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Society of Physics Students named Outstanding Chapter for 10th straight year

The annual Science Festival is one of the Randolph Society of Physics Students' biggest events. Here, a Randolph student shows children how to create a circuit.

The annual Science Festival is one of the Randolph Society of Physics Students’ biggest events.

The Randolph College chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) recently reached a special milestone when it was recognized with an Outstanding Chapter award for the 10th-straight year.

Presented by the national SPS organization, the designation honors the group for its activities during the 2016-17 academic year. Fewer than 8 percent of chapters are awarded this honor each year.

“The dedication and commitment of the Randolph College SPS is why I love being at a small college like Randolph,” said Peter Sheldon, a physics professor and advisor to the SPS. “There are so many great opportunities for any students who want to participate, and those experiences end up being so important to our students’ next steps to jobs and graduate schools. I love that SPS has made so much of a difference to so many students.”

Leif Kvarnes ’20, one of the current students in SPS, said Randolph’s chapter is all about the people he has worked with and the friends he has made.

“SPS has members from every year, dozens of majors, and a wide variety of skills and talents,” Kvarnes added. “I think SPS is a fantastic way to get a bunch of great people to work together towards a goal when they wouldn’t have otherwise. Together we can do some really cool things!”

Thawda Aung ’13, a graduate who now works as a quantitative analyst for Invesco Global Solutions Development and Implementation in Texas, said his involvement in SPS as an undergraduate helped him develop stronger leadership and communication skills.

“As an international student, when I first came to the United States I was awkward and quiet. But by being in SPS and working at events like the Science Festival I was much more comfortable talking to other people,” Aung said. “And being in the physics program helped me in my career. I wouldn’t have my current job if I hadn’t been a physics major and had those experiences.”

(Left to right) Jessica Gross '21, Brendan Wicker '21, Brendan Kaiser '21, Charli, Peter Sheldon, physics professor, and Joe Vazquez '19

Randolph students built this Mario Kart costume for Charli as part of Children’s Assistive Technology Service’s Hallowheels fundraiser this fall.

Some of the most recent projects by the group include building a robot, a space balloon, and two entries in Lynchburg City Parks and Rec’s inaugural Pumpkin Chunkin’ Contest. In October, students built a Mario Kart Halloween costume for a child in a wheelchair as part of Children’s Assistive Technology Service’s (CATS) Hallowheels fundraiser. Students in SPS also staff Randolph’s annual Science Festival and host a science jeopardy tournament on campus each semester.

Randolph’s SPS received another special honor from the national organization in November. The 2016-17 Blake Lilly Prize was awarded for the group’s community outreach efforts and dedication to physics education.

“We meet each week over dinner throughout the year and are always brainstorming new ideas,” Sheldon said. “I am so proud of the SPS leadership and of the SPS students who contribute week after week.”



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