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leadership group
Data Science leadership from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of the Chief information Officer (OCIO) and National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) researchers continue to work together to bolster the Department’s geo-data science capabilities through strategic interagency connections and participation in valuable workforce development programs. These efforts support the U.S. Geospatial Data Act of 2018 (GDA) as well as the Federal Data Strategy and help to spark innovation and advance scientific research, catalyze economic opportunity, improve the nation’s public health and protect the environment. Geospatial data enables critical DOE research, and this location-based information is integral to the greater policy development, evaluation and decision-making that underpin DOE’s mission. For example, awareness of environmental conditions, energy planning and production, hazard mitigation, emergency response and decision support all benefit from carefully curated geospatial data. Supporting the Geospatial Data Act of 2018
What does the future hold for energy and advanced manufacturing jobs? Find out when the NETL Regional Workforce Initiative hosts the webinar “Predicting Future Regional and National Energy Workforce Needs” on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. NETL will be joined by representatives of the Tri-State Energy and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Consortium and the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) for a discussion about the short- and long-term employment challenges and opportunities facing the energy and advanced manufacturing sector. Speakers from both TEAM Consortium and the EFI will present information on jobs, data trends and analyses of regional workforce issues. The webinar will also explore the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on job growth in the energy industry, as well as highlight approaches and activities to encourage growth in energy and advanced manufacturing technology.
NETL’s STEM Education & Outreach Team supports all types of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning — even if that learning takes place through a screen. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and into 2021, team members have stayed busy by preparing virtual activities and participating in online events that continue to bring STEM education, information on science career paths and more to students and science professionals during a time of great uncertainty. In the last year, NETL developed the first in a series of virtual Meet A Scientist events to increase the accessibility of the Lab’s research and directly engage with K-12 students in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and rural Oregon. Interested participants submitted questions through NETL’s social media accounts, with researchers addressing selected questions through a live virtual event. Researchers were able to speak about their career pathways and exciting research roles during the event. Future Meet a Scientist events are slated to occur, so check NETL’s social media to learn about future dates and topics.
Female Engineers
NETL’s Reaction Engineering Team is exploring the next breakthroughs in microwave engineering, which has the potential to create valuable chemicals from the nation’s abundant energy resources. Team members Christina Wildfire, Yan Zhou, Pranjali Muley and Candice Ellison are demonstrating the value of this promising technology through their research and serving as examples for future female scientists interested in making positive contributions to America’s energy landscape. Microwave engineering offers a novel approach to developing cleaner and more efficient energy technologies. The team is studying the use of microwaves in converting fuels like coal, oil and natural gas into marketable fuels, chemicals and products. Microwaves offer a unique opportunity to researchers because they can provide rapid, selective heating on a molecular scale. While conventional heating works from the outside in, microwaves are able to target specific areas for heating, which can save energy and minimize startup and shutdown times compared to conventional energy processes. The team is using this method to explore a wide variety of solutions to America’s current energy challenges.
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are working with data science leadership and experts from DOE’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) to develop powerful new cloud computing capabilities that are harnessing the power of big data to advance energy research and data computing across the Department.
Power Lines
NETL’s Regional Workforce Initiative (RWFI) continued to forge effective partnerships to increase economic impact, workforce development and technology leadership in the 3D printing and defense/energy industries as it hosted a webinar Feb. 16 with the Regional Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Innovation Group (R-AME). Strengthening, supporting and promoting a regional ecosystem that encompasses advanced manufacturing, energy innovation and entrepreneurship is important in creating high-tech and high-earning jobs, as well as producing lasting economic growth for the region. NETL and the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratory network strive to serve as a bridge spanning the early stage of science and discovery to the final stage of commercial deployment by the private sector. The R-AME meeting, which focused on regional efforts, collaborations and partnerships to catalyze research innovation and commercialization of advanced manufacturing and energy technology, marked the third meeting with this group.
A NETL-supported project at the University of Kentucky (UK) successfully conducted pilot-scale testing in their facility that was designed to extract mixed rare earth elements from coal and coal by-products using advanced extraction technologies, achieving production of mixed rare earth oxide (MREO) concentrates of up to 98% purity and exceeding original project goals. During Phase I of their first DOE-funded rare earth recovery project, which began in March 2016, UK and project partners Virginia Tech, West Virginia University, Minerals Refining Company, Blackhawk Mining, and Alliance Coal performed a feasibility study and developed a preliminary design for a pilot-scale plant to process up to ¼ ton per hour of coarse coal refuse and recover rare earths from feedstock materials from the Central Appalachian Basin and Illinois Basin.
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As NETL turns its attention to inspiring the next generation of energy researchers this month, the Lab is presenting four fun and engaging engineering activities that parents can enjoy with their children. These classic educational experiences will help build critical thinking skills that can spur an early interest in science, technology, engineering and math. Blanket Fort Build a childhood memory! This is fun activity for both parents and children that also helps with learning about engineering through play. Is this a fort that can fit the whole family? Is this a jungle hideout or a mad scientist’s lair? Suggested supplies:
Science Bowl
The West Virginia Science Bowl tested students’ knowledge of math and science topics. Middle school teams competed Friday, followed by high school students on Saturday. With the shift to a virtual setting, this year’s Science Bowl followed a slightly altered format; teams competed individually instead of head-to-head with the highest scoring teams moving up. The final winning teams in the two events will compete in the National Science Bowl. Coming in at second, third and fourth place were Morgantown High School teams 1 and 2, of Monongalia County, and Williamstown High School, of Wood County, respectively. In the middle school division, second, third and fourth place were awarded to Triadelphia Middle School Team 1, of Ohio County, Williamstown Middle School, of Wood County, and Triadelphia Middle School Team 2 respectively.
As one of NETL’s most prolific researchers, Ranjani Siriwardane is listed as co-inventor of 25 U.S. patents and has earned numerous scientific awards for discoveries that have had a profound impact on the production of clean and affordable electricity. None of those accomplishments, however, would have been possible without the support of family members, teachers and others who recognized Siriwardane’s early interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and encouraged her to pursue her dreams and overcome obstacles she faced growing up in Sri Lanka, an island nation in South Asia.