Graduate students who participate in MRSEC research also engage in a variety of professional development, outreach, education, and community building activities in order to develop and improve their communication, leadership, presentation, networking and demonstration skills. All MRSEC funded grads select to participate on one of the following teams each year:
Outreach Teams for Fall 2020 - Summer 2021
Materials Ambassador Team
Serves as a knowledgeable resource for colleagues and visitors about the Materials Research Institute (MRI) facilities, building, history and mission by:
- Leading tours of the MRI facilities within the Millennium Science Complex (MSC) building for audiences of many types and ages (and coordinating with the K-12 Team when needed for youth). Audiences include: STEM Open House (undergraduates and masters students; fall), REU (undergraduates; summer), Teacher Workshop teachers (professionals; spring), Envision (middle and high school students; winter), K-12 school groups, industry visitors, and non-scientific Penn State visitors and community groups
- Selecting, inviting, and hosting at least one MRSEC Seminar speaker per year
- Hosting a "Industry Careers Information Session" for graduate students to network with industry representatives during MRI's annual Materials Day conference
K-12 Outreach & Education Team
Engages youth audiences at public and school settings through the development and implementation of hands-on interactive demonstrations and short activities by:
- Utilizing, updating/improving, and promoting the Mission: Materials Science activities and platform to virtual (and eventually "live") audiences.
- Leading the Arts Festival Kids Day science event on Old Main Lawn (Wednesday, July 8, 2020 - CoViD dependent) while also mentoring and training Upward Bound high school and REU undergrad volunteers
- Participating in other local or virtual public outreach events and classroom visits with teachers to test new activities or practice presentation/demonstration/communication skills (e.g. Exploration U, Envision, etc.)
- Coordinating with the MRI Ambassadors Team to present brief materials science focused demonstrations to young visitors during their tour of MRI facilities
Sustainability Team (coming in 2021)
The Team will educate Center members and the Penn State materials community on sustainability-focsed issues that exist within the research lab environment. In particular, efforts will strive to identify opportunities for improvements and positive impact regarding the daily behaviors, decisions, conscious awareness and general mindset of researchers. Connections between the academic research lab and the United Nations Sustainabable Development Goals will be highlighted and used as guides. Group laboratory goals will be established, metrics determined, and tangible action items implemented to reach them.
For more about Sustainability at Penn State - we recommend getting connected to the The Sustainability Institute.