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CLA is dedicated to impacting our community in a positive way with meaningful interactions. Faculty, staff and graduate students contribute to interactions with local students and teachers. We have worked hard to develop mini-courses, summer camps, and engaging enrichment programs to offer to local teachers and all levels of students from public schools to home school programs. To date 5,333 students and 141 teachers have participated in a learning experience presented by the faculty, staff, and students in CLA. The laboratory regularly hosts adult groups such as the Coffee County Leadership Program and the Precision Machinists. In addition, the graduate students have traveled to many schools in the community for events such as Friday School at Sewanee Elementary, Fantastic Fridays at Cowan Middle School and the Science Club at Shelbyville High School.
The ASM Materials Camp engaged high school students in learning about alternative energy strategies to performing a live play pertinent to the week’s activities in the auditorium. TECH camp provided interactive, hands-on projects that facilitated career awareness and opened eyes to the excitement of scientific discovery to rising middle school students. The UTSI / CLA Computational Science camp hosted middle and high school students, as well as science and math teachers an opportunity to study computational astrophysics, meteorology, agriculture, genomics, epidemiology, pharmacokinetics, and programs using languages such as gnuplot, Perl, and NetLogo.
CLA has worked with the Tullahoma Hands On Science Center (HOSC) to provide educational experiences to alternative school students through a grant from the Peyback foundation. In 2010, UTSI teamed with the HOSC to win a grant to site a Fireball Network station at UTSI with an exhibit at the HOSC. The Fireball Network tracks meteors in the night sky. In 2010 UTSI moved its summer enrichment programs for younger learners to the HOSC as summer camp programs and assists in delivering those programs at the HOSC.
For the last three years CLA and UTSI have jointly funded a summer intern program, led by Dr. Jacqueline Johnson of Biomedical Engineering and CLA. The program is multifaceted in that it aims to provide a real research experience to prospective graduate students, promote diversity, educate and market. In year one the group was comprised of seven students, five females and two minorities, year two, three males and year three, three males and one female. The students range in educational level from high school to seniors in college. The interns undergo a lecture course, laboratory instruction and training in literature searches before being assigned to a research project. During the course of the summer the students write a paper, prepare a proposal, give a presentation, obtain career advice as well as participate in a full social program.
Summer internships have been also been a valuable recruiting tool. Two of the students attending the first intern program are now in graduate school at UTSI and two more applied. CLA showcases its spacious laboratories, friendly faculty and staff and dedication to the involvement of students in research.