RENCI at ECU Sponsors Public Information Officers Workshop
As part of ECU's commitment to sharing expertise and technology with the greater eastern North Carolina community, several faculty members gave a workshop in Manteo on December 11, 2007, for public information officers (PIOs) and employees of other public agencies from several coastal counties. The "Risk and Emergency Communication Workshop" focused on facilitating communication between PIOs and the media in order to ensure public safety in the event of a natural disaster—in this area, typically a hurricane. Donna Kain and Catherine Smith moderated, assisted by John Howard of the School of Communications. Kain and Smith are professors in the Technical and Professional Communication division of the English Department and have collaborated on several projects funded by the North Carolina Sea Grant. Kain is also director of outreach for RENCI/C-SIM.
Smith and Kain opened the program with an overview of their ongoing study on how Dare County residents "create, receive, access, and use" emergency information. Following their presentation, attendees took advantage of the opportunity for lively and productive give-and-take with representatives of the media. Present in person were Rob Morris and Catherine Cozak of the Virginian Pilot and Erica Lazure of the ECU News Bureau, while Hunter Hughes from WAVY 10 and Bruce Ferrell from NCNN Radio participated by speakerphone.
The five-hour workshop concluded with a hands-on exercise in a technique of document evaluation, geared to leave PIOs with a tool for maximizing effective written communication with the public.
Kids Get a Lesson in Geography and Weather through Red and Blue Colored Glasses
Students and teachers from Belvoir Elementary School in Greenville are some of the first people to learn about weather and geography using RENCI at ECU's new state-of-the-art high-resolution Visualization Wall at East Carolina University. More than 40 students and their teachers attended a program on October 30, 2007, that was planned by Theodore "Teddy" Allen, a geography graduate student and RENCI at ECU research assistant. The program was arranged by Sue Chapman, administrative support specialist for the University Honors, ECU Scholars, and Undergraduate Research Programs.
During the event, the students participated in activities in different locations including the VisWall demonstration. Students viewed hurricane satellite animations and Google Earth fly-bys, interacted with NASA's World Wind, and used 3D glasses to see stereoscopic animations. The program also featured a hands-on approach to learning basic meteorological instrumentation. Students used hand-held instruments to measure temperatures and winds at various locations. According to Allen, "The two sessions, all within a one hour time span, provided a dynamic setting with various interactive programs for the students to enjoy. We in the Geography Department and RENCI at ECU felt that this was a great opportunity to introduce the Belvoir students to our Geography Department. They all assured me that they would strive to become future geographers at ECU!"
Dr. Michael Bassman, assistant vice chancellor & director of the University Honors Program, ECU Scholars & Undergraduate Research, noted that this would be the first opportunity for most of the students, many from the Latino migrant community, to see the ECU campus. Allen says that the event marks the beginning of a relationship between RENCI and Belvoir Elementary: "I know that Belvoir and ECU Scholars are always looking for new opportunities to introduce exciting topics to the students."
ECU's RENCI/CSIM Hosts Open House
The Renaissance Computing Institute/Center for Coastal Systems Informatics and Modeling (RENCI/CSIM) held its first open house on the East Carolina University campus on November 1, 2007, introducing the university community to its technology and capabilities. Over 30 faculty and students from various departments, including anthropology, biology, communications, economics, English, geography, geology, history, public health, and sociology, attended the afternoon event.
The program opened with an information session given by Dr. Jamie Kruse, cirector of the center, who spoke about the genesis and purpose of RENCI/CSIM, its current grants and projects, fellowship and assistantship support opportunities for graduate students and researchers, and outreach initiatives for K-12 students and teachers.
Taking advantage of the beautiful autumn weather, participants then toured the facility, beginning with its offices and AVO Node and conference room in the Rivers Building, moving on to the ROVER parked just outside, and ending with the Visualization Wall in the Brewster Building.
Dr. Kruse explained the conferencing capabilities of the AVO Node; Dr. Donna Kain, outreach director, together with Ernest Marshburn, director of strategic initiatives, displayed the ROVER and its equipment; and Dr. Thomas Allen, IT director, demonstrated the VisWall. The entire program was repeated to accommodate the participants' varying schedules.
The open house gave the participants an opportunity to "brainstorm," exchanging ideas about utilizing what they had seen, while enjoying light refreshments. Also assisting with the event and preparations were Administrative Assistant Pamela Walker-Dees, and graduate students Theodore Allen, Jonathon Harkness, Paul Hindsley, Jingyuan Li, Suzanne McArdle, and Miriam Wildeman.
The mission of RENCI/CSIM is to support research and outreach that improves understanding of how geographic features, biological coastal processes, and human activity interact and affect the environment, economy, and social systems of North Carolina's coastal region.