NSF Science Academy students get hands-on look at RENCI visualization systems

What better way is there to understand information visualization systems than a first-hand demonstration at the RENCI engagement center at UNC Chapel Hill?

Twenty-two female students attending the National Science Foundation (NSF) Summer Science Academy at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro visited RENCI in the Manning Information Technology Services building on Friday, June 27 for a guided tour. The event was part of the Academy’s objective to prepare students through course work, computer projects, laboratory experiences, and enrichment activities for success in college mathematics and science courses.

“We were delighted to have a chance to have our students visit RENCI,” said Margaret Curtis, executive director for the Bennett College NSF Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP). “Many of the young ladies commented about how much they enjoyed learning about RENCI and advanced technology, such as the dome and the life-sized simulation of a courtroom displayed in the Social Computing Room.”

The tour featured RENCI’s Social Computing Room, Showcase Dome Room and Tele-immersion Room, all designed to encourage multidisciplinary collaboration for research and education.

“The systems are in daily use at RENCI for researcher purposes,” said Eric Knisley, RENCI 3D visualization researcher. “We host many tour groups during the year, focusing on young people like the NSF Academy students, to make them aware of the presence of high tech systems and how to incorporate them into their own lives and careers.”

The NSF Summer Science Academy is a residential, five-week intensive program that enables students to earn seven college credits in mathematics and science. The Academy began June 13 and includes young women who are rising high school seniors as well as incoming Bennett freshmen for Fall 2009. The geographical diversity of the group reflects the composition of Bennett’s student body, with representatives from Maryland, Texas, North Carolina and other states. Other activities for the students included a trip to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh and to SciWorks, a science museum in Winston-Salem.