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WESEP Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Brandi Geisinger is the lead evaluator of the NSF Wind Energy Science, Engineering, and Policy (WESEP) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). The WESEP REU is a summer research program in which undergraduate students work with faculty members, other undergraduate students, and individually to complete a research project. Students work in the following areas: 1) wind energy resource characterization and aerodynamic loads, 2) wind energy conversion systems and grid operations, 3) manufacturing, construction, and supply chain, and 4) reliability and turbine health monitoring.

Annual evaluation of the REU program includes pre- and post-program surveys and focus groups. Mentors of WESEP REU students are also surveyed about their experiences working with students in the program. The evaluation of the program has been informed by other studies of REU students and outcomes, as well as best practices for evaluation (Bauer & Bennett 2003; Brew 2003; Cobb 1994; Eagan et al. 2011; Gonzalez-Espada & LaDue 2006; Haen et al. 2012; Handelsman et al. 2005; Hathaway et al. 2002; Lopatto 2004; Lopatto 2007; Pascarella & Terenzini 2005; Russell 2004; Russell et al. 2007; Sadler et al. 2010; Seymour et al. 2004; Zydney et al. 2002). Impacts of the evaluation include gaining an understanding of the value of the WESEP REU program in preparing undergraduate students to attend graduate school in related fields, and supporting and encouraging data collection activities that demonstrate the impact of the program and provide guidance for program improvement.