Engineering students visit CRF

By Michael Ellis Langley

Photography By Dino Vournas

Thursday, March 12, 2020

students enter Sandia campus
Students from Livermore High School’s Green Engineering Academy enter Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility during their Feb. 19 tour of the California campus.
scientist talks to students
Engineer James Siacunco talks with students from Livermore High School’s Green Engineering Academy about what it takes to become a Sandian.

Livermore High School science teacher Karen Fletcher and 12 sophomore students from the Green Engineering Academy got to see applied science in action during a Feb. 19 visit to Sandia’s California campus.

The students received a briefing from engineer James Siacunco, who talked about Sandia and his career path to the Livermore site, followed by a tour of two labs at the Combustion Research Facility.

scientist talks to students
Engineer Ethan Hecht, left, shows students the hydrogen tanks outside his lab at Sandia's Combustion Research Facility.

Engineer Ethan Hecht explained how he uses lasers to perform hydrogen safety tests to design safe storage options so companies can expand hydrogen-fuel-cell filling stations throughout the state.

Researcher Chuck Mueller gave the students a tour of the optical engine lab used to test conditions inside cylinders during combustion.

scientist talks to students
Researcher Chuck Mueller, center left, describes how he uses the optical engine in Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility during a visit by teacher Karen Fletcher, right, and her students from Livermore High School’s Green Engineering Academy.

“My students and I were pleasantly surprised to see the researchers working on clean energy for cars and trucks,” Fletcher said. “In the Green Engineering Academy at Livermore High School, students learn about clean and renewable energy and how engineering can improve our world.”

scientist talks to students
Researcher Chuck Mueller, left, talks about optical engine test equipment at the Combustion Research Facility.

Fletcher said her students enjoyed hearing about Chuck’s tests of ducted fuel injection, which promises to all but eliminate soot in diesel engines.

“Seeing the real-life applications of the science in products that could shape our world is really important,” she said.

scientist talks to students
Engineer Ethan Hecht, left, smiles at a question from a student during a hydrogen lab tour.

Kayla Norris from Sandia’s Community Relations team coordinated the event to expose local students to the work being done at the Labs.

“It is so important that we connect with our communities,” Kayla said. “These students represent not only the scientists and engineers who will shape tomorrow through their achievements, but the adults with whom we will collaborate to make our community better.”

students listen to presentation
Students from Livermore High School’s Green Engineering Academy listen to Sandia engineer James Siacunco talk about his career at the Labs.

Fletcher said she was grateful for Sandia’s partnership, and added that her students had expressed interest in an internship with Sandia when they get older.

“The tour of Sandia is really important for my sophomores because they are just starting to consider what to study in college,” she said. “Now they can begin to process this before they apply for college.”