This month, as part of our special on the future of education, PopSci_ presents 10 labs where students do serious research (and career training) by blowing stuff up._
Lab: The Lightning Research Lab at the University of Florida
Career: Lightning-tolerant spacecraft designer, power utilities engineer
A lucky few engineering students at the University of Florida get to do something vaguely magical: conjure their own lightning.
To make bolts, students fire specially designed rockets, each of which trails metal wires connected to sensors, directly into thunderstorms. Students examine high-speed video of strikes to study lightning-bolt physics and test materials by directing bolts toward a target.