941 See It, Hear It, Touch It: Florida International University Informal STEM Education and Outreach

Wednesday, 9 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Erik Salna, Extreme Events Institute, Florida International Univ., Miami, FL

The Extreme Events Institute’s (EEI) International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, Florida, as a NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, is dedicated to make South Florida, Ready, Responsive and Resilient. This is accomplished by a variety of informal STEM education outreach programs and activities. With funding from the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), the EEI-IHRC has partnered with the Miami-Dade and Broward County School Districts to develop the FIU Wall of Wind Mitigation Challenge. As the next generation of engineers to address natural hazards and extreme weather, this STEM education event features a competition between high school teams to develop innovative wind mitigation concepts and real-life human safety and property protection solutions. These concepts are then tested in the FIU Wall of Wind Research Facility as part of the competition. The Wall of Wind is the largest and most powerful university research facility of its kind and is capable of simulating a Category 5 hurricane. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has designated the Wall of Wind as one of the nation’s major “Experimental Facilities” under the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) program. For the live competition, distinguished wind engineering and hurricane experts like former National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield participate as VIP judges. There has also been tremendous support by local and national media, including The Weather Channel and CNN. The high school students are inspired to pursue STEM education and careers in wind engineering and hurricane mitigation. There is no other competition like it in the entire country, and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for the high school students – an experience they never forget. Florida International University is a majority-minority institution with a very diverse (predominantly Hispanic) student body and is recognized as an “R1: Doctoral Universities - Highest Research Activity” classification by the Carnegie Institute and as a Carnegie Community Engaged university.
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