This section and the Appendix provide summary information about NCAR's programs in education at all levels and in knowledge and technology transfer. These programs support two of UCAR's six goal areas and with respect to education in particular have broadened in recent years. The materials prepared separately for the Advanced Study Program review provide extensive additional information about that long-standing part of NCAR.
Education has always been, and continues to be, an important part of NCAR's mission. In its early days, educational activities were confined largely to programs for graduate and postgraduate students and were centered around the Advanced Study Program (ASP). The success of ASP, recognized worldwide, is fully documented in materials prepared for its own review and is also discussed more fully in the Intellectual Infrastructure section of this document (see Section III). The 521 alumni of ASP include scores of senior-level, recognized, and active members of the global earth sciences research and teaching community. Other programs also support graduate education, such as one in the High Altitude Observatory that promotes cooperative research between HAO and university graduate programs. NCAR staff lecture at universities and serve as advisors of graduate students.
In recent years, NCAR's traditional educational focus has broadened, reaching down into secondary and elementary classrooms and out into the general population. NCAR's expanded educational mission coincides with a growing public focus on the need to strengthen the nation's math and science education and literacy more generally, a need which universities and government labs can clearly help to meet. It also coincides with a growing need for preprofessional and professional training in the use of sophisticated technologies that national laboratories like NCAR are able to supply. In this last capacity, NCAR has given students access to its computing and observing facilities through programs that allow classroom use of its supercomputers, bring students to Boulder to use its observing facilities, and take research instruments to students elsewhere.
Since about 1986, NCAR's educational activities have expanded to cover the spectrum from grades K-12 as well as the undergraduate level; they include programs in curriculum development and teacher training as well as public outreach. Many NCAR staff serve in these varied programs, speaking to tour groups, participating in science fairs, making visits to local school classrooms, and contributing in other ways. More formal educational arrangements among the universities involve graduate thesis advising roles for NCAR scientific staff as well as teaching appointments. Through the affiliate professor program and shorter-term teaching arrangements, roughly 50 NCAR scientists a year hold teaching appointments at universities. In addition, NCAR scientists serve as lecturers and specialty experts in UCAR's COMET program (Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education, and Training) to help train weather service forecasters, university students, and others in the latest forecasting technologies and techniques.
NCAR's ground-breaking debut into K-12 education was the Laboratory Experience in Atmospheric Research at NCAR (LEARN), funded by NSF's Teacher Enhancement Program in the EHR Directorate. Through LEARN, over 40 teachers from four states attended workshops during three summers. They worked with over 60 NCAR scientists to increase their understanding of atmospheric science, improve their teaching methodologies, and develop curricular materials. Participation in the program was conditional on the teachers' committing themselves to be agents of change in their home schools and districts, giving ongoing in-service training and interacting with NCAR and UCAR member university scientists throughout the school year. They have shared what they learned with 1,300 other teachers, reaching as many as 130,000 students, and all evidence-anecdotal as well as formal assessment- is that the project is a success. Science Now, a newsletter written by LEARN staff for science teachers, is distributed in hard copy and on the Web (http://www.si rs.com/partner/snow/snowindex.html) to schools across the country and internationally as well. A follow-on to LEARN will be conducted in seven rural districts in Colorado. It will involve parents and school administrators as well as teachers in summer workshops using three teaching modules developed during LEARN.
Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) is an ambitious program designed to produce marked increases in graduate degrees in the atmospheric and related sciences held by seriously underrepresented groups. Funded primarily by the Atmospheric Sciences Division of NSF, SOARS provides educational, research, mentoring, career counseling, and financial support to ethnically diverse students completing undergraduate programs and enrolling in master's and doctoral programs at participating UCAR universities.
The inaugural class of SOARS students arrived in Boulder in June 1996. This summer research experience provided the proteges with opportunities to partner with scientific, community, and peer mentors in ongoing research at NCAR and the UCAR Office of Programs. A survey of the first-year SOARS students and their mentors following this summer experience indicates that the program is off to a strong start. One student put it this way:
Through the Student Nitric Oxide Experiment (SNOE), engineering students have worked with NCAR machine shop staff and equipment to design and build a low-cost instrument to be launched on a spacecraft in 1997. The program is part of a larger effort, funded by NASA and the Universities Space Research Association, to build and deploy a spacecraft with student help. SNOE involved a team including NCAR, the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Ball Aerospace, and Orbital Sciences Corporation. Seven high-school and college students from the Denver area brought their ideas, expressed in mechanical drawings and geometry, to the NCAR machine shop. Working there, they learned first hand about real-world adaptations needed to get a project done. The students set up their own computer-aided machining system, worked as a productive team, and saw their plans take form as functioning instruments. For their part in the collaboration, the Atmospheric Technology Division Design and Fabrication Services staff won the 1996 UCAR Outstanding Performance Award in education.
4. Exhibits, Tours, and Public Outreach
NCAR and UCAR's public outreach and visibility have been deliberately enhanced in recent years as part of an increased effort in public education. NCAR's Mesa Laboratory attracts some 40,000 visitors each year. They can explore seven hands-on science exhibits designed at San Francisco's Exploratorium museum that demonstrate fundamental physical principles inherent in the atmospheric sciences. Millions of people have seen Thunderstorm Detectives, an interactive traveling exhibit highlighting NCAR's microburst research and technology transfer activities, as it toured airports and science centers in 1993-96. Each year thousands of students, teachers, and other visitors take guided tours through NCAR's facilities and exhibits, enjoy talks and demonstrations in the Mesa Laboratory classroom, and browse through educational materials in the Educational Resource Center. Science Saturdays are held regularly for teacher enhancement, and public talks and products provide information in a variety of forms.
NCAR's Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG) focuses on the interactions between weather and climate and society, and seeks to improve the base of knowledge of policy- and decision- makers about the societal implications of atmospheric processes. This is inherently a knowledge transfer process, which is accomplished through specific research studies, workshops, and publications. One outstanding example of the benefits of this transfer is the "Usable Science" series of international workshops sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
ACACIA, A Consortium for the Application of Climate Impacts Assessments, is a unique partnership designed to use the best available scientific tools and knowledge to answer climate-related questions of industry, business, and the policy communities. ACACIA is initially being sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute, the Central Research Institute of Electric Power of Japan, and NSF, with the involvement of NCAR's Climate and Global Dynamics and Scientific Computing Divisions.
Additional industrial and governmental sponsors are planned. This integrated assessment activity will sponsor research projects targeted at resolving specific concerns of consortium members that are also of scientific interest to the research community. ACACIA builds on the success of the Model Evaluation Consortium for Climate Assessment program, described in Section III.
2. Transferring Technology
NCAR's Research Applications Program (RAP), in collaboration with other NCAR divisions and with universities and industry, has led the development of a number of technological innovations that are contributing substantially to aviation safety at airports throughout the U.S. and abroad.
RAP has developed, with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) support, an improved Low-Level Wind Shear Alert System (LLWAS) to address the problem of dangerous wind shear in airport terminal areas. RAP developed microburst detection algorithms, advanced algorithms for improved LLWAS performance, and improved alert functions. The expanded capabilities of the system include identification of wind shear type, strength of shear in headwind loss or gain, and location of wind shear events along approach or departure paths. These advances allow air traffic controllers to provide pilots with runway-specific wind shear information in a simple format. LLWAS systems have been installed at 110 airports.
NCAR's research in the 1980s contributed to the development of the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) system, which is in operation at 22 major airports in the United States. TDWR detects microbursts, gust fronts, wind shift lines, and precipitation. TDWR data are used to develop terminal-area weather prediction products that depict storm motion, tornadoes, microbursts, and storm initiation for use in air traffic planning and safety. The system includes a geographical display that depicts the weather in a simple graphical format for traffic managers; the wind shear alarm format matches the LLWAS format for complete system integration.
NCAR scientists and engineers participated in developments that contributed to the next-generation radar systems (NEXRAD) now in place throughout the United States. This improved Doppler radar system has dramatically increased the technical capability of the National Weather Service to predict the onset of severe weather events, allowing improved forecasts and earlier warnings to be issued routinely. This capability has also improved aviation weather safety, since the improved radar capability is used by the air traffic control system to assist pilots in avoiding severe weather. This technology will be transferred to other countries through private sector commercialization.
The Cross-chain Loran Atmospheric Sounding System (CLASS) is a next-generation upper-air sampling system incorporating several innovative features. Among these is a unique balloon-launching mechanism allowing deployment by one person. A second important feature is the availability of sounding data in real time using inexpensive personal computers and data storage equipment. CLASS can use either Loran-C or Omega navigation information for windfinding and therefore needs no complex tracking antennae. Developed by NCAR's Atmospheric Technology Division, the system can be deployed for field experiments and operates from shipboard as well as on land. The technology has been licensed to Radian Corporation for commercialization, which will make it widely available to the university and research communities.
The UCAR Foundation was established in 1986 to provide a mechanism for the commercialization and licensing of UCAR technology. In all, UCAR has obtained 22 domestic and four foreign patents, deriving from over 200 disclosures of technological advances of UCAR staff since 1992. The UCAR Foundation has licensed 32 separate technologies to non-UCAR organizations. Sixteen value- added royalty-bearing licenses have been granted; there have been 1,275 licenses/sales of NCAR Graphics packages, and 324 licenses of other software, most of which are for collaborative research use.
Weather Information Technologies, Inc. (WITI) is a for-profit subsidiary of the UCAR Foundation, established to develop businesses, as contrasted with licensing activities, based upon the technology developed by NCAR and other UCAR programs. Its first business unit is developing systems for international airports for warning of weather and terrain-induced turbulence hazards near airports. This business is based upon the expertise developed by RAP, the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division, and the Atmospheric Technology Division, under sponsorship of the FAA, to provide such systems for U.S. airports. WITI is in the final stages of completing a $16 million contract with the Royal Observatory of Hong Kong to provide an operational wind shear warning system for Hong Kong's new airport on Chek Lap Kok Island.