Physics Club Activities
The Coe College Chapter of the National Society of Physics Students (SPS) is consistently ranked as an Outstanding Chapter, an award reserved for only the top 10 percent of SPS chapters nationally. Those chapters that are honored excel in physics areas such as research, public science outreach, tutoring programs, representation at physics meetings, and social interaction of chapter members.
The Coe Physics Department is known worldwide for its accomplishments in glass research and resulting discoveries. In the last decade, the department has received more than $2.1 million in external grant funding for equipment and programs. During that time, more than 80 articles have been published by Coe physics faculty and students in peer-reviewed publications, with over 250 student and faculty presentations at more than 70 scholarly conferences.
More than 20 Coe physics students participate in summer research each year, working on projects normally reserved for graduate students. Coe physics students have the opportunity to travel around the world for research and conferences. Recent destinations have included China, Japan, England, Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, France, Italy, Canada, Arizona, Hawaii, Florida, Illinois and Maryland.
Coe physics graduates are sought-after candidates at graduate schools and in industry. The commitment of professors coupled with funding for equipment and research helps Coe physics students advance to highly regarded graduate programs and professional positions. About 80 percent of the graduates from the program have moved on to quality graduate schools in physics, materials science, an allied science or mathematics.
SPS Meetings and Social Events
- Our SPS orientation meeting was held at Professor Mario Affatigato's house. Students signed up with Professor Steve Feller to renew or newly join SPS at the orientation meeting. This helps us achieve significant membership in the national society.
- We organize a weekly ice cream social in which 30+ people participate. News and upcoming chapter events are discussed. Students and faculty participate in a minute of science. Physics Today is often used as the source for the minute of science.
- We sponsor the annual Impersonation Contest in which students impersonate any faculty at Coe in good fun. More than 40 students and faculty (8 contestants) participated this year. Food and prizes were provided by the SPS chapter.
- We organized the annual Trivia Night Contest of science in which all students/faculty were invited. Questions were provided by biology, chemistry and physics faculty. Food and cash prizes were sponsored by the chapter.
- The annual Physics Club winter party was held at Professor Jim Cottingham's house. Jim and Judy Cottingham prepared delicious food for the 35 people in attendance. Music and games were played.
- Members of our SPS chapter organize a number of social events where all members of the campus community are invited, including a summer research trip to the Field of Dreams (after first watching the movie), baseball games, lake excursions, weekly ice cream socials,
imperonation night, trivia night, etc.
- The annual Physics Club Banquet attracted 55 people. We honored retiring Professor Jim Cottingham. A talk with given by guest speaker Professor Andy Morrison from DePaul University of Music Acoustics. A framed copy of Dr. Cottingham's recent cover article in Physics Today was presented to him by the chapter.
- During summer 2010, the chapter organized 10 Wednesday lunches at which students and faculty presented. Several people from the general public attended the lunches. Attendance averaged 60 per week.
- Steve Feller gave a talk on the Physics of Baseball at the Cedar Rapids Science Station on April 2011.
- Dozens of 6th graders from Muscatine Elementary School visited our department—this is an annual tradition.
- Faculty and students carried out outreach programs at Coolidge Elementary School.
- Faculty and students carried out series of demonstration in Green Square Park as part of the Cedar Rapids celebration of the Fourth of July.
- We hosted the Iowa Science Olympiad and Physics Olympics in April 2011. Chapter members volunteered as judges in both the events.
- Students from Iowa Braille School visited us twice in 2011. We also visited them once last year.
- Faculty and students also volunteered as judges in the Eastern Iowa Engineering Fair in Cedar Rapids.
- Dr. Rick Weber from Argonne National laboratory spoke on "Laser Levitation", a novel method of glass manufacture by using a containerless process and high temperature at the Iowa Glass Conference organized by Coe College in August 2010.
- Professor Jackie Johnson from University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) gave a talk on biological applications of glass including superior imaging of x-rays using new glass sensors in October 2010.
- Professor James Brandenberger from Lawrence University gave a talk on Atomic Physics in November 2010. Coe’s SPS executive committee had dinner with him.
- Professor Andy Morrison from DePaul University spoke on Musical Acoustics at the annual Physics Club Banquet, April 2011.
- Professor Gopi Sharma from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India visited the department for two months in fall 2010. She participated in several SPS activities and worked with students in research.
- About 20 high school juniors from several states visited the department on summer 2010 during our annual Coe Physics Nanophysics Workshop. Chapter members helped high school juniors to use research instruments.
- A high school student from Idaho spent summer 2010 doing glass research with us. He was the student of Coe alum Danel Huggens, ‘99
SPS students routinely held Coe’s admissions efforts by serving as overnight hosts and as tour guides during science scholarship weekend.
Interaction with Alumni
- Alex Ramm ’11 spent summer 2010 as an intern at Corning Inc, NY with Coe Alum Dr. T.J Kiczenski ’99 as his supervisor.
Landon Tweeton and Bryan Vitale, each class of 2011, did summer internships at Rockwell Collins, Cedar Rapids. These were arranged by Coe alum Nate Lower ’01.
Cooperation with other departments
- The annual Trivia Night of Science was organized with the help of the Biology and Chemistry Departments.
- Cooperative demos were carried out by Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Nursing, Math, Computer Science, ROTC students and faculty during the Coe Playground of Science outreach event.
- All Campus Poker Tournament was co-sponsored by Coe’s SPS Chapter and the Math club.
National SPS Activities
- Professor Steve Feller attended June 2010's executive committee meeting of SPS.
- Alec Herr, Jason Maldonis and Steve Feller attened SPS council meeting in Washington in September 2011.
- Alec Herr was re-elected Zone associate 11 counselor. Jason Maldonis serves as a member of national SPS congress planning committee chaired by Steve Feller.
- Two chapter members attended SPS zone meeting at University of Wisconsin, River Falls in Fall 2010.
- Coe students Mike Huff and Alec Herr won SPS leadership scholarships for 2011.
- We organized the annual Coe Playground of Science in late October. Between 1,500 and 1,800 kids from local schools participated with their parents. Cooperative demos were carried out by Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Nursing, Math, Computer Science, ROTC students and faculty.
- We hosted the annual Iowa Glass Conference in August 2010. Students from Iowa State University, Creighton University, University of Warwick (UK) and Coe College presented talks and posters.
- Four students and two faculty members attended the International Congress on Glass (ICG) held in Bahia, Brazil in September 2010. Three posters and a talk were given by students (posters) and a faculty member (talk).
- Four students and two faculty attended the Materials Science and Technology (MS&T) meeting in Houston in October 2010 where Mario Affatigato was named an American Ceramic Society Fellow. Several student posters were presented.
- Three students and two faculty attended the American Ceramic Society Glass and Optical Materials Divison annual meeting in Savannah, Georgia in May 2011. Two students presented posters. Craig Nie won the annual student poster contest.
- Professor Jim Cottingham presented three papers with student co-authors at the joint meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and the Ibero-American Federation of Acoustics, held in Cancun, Mexico in November. The titles of the papers were "Bamboo Pipe Wall Vibrations in Asian Free Reed Instruments", "Buffalo Horns and Frog Calls: Some Ancient Free Reed Instruments from Southeast Asia", "Construction and operation of the Southeast Asian free reed mouth organs."
- Professor Jim Cottingham presented a paper at the meeting of the Acoustical Society of America held in Seattle, Washington. The name of the paper was "Bamboo in Asian musical Instruments" with student co-authors.
- Kyle Hershey presented a paper at the meeting of the Acoustical Society of America held in Seattle, Washington in may 2011. The name of the paper was "Material properties of pipes and reeds from the Southeast Asian Khaen."
- Steve Feller acted as Niels Bohr in the play Copenhagen at the end of January 2011. A physics club brunch was held before the last performance of the play. SPS students set up a display on the theater lobby on the lives of Bohr and Heisenberg. Four performances of the play took place. Nearly one thousand Coe students, faculty and the general public attended