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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Festival to promote A&M sciences

 
 

The Mitchell Physics building will play host Friday and Saturday to Texas A&M’s annual Physics and Engineering Festival.
The event will feature more than 100 interactive physics demonstrations and public lectures throughout the Mitchell building. The lectures will be given by Texas A&M faculty, including two Nobel laureates and a NASA astronaut, on topics such as superconductivity and the International Space Station.
Cristian Cernov, senior physics major and director of outreach for the Society of Physics Students, said the festival is an incredible opportunity for physics undergraduates to connect with physics professors and graduate students.
“First of all you get to build the demos with graduate students and become familiar with some of the graduate students,” Cernov said. “At the same time, when you are working at the physics festival sometimes you have professors, other students, graduate students near you so you are going to get to network with people in the department.”
The annual festival draws a crowd of children and their parents, to high school and college students. Jacob Gayles, physics graduate student, said this mix of demographics presents an interesting group of people at the festival who have different perspectives and ideas.
“There are very small kids who do not know much about physics, then there are older kids from high school who don’t really care about science, but then they come and have fun,” Gayles said. “That gets them thinking about what they will study in college. Then you also have people that are older who are … experiencing the science and seeing things that they wouldn’t see in their everyday lives.”
Potential graduate students who are thinking about studying at A&M will also be attending. Dawson Nodurft, physics graduate student, said attending the festival convinced him that A&M was the right place to continue his studies.
“Generally as part of grad-student orientation and tour you go through the labs and talk to the professors there, a standard sort of meet and greet,” Nodurft said. “What I really wasn’t expecting when I came down here was to be thrown in on a Saturday to see all this huge event going on, which was so over the top for me and so much fun. I was leaning toward coming here to A&M in the first place, but the festival really helped sell me on it because everyone was so passionate.”
Tatiana Erukhimova, physics professor and outreach coordinator of the festival, said the main focus is getting children interested in science and introducing them to the world of science and engineering. In comparison to other science festivals in the country, Erukhimova said the A&M festival, while small, stands out because of its quality.
“We are relatively small compared with other science festivals such as San Francisco Bay area or Philadelphia festivals,” Erukhimova said. “What is special about our festival is quality. We have over 50 professors and over 200 students and staff who present their demos and ideas to the attendees. People really appreciate it because they can talk to these top-notch researchers – and not only about the demos that they present, but about anything.”
Most of the demonstrations are constructed and presented by Texas A&M students. Graduate students help undergraduates design and build the demos, including a hovercraft built from a lawn mower and superconducting magnets.
Many of the demos are showcased every year because people like them so much. This year, there will also be new demos that have not been seen before, said Kevin Hernandez, an aerospace engineering graduate student who is presenting a demo on computer vision research at this year’s festival.
“Some have become a tradition – they are simply great and people like them,” Hernandez said. “There will be new demos as well for sure, people coming and going, kids playing with the demos that allow for it, people learning about things they wanted to know and things they had no clue about. It’s hectic and great. It’s a unique experience and I definitely encourage everyone to go, no matter your age or background.”
The festival will open at 7 p.m. Friday in Hawking Auditorium – with a lecture on mapping the universe – and will continue until 5 p.m. Saturday. Attendance is free.

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