Applied Physics Course - EXPLO

Applied Physics

“What we know is really very, very little compared to what we still have to know.” — Fabiola Gianotti, Higgs Boson physicist (Director-General of CERN)

The laws of physics are humanity’s best tool for understanding the physical universe we inhabit. They govern our technological advancements and provide the best clues to future innovations that will push against the physical limitations of this universe. Through a variety of hands-on and challenging projects, explore the laws of both classical and quantum mechanics. Begin with a focus on the laws of physics in the observable world. Chart the directional force of gravity to predict the movement of an air rocket through the launch cycle. Use sophisticated sensors and analytical software to predict, measure, and compute trajectory, acceleration, and momentum in physical objects like hovercrafts and trebuchets. Then, delve into physics on an atomic level (quantum mechanics) by exploring the physical basis for well-established technologies like fiber-optics and particle accelerators, as well as the more cutting-edge, theoretical technologies like molecular force spectroscopy and machine learning. Examine how the sophisticated application of physics’ fundamental laws are contributing to the latest advancements in medicine, artificial intelligence, and many other technologies and industries. Harness this newfound knowledge of the physical universe and get ready to see the world in an entirely new light.

Who Should Take This Course?

You are interested in understanding and experimenting with the real-world application of the laws of physics alongside new, cutting-edge technologies. Think like a physicist as you build a trebuchet to explore the principles of ballistics, engage in study of particle physics, and immerse yourself in the fields of bio-nanotechnology and acoustics. Students do not need background knowledge of applied physics or engineering to enroll in this course.

Advisors + Past Speakers

  • Steven Africk, Commercial Physicist, Principal Consultant at Acentech
  • Marcia J. Isakson, Research Scientist/Lecturer, University of Texas at Austin
  • Dr. Jonathan Simon, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland
  • Natalia Guerrero, NASA Planet Hunter + MIT Research Associate
  • Dr. Robert Berg, Professor of Physics, Wellesley College
  • Rolf Landua, Physicist + Head of Education, CERN, Geneva
  • Brian Hughes, Former CEO, American Rocket Company; Chair, HBN Shoes
  • Mike Worley, Roller Coaster Engineer, S&S Worldwide, Inc.

Plan your summer


Course Highlights

  • Bio-nano technologies

    Learn more about the latest technological advances in molecular force spectroscopy. Test a new method of observation that informs drug delivery and medical diagnostics using a standard technique called gel electrophoresis in a whole new way.

  • Career Exploration

    Explore the myriad career options associated with applied physics and participate in labs that explore the skills that applied physicists and engineers use daily.

  • Centripetal Force + Roller Coasters

    Study the physics of roller coasters and build a model that could become the next big ride at a theme park.

  • Bernoulli’s Principle

    What does it take for hovercrafts to work? Build one with your team and analyze why it functions. Consider changes to make as weight shifts.

  • Force, Torque + Pressure Ballistics

    Launch objects through the air with trebuchets. Prototype and perfect rockets through multiple trials as you account for wind, direction, and angles.

Applied Physics is a lot of fun for people who want to see how science can be applied to real-life situations. You are given the opportunity to learn and have fun at the same time. It isn't all about the mathematical part of physics, this class is constantly trying to visualize things by actually putting what we learned in practice.

Advisors + Past Speakers

Steven Africk

Commercial Physicist, Principal Consultant at Acentech

Steven Africk is an accomplished physicist and a leader in the field of acoustics. A graduate of both Cornell and Brown universities, Africk serves as a Research Affiliate at MIT. He invented the Ultrasonic Pulsed Doppler (UPD) system for the characterization of nanoparticles. Africk has advised on numerous projects for the United States Army, Navy, and the National Institutes of Health.

Marcia J. Isakson

Research Scientist/Lecturer, University of Texas at Austin

Dr Marcia Isakson is the principal investigator on two Office of Naval Research Projects at University of Texas at Austin investigating acoustic interactions with ocean sediments and classifying ocean sediments from autonomous underwater vehicles using sonar. She previously served as an officer in the United States Army.

Dr. Jonathan Simon

Assistant Professor, University of Maryland

Jonathan Simon is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland – College Park, jointly in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Department of Biology, and the Institute for Systems Research. Simon’s area of expertise is in applied and theoretical auditory neuroscience. He is the Co-Director of the University of Maryland Magnetoencephalography Center and a Faculty Fellow in the Integrated Life Sciences Honors Program.

Natalia Guerrero

NASA Planet Hunter + MIT Research Associate

Natalia Guerrero is a research associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She works for TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics where she is the TESS Objects of Interest Deputy Manager. TESS is an MIT-led NASA mission to discover exoplanets by an all-sky survey. Guerrero’s work and research involves managing a team of scientists working to identify exoplanet candidates.

Dr. Robert Berg

Professor of Physics, Wellesley College

Robert S. Berg is a Professor of Physics and Chair of the Physics Department at Wellesley College. Since 1996, Berg has partnered with the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, where his projects develop new technologies that expand the range of what people design and create, in the same way that kindergartners create new things with blocks and finger paint.

Rolf Landua

Physicist + Head of Education, CERN, Geneva

Rolf Landua, is the Head of the Education Group for European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN, Geneva) where he creates courses aiming to innovate modern physics teaching at schools. His scientific work involves fundamental research on antimatter and is the leader of an experiment producing millions of antihydrogen atoms. Landua is the Recipient of the Outreach Prize, European Physical Society (2003).

Brian Hughes

Former CEO, American Rocket Company; Chair, HBN Shoes

Brian Hughes is the Chairman and Director of Research & Development at HBN Shoe, where he and his team lead technological innovation by combining medical science and advanced engineering.

Mike Worley

Roller Coaster Engineer, S&S Worldwide, Inc.

Mike Worley is a Senior Mechanical Engineer at S&S Worldwide, Inc, the world’s leader in thrill rides. The company has designed, engineered, and manufactured over 400 roller-coasters, high-thrill rides, and family amusement rides in more than 30 countries around the globe. Prior to joining S&S Worldwide, Worley was a Chief Engineer at DJH Engineering.