Lessons Learned

Project Success

Instructor Perspective

Despite the shortened period of deployment due to the delayed arrival of DOW 6 due to the truck’s mechanical problems, Sepideh Yalda and Brian Billings were pleased with the outcomes of MEDOW from an educational, outreach, and data collection perspective. The opportunity provided especially for the students in the Radar Meteorology course to have direct hands-on experience with the radar was invaluable. In addition other students had an opportunity to learn more about the radar that was enhanced by related course materials and lectures provided by Dr. Wurman. The two large outreach activities were highly successful reaching a broad and diverse audience. Furthermore, the data collected during IOP 2 provided direct evidence to support the need for a radar in the local area to address the data void. There are ongoing discussions and a focused effort on the development of a proposal to address this issue.

Students were extremely enthusiastic about having the opportunity to obtain hands-on training and be able to participate in observing periods. Additionally, the PWAD event is sponsored and managed by the meteorology students and they were very pleased to be able to have the DOW available for this event that attracts large numbers from the community.

CSWR technician Alycia Gilliland played a critical role in the success of the MEDOW project. She tirelessly trained a large number of students that were interested in the more detailed training and was directly involved in the IOPs and the outreach activities.

Student Perspective (Ashley Orehek)

As a new officer for our chapter of AMS, I wanted to make the school year different. I wanted to do something no one has done before, but what? I thought back to the previous summer (2015), when I participated in the Plains Elevated Convection at Night (PECAN) campaign. I worked with Karen Kosiba and the Center for Severe Weather Center (CSWR) for half of the campaign, operating mesonets and a DOW. I thought back to the 2015 Northeastern Storms Conference hosted by Lyndon State College (LSC); they had a DOW on display in conjunction with a deployment at LSC.

First goal: Let’s bring a DOW to Millersville! Let’s bring it for our spring Radar Meteorology class, for Public Weather Awareness Day, for community outreach, for student research. Second goal: While it is here, either Josh Wurman or Karen Kosiba would speak to the AMS chapter about their research field, enlightening chapter members and encouraging a different meteorology field. I sought out my advisor, Dr. Yalda, with my idea. She liked it and agreed to help me. She enlisted another professor with the project, too. Together, we researched and worked on a proposal and stayed in contact with the CSWR. We succeeded in bringing a DOW to campus for the first time.

I encouraged all students to “play” with the DOW while it was here. Many students had positive feedback. Junior Elizabeth Morehead said, “I think the DOW as a whole was a great experience. It was a chance for hands on learning and learning about research and getting to help with it.” Community members, too, were intrigued by the impressive instrument. Junior Amanda Sleinkofer wishes it was around longer. “I thought it was really nice having the DOW and we should have [a radar] all the time for research purposes.” We do wish we had a radar all of the time. Who knows, the next generation of Millersville Meteorology could have one. The information we collected with the DOW may help our case in getting a radar for south-central Pennsylvania.

Josh Wurman mesmerized over 50 students with his presentation on the DOW’s history and what it has seen. He relived tales of “too close for comfort” encounters with tornadoes and navigating waterlogged streets in hurricane-impacted areas and wowed them with impressive radar graphics and videos. Students kept him well after his presentation with questions.

All around, we had a successful deployment. First, I’m glad everyone took advantage of the opportunity, got their hands on something different, and learned about a field they could delve into. Second, I’m glad that I could share something I found very intriguing with Millersville Meteorology. Third, I’m very thankful for Dr. Yalda. She really helped me get the project off the ground and make the school year different for Millersville Meteorology. She helped me fulfil my two goals for the school year.

Lessons learned and closing remarks

Overall, the MEDOW project provided an invaluable experience for the students in multiple courses, as well as students in the meteorology program and other students at Millersville University. We are also pleased that this was a student/faculty collaborative proposal and the student proposer (Ashley Orehek) was engaged through all stages of this educational proposal and deployment. In addition, we were fortunate to be able to have three IOPs considering the short period of the deployment along with conducting two large outreach events. We have learned a great deal during our first experience with this type of project and look forward to utilizing the data collected for future course case studies and assignments and will work on resolving some of the data conversion issues. It is important to note that as a direct result of observations obtained during IOP 2 a number of faculty are planning to work on a proposal for a potential operational radar for the local area to address the gap in observations by the surrounding WSR-88Ds.

We are thankful to NSF for providing this educational deployment opportunity.