November 10, 2008 to November 21, 2008
Project Location: 
University of Nebraska DOW Education and Outreach Project
Project Description: 

University of Nebraska DOW Education and Outreach Project :: UNDEO

Principal Investigator :: Dr. Adam Houston
Where :: University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
When :: 10 - 21 November 2008
Facility :: Doppler On Wheels

The University of Nebraska DOW Education and Outreach (UNDEO) project was conducted in November of 2008. UNDEO was an NSF-funded collaboration between the Department of Geosciences at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln (UNL) and the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR) that allowed for a 15-day on-campus deployment of a Doppler on Wheels (DOW) for classroom-instruction and hands-on experience. UNDEO had two principal objectives:

  1. Education: To provide undergraduate and graduate students in Radar Meteorology an opportunity to use a sophisticated research radar to collect invaluable data
  2. Outreach: To exhibit a new and valuable platform in the NSF deployment pool to a broad audience of current and future scientists and members of the general public.

The most direct benefactors of the educational component of this project were the 14 students enrolled in Radar Meteorology, a course for upper-level undergraduate majors (8) and graduate students (6) in the UNL Meteorology/Climatology program. These students were trained to operate the DOW, crafted research proposals for using the DOW, collected data during three intensive operations periods (IOP), and used the data collected in a class assignment. The outreach component of this project targeted a broader audience. The principal mechanisms for satisfying this objective were three presentations given by Dr. Josh Wurman, director of CSWR. The audiences for these talks (totaling ~160 people) were non-major undergraduates, Meteorology/Climatology undergraduates, and the general public. Additionally, Justin Walker (CSWR technician and DOW operator during UNDEO) exhibited the DOW to ~175 students at a local public elementary school.

See the complete UNDEO facility request form.

UNDEO Final Report

At the end of the semester, the students were surveyed in an effort to gauge the effectiveness of UNDEO and solicit suggestions for improvement. A synthesis of the student comments and the PI-s own observations appears below. Also included in this assessment are recommendations for avoiding problems encountered. Read the full UNDEO 2008 Final Report by Adam Houston for a complete overview.

  • Planning: The planning of student projects and execution of DOW field deployment was rushed. The PI submitted the UNDEO proposal in October for on-campus deployment the following month. This did not allow for enough time for the students to prepare their projects and feel involved in the strategic planning. The proposal to OFAP should be submitted no less than 6 months prior to the start of the semester in which the DOW is to be used.
  • Deployment Duration: While the students generally felt that the length of the on-campus deployment of the DOW was long enough, they uniformly lamented about the lack of good cold fronts during the deployment. As stated above, the limited biological scatterers were partly to blame for the poor data. Thus, better data for this project would have been retrieved earlier in the semester. This experience also demonstrated that the training of students, strategic discussions, scouting for deployment locations, and talks by Dr. Wurman should all occur before field deployments. This significantly compresses the actual time available for field deployments. Therefore, 21 days seems to be a more appropriate time frame for on-campus deployment. Not only will this allow for more possible days for deployment and a better chance of retrieving good data, but will also insure that more students can participate in the deployments. The extra days of downtime associated with a longer deployment can be used for additional community outreach (e.g., DOW visits to local K-12 schools).
  • Educational Lectures: Dr. Wurman's talks were well received but could have been better if more time was allotted for them. Several students suggested two lectures to the Radar Meteorology class and two presentations to the Meteorology/Climatology majors. Furthermore, it is very likely that the turnout for Josh-s general audience talk would have been considerably higher if it had been on a Saturday instead of a Thursday. Thus, a 3-4-day visit by Dr. Wurman, with at least one day on the weekend, instead of a 2-day, Thursday-Friday visit would be better.
  • Additional Support: Justin Walker (CSWR) was a great asset to the project. This speaks to Josh's abilities to interact with the students and his affable nature but also speaks to the need to have a CSWR staff member in residence during the entire on-campus deployment.
  • Data Collection: It is important that all data collected during the deployments be uploaded to a local server prior to the completion of the on-campus deployment. During UNDEO, pod data were collected the last day before the DOW returned to Colorado. Unfortunately, the pod was left on during the return trip and the cyclic logger overwrote the data collected during the last deployment. Moreover, because the data needed to be transferred from Colorado back UNL and because Thanksgiving was immediately following the execution of UNDEO, there was about a week-long delay before the data were available to the students.

UNDEO Images