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Rapid City, SD, United States

The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is a public institution of higher learning in Rapid City, South Dakota governed by the South Dakota Board of Regents. Founded in 1885 as the Dakota School of Mines, Tech offers degree programs in engineering and science fields. 2,311 students were enrolled in fall 2011. The school athletic teams are called the Hardrockers. Wikipedia.

Warner T.A.,South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Atmospheric Research | Year: 2012

We present high-speed camera observations (up to 7200 images per second) and correlated electric field measurements of upward lightning leaders initiated simultaneously from multiple tall towers. Four towers spanning a horizontal distance of 2.9. km and ranging in height from 121 to 191. m, developed upward leaders following a nearby positive cloud-to-ground (+. CG) flash on 7/16/09 UT in Rapid City, South Dakota, USA during the summer thunderstorm season. The optical and electric field observations suggest that all four upward propagating leaders were positive polarity (i.e., upward negative lightning) and initiated simultaneously approximately 2. ms following the + CG return stroke. There was significant intracloud flash activity prior to the return stroke, and upward leader initiation coincided with the passage of horizontally extensive in-cloud negative breakdown following the + CG return stroke. This observation supports the idea that downward positive cloud-to-ground lightning can trigger upward negative lightning from multiple tall objects. Specifically, the triggering component is an area of horizontally propagating negative breakdown following the + CG return stroke that influences a broad area resulting in simultaneous or near-simultaneous, positive polarity upward leader initiation from multiple tall objects. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT | Award Amount: 360.00K | Year: 2015


The proposed research site will recruit undergraduate students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The vicinity of the host institution, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT), to a number of Tribal Colleges and Universities affords SDSMT a unique opportunity to introduce research to American Indians students and provide them with the resources to complete degrees in the STEM fields.

The site is entitled Technical Experience in Advancing Modeling Sciences (TEAMS). As the name implies, the research projects will involve modeling in a number of areas including materials, defense, renewable energy, and three-dimensional printing. The projects will be performed in parallel with experiments to best expose the participants to the research area and to best connect their findings to problems of interest. For example, one modeling project will investigate why purification materials in biofuel production (i.e., ethanol from corn) clog up. By understanding what occurs at the molecular level, and how the material interacts with the waste byproducts, the models can influence the design of new materials for these applications.

Also, modeling projects are inherently collaborative, so the site will also teach students how to work in collaborative (i.e., team) environments. A number of skills feed into effective collaborative relationships, so workshops, seminars, and activities will be conducted to assist participants in developing these collaborative skills. Some examples include teamwork building, writing workshops, and large data set analysis. The ultimate goal is to provide the TEAMS REU participants the tools and experiences to increase their success as they pursue STEM careers.


The purpose of the proposed research is to host a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site entitled Technical Experience in Advancing Modeling Sciences (TEAMS). The TEAMS REU site aims to provide undergraduates with the opportunity to make a significant contribution to collaborative modeling research projects. Specifically, the goals of the TEAMS REU site are as follows: (i) provide research opportunities in a number of modeling mediums including molecular dynamics, transport phenomenon, and solid mechanics, (ii) develop students appreciation of team diversity and collaborative efforts in research, (iii) enhance students teamwork, communication, critical thinking, and professional skills, (iv) expose students to the importance of modeling in a number of fields, (v) transition students from pre-engineering programs into four-year degree programs, (vi) guide students to pursue graduate programs, and (vii) increase the opportunities for underrepresented groups.

A number of activities are planned to meet these objectives. Some examples include developing teamwork skills, exposing students to modeling work outside the REU site, and writing workshops to enhance communication ability. The reason for developing these skills is because they are all important to modeling research. For example, modeling research is typically collaborative. As such, projects require researchers to work in a team setting and communicate their respective perspectives and expertise to their collaborative partners. Other objectives involve preparing participants for four-year or graduate programs and enhancing participation of underrepresented groups like American Indians. An example seminar is designed to guide students on how to identify and apply fora graduate program meeting their interests. With regards to research opportunities, a number of modeling projects have been designed to be completed by undergraduates within a years time. These projects coincide with current experimental efforts and will complement those efforts.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT | Award Amount: 348.23K | Year: 2016

The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, along with its partner organizations, the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University, will offer an innovative Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) Site focused on interdisciplinary research dedicated to Security Printing and Anti-Counterfeiting Technology (SPACT), for a diverse group of undergraduate students, targeting Tribal Colleges and other institutions with limited STEM research opportunities. The SPACT research theme is of great societal importance. Counterfeiting is a growing issue in the U.S., posing serious economic, safety and national security concerns and impacting a wide variety of industries (e.g. pharmaceutics, semiconductors). In this REU Site students will conduct research on transformative anti-counterfeiting technology. SPACT is a field which demands development in four key areas: advanced materials, advanced manufacturing/patterning technologies, detection and encryption technology, and software and database infrastructure. The SPACT REU will implement a unique undergraduate research program to curb the economic losses and health and safety risks associated with counterfeiting.

The key objectives of this 10-week summer REU Site are to: 1) conduct transformative research in a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment, and 2) provide STEM professional development opportunities to a diverse group of 10 undergraduate students, each year for three years. A team of faculty mentors from the three partner institutions, all with demonstrated experience in mentoring undergraduate researchers, will implement a program in SPACT by applying research methods from various fields of science and engineering. Participants will develop collaborative research skills via carefully designed research projects and training seminars. Students will participate in a highly integrated professional development and technical communications program. The faculty, alongside industry leaders, will deliver training seminars to broaden the students existing academic training in the necessary SPACT areas. The long-term goal of this REU Site is to provide a diverse group of STEM researchers with the training and skills needed to pursue graduate studies at the highest levels and to advance the developing field of SPACT.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ENGINEERING EDUCATION | Award Amount: 131.46K | Year: 2016

The emergent field of engineering education research is a necessary lever to make systemic and sustainable changes in the way we educate and develop engineers to meet current and future national priorities and global challenges. There is a great deal of variation in the strength of the social infrastructure used by engineering education researchers to collaborate and build research projects of sufficient depth and diversity for true systemic change. In this project, relative social infrastructure strength is grouped as follows: those researchers who are connected to a department of engineering education; those who are connected to a center or other non-department, formalized group on their campus; and those who have neither connection. Any combination of access types may be present on a single campus. The purpose of this project is to discover and implement evidence-based social infrastructure elements that meet the needs of the third group while maintaining the integrity of the department- and center-based infrastructure. These researchers are often located in their universities in capacities that are highly intertwined with the practice of engineering education; finding better ways to network and support them creates stronger ties between research and practice, facilitating systemic and lasting change.

Using the social movement organizing methodology of relational meetings, the investigators will conduct a series of interviews with engineering education researchers who are connected with centers or departments those who are not, and their practitioner colleagues to identify areas of common concern, resources each can contribute to change agent networks, and opportunities for strategic intervention around which the engineering education change movement can build power. Through two phases of the research root cause analysis will be applied to the problems of faculty reward structures and diversity in engineering; working at the level of structural economic forces in higher education in the first case, and racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of structural inequality in the second case, will guide strategies and interventions to produce lasting, significant change and address problems at their source. This approach will further the research on change in engineering education by understanding faculty behavior as grounded not only in personal motivation and institutional reward structures but also in current economic and policy frameworks for higher education. The results of this project will identify mechanisms to strengthen engineering education networks. Of particular importance are those researchers currently working in the field who are not strongly connected to those networks. Broad-based and widespread change will occur through modifications to communities infrastructure and leadership development that support both the engineering education researchers and practitioners.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 343.50K | Year: 2015

The way engineers are educated must constantly evolve as the world context and the technologies evolve. While there are many successful efforts by individuals and small groups, large-scale curricular changes are key to maintaining these successes. Earlier data collected and analyzed by this team shows that one of the barriers to large-scale curricular change is understanding how to credential innovative educational practices, particularly those practices that do not take place in a traditional, lecture-oriented classroom. Credentialing is an important mark for students looking for quality education programs as well as employers looking for quality graduates. This study uses the real experiences of engineering degree programs that are innovative across their curriculum to learn how they navigated the credentialing processes. The impact of the work is to determine pathways to turn the use of credentialing as a barrier to better engineering education into a lever for getting more engineering programs to make large-scale innovations.

Even when engineering curricular changes are systemic, earlier data collected by this team shows that credentialing is a key, though often misunderstood or not explicitly acknowledged, barrier to real, sustainable improvement to engineering education practice. Communication across implementation levels (e.g., course, curriculum, university credentialing) and their research to practice cycles is not straightforward, even though it is necessary to produce sustainable change in engineering education. Therefore, the goal of this research is to answer: What gaps exist and how do we bridge innovative curricular/pedagogical initiatives and credentialing at the institutional, federal, and accreditation levels? Data collection and analysis in years 1 and 2 will allow the team to explore and describe the role credentialing plays in sustainable engineering education change. The research team and advisory board will address ways to expand the research-to-practice cycle so that university-level infrastructure is included. The team will broadly disseminate the results via Implementation Workshops that will include faculty, administrators and staff, as well as through traditional publications and conferences.

This work will: 1) Explore the role credentialing plays in sustainable engineering curricular change from multiple viewpoints, including faculty, academic administrators, registrar and financial aid staff, accreditors, and others; 2) Expand the research to practice cycle to include the infrastructure within which both the research and the practice occur; and 3) Develop and disseminate materials to inform change agents so they can increase the efficacy of their credentialing efforts. The results of the project include: a model of change that recognizes the potential infrastructure barriers to innovation in engineering education, materials for university change agents to help them navigate the credentialing process, and increased understanding of how to support and sustain long term change in engineering education.

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