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Professors offer workshops in energy science

Students and their teachers in Southeast Texas are being offered the opportunity to learn about the latest in energy science thanks to a partnership between Lamar University engineering professor Tony Pereira and Rice professor Enrique Barrera.

The first workshops are being held in Jasper June 18-22 and 25-29.  The two-week workshop will host more than 50 students and a dozen teachers. The innovative workshop brings state-of-the-art ideas and opportunities to learn about the future of energy sciences. Additional workshops are planned. Individuals interested in the program should contact their school principal or superintendent, Pereira said.

“We believe it is very important to bring creative thinking and motivational messages to the students and teachers of Southeast Texas,” Pereira said. “Today’s students are the leaders of tomorrow. We want to help them become big thinkers – individuals who will advance our world by solving many of the challenges we face today.”

The workshops will help students learn about developments in science and engineering with a focus on energy and opportunities in energy fields, Pereira said. “We want to encourage students to become leaders in science, technology, engineering and math.”

The professors are developing curriculum for teaching energy topics in high schools that will give students valuable tools for entering college.

“We will seek to connect classroom instruction with real-world situations – so it’s not all theory, but practical things that translate into skills useful in the workforce and strong preparation for college-level work.”

Barrera is a recognized educator, researcher, and mentor of students on faculty at Rice University for 21 years.  He holds 56 patents and is known internationally for his research. In 2002, Barrera received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, a national honor that was bestowed on him at a White House ceremony. From 2004 to 2010, Barrera served as chair of the mechanical engineering and materials science department. Barrera also chairs a national committee established by Congress to broaden participation in research and education for historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions. This summer, he was appointed by the Mayor of Houston to serve on a board that will establish the new forensics center for the city.

Pereir, who holds a Ph.D. from UCLA, has published more than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, proceedings, and reports. He has given hundreds of presentations and seminars in the energy fields. At Lamar, Pereira is a researcher in the College of Engineering’s Fuel Cell Research Center and Green Composites Laboratory, and holds a particular interest in the burgeoning area of sustainable engineering.

He was recently honored by UN/Unesco in an international engineering competition on sustainability hosting thousands of contestants from top universities like MIT, Stanford, Princeton, Cambridge and Yale.