SWIRLL is actively involved in education and outreach activities. Over the years, UAH facilities, staff, and students have participated in school and conference visits and regional weather fests. In the past, the MIPS platform was taken to the AMS meeting in Atlanta, GA and the MAX, MIPS, RaDAPS, and M3V have been deployed to Birmingham, AL and Nashville, TN for the local weather fest. UAH faculty, staff, and students also play an active role in education and severe weather preparedness for local K-12 schools around the region. With the development of MAPNet, education and outreach continue to expand
The National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) program is a NSF funded program that consists of approximately 10 undergraduate students who work on closely with a faculty advisor on a research topic at a host institution. During their 10-week stay, students will gain valuable research experience and have the opportunity to network and meet faculty and researchers from many different backgrounds. Undergraduates across US can apply to an institution and advisor of their choice. UAH has hosted two REU students during the Summers of 2019 and 2022.
The SWIRLL MAPNet facilities have been used in recruiting for the REU program in the form of educational deployments. These deployments typically consist of several platforms traveling to different institutions around the region over a one to two-week period and talking with faculty/staff and students about the REU program. Future educational deployments will have strong partnership between the UAH REU and SWIRLL programs in order to reach better recruit under-represented groups into STEM fields. The UAH REU program has a history of working with Jackson State University, Alabama A&M, Tuskegee University, and Southern University for recruiting students, and these efforts will continue to be expanded through the MAPNet program.
Tours within the SWIRLL facility are popular and provide a great way to gain a close look at the unique platforms. Tours of SWIRLL have included local K-12 schools, city officials, prospective undergraduate and graduate students, and visiting professors and scientists. These tours highlight the research staff and students conduct in support of MAPNet and field campaign experiments. SWIRLL has also included participating in international outreach as of recently. UAH hosted several federally funded international programs that took place over the Summer of 2021 and Summer of 2022. As a part of this program, UAH students participated in a virtual outreach event hosted during which the international students took part in an interactive virtual tour of SWIRLL, highlighting the MAPNet platforms and radiosonde soundings. As with many of the K-12 educational outreach events, the students learned about instrumentation, experimental research, and weather safety. SWIRLL also has the ability to serve as home base for field operations as it successfully did for VORTEX-SE operations. To request a tour, click here!
Students from a local elementary school learning about the MAX radar during an outreach event.
UAH students took M3V to a local elementary school to talk about weather safety and how weather ballloons are used in meteorology.
The SWIRLL Operations Center serving as the planning room for the PIs taking part in the VORTEX-SE field campaign.
UAH students and friends launching balloons in honor of a fellow student in the department who passed away from a tragic lightning strike.
UAH students representing the UAH department and SWIRLL during a VORTEX-SE showcase.