UI DOW 2016 PROJECT
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was awarded a 21-day educational deployment of a Doppler on Wheels (DOW), a National Science Foundation (NSF) facility managed by the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR) for a usage period from 24 February – 16 March 2016. This time period allowed for the enhancement of classroom instruction. PI Deanna Hence is the instructor for ATMS 410. In addition to the enrichment of these three classes, we intend to use the data collected for undergraduate capstone research projects in Fall 2016. During the DOW’s time at UIUC, we engaged in outreach and contributed to the education of our campus community, our local community college, and the general public. The many components of this educational deployment resulted in a department-wide engagement of both undergraduate and graduate students that was an enriching experience for those within and without the designated classes directly involved. This final report summarizes the activities and outcomes that we accomplished during this deployment.
In general, although our undergraduate students are typically drawn to our program out of an interest in severe weather, we need to make sure to stress more clearly that all weather data collection is important, and not just the “exciting” part. An introduction to some of the tedium that is data collection better introduces them for the challenges of doing this in the future. Having the support of the operator to help make the student experience on “boring” days as engaging (or as ￼￼close to as can be managed) as those with precipitation will be very helpful on future deployments. In particular, having students do manual solar calibration and other activities can be very educational. We got a first taste of coordinating with other colleges and universities in the area for educational and data collection opportunities with the DOW, and this is something we will explore more in future deployments. Finally, we learned the hard way that corn fields, even ones presumed frozen, are not good for DOW hydraulic feet.