ESSIC hosts 2nd Annual CAREERS Weather Camp Visit

Love for the atmospheric sciences can never start too young.

ESSIC hosted its 2nd annual CAREERS Weather Camp visit on July 17, 2014. The camp encourages high school students to pursue their weather-inspired interests in college and beyond by showcasing the research of current atmospheric scientists and graduate students.

“The message we try to let these kids take in is that there are a lot of opportunities in atmospheric research, and they can do it,” said Dr. Xin-Zhong Liang, a UMD professor and member of ESSIC. “We have provided abundant opportunities for their involvement both through internships and graduate studies and after these we try to link their abilities with NOAA”s application branch.”

The Weather Camp program started over 10 years ago, said Liang, under NOAA’s Center of Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS). The program aims to reach out to minority students that show an interest in the field and may be useful for NOAA’s future workforce.

“Research shows that there is no PhD student from a minority working in atmospheric research,” said Liang, who has organized the camp’s visits to ESSIC over the past three years. “Many outstanding scientists are about to retire, and the workforce is not enough, so this is a good way to get students to gain a higher education and become the new workforce for NOAA.”

Liang said that he introduced the program to ESSIC when he moved from Illinois three years ago. A national organization, NCAS provides a two-week residential program for high school or middle school students to expose them to countless career opportunities within NOAA and ESSIC.

“It’s beneficial to NOAA because these students are being exposed to opportunities early within NOAA,” said Kadidia Thiero, the NCAS outreach coordinator. “It’s beneficial for NOAA to have students learn early about the possibilities within NOAA, and to know that there’s an agency to support the type of work they want to do- it’s all about awareness, and what opportunities are there.”

Thiero said that throughout the camp period, students go to interactive panels and talks and visit research buildings. What is beneficial about the ESSIC visit, Thiero said, is that undergraduate and graduate student panelists provide insight into their personal experiences about the college process and research opportunities within the field.

Dr. Scott Rudlosky, a physical scientist with the NOAA Satellite Climate Studies Branch and an ESSIC Visiting Assistant Research Scientist, presented his research on lightning to educate the students about the distinct research opportunities available at NOAA and ESSIC.

“Our event is different from many other camp visits, since we encourage interaction with our undergraduate summer students,” said Rudlosky, who also helped organize this year’s event. “The campers are able to see examples of what they may be doing in 2-4 years and also ask questions to reduce their anxiety about choosing a college.”

“I think each student will take away something different from [this] event, but am certain that the ESSIC visit will stand out in their minds,” said Rudlosky.