Underclass Research Lab Gives Students a “Jump” on Senior Research
TJ underclassmen now have a dedicated space on campus where they can conduct independent research. The new building’s Jefferson Underclassmen Multidiscipline Projects (JUMP) Lab, intended to bridge research opportunities for students between freshman year’s IBET introduction and senior year’s culminating project, is open during 8th period to students accepted into the application-only program.
Dr. Dan Burden (right), a TJ Resource Teacher who has also taught at the college level, is using his background in microscopy, spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and data analysis, along with his research and publication experience, to supervise the new Lab. Dr. Burden, who obtained his PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin and was a post-doctoral research associate at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), is currently providing guidance for underclass students conducting independent research in various disciplines, including engineering, computer science, chemistry, and biology.
Underclass researchers also have access to several seniors with research experience who work under Dr. Burden’s supervision to assist with projects. Known as JUMP Mentors, these seniors are available during 8th period.
Campaign for TJ funds are being used to equip the JUMP Lab.
Engineering Design Lab
Dr. Michael Walker, Engineering Design Lab Director, talks about his new Lab:
“Along with science, technology, and math, engineering is an essential element in TJ’s STEM education mission. Although a large number of TJ graduates go on to study one of several engineering disciplines in college, and many TJ courses rely on principles of engineering, when this Research Lab officially opens in the fall of 2015, it will be TJ’s first devoted to Engineering Design.
“I was asked to launch this Lab because of my experience teaching a wide variety of courses at TJ since 1997, including Honors Physics, Microelectronics, Design & Technology, Computer-Assisted Design (CAD), and Introduction to Engineering. I have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and for seven years taught graduate and upper level undergraduate courses in that subject at State University of New York (SUNY) Stony Brook.
“Next semester I will begin teaching a prerequisite elective course in Engineering Design, which is intended to be a follow-on course to the required Freshman Design & Technology course. In addition to serving as excellent preparation for Engineering Design Lab, for which it is a prerequisite, it is also designed to enhance a student’s ability to conduct meaningful work in several others, including Quantum Physics & Optics, Neuroscience, Oceanography, Energy Systems, Prototyping, Robotics, and Microelectronics.
“Above all else, engineering design is about using innovative ideas to design, create, and improve things to solve real problems. Deliberately patterned after MIT’s Fab lab model, this course will follow a project-based, experiential approach that incorporates a significant hands-on component.
“Readings on design theory and methods will ground the course, but the focus will be on harnessing students’ innate drive to design, build, and innovate by connecting theory to a practical and exciting project of each student’s choosing. Suggested projects include those that aim to solve high-profile, important global problems — oil spills, drought, burst dams, fallen bridges, wildfires, and earthquakes, for example – as these often encourage the development of innovative solutions while giving students an appreciation of the relevance of the field.
“The Engineering Design Lab will allow students to design, render, and create products through the engineering design process. Students will develop and refine products using 3-D solid modeling software and make their designs by means of rapid prototyping machinery. We will use state-of-the-art equipment, including laser cutters and 3-D printers – this lab will house the largest in the building (right), as well as other instruments on my personal wish list, including an industrial-grade 3-D scanner, which would allow students to scan an irregularly shaped object such as a hand or foot and then make something that would fit it exactly, and a CNC Router with a 5-axis head that will enable students to fashion large, complex shapes out of just about any material except steel.
“The new Campaign-funded workbenches (right) are as beautiful as they are functional, just like the projects I expect to see coming out of this Lab.”
Quantum Physics & Optics Lab
Dr. John Dell, Quantum Physics & Optics Lab Director, explains the Campaign’s impact on his Lab:
“In stark contrast to the crowded classroom I inherited when I became Lab Director in 2010, the new Quantum Physics & Optics Research Lab, which is more than twice as large, is a scientist’s dream. It contains a separate area for lectures and presentations; plenty of space for experiments and demonstrations; and several secure, light-tight spaces for ongoing and sensitive projects.
“Campaign for TJ funds have allowed us to obtain two large, stable, high-grade optical benches with anti-vibration systems so that we can use our new light-tight spaces to perform research that can only be done in a vibration-free environment, such as experiments using entangled photons.
“Private funds also enabled us to purchase three amazing small devices: a nuclear magnetic resonance tomograph, which is a fundamental two-state quantum measurement system with applications in fundamental quantum mechanics, structure of matter, materials science, and quantum computing; an X-ray imaging machine capable of producing standard X-ray images, CT scans of apple-sized samples, and crystal X-ray diffraction data; and a Frank-Hertz experimental apparatus, an adaptation of a Nobel Prize-winning experiment which confirmed quantum theory’s prediction that electrons occupy only discrete energy levels.
Modern technology made possible these table-top devices that produce high-quality data suitable for student experiments. The Campaign made it possible for our lab to acquire them.
“Through these and other major purchases, we are replacing and upgrading equipment that has worn out or become completely obsolete over the 25-year lifetime of the lab. We are well on our way to creating the most advanced high school physics lab in the country, bar none.”