Research

The Fort Lewis Physics & Engineering Department participates in the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, sponsored by NASA. Through this grant program, our students frequently acquire paid internships for summer research in a variety of physics, astronomy, and engineering capacities. We have connections for recurring internships with the NASA JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) facility in Pasadena, Calif., and with Textron Corp. (a high-tech aerospace and defense business) near Boston, Mass, as well as other internship opportunities with the Space Grant headquarters at the University of Colorado in Boulder. We also offer frequent internships working at our observatory facility during the summer nights, and others building instrumentation payloads and robotic systems for sensor experiments on high altitude balloon-borne experiments at the edge of our atmosphere. FLC physics and engineering students are also encouraged to compete for the Elaine Hansen summer internship program with NASA, and to participate in NASA small-payload rocketry workshops.

Physics 380/381

The observatory is used by FLC students majoring in Physics or Engineering-Physics as an optional lab during Phys 380 or 381, the physics advanced laboratory class required of all physics majors. A variety of projects, mostly of their chosing, have been undertaken. Some of the experiments include:

  • Measuring Atmosperic Extinction
  • Measuring Variable Stars
  • Supernovae Luminosity

Observational Senior Research projects

Some students also chose an observational astronomy topic for their Senior research. These students typically work at the observatory during the summer, (and occationally during the school year) and have been instrumental in keeping things working. These projects have included:

  • "H-R Diagrams and Globular Clusters: An age estimation of globular cluster M13 using an H-R diagram" by student Dustin Dvorak.
  • “Type Ia Supernovae: Standard Candles Used to Calculate Galactic Distances” by student Joanna Gordon.
  • “Observations of the Binary Star Algol” by student Shane Mayer-Gawlik.
  • “Quantitative Analysis of RR Lyrae Variable Stars in M4 as Observational Photometry” by student Katherine Darland.

Other Projects

Other related projects include engineering design projects, and theoretical astrophysics. Some of which were supported by the NASA Space Grant:

  • "Computer Automation Using Transistor-Transistor Logic" by Nevin Bendt
  • "Measuring Cosmic Rays” by student Alden Cooper.
  • “Black Hole Accretion Systems, Timescales, and Mass Determination” by student Diego Santos-Noble.
  • “Supermassive Black Hole Mergers” by student Brent Janus.