Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Congress (PhysCon)
November 3, 2016 to November 5, 2016
San Francisco, CAMeeting host: By:
Eli Nuss, Jared Taylor, Aaron Watson, and Kitae Kim, SPS ReportersSPS Chapter:
The first event of PhysCon, and one that might be overshadowed to most attendees by the plenaries and workshops, was the opening networking dinner. While it’s tempting to dismiss the dinner as just a way to feed students, we found it was much more. At this dinner, we were able to visit with representatives from different graduate schools and institutions. Students were able to gain valuable information regarding a range of programs and studies. Many of the booths had interesting demonstrations and fun activities. There was ice cream made from liquid nitrogen and giveaways of neat audio devices. It seemed as though all the booths offered free pens, and most people walked out with a nice new assortment of office supplies.
Of course, we were not there for the pens. We attend Pacific Union College, a private liberal arts college located in the Napa Valley. The physics department consists of about five true physics students along with a handful of biophysics majors. Although our program is not very large, we have a fairly strong research program due to research grants and partnerships with other research institutions. The small number of students allows for instructors to really focus on the individual students. We were interested in attending PhysCon mainly because we have not had much opportunity to interact with other physics majors. We also thought it would be a good opportunity to gain experience with poster presentation.
The networking dinner really was a valuable opportunity to meet and greet fellow physics majors and also learn more about graduate school. Students came from institutions all across the country. We were able to talk with and interview a number of these students about why they were interested in physics. Letrell Harris, a freshman from Hampton University, said, “I want to know everything. Physics gives you all the answers.” There were other students, like Charris Gabaldon from California State University, Chico, who were interested in physics from a very early age. The majority of students seemed to all share a passion for wanting to gain knowledge and understanding of the way things work. It was really interesting to observe how people from such diverse backgrounds could be so similar in regard to their interest in the field of physics.
PhysCon was a great experience for our small physics program. We had a good time socializing with other students and getting to talk to physicists and graduate students. All of the events gave us valuable information and really helped us become better prepared for our future in physics. It was a great experience getting to listen to some of the leading physicists lecture and tell us about their experiences as physicists. Hopefully our school will be well represented at the next meeting.