Alumni Letters

From Brian Portock , Class of 1996

Hey Everyone,

The Phoenix mission will be landing on Mars in 6 days! (May 25) This is the project I've been working on for the last 4 years. The spacecraft launched from Earth on August 4, 2007. After landing, the spacecraft will be analyzing the soil in the northern polar region of Mars. The lander sports a robotic arm that includes a shovel and scoop to dig up soil that contains water ice. The robotic arm will deliver the soil to the science experiments on the lander deck. There will also be a bunch of great pictures returned to Earth.

As of today, the spacecraft has travelled over 416 million miles during its journey and it has about 8 million more miles to go. My team, the navigation team, has been working their butts off since launch to make sure we can land in a landing area that is 62 miles long and 12 miles wide. This is analogous to a par 5 golf hole where you tee off in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the green is in Dallas, Texas! We just hit our birdie putt last Saturday with our fourth flight path maneuver. We're watching our birdie putt track, if its not on target 24 hours before arrival, we will hit our par putt with our final maneuver. Tiger Woods, whatever . . .

Once the spacecraft reaches the atmosphere, it is all on its own. It needs to slow down from 12,500 mph to 0 mph at landing in about 7 minutes!

Vince Guiseppe, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Los Alamos National Laboratory

From Dave Rosenfeld, Class of 1988

When I started playing with high temperature superconductors, something like twenty years ago, one of the pie in the sky uses was that we could use them as wires to transmit power on the utility grid without the losses due to resistance in conventional wire. We would say that, and then quickly add how difficult it would be, almost impossible really, given that they were ceramics and not very good at flexing without breaking, and that they had to be cooled with liquid nitrogen. Well, now someone has finally done it. Check out the story here. In the interest of full disclosure, I own shares in American Superconductor (AMSC) and this is neither a recommendation or solicitation to buy it.

From Ben Schull, Class of 2004

I graduated from Penn State - Harrisburg with my Master of Engineering degree in December of 2007. My masters paper was entitled "Arsenic Removal Treatment in a Non-Community Non-Transient Public Water System" I also passed my Fundamentals of Engineering Exam to receive my Engineer-In-Training(EIT) certificate. I currently work at Wm. F. Hill & Assoc., Inc., a consulting firm in Gettysburg, PA. I work on a variety of projects ranging from land development to water and wastewater management.

The MU physics program made Graduate School feel easy. I was very well prepared to take on graduate school and working at the same time. The strong mathematical background I developed at MU far exceeded expectations in my Graduate studies.

On the home front my wife and I are expecting our first child in April.

From Leah Gallek, Class of 2006

We bought a house in Marietta and Nate is talking up a storm. He understands the idea of "zero", I'll have to start working on negative numbers soon :).

Three mile island just put up the job postings for a new class in January 08. Its a fun job and great money.

From John Gemmer, Class of 2006

Hi Dr. Nolan,

I just wanted to let you know that I passed my qualifying exams at the PhD level.

I believe that huge amount of my success during my first year is due to the excellent undergraduate education I received at Millersville.

From John Gentile, Class of 2005

I decided to leave John W Hallahan High mainly because of the travel. I am now at Villa Joseph Maire High School. I get to teach all physics here. I have 2 honors classes and 3 academic physics classes. This is an improvement from the load I had at Hallahan. I saw that Dr. Cooney retired. We use his book for AP physics which I will be teaching next year.

From Tom Herr, Class of 1991

Thanks so much for having us in [Physics 231] lecture last week; my students have plans for college and hopefully that includes Millersville physics. They have picked up on optics rather quickly and we'd like to sit in on an optics class. I see they are 3 hour periods and I think teenagers may be a little hard pressed to sit for that length of time, so perhaps the first hour or so will suffice...

Thanks for having us in your optics class, the boys where impressed and we had a good discussion afterwards.

From Lindsey Moll, Class of 2005

Dear Dr. Dushkina:
I would just like to thank you for writing/filling out a recommendation for me when I applied for the job with Osceola County, FL. I got the job teaching 9th grade Physical Science at Liberty High School.

Physical Science is the perfect blend for me to ease into my teaching career because it starts off with Chemistry, then it gets into Physics and ends with Earth and Space Science. So far the kids are a handful but this is probably the 5th time they have been moved around this year because of it being a new school and teachers are constantly being hired to fill different positions. As I said, I just wanted to thank you very much for your time and effort you put into helping me get this job with the reference you gave.

From David Parks, Class of 2005

I wanted to thank you for recommending that I apply to the Penn State engineering science and mechanics. I was accepted [for 2005] and am currently finishing my MS.

I have be doing research on a high temperature (600 C) piezoelectric transducer. It is often fun and frustrating. The material is already available (AlN) but this material is not as efficient as that typically used for ultrasonic non-destructive evaluation transducers. I spent the first year or so trying to select the optimum geometry and familiarizing myself with the basics. I finally choose a geometry based on what the simulation predicted would give the best response. However, I first developed, or rather amended, an analytical analysis that agreed with the simulation. In the end probably should have taken the more pragmatic approach and much of that effort will not amount to much in my thesis.

There was also the problem of making the transducer broadband (it emits a pulse not CW) and coupling it acoustically to the NDE medium at high temps. I have solved all these problems but don't feel that I did anything really scientific. I am likely to go on for my PhD in fact I am working on it already but there was a time not long ago that funding was a concern. However, funding should work out one way or another.

From Jim Ringlein, Class of 1986

I wanted to let you know I will be joining the North Museum as their curator of science this coming January. I am really excited about it! Of course this means that LCDS needs a replacement for me ( long term physics sub with possibility of permanent hire) for Jan. to June 2008. If you know of anyone who might be interested and qualified I can direct them to the right people. I am hoping to continue to work with you guys in the upcoming years...

From Arzie Yeater, Class of 2007

After exhausting all the certified candidates West York Area School District called me in to interview. I completed the three step interview in three consecutive days and they offered me the position. I happily accepted the position and will be teaching physics one and conceptual physics next year.

As the third physics teacher I will have an office but will be teaching in other people's rooms the good news is that the rooms are the physics rooms so I have lab space to work with. I haven't spoken to them about the pendulum yet but I am pretty sure they will like having it available. We will just have to make the space for it.

Thank you for everything through out my time at Millersville I know my students will be better off for it (even if they won't always agree).

From Tanya Benway, Class of 2006

I applied to TMI and I am almost through the training program to be an Auxiliary Operator. I started here in January. I only taught for a few weeks, but the school was not a good match for me. I spent more time with discipline issues and writing up absentee reports than I did teaching. I love it here at TMI, and at the end of July I will be joining Leah [galemore/gallek]on her shift.