On July 9, 2012 the speaker was Dr. Chris Cox, professor and associate
head in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Tennessee and director of the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment (ISSE). He is also a participating researcher
in the Bioenergy Science Center at Oak Ridge National Lab.
Dr. Cox discussed his work on sustainability. The University of Tennessee’s Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment (ISSE) seeks to promote the development of policies, technologies, and educational programs that cut across multiple disciplines, engage the university’s research faculty and staff, and grow in response to pressing environmental and security issues facing the state, the nation, and the globe. He reported on the work being done on sustainable houses- both in Norris and a portable house used for demonstrations. He is also involved with Tennessee yards and neighborhoods, rain gardens to retain water and conversion of biomass to fuel.
On July 16, The scheduled speaker, Dr. Anthony Buhl CEO of EnergX, LLC, was unable to attend and Ken Barry previewed a presentation on one of his environmental reclamation projects. It was an interesting project involving creating a natural stream from a channelized stream with some major constraints on what could be done.
On July 23, 2012 FIRST Regional Director
LaJean Robinson described how the Tennessee FIRST program was started and how it is a benefit to our educational system.
The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition is an international high school robotics competition. Each year, teams of high school students compete to build robots. Teams are given a standard set of parts and the game details at the beginning of January and are given six weeks to construct a competitive robot, that can operate autonomously as well as when guided by wireless controls, to accomplish the game’s tasks.
The FIRST Robotics Competition involves teams of mentors (corporate employees, teachers, or college students) and high school students who collaborate to design and build a robot. This robot is designed to play a game, which is designed by FIRST and changes from year to year. This game is announced at a nationally simulcast kickoff event in January.
FIRST needs public support!
Teams are expected to solicit individuals, sponsors, and businesses for support in the form of donations of time, money, or skills. The average team has approximately 25 students, but participation has ranged from 4 to 100.
There is a need for local mentors.
On July 30 Ken Barry spoke about the history of Mars exploration and the Mars rover Curiosity which was scheduled to land on August 5, 2012. Ken did a very good job and he obviously has had a long term interest in Mars exploration. As I, Bob Scott , listened to the obstacles to be overcome in landing the rover , I thought the chance of success was
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not good. But writing this on Aucust 6, 2012 I am amazed and delighted to say “The Mars rover Curiosity landed safely!”