CRDS 101: Undergraduates from San Jose State University Visit Picarro

CRDS 101: Undergraduates from San Jose State University Visit Picarro

GHG Product Manager Gloria Jacobson teaches San Jose State University Undergrads about  Picarro analyzer technology

Final Exam Question #17 – What is a Picarro and how does it work?

As a Picarro sales engineer, I spend much of my time discussing our products with university professors, researchers, post-docs, Ph.D. candidates, grad students, etc. Picarro is connected to academia but we hadn't really connected yet with undegrads - the future scientists. That's changing. 

Yesterday, for the first time ever, Picarro hosted a class of San Jose State University undergraduates who are taking a meteorology instrumentation class with Dr. Craig Clements, a Professor of Meteorology and Climate Change at SJSU. To train future meteorologists and climate scientists, it’s really important that they get hands-on experience with the latest technology early in their careers to help them be better prepared for work in academia, industry or government roles. Plus our greenhouse gas product manager, Gloria Jacobson, is a huge advocate of undergraduate education on cutting-edge instruments and is heading up our push into that area. So Gloria and Picarro applications scientist Aaron Van Pelt put together an introduction to Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy (we're calling it CRDS 101) for Dr. Clements and his class.

Gloria (that's her waving her hands in the picture) ran through how the technology works while Aaron highlighted the amazing applications that our “cool customers” have deployed globally. Some of those include tall tower measurements of greenhouse gases in Siberia , the AirCore Project on which our customer Colm Sweeney is a key player, and the now famous Stanford University carbon sequestration research in Utah involving a Picarro isotopic carbon analyzer mounted on a pack mule. The class then toured our R&D lab and manufacturing operations to get an under-the-hood perspective on how we develop our products and turn those ideas into production analyzers.

We were impressed by the students’ insightful questions on wavelength scanning, calibration techniques, cleanroom and final test procedures. This is complex subject matter and it’s great to have undergrads who totally "get it". We were also impressed by the copious amount of notes taken, especially when the topic of summer internships came up… (big smile). 

So, what did we learn from all of this?

A – Sophomore meteorology students (who took calculus as a pre-req for this class) are quite capable of doing CO2 flux calculations from 10 Hz data - by hand!

B – Picarro measurement technology is the next chapter in the book! Emergent technologies will increasingly be taught to undergrads so that they can emerge with degree in hand ready to utilize the latest instrumentation and quickly make their mark on the scientific world. For perspective, this instrumentation class has been taught at San Jose State University since 1965. Can you imagine how that curriculum has evolved? From strip charts to high-precision laser-based spectroscopy!

C – We are now thinking about this type of educational outreach as a way to connect with our future customers, hires, and “grow ‘em up” with early knowledge of this technology and, more importantly, the remarkable research possibilities for novel instrumentation!

D - Hanging out with undergrads allows us old people to feel hip and cool….

E – All of the above

Of course, the correct answer is E! 

If you are interested in adding Cavity Ring-Down to your course curriculum, please contact Gloria Jacobson (gjacobson at picarro dot com). She can send you a copy of the CRDS 101 presentation and we can arrange a Webinar for your students. Class dismissed!