Physics Students Earn Fourth National Award

January 27, 2017

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Texas Lutheran University’s Society of Physics Students (SPS) chapter has received their fourth national award from the American Institute of Physics. The SPS—a professional association explicitly designed for students—offers membership through college chapters and is open to anyone interested in physics and members are from a variety of majors.

The group has previously been recognized twice as an Outstanding Chapter and received a “Future Faces of Physics” award from the SPS National Organization. They are also the 2014-2015 recipients of a Marsh White Award.

Their most recent accomplishment will fully fund a research proposal written by a student team and led by sophomore applied physics major Daniel Morales. The $2,000 award will support a project examining the technology of drones and thermal imaging systems to create a "thermal map" of heat loss through the structures on campus.

“This map will tell us about the energy usage of the campus and whether or not it is being used efficiently,” Morales said. “The map could spark conversations of climate change and energy conservation with tangible evidence that is closer to home. The funds will be used to purchase, build, program, and equip the drones with the necessary cameras and devices to log and capture data as we fly them drones campus.”

Working with Morales are students Patricia Snow, Emily Churchman, Ramiro Nava, Oakley St. Vincent, and Andrew Hamilton. The group was inspired by their interest to use drones as tools for looking into something people can’t necessarily "see" and record.

“I’m personally interested in how we use energy and its effects on the climate around us,” Morales said. The heat radiated from the buildings during the winter seemed a perfect fit.”

Morales is excited to begin the research with his peers and is grateful for how the TLU physics faculty have taught him how to work and function as part of a team.

“It’s instilled that group work is highly regarded and most important for any type of success in this field,” Morales said. “Developing communication skills and the ability to work with others has only aided my career as a student and a researcher, along with the other skills you gain in this program including critical thinking, research, and methodology. I’m thankful I’m able to work with others who share the same motivation to make an impact in the world.” 

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