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Professor Examines Use of Video Games in Class

At one time, news coverage centered on worries about video games’ negative influence on kids — but these days, they are making headlines because of the ways they are being used to help students learn. An avalanche of research supporting video games’ ability to encourage academic development has driven momentum on this issue.

Michael Thomas, UNC Charlotte educational leadership professor, studies the evolving relationship between education and games. He said the work of fellow researcher Constance Steinkuehler, associate professor of digital media, University of Wisconsin-Madison, sheds light on how video games help kids develop scientific habits of mind.

"Experts do not simply do something expertly. They share information with other experts. They trade ideas and strategies. They create tools to benefit the community of experts. They debate. They even fight. They collectively struggle to refine their skills and knowledge related to their expertise. This is true of gamers and it is true of scientists," Thomas explained.

Photovoltaic Technology Research Laboratory Opens

With the purpose of teaching the science and engineering of solar energy and partnering with industry to research methods for producing more-efficient and lower-cost solar cells, the Lee College of Engineering has opened the new Photovoltaic Technology Research Laboratory. Located in the Energy Production and Infrastructure Building, the photovoltaic lab is under the direction of Dr. Aba Ebong, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The production laboratory equipment includes a RTP2 rapid thermal belt furnace, an in-line diffusion furnace and a screen printing system. The production lab can fabricate solar cells using the exact same methods as industry. A computational modeling and solar cell testing laboratory is also part of the new photovoltaic facility. On the educational side, the facility provides students the chance to see how solar cells are produced from start to finish.