June 24, 2017

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WESEP: Wind Energy Science, Engineering, and Policy

Real-Time Research Collaborative

Catalog description: WESEP 594 Wind Energy Real-time Research Collaborative (1-0) Cr. 1. Prereq: Graduate standing and calculus/physics background. Research skills and associated cognitive approaches; leadership and communication skills. policy and environmental issues.

Prerequisite knowledge for the course:  the equivalent of two years of calculus, covering differential and integral calculus, multivariable and vector calculus, and differential equations, and one year of physics, covering mechanics, thermodynamics, electric circuits, electromagnetics, and optics.

This one-credit course is required of all WESEP students and faculty every semester and will serve to integrate teams and develop research skills. Each semester, several research teams, each having 3-5 students and 3-5 faculty members working on joint projects consistent with the research agenda established by the Project Advisory Board (PAB), will lead their assigned class period in discussion of topics and issues germane to their research thrusts. Each project will be addressed for one week before moving to the next, cycling through all projects several times during a semester. Peer review across the thrusts (fostered by peer mentoring) improve inter-project and interdisciplinary connections and allow for the in-depth treatment of each project. Class leaders present works-in-progress rather than polished final results, including technical issues, how they think about solving their problems, how they facilitate faculty-student interaction, how they communicate with non-scientists and other audience segments, and how they practice ethical behavior. Emphasis will be placed on posing problems within the class period, requiring students to collaboratively research, create and communicate solutions, facilitating in-class student learning and research productivity. Each team is expected to span a research cycle during each semester (e.g., prepare a proposal, develop results, and write a paper) with each phase resulting in a real, tangible deliverable. This is a valuable learning experience and a strong incentive for continued faculty participation.

There are four objectives in this course.

  1. Span entire research cycle in interdisciplinary teams: Teams of 3-4 students will be formed with each team responsible for conducting a complete research cycle throughout the semester, including developing a proposal, conducting the research, and documenting the research in a publication. Each team will present twice each semester, a “midstream” presentation following completion of their proposal, and a final presentation of the resulting publication. It is expected that publications would be submitted to a conference or a journal.
  2. Broaden cognitive approaches: Seasoned researchers will provide lectures on how they “do” research, and how they think while doing it, addressing, for example, some of the following questions:
    1. How do we become aware of the problems we work on?
    2. What are the attributes of a “good research problem”?
    3. To what extent can research be planned?
    4. What is the interplay between creativity and literature review?
    5. What is the desired “end-product” of a research project (paper? “contribution”? patent? technology transfer? impact? graduated student?); how in the research process does choice of “end-product” affect what happens?
    6. When does bottom-up and top-down thinking yield their greatest potential?
    7. How are solution approaches identified?
    8. What constitutes acceptable evidence that a problem is indeed solved?
    9. What organizational structures and modes of human interaction are effective in facilitating research?
  3. Develop leadership skills: Two classes will be dedicated to ethics, communication, and leadership issues. These classes will be led by ISU journalism professor and communication expert Dr. Lulu Rodriguez and ISU philosophy professor and ethicist Clark Wolf. This activity is central to the course because high wind penetration will lead to complex human interactions between landowners and land managers, manufacturers, utilities, regulators, policy-makers, and non-government organizations.
  4. Industry lectures: Several lectures will be given by individuals from industry, focused on research areas being addressed by students in the course (see #1 above).