OSU and The Oregonian host the Newspaper Institute for Minority High School Students.
This June, Oregon State University and The Oregonian invited 18 high school students to the OSU campus to take part in the Newspaper Institute for Minority High School Students. The Institute had been a longtime dream of Frank Ragulsky, OSU’s director of student media, and a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in Oklahoma City made it possible.
The teenagers, who are all from Oregon or Washington, spent a week reporting for and producing their own newspaper, The Pride. They also delved into new media — blog posts, video and photos — that chronicled their experience.
“Why a journalism camp for minorities? Why not open it up to everyone,” wrote David Austin, a reporter for The Oregonian and the camp’s director, in the 2008 issue of the Pride. “The answer is simple: Those camps already exist,” he writes. “But many of them are expensive or not easily accessible to many minority high school students. In some cases, minority students don’t know about the opportunities because some educators don’t see them as potential journalists.”
For more about the students’ and camp counselors’ stories, experiences and work, visit the Oregonian’sJournalism Camp 2008 blog.
Follow OSU in the 2008 North American Solar Car Challenge.
Designing and building a solar-powered car fit to take on the North American Solar Challenge took OSU Solar Vehicle Team captains and College of Engineering doctoral students Kathy Van Wormer and Hai-Yue Han three years of work and $50,000. They also enlisted the help of nearly two dozen team members to make sure that Rain Dancer, which is powered by more than 400 solar cells and weighs 600 pounds, was competition-ready.
But that was only the beginning of their trip.
The North American Solar Challenge, in which Van Wormer, Han and 10 of their teammates are currently participating, is a 2,400-mile race from Dallas, Texas to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It’s the longest solar power race in the world, beating out the World Solar Challenge by almost 500 miles. OSU’s team is racing with 15 others from universities all over the United States and Canada, including the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Queens University and the University of Kentucky. “Everyone here is fantastic. The atmosphere is so helpful,” says Van Wormer. “It’s the best time I’ve ever had. We are definitely doing this again.”
Rain Dancer’s solar array only outputs around 1.5 hp during the brightest time of the day, forcing it to drive more than 2,000 miles with less power than a hairdryer.
Follow the OSU Solar Vehicle team’s progress in the race on their blog.
Terri Irwin partners with OSU for humpback whale research.
Terri Irwin’s relationship with OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute, which led to a recent agreement to fund two humpback whale research projects, began by happenstance. The Institute’s director, Bruce Mate, had written to Irwin to express his condolences over the death of her husband, the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, and she picked Mate’s letter from the piles of correspondence before her.
But Mate had another purpose. He was also writing to express his thanks for the Irwins’ support of his research.
Before his death in September 2006, Steve Irwin had planned a research trip to Antarctica. After he passed away, his family learned that the arrangements could not be canceled. The Irwins had their ship captain offer the trip to another scientist at minimum cost.
The captain reached out to Bruce Mate and his MMI team.
In his letter, Mate told Irwin about going to Antarctica and tagging whales to learn more about their migration routes. He told Terri Irwin that they named one of the whales “Steve.”
Irwin wrote back, telling Mate about her interest in whale conservation and research. She invited Mate and his wife to Australia to discuss the possibility of working together and to visit the Australia Zoo, which the Irwins own.
The agreement with MMI is Irwin’s first of this kind with an American university and a way to honor Steve’s memory. “After we lost Steve, I made a decision that I would tackle everything that Steve had planned for the next 10 years,” she said. Whale conservation, which Steve Irwin was passionate about, was on the list.
Compared to culling or harvesting whales, the non-lethal methods used by OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute to study humpback and other whale species, she says, can provide much of the same information.
“Learning about whales is part of a bigger picture. Our oceans are in jeopardy and the more research we gather about whales, the more knowledge we have to help us save, protect and preserve our delicate oceans,” she said.
In September, Mate, his research team and Australia Zoo will collaborate on a project to tag up to 25 humpback whales near Unimak Pass at the eastern end of the Aleutian Island chain. During that time, huge concentrations of krill develop in the region, drawing millions of seabirds and hundreds of whales of many species, including the threatened humpback.
The goal of the project is to tag the humpbacks, to determine how much they intermingle in the feeding area and to track the timing, route and rate of speed for their migrations back to their respective breeding areas.
In October, the team will also travel to the tropical South Pacific where the scientists will tag humpback whales at American Samoa near the end of the animals’ reproductive season. Satellites will track the spring migration to Antarctic feeding grounds.
The research will shed light on the whales’ movements, possibly around the other islands of Oceania and where they go in Antarctica to feed, Mate said.
“Thanks to Terri’s generosity and enthusiastic interest in protecting threatened wildlife around the world, we’ll be able to significantly expand the research capacities of the OSU Marine Mammal Institute,” said Mate. “We hope to show that it’s quite possible to gather the rich breadth of critical information we need to help protect whales without killing or injuring them.”
It was like a scene from a grade-B horror film. On a gently rocking vessel in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez, a young oceanographer earnestly watches her computer screen while colleagues lower a cable into the water.
Instruments aboard the ship, the Pacific Storm, ping sound waves toward the cable. The oceanographer’s eyes flicker across the screen to make sure the signal is clear. Tethered to the cable is a 5-pound Humboldt squid, and the sound waves, set at 38 kilohertz, bounce off the squid. An image shows up on the screen.
The oceanographer raises her fist in triumph. It marks the first time scientists had clearly picked up a strong sonar signal for squid, which lack the bones and swim bladders that give away other marine creatures.
Suddenly a second image appears, darting up from below. The acoustic signal tracks it from the depths toward the cable — and the tethered squid. It is another squid, larger than the first, and it attacks the tethered animal. The oceanographer screams.
OSU’s Robotics Team Takes First in National Competition.
The core members of the OSU student team that won the 2008 University Rover Challenge could have been characters in an action movie. There was Ben Goska, who’s been programming computers since the age of 10, and Jordan Levy, who’s been assembling gadgets for just as long. Ryan Albright knows mechanical design software and how to manufacture professional-grade parts. Matt Shuman organized the group and kept their goals in focus. All four are students in OSU’s College of Engineering and members of the OSU Robotics Club.
They outstripped the competition when their “Parallax Quad-Rover” beat teams from the University of Nevada, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Brigham Young University and others. “The rover competition promotes innovation within engineering, challenging engineers to find solutions that improve their engineering abilities,” says Shuman. The team adapted their rover to perform tasks such as construction, soil analysis and navigation in extreme conditions.
“It’s just dust and rocks,” says Shuman. “The entire valley is in a rain shadow and funnels light right into your eyes. It makes you realize you don’t need a rover that can get over plants and bushes.”
The event that helped the OSU team clinch victory was finding and delivering supplies to a “distressed astronaut” — in this case a real, but empty astronaut suit lying on the desert floor. The team’s Quad-Rover used a gasoline-powered hydraulic drive system, the first of its type ever used in this competition. It provided far more power than some of the other systems that were run on electrical batteries.
“We were able to go over and through rocks instead of weaving around them in places where many teams got stuck,” says Shuman.
The key, says Shuman, is teamwork. “It’s a challenge at first to communicate with three other people who are focusing on a small aspect of the project. We needed to communicate through documents, schematics and instructions. Documents allowed us to use each other’s strengths and understand what teammates had built.”
It still wasn’t an easy process. “We made a firm commitment to publicly showcase our rover a month before Utah,” says Shuman. “But the dress rehearsal failed horribly.” Once the team got the wheels of the rover moving and increased the throttle, the gasoline engine shook so much it disconnected a vital power cable. The pitfall motivated them to find and fix problems, which was crucial to their success.
It also made them realize that they needed to bring in more varied talents before the competition. “Anyone with enough motivation was welcome to help, says Shuman. Nearly a dozen did, supplying the team with t-shirts, maps of the Utah terrain and even expertise in constructing robotic arms. Most were engineering students also involved in OSU’s Robotics Club, and several accompanied the original team members on the 16-hour drive to Utah.
As a result of winning the Rover Challenge, the team will receive support to attend the 11th annual Mars Society Convention to be held this summer in Boulder, Colo. They’re also looking forward to next year’s competition. “The whole team will be back next year,” says Shuman. “It’s amazing to compete and see how many ways there are to solve a problem.”