Students and faculty working together
One of Wake Forest College’s defining features is the face-to-face interactions between our faculty and students. In the College, we embrace personal interaction and intellectual exchange between students and faculty. Wake Forest is a place where the engagement of faculty and students in and outside the classroom and the laboratory are paramount. Such engagement is the key to real learning and discovery.
Our Wake Forest Summer Research Fellowship program enhances and supports our commitment to student-faculty engagement. This program, administered by our Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URECA) Center, supports the work of 60-65 students collaborating with faculty on scholarly and creative work each summer. This summer, Senior Brian Shoemaker is working with physics professor Timo Thonhauser on a summer research project to improve fuel cell technology for automobiles. Brian, a summer undergraduate research fellow, is on a national team of scientists helping them to find an answer to a million dollar question “Could a substance that resembles baby powder curb global carbon emissions?” Brian has spent his summer in Professor Thonhauser’s lab, swapping different metals like magnesium, iron, gold and platinum into a computer simulation to see which types of metals work best in a Metal Organic Framework (MOF) carbon dioxide filter. He is also helping Professor Thonhauser with another piece of MOF-based research that could help make the world a much cleaner place. By testing different metals in these simulations, Brian is hoping to find one that will bind oxygen while letting hydrogen pass through.
Through such projects, students like Brian learn that not all questions have an answer that can be found on Wikipedia or the internet. Students learn how to think creatively and analytically, skills that they will need for their careers in the 21st century. I commend and thank our faculty, who are willing to spend their summer hours working with our students on such projects.
For details on the work that Brian is doing with Professor Thonhauser, please read http://news.wfu.edu/2013/07/29/engineering-at-the-atomic-scale/
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