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USC/Chevron Frontiers of Energy Resources Summer Camp Scores 2011 Hit

High school juniors from all over the nation come to University Park Campus to explore the leading edges of research — and chart careers
Eric Mankin
August 01, 2011 —

Bring 20 high school juniors from all over California and the nation to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, along with five energetic high school science and math teachers. Add a series of lectures by top authorities in the field of energy. Stir, brainstorm and conclude with competitive topical presentations from four student teams on what they learned and what they now think possible.

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All together now: CiSoft campers on the Olin Hall of Engineering steps with Professor Iraj Ershaghi
That was the recipe for the weeklong “USC / Chevron Frontiers of Energy Resources Summer Camp 2011.” The program was “a preparatory, interactive training program focusing on various energy resources — fossil fuels, solar, biofuel, wind, nuclear energy, and information technologies for energy efficient operations.”

Campers stayed in a USC dormitory, went on field trips, received detailed briefings, and, finally, were tested on what they had learned. The event was the fourth in the series, which began in 2008.

The campers were selected from 178 students and 27 teachers who had responded to a national online search for “enthusiastic and academically outstanding high school juniors who are interested in a future in the energy industry” and “passionate high school science and math teachers.”

Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos and the co-directors of the USC-Chevron Center of Excellence for Research and Academic Training on Interactive Smart Oilfield Technologies (CiSoft), USC Professor Iraj Ershaghi and Chevron i-field Program Manager Mike Hauser addressed the group during the CiSoft-sponsored event.

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Teachers learning: Kathleen Diver, Los Osos HS (CA), Carlos Fukunaga, Hialeah Senior High (FL), Roberto Auchterlonie, Camino Nuevo HS (CA),  Beth Goodman from Glenelg Country School (MD),  David Hamman, Medina High (OH)
Other speakers included Don Paul, USC Energy Institute executive director and retired Chevron chief technology officer and numerous Chevron oil engineers and USC researchers on topics including “Human Energy,” “Advanced batteries,” “CO2 Sequestration,” “Nanotechnology,” “Nuclear Energy,” “Combustion Efficiency” and others.

The campers, clad in brilliant green t-shirts divided into teams who made competitive presentations in various areas, judged by the teachers. (see photo).

The winning student team was the "Solar Energy Group," including Brian Bliss from Riverside's Poly High, Jason Ma from Canyon Crest Academy, Walter Opfell from La Quinta High, Corey Ruder from Woodcreek High and Taylor Witke from Canyon High.

Students gave enthusiastic reports on their camp experience. Bliss was impressed “by the lecture on nuclear energy by Isaac Maya. It was very informative, in depth” and definitely made him want to look at careers in energy." Opfell was attracted by "new types of non-oxygen batteries I saw; it definitely interested me in job opportunities in the field.” 

Students teaching students: one of the four presentations that closed the camp

Krystyna Miles from North Salem, New York liked “getting high level lectures from people working in the field.” Chris Popovich of Agoura Hills was somewhat taken aback to learn that "clean" electric vehicles often received their power from coal — “which made me even more interested in fuel cells.”

Campers were not the only young minds at the camp. USC students served as counselors. One of them, Karen Dang, a freshman in the Marshall School, was impressed by “how intelligent the campers were: I’d have never known this much when I was in high school.”