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If you're looking for a competitive way to get involved and have fun at the University of Minnesota, you may want to join one of the 25 different sport clubs organized here by other students. The many offerings include almost everything, ranging from ballroom dance to rugby to kung fu! By joining a sport club, you can either enhance your skills in a club you already love, or learn about an activity that you have never tried before. Team members frequently compete against other intercollegiate teams. Some sports hold try-outs before each season, but most don't require any previous experience.

The U of M Synchronized Swim Club, also known as the Gopher Synchro Swim team, is an example of a team that can gain your interest in a sport you may never have tried before. This particular club contains both a non-competitive "recreational" team and a competitive team. If you love to swim, this is a great way to meet new people on campus and get an excellent workout. In the team's most recent competition on February 12, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities beat the Colorado State University Rams, 92.5 to 69. They will be competing next in the collegiate regional competition in Ohio. I personally had not heard about this team before my research to write this post, but I am so glad that I know about it now! It is just another great example of the University's many different and interesting activities for students!


Photo courtesy The University of Minnesota Synchronized Swim Club

People from around the Twin Cities gathered in Rapson Hall on the University of Minnesota campus on Saturday, February 19, for Distortion: the 43rd Annual College of Design Fashion Show. The annual fashion show is an event put on by the College of Design to showcase the work of seniors majoring in design apparel.

The seniors studying apparel design spend months drawing, sewing, and stitching for this huge event. Students, faculty, local fashion designers, and fashion journalists attend the show each year to see the work of this next generation of designers. The eighteen seniors designed a variety of collections from menswear to evening dresses, from Lady Gaga inspired looks to preppy apparel.

Visit http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/arts/university-minnesota-senior-fashion-show-distortion-photos to see photographs from the show.

This fashion blog also has some great photographs from the event: http://artofwore.com/blog/2011/2/20/u-of-m-senior-fashion-show.html.

Also, check out the website to learn more about the designers: http://www.wix.com/uropfashion/distortionfashionshow

About Apparel Design
The College of Design offers a bachelor of science in apparel design. Students take courses in computer and manual pattern design, costume history, social and cultural meanings of apparel, the textile and apparel consumer, and aesthetics. The students are required to take six studio courses and do an internship which provides them plenty of professional experience. Visit the College of Design website to learn more about apparel design and other design majors.

Last week I was so excited to find a copy of Schoolhouse Rock: Science Rock when cleaning out a room in Lind Hall. I learned so much from Rocky and his pals when I was in elementary and middle school. Watching that old VHS tape, I was reminded of some really neat research being conducted at the Solar Energy Laboratory on campus.

At the Solar Energy Lab, researchers are using seven-mirrored, 6,500 watt lamps which have the irradiance of 3,000 suns to generate temperatures of more than 3,600 degrees F to split carbon dioxide and water to form carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

Carbon monoxide and hydrogen are the two main components of "syngas," a synthetic gas created from carbon dioxide using solar power. Syngas can be converted to "synfuels," which can take the form of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, methane (natural gas), or other products.

The best thing about this process: it requires no input of fossil fuels. U of M researchers are working on a way to take carbon dioxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, and turn it back into fuel. An analysis indicates that the sunlight-to-synfuel process can run with nine percent efficiency.

Jane Davidson, mechanical engineering professor in the College of Science and Engineering said about the project, "With 9 percent efficiency--which would be many times more efficient than using biofuels--we could replace all the petroleum in the United States with solar collectors covering 15 million acres.That's the size of West Virginia, and half of what we use for highways."

Already, Davidson and her colleagues have produced syngas in their lab and are beginning to work on prototype reactors. As they develop reactors, another team of researchers is studying materials which could make the process easier and even more efficient. 

I'll leave you with a lesson I learned from Schoolhouse Rock, "If everyone tries a bit harder, our fuel will go farther and farther."


Meet the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) Ambassadors:

cse ambassadors.jpgThis newly formed CSE student group participates in a lot of amazing activities in our college.  If you've visited campus, you have probably already spoken with one of our CSE Ambassadors! These outstanding students share their experiences with students in grades K-12 by meeting individually with students on campus, visiting local schools, attending science and engineering events (such as FIRST Robotics conferences, Science Olympiad competitions, and more), and giving campus tours.

CSE Ambassadors recently started a pilot mentorship program for current CSE freshmen.  The official mentor program will kick-off in fall 2011. Check out the mentorship website this summer to sign up for a mentor! You can meet some of the officers and mentors who are members of CSE Ambassadors on their website.

In addition to the outreach and mentoring programs, CSE Ambassadors also get an inside look at many of the departments within the College of Science and Engineering.  Last semester, CSE Ambassadors got to learn about the huge telescope on the roof of Tate Lab of Physics. Check out some photos of recent events.

If this sounds like fun to you, I encourage you to watch the CSE Ambassadors recruitment video, which won second place at the February CSE Student Organization Fair hosted by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

I am lucky to be an adviser for this group. I get to work with truly incredible students in the College of Science and Engineering. I hope to see you at our meetings next fall!

College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) horticulture students have already begun growing season preparations on "Cornercopia" the CFANS student-lead organic farm on the University's St. Paul campus. Cornercopia provides the opportunity for horticulture students to get hands-on learning experience right on campus. Not only are students studying and growing herbs and vegetables, they are also responsible for the business-end of the farm--marketing and selling the produce. The students working on this project have actually put together their own Cornercopia Blog.


organic jpgThe organic farm has relocated this year to the northeast section of the St. Paul campus. The vegetables that are grown on this organic farm will be sold at the U of M Farmer's Market on Wednesdays from July to October.

organic farm6.jpg

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