Hope Students Earn Bronze Medal
in International Physics Contest
HOLLAND - A team of three Hope College students has won a bronze medal, placing in the top half among 77 teams from around the world participating in the 2011 University Physics Competition for undergraduate students.
The Hope team consisted of junior Matthew Eiles, a physics and mathematics major from Beaverton, Ore.; junior Andrew McCubbin, a computer science and physics major and mathematics minor from Galesburg; and senior Caitlin Taylor, a physics major and mathematics minor from Kalamazoo.
Working at their home institutions in teams of up to three, the participating students prepared formal solution papers to one of two problems posted on the competition's website late in the day on Friday, Nov. 4. The competitors had a total of 48 hours to complete their work. The results were announced in December.
"We were certain these three students would rise to the challenge and do very well in the strong international competition. The enthusiasm they expressed when they first learned about the competition seemed only to grow as the weekend approached and never faltered, even in the wee hours of Sunday morning," said Dr. Catherine Mader, who is a professor of physics and served as the Hope team's advisor. "Their five-page summary of their solution is very impressive and we're quite proud of what they accomplished."
A total of 21 teams were ranked as Bronze Medal Winners. Another two teams were ranked as Gold Medal Winners and 14 teams ranked as Silver Medal Winners, with the remaining 40 teams ranked as Accomplished Competitors.
According to the competition's website, the problems are designed to be open-ended with the possibility that many different approaches might be useful. The papers were expected to be theoretical analyses using the principles of physics, with requirements including key details and results and a list of references and in-text citations. The teams were allowed to use any non-living resources but couldn't consult with other people.
The problem chosen by the Hope team and 48 of the other competitors involved calculating the initial ball velocities and spins that would result in a successful shot while standing at a 45-degree angle at the three-point line on a basketball court. The problem chosen by the remaining 28 teams focused on determining differences in cost if launching a rocket from towers of different heights.
The contest, in its second year, was sponsored by the American Physical Society and the American Astronomical Society. The participants were from colleges and universities across the United States as well as from foreign countries including Brazil, Canada, China, England, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. Four of the teams were from Michigan colleges and universities, including Kettering University, Lawrence Technological University and the University of Michigan in addition to Hope.