Published on Friday September 12, 2014
In July and August 2014, the department held the third annual Drexel University Materials Science & Engineering Summer Institute, a week-long program for rising high school juniors and seniors. The program, which began with 16 students participating in a single week-long session in 2012, has steadily grown in popularity, this summer hosting 61 high school students over three weeks. In addition to providing an introduction to materials science and engineering, the Summer Institute focuses on materials in biotechnology, electronics and energy through hands-on activities and two laboratory exercises. Working in groups of two or three, students constructed their own electrospinning apparatuses to produce polymer nanofibers under various conditions. Using optical and scanning electron microscopy, students took images of their fibers and then used image analysis software to determine average fiber diameter as a function of polymer type and voltage. The second major experiment focused on solar energy with student groups building their own dye-sensitized solar cells and comparing the power output to a commercial solar cell. The week culminated with each student group giving a presentation on their results to an audience of peers and parents.