Open house offers students hands-on research opportunities

research open house

Jessica Sisk shows students unmanned aerial vehicle systems at the Systems Management and Production (SMAP) Center display during the 2014 Student Research & Creative Opportunities Open House.

Michael Mercier | UAH

A first step for students who want to add some practical, hands-on learning to their experience at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is the fourth annual Student Research & Creative Opportunities Open House on Monday, Aug. 17, being held from 2-4 p.m. in the Von Braun Research Hall.

The Office of Academic Affairs is sponsoring the open house as part of the campus-wide UAH Week of Welcome Aug. 14-22. Students in all majors are encouraged to come. This is the largest event ever, with nearly 30 displays, including SWIRLL's newest MAX Tornado & Severe Weather Radar Vehicle.

One of the greatest opportunities UAH offers is the chance for students from any major to get actively involved in research from the beginning of their academic careers, says David Cook, student research programs coordinator.

"The Student Research Open House gives students a chance to find out some of the research opportunities they can become involved with while a student at UAH," Cook says. "It's also a chance for everyone to discover the broad scope of the various kinds of research we do here, all at one event."

Almost every college will be represented, as well as many of UAH's research centers and some project-oriented student clubs.

"It's amazing the amount of research going on at UAH, and it's surprising to students when they discover that they can get involved," Cook says. "Our undergraduates are doing things like competing in national CanSat and Rocketry competitions, working with top faculty on psychology research, conducting marketing research for HudsonAlpha start-up companies, documenting and preserving photographic negatives from the 1900s, and using satellite data to track the effects on weather caused by desert dust."

Many students find it beneficial to get immersed in the creative aspects of a research project as part of their overall learning process, he said. The research work can help make the educational experience more vivid.

"Some students learn better when they have an opportunity to apply what they hear in lectures or read in a textbook," Cook says. "When you put those students in a research project, they just take off. I've seen many students leave UAH well prepared for graduate school and the workforce because of their involvement in research and creative projects. That's why we have this event, to inform our students of the opportunities to become involved in research and the real benefits they can get from doing so."

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