Industrial Technology & Science Teachers Academy: Part 2

Returning to the visit


Josh Bandstra, an industrial technology teacher from Oskaloosa, gives a presentation to fellow teachers about ways to improve his home’s energy efficiency after performing an energy audit.

words about cooking


While the teachers had time to work on their school energy efficiency presentations, Pat Higby and Brice Jensen set out Sun Ovens to make snacks for everyone using a solar cooker.


Pretzels and chocolate covered caramels were all that was used to make this tasty afternoon snack as a result of the solar cooking. On one plate, the heat melted the chocolate and caramel, covering the pretzels squares, and on the other plate, the heat worked to toast crackers and cheese. Cored apples with cinnamon and sugar were also baked earlier in the day.


The teachers attending “Learning and Teaching about Energy for the Next Generation of Iowa’s Leaders” filled out graphs showing the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since 1958. Each graph shows two years of data, and when put together, the graph shows a steadily increasing line. The graph helped the teachers visualize the increase in greenhouse gasses and is an example of a classroom educational activity for middle school and high school students.


Biotechnology Summer Camp & the Center for Social and Camp Behavioral Research

Writing about Kavita’s camp

Kavita Dhanwada demonstrates to a group of students how to use a gel electrophoresis apparatus in their search to find out if specific foods contain genetically modified corn. Agarose gel electrophoresis uses electricity, which forces the DNA to migrate to either end, as a method of separating DNA into pieces.

Words words words

Ten students from the Cedar Falls-Waterloo area, largely 9th and 10th graders, huddle around as their biotechnology summer camp instructor introduces them to new technologies and equipment in a collegiate lab.

Center for Social and Behavioral Research: Focus Group and EPSCoR Evaluation

The Center for Social and Behavioral Research is part of the University of Northern Iowa that performs research studies, using methods like telephone interviewing, face-to-face interviewing, mailed questionnaires, focus groups, and web surveys, to study a specific market’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. The topics of study include, public health, crime, safety, environment, energy, education, housing, and policy priorities.

My First Article!

At last, I have something to show for my work! My first written assignment was a profile piece for the Iowa EPSCoR website that features one of the platform leaders, Bruce Babcock. After emails, interviews, research and editing, this was the outcome. It’s not my most brilliant work, but it’s not bad. I will be writing a few more profiles while working for the Bioeconomy Institute and the next one will be of a couple, Jack and Carole Yates, who are faculty at the University of Northern Iowa.

See my first article in it’s originality (and visit our website, look around, and increase the number of page hits) by clicking below!

Bruce Babcock Profile

Otherwise, I suppose you can go ahead and read it here! But you should also check out the website!

Bruce Babcock: Focused on the Future of Renewable Energy

You could call Bruce Babcock is “economic enthusiast.” As an agricultural economist with research projects that include estimating land use changes     caused by biofuels expansion, analysis of the agricultural impacts from climate change legislation, and the impact of state and Federal biofuels policy on  investment and production of biofuels, he keeps busy in the study and applications of economics. Babcock is a man who wears many hats: a professor of economics at Iowa State University, Cargill Endowed Chair of Energy Economics for the Center of Agricultural and Rural Development, director of the Biobased Industry Center, and the energy policy platform leader for Iowa NSF EPSCoR.

Babcock is originally from California, but he rarely gets the opportunity to visit unless a conference takes him. He received his B.S. in economics of resource use and his M.S. in agricultural economics from the University of California at Davis, and his Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1990, Babcock was working as an assistant professor at North Carolina State when he heard about a job opening that led him to Iowa. “There’s no better place to do agricultural economics than Iowa. So I took the job,” said Babcock.

Leadership Across The Board

The Iowa NSF EPSCoR program is divided up into four research platforms: bioenergy, wind energy, energy policy, and energy utilization. As one of four platform leaders, Babcock’s primary role in EPSCoR is to enhance Iowa’s ability to conduct policy analysis about energy policy and to foster a greater competitiveness in applying for competitive research funds. Expanding on his role, Babcock is trying to build up the interface between economics and engineers, which he finds challenging.

“The big challenge is that engineers use some of the same mathematical tools and some of the same economic models, but often they don’t have as good of an understanding of the economic theory that lies behind those models,” Babcock explains. “They are better in some sense, or as good as economist, in math and applications, and they are better than economist in computer programming and quantitative analysis. What economist can bring to the table is a better appreciation of the role that markets play and often that is underappreciated. My challenge is to try and foster greater understanding. I haven’t figured out how to do that.”

Babcock’s previous position as the director of CARD, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, was to understand the impacts of different factors on agriculture markets. During the beginning of the 2000s, when ethanol started to rise as a fuel alternative, his role in CARD led him to a heightened interest in the industry. “The growth of ethanol really starting impacting corn markets, and livestock markets, and the whole agriculture set of markets. That’s when I started becoming interested in renewable energy,” Babcock says.

A Step Forward

He describes policy as a road map in energy for where the country wants to go, what types of energy and how to get there. “Energy policy is important because if you get it wrong you increase the cost to all the consumers and industry for energy, but if you get it right then you make your economy that much more efficient. It’s really important to set the infrastructure for the markets to develop, and for electrical and fuel generators and manufactures, and the consumers, in which to operate. Energy is a relatively small part of most household budgets and if we are serious about cutting the admissions of greenhouse gas, which we aren’t, it would not impose an undo burden on the household budget.” Babcock would like to get past the rhetoric of the anti-climate change people and confront the problem head on.

Education is important in bringing awareness of environmental and energy issues to the general population and Babcock feels that it can bring a meaningful experience to students, one they can take with them in the decades to come. “The more students can see the undergraduate education applied to meaningful societal problems the more meaningful the undergraduate education,” he says. “Right now, as we’re looking into the future, and with climate change likely to come about in the next twenty to thirty years, and trying to understand how we can move away from fossil fuels – like what’s the cost and benefits of doing that- it’s going to be a problem they’re going to be with during their working career. So the more that they know about it, the more meaningful their undergraduate education is. But also, the more they’ll know about a big problem that is facing. By no means, is it the biggest problem, but it’s a big problem.”

For now, Babcock believes that Iowa is the most opportune location for energy growth and that Iowa NFS EPSCoR is the way to make the efforts into a reality. “What we need to do is take advantage of the things we have and that’s science and technology, a land base, an agriculture, and a know-how. I think Iowa NFS EPSCoR, by focusing on renewable energy and biorenewables, is on a path forward in terms of taking advantage of what Iowa has to offer.”

Contact Information

Bruce Babcock
Iowa State University
578F Heady Hall
Ames, IA 50011
(515) 294-5764

Washington, D.C.

A view of the United State Capitol from Pennsylvania Avenue.

Words about travel and business

Craig Brown, Thermochemical Manager from Weyerhaeuser, gives a presentation at the RFS Workshop about the formation of Catchlight Energy, how the industry has changed and the technology outlook. Catchlight Energy is the joint venture of Chevron and Weyerhaeuser that commercializes the large-scale production of liquid transportation fuels from sustainable forest resources.

Words about RFS

During a question and answer session, Thomas Binion, a legislative assistant for Representative Steve King, asks questions to POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels’ Joost Dubois about its new ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa and the state of investment.

More words about RFS

Words about tourism


Pedestrians near Dupoint Circle walk past the newly popular, east coast burger chain, Shake Shack. There are currently only 14 Shake Shack restaurants and seven are located in New York City where it originated.

Available for purchase at The National Archives Store, this Revolutionary War chess set is styled after American Colonies’ Continental Army and Britian’s Royal Troop. George Washington and Lord Cornwallis are included.

Words about staying with Maura

Queen Anne Style row houses are the cities signature residential architecture style and are pleasant reminders of the areas history, just like these located on Biltmore Street in the neighborhood of Adams Morgan. This picture was taken directly across the street from Peter’s apartment.

Words about Pete

Words about tourism

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world by number of books and shelf space, and its reading room is only accessible to the members of Congress and their staff. In 1814, the British troops set fire to the capitol building and destroyed along with it the entire original library. Former President Thomas Jefferson offered his 50 year accumulated personal collection to the library, however, there was hesitation to accept the collection of over 6,000 books because they included such a wide range of topics. Despite its variety, a year later Congress purchased the entire Jefferson collection with a new, non-discrimitory library practice.

Bruce Babcock, Energy Policy & RFS Invites

What is energy policy? Energy policy is the manner in which a given entity, often governmental, has decided to address issues of energy development including energy production, distribution and consumption. The attributes of energy policy may include legislature, international treaties, incentives to investment, guidelines for energy conservation, taxation and other public policy techniques.


I met yesterday with Energy Policy platform leader, Bruce Babcock.

Between Scientist & Citizens Conference

On Friday, the GPSSA (Great Plains Society for the Study of Argumentation) held on conference located primarily on the second floor of Carver Hall called “Between Scientist & Citizens: Assessing Expertise in Policy Controversies.”

Lunch with Liz


Located on Iowa State University campus and named after it’s designer, the Marston Water Tower was the first elevated steel water tank erected west of the Mississippi River in 1897. Anson Marston, the first engineering dean, designed the tower and oversaw it’s construction.

My other intern is Liz and she’s really been growing on me. We work together every day, and so I see her more than I see anyone else.

University of Northern Iowa Meeting

On Tuesday, Bob, Jill, Liz and I went to Cedar Falls to meet with the University of Northern Iowa branch of EPSCoR.

EPSCoR Project = Research + Broader Impacts

In the past two weeks, my knowledge of biorenewable energy has increased ten fold. It has been a rewarding and privileged experience to date, gaining insight on energy efficiency, energy policy and alternative energies. The sad thing is that I consider myself an educated person in the field of clean energy, but like the average American, I don’t spend enough time studying current energy technology. I wonder what percentage of our population could give a supported opinion on their preferred energy source. To have an educated opinion is asking a lot, but I hope that energy jounalism and communication gains popularity.

Back to learning new information – and most importantly for the purpose of this job – I’ve been getting accustomed to what the NSF EPSCoR project embodies. The project is a combination and collaboratioands two components: research and broader impacts. The

Here is a visual I made to represent the different and multiple segments that fit within the broader impacts.