Summer Programs 2018

CURENT’s summer programs – Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), Research Experience for Teachers (RET), Young Scholars Program (YSP) and the middle school girls camp Adventures in STEM are now accepting applications.

Dates for the programs are:

REU: June 4  – July 27

RET Session 1: May 29 – June 12

RET Session 2: June 13 – June 27

Adventures in STEM: June 25 – June 29

YSP: July 2 – 27


Nov. 15-16: CURENT Site Review

The NSF/DOE Site Visit completed on Thursday, November, 16th in the Min Kao Building.  The day completed with a student poster session highlighting graduate and undergraduate student research.  The poster session also included posters from the summer programs – YSP Program, RET Program and the REU program.

The posters can be found on the Poster session webpage.

Lastly, the education highlights of the past year were presented by Dr. Daniel Costinett, Co-director of Education and Outreach; Dr. Chen-fei Chen, Director or Education and Outreach; and Dr. Jesmin Khan, Education Representative from Tuskegee University.

Posted on November 9th, 2016

On Tuesday, November 15th, CURENT will be hosting its annual Industry Conference at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Knoxville.  Past, current, and potential industry members are invited to attend to learn more about our research and to meet the faculty and students that perform all the critical research.

On Wednesday, November 16th, CURENT will be demonstrating the past years work to the NSF committee and other guests.  Faculty will be presenting their research accomplishments and future plans.  In the afternoon, a lab and poster session will be provided in the Min Kao building as well as a review of the past years education accomplishments.

For more information, please visit the CURENT Site Review Website.

CURENT helps with Teacher Professional Development

On Tuesday, November 8th, Erin Wills demonstrated electricity activities at the ‘Science Playground’ as a part of Knox County Schools District-Learning Day for teachers (organized by stemspark).  Mr. Wills demonstrated how to use home-made circuit kits in the classroom and discussed the summer research opportunities at CURENT for teachers.  About 15 teachers stopped by the booth.

On Saturday, October 22nd, Erin Wills attended the Big Orange STEM Saturday (BOSS) at the University of Tennessee.  This event provided K-12 teachers and other outreach organizations to meet with University of Tennessee organizations to discuss the transition of high school students to the university and to demonstrate education  resources used at the university that  could be transferred to the K-12 classroom.  Mr. Wills had discussions about resources at CURENT  with about 10 teachers and 3 outreach organizations.


CURENT Attended SHPE Conference

During the SHPE Conference, Mr. Erin Wills and Mr. Camarillo met with over 200 students at the conference to discuss the opportunities at CURENT.  The backgrounds of the people met were quite broad geographically, academically, and professionally.  Some of the people met included community college students and faculty; undergraduate, masters, and doctorate candidates; college faculty; industry sponsors; and current and past executive board members of SHPE.

Overall, 74 people received graduate school information about CURENT’s four campuses and 69 people received undergraduate research information about CURENT’s summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.

Posted on November 2nd, 2016

On November 4th and 5th, Erin Wills and Rafael Camarillo will be representing CURENT at the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).  Past SHPE conferences have had close to 7,500 attendees with about 3,500 attendees being undergraduate students.  CURENT hopes to promote its summer REU program and graduate program.  Mr. Wills and Mr. Camarillo will be attending the Career Fairs with center information.

October 28th – CURENT Open House

The CURENT Open House was widely considered successful.  Close to 60 undergraduate students attended with inquiries about undergraduate research and graduate studies in power systems, power electronics, and cyber-security.  The majority of the faculty attended and approximately 10-15 CURENT undergraduates and graduate students helped discuss their research areas and provided lab tours.

The picture includes Dr. Leon Tolbert, Dr. Fred Wang, Dr. Kevin Tomsovic, Dr. Fran Li, Dr. Daniel Costinett, Dr. Chien-fei Chen, Dr. Stella Sun, Dr. Hairong Qi, and Kyle Goodrich.

Posted on Oct. 24th, 2016

On Friday, October 28th, CURENT will be hosting it’s second Annual Graduate School Recruiting Open House.  The event will be from 12pm to 2pm in Min Kao Building Room 124.  Faculty will be available to discuss research possibilities and graduate school funding.  Lab tours will also be available from 1pm to 2pm.  All students are encouraged to attend.  Information will be provided about undergraduate research, degree options, graduate research, and funding.  Pizza will be provided.


Unit Rate through Solar Cars

Students will explore electrical engineering and finding unit rate by building solar panel toy cars and racing them over two courses, calculating unit rate to compare speeds.  Students will also explore why the angle of the solar panel makes cars go faster. (more…)

Wind Turbines and Proportions

After briefly learning about wind turbines and how they generate power for the grid, students will create their own windmills in class. Students will then apply ratio reasoning to figure out how many homes (on average) a windmill can power. How do wind turbines get power into our homes? How many homes can a wind turbine power?

Windmills and Ratios



Solving Equations Using Ohm’s Law

Students should have already been introduced to solving equations; this lesson is meant to further their understanding and contextualize giving real-life examples of when they would need to solve equations.  This is a 1 day lesson.

  1. Student will be able to substitute values for the variables in Ohm’s Law, V-IR
  2. Student will be able to solve for a missing variable in Ohm’s Law, V=IR
  3. Student will have very basic understanding of what an electrical engineer does

Ohm’s Law


Solving for Variables

Students will have to watch the video and read the online articles first to get an idea of how a wind turbine works, what kinetic energy, Betz Limit, power coefficient, wind speed, mass flow rate, energy flow rate, tip speed, and rotational speed is. Next, they will have to make some calculations to fill out a chart for the tip speed, the power coefficient, the amount of power, and the amount of energy for each given time and wind speed.  They will have to interpret a chart in order to determine the power coefficient.

Solving for Variables

Applications of Cosine Curves

Students will have to read the assigned articles and video first to get an idea of what a power factor, watt, and the power grid is.  Next, they will conduct an experiment of three different light bulbs to determine what their power factor is, the temperature, and the amount of watts being used.  The students will have to learn how to use a device safely to record all of this. They will have to determine which lightbulb is the most effective for the power grid. Once the students have learned about the power factor, they should use their prior knowledge to graph a cosine function.

Applications of Cosine Curves