Open Position: Instructor for Algebra-Based Physics (Part Time)

Posted April 28, 2016 by Physics


The Physics Department at Wheaton College is looking for a part time instructor to teach algebra-based introductory physics for the Fall 2016 semester. This course covers Newtonian mechanics, energy, waves, and heat. A Masters or PhD in physics or a related field is required. Experience teaching physics for pre-health professions students is desirable but not required.

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 strongly encouraged to apply. A letter of interest and a CV should be sent to Dr. Darren Craig, Chair of Physics, 501 College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187 or emailed to Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Remembering Joe Spradley (1939-2016)

Posted April 20, 2016 by Physics


Joseph Spradley

The Wheaton College Physics Department mourns the death of Professor of Physics Emeritus Dr. Joseph Spradley. Dr. Spradley died March 29 following a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 83.

Dr. Spradley taught at Wheaton for 55 years—from 1959 to 2014—making him the longest serving professor in College history. He taught courses in subjects including physics, astronomy, math and history of science.

He was devoted to God, to his family and to his students, and loved—among many things—swimming, diving, learning, and travel. Many generations of physics students have been shaped by his teaching and mentoring.

O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.

Psalm 71:17-18

A longer news item, detailing many of Dr. Spradley's accomplishments, can be found on the Wheaton College website.


Wheaton Engineering Students Attend Chicagoland Engineering Week Awards Event

Posted March 24, 2016

Four engineering students in Wheaton College’s 3/2 Dual-degree program were in attendance at the 2016 Chicagoland E-Week Awards Dinner.  The dinner is the occasion to recognize approximately 100 pre-college students for their involvement in various STEM competitions and to present The Washington Award to a prominent engineer for contributions to the advancement of the “welfare of all peoples”.  The students met and networked with practicing engineers (potential employers) during the VIP and Open receptions and at the dinner table.

Sean DukeSean Duke (‘18), third year mechanical engineering student, won the annual contest, among Wheaton engineering students, to attend as guests of the Physics/Engineering Department.  After the event he commented saying “I had the opportunity to listen to many different perspectives on careers in the STEM community. What I learned was that getting a degree in engineering is recognized as a difficult degree to pursue, and that it is very important to get a professional engineering license as soon as possible. What really stood out to me, an unexpected, but welcomed surprise, was that not a single person I encountered, regretted their decision to pursue a career in STEM. … [T]he experience was invaluable.”

Also in attendance were Trevor Leach (‘18), third year civil engineering, Young-Ho Moon (‘16), fifth year mechanical engineering, and Drew Shay (second year, ’19).  Young-Ho had attended the event in 2015, and felt compelled to return this year.

Students and displayWhat each had to say, after the event, was very interesting.  Young-Ho wrote that it was “…a great chance to talk to professional engineers from a so many different disciplines” and hear about “…the breadth of projects that engineers are involved in, from handling an anthrax threat to developing the Mars rover to analyzing a collapsed railroad to constructing a new airport runway."  Trevor noted that “It was cool to hear from them how the things I am learning in school apply to work that I may do in the future.”

The newest of the four students, Drew Shay, said “One thing that I found fascinating was speaking with the professional engineers. Some of them gave me very helpful advice and important tips to look for in the future.  Drew’s comments were in response to the conversations he was able to have during the reception that preceded the dinner.

“The [pre-college] student engineering competitions were exciting to see. Their presentations were very professional, and the students did a great job explaining and describing their project and its purposes.”  The STEM competitions represented were: Bridge building; Destination Imagination; Essay & Poster; FIRST Robotics; Future Cities; and the Illinois Science Fair.

Dr. Aprille EricssonAfter the reception, the Wheaton engineering students, and a few hundred engineers and guests, enjoyed an exquisite dinner, presentation of awards to the pre-college students, and a talk on the profession of engineering by Dr. Aprille Ericsson, a NASA engineer at the Goddard Space Flight Center and formerly the Instrument Project Manager for various instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope and two Lunar Orbiter missions.  Dr. Ericsson spoke of how the encouragement of her mother led to her degrees (BS and PhD) in engineering and her rewarding career as an engineer with NASA.  Her talk will be a strong motivator for all young persons to pursue their dreams, with vigor and without fear.

Newly hired full time engineering faculty member will begin Fall 2016!

Posted February 18, 2016 by Physics


After an international search the Physics and Engineering Department is excited to announce that David Hsu will fill the open Engineering position. David Hsu has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University and is completing his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern as well. Northwestern’s grad program in engineering is in the top five nationally. He has worked for both Proctor & Gamble Corp. and Baxter Healthcare Corp. in an engineering capacity prior to entering his PhD program. He has four patents from his R&D work at Baxter.
David Hsu’s research is in the area of computational studies of materials. With this new addition to our faculty, the department plans to offer six engineering courses in the 2016-2017 school year. These include Introduction to the Profession, Statics, Dynamics, Strength of Materials, Materials Science, and an Engineering Design Lab to be taught in a new engineering teaching lab for which construction will begin soon.

Maddie Baltzer Presents Research at APS

Posted January 12, 2016 by Physics

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Maddie at APS

Maddie Baltzer (BS Physics 2016) traveled to Savannah, GA along with research advisor Dr. Darren Craig to present her research at the American Physical Society – Division of Plasma Physics meeting in November 2015. Maddie has been doing research with Dr. Craig in plasma physics for about 2.5 years now and this is her second trip to the APS-DPP meeting. Her poster presented progress in making absolutely calibrated ion flow measurements in the Madison Symmetric Torus, a large magnetically confined plasma experiment at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Maddie has traveled to Madison several times to take data and has developed a custom calibration light source at Wheaton College that will be used in Madison. Flow measurements are made by observing small Doppler shifts of impurity emission lines and the new light source enables an accurate calibration of the spectrometer used for these studies. Maddie is completing an honors thesis this year in which she plans to use all of the hardware and software she has been working on to make the first absolutely calibrated and localized measurements of ion flow in MST.

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