Two professors in the Department of Engineering and Physics will each take one-year sabbaticals in 2014-15.
Dr. Rusty Towell, chair of the Department of Engineering and Physics and professor and associate professor Dr. Timothy Head, will take separate sabbaticals for research.
Dr. Timothy Head will begin his sabbatical June where he will be working with Ludlum Measurements in Sweetwater.
“I’m going to look at the feasibility of designing solid-state photomultiplier,” Head said, “which turns a photon into an electrical signal. Hopefully by the end of the year, we’ll have looked at feasibility and found something reasonable to do and designed the prototype and actually make the prototype.”
The applied research Head will work on will not only benefit Ludlum, but will be brought back to ACU as a lasting relationship with the company.
“What I hope will happen is that we’ll end up having a longer term collaboration with Ludlum,” Head said. “We can do some projects that will help students. They can give us projects that they don’t have time to work on themselves, but that they’re interested in. Our students can eventually work on those projects.”
The projects would allow for students to participate in real-world research, and ideas from Ludlum would allow physics and engineering students to gain experience in development. The connection will potentially serve to bridge the company and ACU students for employment and research in the future.
“This is a chance for me to broaden the scope of my research away from some of the things I’m doing now,” Head said. “And just see more of what’s out there.”
Dr. Rusty Towell will start his sabbatical in line with the coming school year, working with Liquid Thorium Fluoride Reactors, LFTRs, which is a nuclear power using thorium instead of uranium for energy.
“There are a lot of safety advantages,” Towell said. “It produces a lot less waste. There’s a lot more thorium than there is uranium in the world. It’s hard to make a bomb out of it. For those reasons, thorium reactors appear to be the right energy source for our future.”
Towell will work with Flibe Energy, which is based out of Huntsville, Ala. He will primarily do work from a distance and some travel to the company.
“I do think that it’s certainly possible to make plans and help advance the design [of the reactor],” Towell said, “so that a prototype is made, realistically, in the next five years. I think that if I’m involved with the early design stages, my students and I be able to continue to be involved with this.”
Both of the sabbaticals will benefit ACU students through the applied knowledge and research that Dr. Head and Dr. Towell will be able to bring back to campus in the year after their sabbaticals.