Research experience allows Valerie Doornbos ’21 to present at national conference

After a summer participating in a research program in Pennsylvania, Valerie Doornbos ’21 of Allendale Michigan, presented about her work at a conference in September.

The summer research program was located at the Penn State University Park Campus in State College, Pennsylvania. The program was sponsored through the Penn State Department of Engineering, but Doornbos worked with the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

One of the components of the program is Project Drawdown. The main goal is to create a variety of solutions to be implemented to help promote Drawdown, the point when atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide begin to decrease.

The goal was to design a curriculum based on these solutions and to examine the literature for each relevant solution. Doornbos designed a curriculum for an interdisciplinary and inclusive wind energy course, which prepared students to attend the annual U.S. Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition.

A student wind energy club already exists at Penn State, but there is a desire to engage a broader group of students in the competition and make the environment more inclusive. To achieve this goal, Doornbos designed a sustainability-based curriculum to attract students of all backgrounds, genders, disciplines and cultures.

“I got a lot out of this program,” Doornbos says. “I was able to connect with similarly minded students on important environmental issues. I also was able to network and meet someone who worked with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which is where I would like to eventually work. I also was able to gain more information about graduate schools and what steps I should consider taking in order to prepare myself. I also gained valuable experience in how to effectively communicate with an audience on environmental issues, as well as how to create an abstract and design a research poster.”

At the conference in September, Doornbos presented the research poster she created titled “Curriculum Design for an Inclusive, Interdisciplinary Collegiate Wind Competition Course” and gave a 90-second lightning talk about her summer research.

Doornbos hopes to implement some of the ideas she gained from her experience at Ripon through her position as an intern in the Office of Sustainability. She is majoring in history and environmental studies with a minor in Spanish.

Zoe Hazel ’22
Friendship, Wisconsin

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