Education & Outreach

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. For the last few years, UAH has hosted NSF REU - Remote Sensing of Land-Atmosphere Systems program, of which Co-I Wade is the Co-Director and Site Manager.

The SWIRLL facilities have been used in recruiting for this REU 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 also provide a great way to gain a close look at our 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 outreach has also included participating in international outreach as of recently. UAH hosted three federally funded international programs that took place over the Summer of 2021. 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.

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.