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Boosting efficiency and awareness of wave-farm technology

In June 2015, Lehigh University senior engineering student Juliana Telles '15 will step off a plane on the charming island of Bermuda. But it's not the beginning of an epic vacation to celebrate a successful collegiate career. Instead, Juliana and her teammates will be mentoring close to 20 high school students in a weeklong course at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) in the science and technology behind capturing wave energy.

The National Science Foundation "CyberSEES" program recently announced that an interdisciplinary team comprised of Lehigh faculty and students received nearly one million of a total $12.5 million grant that was spread across 28 winning research teams in the U.S. The NSF explains that the program is intended to "advance the science of sustainability in tandem with advances in computing and communication technologies."

Shalinee Kishore, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, explains that the project is part of a broader Lehigh effort focused on harnessing hydrokinetic energy for conversion into usable electricity. "The faculty team on the project -– myself, Arindam Banerjee (MechE), Rick Blum (ECE), Alberto Lamadrid (Economics), and Larry Snyder (ISE) -- are part of Lehigh's Integrated Networks for Electricity (INE) research cluster as well as the Power from Ocean, Rivers, and Tides (PORTLab)," she explains.

"Although we come at the issue from many different perspectives," she continues, "we all believe in leveraging advances in communications and information technology to improve global energy distribution and consumption."

A portion of the funding is set aside to support the creation of a curriculum for high school students to take part in the BIOS program, as well as the development of an exhibit about capturing ocean-wave energy for the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, PA. Mark Orrs, director of Lehigh's Sustainable Development program, helped to design and develop this side of the project, and enlisted the aid of Juliana and her cohorts in the program.

"This is a very exciting project on a number of fronts," says Juliana, a chemical engineering major who has served as a campus tour guide and as president of Lehigh's Society of Women Engineers chapter. "We've put together a curriculum plan and we're working with our faculty and the BIOS team to develop it into a program that will be nothing short of life-changing for the high school kids who get involved. Even if it weren't taking place on a tropical island we're confident this will shape up to be the greatest field trip ever for the high-school kids lucky enough to participate!"

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