explore energy use and consumption

Kesha Williams
August 25, 2008

Energy use and consumption were primary topics for 20 students attending the 2008 Summer Institute in Computational Science at Elizabeth City State University. The students arrived at ECSU from 11 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and formed four research teams that completed a two-week intensive study program. As teams they searched for answers to several questions not far removed from the topics beaming from news headlines: ?An investigation of possible effects global warming had on the Kentucky Forest Fires between 1945 and 2004; ?A comparative study of energy usage by America and Japan over a 10-year period; ?An investigation of Energy Consumption of 25 universities in measuring a carbon footprint based on Carnegie level classification; A study of the correlation between air quality and the number of visitors of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park between 2002 and 2006. Dr. Johnny Houston, director of ECSU's Computational Science and Scientific Visualization Center, says the selection of topics challenged students to look at issues that Americans face on a daily basis. Computational sciences, he reminds students, is an approach to the study of scientific and real world phenomena by extensive use of mathematical modeling, numerical methods and simulation coupled with computer programming and computer visualization techniques. ECSU faculty and visiting faculty from fellow HBCUs served as mentors to prepare underrepresented minority students to complete energy research projects in national energy laboratories. "There are students in HBCUs who can do excellent research in the area of energy. For the past 10 years, ECSU has demonstrated that this is indeed the case by successfully conducting this institute," Houston. "With this institute, we open their eyes to a world of research opportunities. Energy use and conservation are topics these young researchers will encounter over the course of their lives so we know the institute is relevant to their future." CSSVC students came from the following institutions: Delaware State University Elizabeth City State University Howard University Jackson State University Lincoln University Mississippi Valley State University Morehouse College Shaw University Spelman College Tennessee State University Winston-Salem State University