Conclusion & Lessons Learned

Concluding remarks

Overall, we regard this DOW educational deployment as a success, with approximately 100 Purdue students impacted, and more than 500 individual contacts with the DOW. The EAPS 52300 students all gained valuable hands-on experience designing and carrying out a scientific observing mission using the DOW, and analyzing the data afterward. Dr. Karen Kosiba’s visit to EAPS made a clear positive impression on many female students. Students’ reactions to the DOW were overwhelmingly positive. EAPS reaffirmed its close relationships with the Department of Agronomy and Imagination Station through this project. The PI, a junior faculty member at an R1 institution, gained valuable teaching experience and positive media exposure as a result of this deployment.

Written feedback from EAPS 52300 students:

"The DOW7 tutorial is of great help for understanding and analyzing the radar observations, as we can be aware of the potential errors exhibit in the algorithms or scans. Through processing the data collected by DOW during the PurRad 2018 IoPs, I am getting familiar with the Python- based software for radar data. I learned the approaches to identify melting layer and refreezing features, and how to increase the accuracy of HCA. The radar class with DOW benefits my future research on Hurricane landfall where radar data could provide us insight information on hurricane wind fields.” -- J. Chen, EAPS graduate student

“Regarding my experience with DOW: I believe I was fortunate enough to have worked with DOW radar just when I am starting with my research on severe storms. A radar meteorology class would have been incomplete if I would not have got a chance to do hands-on work with actual radar and analyzing the data. The whole learning experience was enlightening and helped in grasping the intricate technical details related to radar operations. I am highly thankful to my instructor, Dr. Robin Tanamachi and the CSWR folks to have made this educational deployment possible.” -- M. Sharma, EAPS graduate student

“Since I have operated mobile radar before and have the experience, it may have impacted me a little less than somebody operating a mobile radar for the first time. However, working with the radar definitely helps to see how different scanning strategies allows us to see how it impacts observations in real time. It allows us to apply concepts that we learn in class out in the field which is extremely beneficial to those are learn best with hands-on activities.” -- P. Saunders, EAPS graduate student

Lessons learned

Fast data turnaround: It was extremely beneficial to have the IOP data turned around to the PI within about 24 hours of collection, as she was able to quickly integrate it into EAPS 52300 labs. The CSWR staff who accompanied the DOW were highly competent at quick deployment, as well as processing and organizing the data, which made the PI’s job of incorporating it into lessons much easier. We strongly encourage NSF to provide support for CSWR staff members to accompany the DOW on each educational deployment to provide these services.

Deployment timing: As mentioned in the outreach section, the timing of the deployment (early March) negatively impacted our ability to make local school visits, as it conflicted with Indiana standardized testing, as well as spring break at many primary and secondary schools. Any future repeats of the PurRad deployment will likely be requested 1-2 weeks later in the semester relative to spring break in order to avoid similar scheduling issues.

Accessibility: During the “Disasters Happen” event, at least one physically disabled person was not able to climb into the DOW, and therefore missed out on part of the experience. At future public outreach events, it is suggested that accommodations be made (perhaps in the form of a temporary set of stairs or elevator) for those who may have difficulty physically getting into and out of the DOW.

Assessment: Personal contacts and anecdotal written remarks were our principal metric for assessing this deployment. Future repeats of PurRad will incorporate more formal assessment to quantify knowledge gained and the educational impact of the deployment. Additional written feedback will also be gathered from Purdue students enrolled in EAPS courses other than Radar Meteorology.

Soundings: It was highly beneficial to have coordinated local soundings from Purdue during each IOP, as the nearest operational sounding site is 230 km from Purdue and often not representative of conditions at Purdue. Representative soundings are critical to the accuracy of the hydrometeor classification algorithm, particularly in cases of phase change. The PI will work to ensure that the EAPS sounding equipment is functioning and available during future PurRad deployments, and that all students are appropriately trained on its safe operation.

Additional analysis of the PurRad IOPs is planned, and a manuscript about PurRad observations is currently in preparation for a refereed journal, with the PI as lead author and all four Radar Meteorology students as coauthors, enhancing their respective careers. The PI also plans to include her lessons learned from this deployment in several professional presentations. The PI plans to request another educational deployment when EAPS 52300 is taught again at Purdue University in Spring 2020.


The PI gratefully acknowledges the energetic assistance of CSWR staff members Alycia Gilliland and Maiana Hanshaw during this deployment. Ms. Gilliland, in particular, played a critical role in the success of our four IOPs, driving the DOW to the deployment site, leveling the truck, configuring the computer array, and instructing the students on the safe operation of the radar.

Purdue University’s College of Science and Spirit EMS sponsored the “Disasters Happen” event, providing free admission to the Imagination Station visitors. Steven Smith (EAPS) coordinated EAPS departmental participation. Phil Cardella organized the event and tracked the number of visitors.

We gratefully acknowledge James Beatty, ACRE superintendent, and Jason Burns, director of the ICSC, for allowing the DOW to park in the ICSC high bay during this educational deployment, and arranging access to the facility for the participants.

Logan Judy (EAPS) handled media outreach and supplied several of the photographs in this report. EAPS professors Ernie Agee, Mike Baldwin, Dan Dawson, Dan Chavas, and Harshvardan created activities for their respective classes that were centered on the DOW.

Many of the figures in this report were created using the open source software Py-ART (Helmus and Collis 2016). Scott Collis, Zach Sherman, Robert Jackson, and Mike Picel supported the EAPS 52300 participants in its use.

Last, but not least, we thank the students of Purdue for their enthusiastic participation in this educational deployment. Boiler up!