The MSL educational and outreach activities
The Materials Simulation Laboratory (MSL) has a strong commitment to education and public engagement. Our major goal is to spread the excitement of scientific discovery and increase awareness of the impact of scientific research on our society among the public, high school and undergraduate students, and young scientists. A special effort is being made to engage minority students and women, both of whom have traditionally been underrepresented in science fields.
Research experience for undergraduate and high school students
With help of NSF funding, the MSL runs the Research Experience for Undergraduate and High School Students (REU/HSS) program. Our goal is to infuse the excitement and creativity of research into earlier stages of education. Our REU/HSS program allows students to develop good mathematical, computational and theory backgrounds and to quickly learn concepts at the boundaries of such disciplines as physics, chemistry, materials science, mathematics and computational science.
Although most of our REU/HSS activities occur during summer months, our undergraduate and high school students are involved in our research program during academic year. They are true members of our group and they participate in a variety of MSL activities including weekly MSL seminars and Physics Department research colloquia. The MSL graduate students and postdocs are directly involved in REU/HSS activities: each REU/HSS student has a graduate or postdoctoral mentor who provides valuable guidance on a daily basis. The team environment in our group stimulates a creative and supportive learning atmosphere, where the beginning researchers are encouraged to ask questions and receive practical training, as well as to take initiative in their research to develop their independent thinking.
REU/HSS program in summer 2006
The REU/HSS educational and training activities during Summer 2006 included two-day training workshop on computational modeling of materials at the University of Central Florida, in-house week-long training for the undergraduates and the high school students on technical aspects of computer simulations of materials. At the beginning of the second week, the REU/HS students chose a research project, and several research teams were formed. Each team consisted of an REU/REHSS participant, a graduate/postodoctoral student mentor and the MSL Director, Dr. I.I. Oleynik. The culmination of the summer REU/REHSS program was the REU Research Symposium where each student gave a 20-minute presentation.