Students touring the CAVE at CAES

Shoshone-Bannock High School students explore the computer-assisted virtual environment (CAVE) at the Center for Advanced Energy Systems.

Shoshone-Bannock High School students tour CAES

By Kortny Rolston, INL Communications & Governmental Affairs

Students viewing data
Students from Shoshone-Bannock High School view data in the CAVE for a possible transmission route.
Since being hired as Shoshone-Bannock High School's building and trades teacher, Robin Hart has tried to incorporate technology into her classroom. She is introducing the latest version of AutoCAD to her Fort Hall students and pushing them to hone their computer skills.

So when a friend at the Department of Energy told her she heard about the new computer-assisted virtual environment (CAVE) at Idaho National Laboratory's Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES), Hart immediately arranged a tour of the 3-D modeling system.

"Technology has become a huge part of every field, including construction," she said. "All the plans are done with computers. I want (my students) to see what is out there and where technology is heading."

During their tour of the CAVE, Hart and her students "flew" through LIDAR – or laser – images of the Malad Gorge and learned how it is helping CAES scientists study rock formations that could potentially be used to store carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Students viewing LIDAR images
Hart and her students "flew" through LIDAR images of the Malad Gorge
— "It felt like we were at the gorge."
They also toured a virtual rendering of INL's Advanced Test Reactor and learned how engineers are using the 3-D image to design new parts for the reactor.

The students also got the chance to manipulate images in the CAVE so they could better understand how the system uses sensors to track a user’s movement.

"It's really cool to see what it can do," said Culen Fightsover, one of Hart's students. "It felt like we were at the gorge."

Hart is hoping to bring more students to tour the CAVE and learn about the energy research being conducted at CAES and the lab.

Bob Pence, DOE’s American Indian program manager, agrees.

"Something like this might inspire them to continue their education or help them consider doing something they hadn't thought of," she said.

Students working with earthquake data
Students were able to view and manipulate global earthquake data.

DOE and all federal agencies have a trust responsibility to federally recognized Tribes. A key element of the agreement that exists between DOE and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes is helping them develop self-sufficiency.

"We want to assist the tribes in stimulating young students in identifying career paths that will lead to a successful and fulfilling life," he said. "Tours and educational opportunities, like this, is exactly what I hope for. Opportunities to tour our facilities and work alongside our scientists and engineers not only enhance their education, but it helps them to be better prepared for their future. Ultimately, we hope this and other efforts will be instrumental in preparing them to work in science or technology jobs – maybe even at Idaho National Laboratory someday."

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