Illinois Tech’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) was recently awarded the designation of “distinguished chapter” by SPS’ National Office, a recognition one step more prestigious than the award of “notable chapter,” which was given the previous year. This award recognizes the local chapter’s “dedication and commitment to the SPS mission” during the 2017-2018 academic year.
Every year, each SPS chapter is asked to submit a chapter report detailing the events and activities held by that chapter during the academic year, and the quality of this report determines whether an award is bestowed. SPS National commented on the report, saying, “Such an amazingly large impact with a small group. Love the fellowship and commitment to the community.” Illinois Tech is now listed among other universities’ chapters on SPS National’s Outstanding Chapter Award webpage.
Illinois Tech’s SPS chapter hosted a wide variety of events during this academic year, including a safe-viewing party of the partial solar eclipse at the start of the fall 2017 semester (hosted in conjunction with astrophysics professor Dr. Sally Laurent-Muehleisen as well as Illinois Tech’s chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers), which received a much greater response than expected. More than 100 students and faculty gathered together during the lunch hour that day to ring in the new academic year!
In addition, physics professors often get involved in the chapter’s events held on campus. For example, a game night of physics-based Pictionary and Charades was hosted, pitting two teams against each other: the first team, physics professors and grad students, and the second team, physics undergraduates. Physics Professor Dr. Yurii Shylnov volunteered his time by meeting with a group of SPS students on a roughly weekly basis for “Feynman Lectures,” lectures prepared and given by students themselves on a rotating basis with Dr. Shylnov as their guide. The series is inspired by the actual Feynman Lectures in hopes of introducing advanced topics to students in a friendly, informal, and less stressful way.
Other events include Python and Mathematica workshops (the latter hosted by Physics Department Chair Dr. Grant Bunker himself, a true “Mathematica wizard”), a trip to the American Physical Society’s March Meeting held in Los Angeles, and, of course, building a launcher to compete in the annual Pumpkin Launch contest.
Any student is welcome to join SPS, whether they be a physics student, a student interested in physics, or simply someone looking to learn more. The chapter meets weekly on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. in Pritzker Science Center 152; general body meetings often feature a faculty member or graduate student from the physics department who shares a little bit about themselves and their research. Please contact [email protected] with any questions or to express a wish to join the mailing list.
Photos by Lexi Detweiler (She/her)