Department News

Creative with a 3D-Printer: Building a Laser Harp

Posted by Physics

Jonathan Cuthbertson (Physics '15) is fascinated by lasers. Last year he build his own laser, this year he takes it up a notch. For his final project in Digital Electronics (also known as Computer Data Acquisition, an upper level elective course) he and his lab partner are building a laser harp, using the new 3D printer. "It's a very cool experience, it's just exciting that Wheaton has this, ... and that as students we can use this on a daily basis."

Morken and Moon Survive First Round of Shark Tank Competition

Posted by Physics
Morken and Moon - RowAmp

Michael Morken (Physics ’15) and Young-Ho Moon (Engineering ’16) are among six student groups that continue to the second round of the Shark Tank Competition. The Wheaton College Shark Tank is an entrepreneurial competition where teams of students from all experience levels and backgrounds present their business ideas. After surviving the first round, including winning the crowd choice award, Morken and Moon will be mentored throughout the winter and spring, and their final idea will eventually be judged by investors with a critical eye for success.

The inspiration for his project came from Morken's involvement with the Wheaton Crew team. Morken and Moon developed RowAmp, a system that amplifies the coxswain’s voice through a chain of speakers. While there are commercial alternatives available, they are generally too expensive for high school teams. "The Wheaton College shark tank was a great opportunity to showcase a project that I had been working on. My project was an amplifier for rowing and was related to my work as the crew teams equipment manager during the previous year” said Morken. With high school rowing on the rise, a low cost amplification system will permit many schools to step into competitive rowing, as cost is less of a barrier.

Advancing to the second round was really exciting, and this would not have been possible without the skills that he acquired during his physics coursework, according Morken. "The process of construction, preparation, and presentation was very involved and I relied on skills that I had learned in the physics department at every step in the process.” Morken and Moon’s project highlights the sophisticated and cutting-edge techniques encouraged in the Wheaton College Physics and Engineering programs. "The prototype that I presented has a custom designed PCB board that was enclosed in a 3D printed shell. This design drew heavily from topics that I learned in my electronics class earlier this fall. For the presentation I used MATLAB to model data and produce figures for the presentation, much like I have used MATLAB to model data for various physics labs and homework problems."

With a functional prototype in hand and many opportunities to improve his design, Morken is optimistic about the future of his project.  "Among other things my experience with the Wheaton College Shark Tank showed me how the technical skills that I have learned in physics have wide applications to other fields."

Read more about the RowAmp on Morken's website: >>

Open Position - Assistant Professor of Engineering

Posted by Physics

Wheaton College seeks to fill a new tenure track position of assistant professor in engineering for the fall 2015 semester.

Wheaton's "3-2", or dual-degree engineering program, begun in 1969, has grown from a pre-engineering program and now includes a growing list of engineering courses in the catalog.

We are seeking candidates with an earned Ph. D. in engineering, broad knowledge of the discipline, the ability to provide skilled and motivational instruction in lower division engineering courses, and a desire to engage students' passions and interests in an active-learning environment.

Industry experience as a practicing engineer, with hands-on design and project experience, is highly valued. It is expected that the candidate will maintain a research program on campus or in collaboration with neighboring national labs or industry, preferably one in which students are involved.

Interest in the interaction of Christian faith with the practice of engineering and active mentoring of students in this area is an important component of the position.

The College is located 25 miles west of Chicago and is near two national laboratories. For more information, please visit Wheaton College is an evangelical Christian liberal arts college whose faculty and staff affirm a Statement of Faith and adhere to lifestyle expectations. The College complies with federal and state guidelines of nondiscrimination in employment. Women and minority applicants are encouraged to apply.  Review of applications will begin Dec. 1 and continue until the position is filled. A fact sheet with more detailed information about the 3-2 program is available upon request.

Interested individuals should send a curriculum vitae and a statement of teaching philosophy and research interests to:

Dr. Stewart DeSoto

501 College Avenue
Wheaton College
Wheaton, IL 60187

Applications will be mailed to promising candidates.

Wheaton Students Present Plasma Research at APS Meeting in New Orleans

Posted by Physics
Maddie Baltzer at APS New Orleans

Maddie Baltzer, David Martin, and Dr. Darren Craig presented research results at the American Physical Society – Division of Plasma Physics meeting in New Orleans, LA on October 28-29, 2014. Maddie presented her work on developing robust calibration techniques for plasma flow measurements in the Madison Symmetric Torus (MST). David presented comparisons of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) computation to experimental measurements of magnetic field fluctuations and velocity fluctuations in MST. Maddie won a student presentation award for her poster.

Imaging the Beginning of Time from the Bottom of the World: Detection of B-mode Polarization with the BICEP2 Telescope at the South Pole

Posted by Physics
Vieregg - Bicep2 talk

The Physics Department at Wheaton College presents a lecture by Abigail Vieregg at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 25. The lecture is titled "Imaging the Beginning of Time from the Bottom of the World: Detection of B-mode Polarization with the BICEP2 Telescope at the South Pole."

Abigail Vieregg, assistant professor of physics at the Enrico Fermi Institute of the University of Chicago, will speak on the latest observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation from the South Pole and the recent detection of B-mode polarization in this radiation as a possible signature of gravitational waves.

Abstract:  The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) is the oldest observable light in the universe, and has proven to be an extremely important tool in modern observational cosmology.  Inflation, the superluminal expansion of the universe during the first moments after the Big Bang, predicts a Cosmic Gravitational-Wave Background, which in turn imprints a faint but unique signature of “B-mode” polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) at degree angular scales.  Detection of the B-mode signature from inflation would constitute strong evidence for inflation and a test of inflationary models at the scale of grand unified theories.  BICEP2, which observed from the South Pole during 2010-2012, is a polarization-sensitive microwave telescope that observes the CMB at degree angular scales and is specifically designed to search for this signature of inflation.  BICEP2 is the second experiment in a four-stage line of degree-scale polarimeters at the South Pole.  I will discuss the recent detection of B-mode polarization at degree angular scales with BICEP2, and the promise for follow-up to this measurement with the Keck Array (currently observing) and BICEP3 (deploying this year).

Free and open to the public, this lecture takes place in room 145 of the Meyer Science Center, located at 430 Howard Street in Wheaton. For more information, contact the Physics Department at 630.752.5007.

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