The Department of Engineering and Physics attended the Texas Physics Conference on campus over the weekend. The conference takes place every year at different college campuses across the state, and this year marked the fifth time for it to be at ACU.
“You know how in your science textbooks there’s pictures of scientists all together at a conference? This is sort of that,” Dr. Jess Dowdy, professor of physics and assistant department chair said.
Professors, students, politicians and investors from across Texas made up the 200 conference guests on campus last weekend.
Dr. Rusty Towell, chair of the Department of Engineering and Physics and professor, said three main themes were discussed over the course of the conference. The keynote speakers presented about the future of energy and nuclear power, physics education and quantum optics.
“Some of our speakers were nationally and internationally known,” Towell said. “They are real leaders in their field and it was an honor to have them on campus.”
Two ACU alumni were among these renowned speakers. Jeff Kimble and Thad Walker presented research on quantum optics, the study of light on the smallest scale.
ACU students and faculty also attended, presented and helped make the weekend happen.
Ryan Pinson, senior physics major from Cookeville, Tenn. was one of the student presenters at the conference. Pinson gave a presentation over the research he conducted in the summer of 2013 at Brookhaven National Lab in Long Island, N.Y.
“I have presented in class before, like most college students, but this one had a different feel,” Pinson said. “This was a very professional atmosphere. It was much more a feeling of, ‘This is the real world.'”
A number of topics were covered over the weekend, some more technical than others. Subjects like nuclear energy, quantum optics and even the social and cultural aspects and implications of such fields were discussed.
“I think we presented a conference that the average person could’ve gone to and got something out of it,” Dowdy said. “That was our goal.”
The conference also provided an opportunity for ACU to display what the future of the Engineering and Physics Department would look like.
“It’s certainly an exciting time for us because obviously the new buildings and the excitement there,” Towell said. “This gave us a chance to highlight some of the strengths of our department.”