Texas A&M University invites audiences across Texas, the nation and the world to get up-close and personal with science and technology outreach at the 2021 Physics and Engineering Festival, set for Saturday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as an interactive livestreamed event.
With the same COVID-19 restrictions that canceled the 2020 festival still in place, Texas A&M is taking the free annual event (view promotional flyer online) virtual, livestreaming the festival via a combination of YouTube and Zoom for the first time in its nearly two-decade history. Dedicated students, faculty and staff have been hard at work since fall to convert one of Aggieland’s most popular spring attractions into a quality virtual experience complete with interactive demonstrations, keynote talks, and live Q&A sessions with scientists.
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Activities will kick off live at 10 a.m. with a brief welcome punctuated by what typically is the event’s traditional finale, a Texas-sixed five-barrel depth charge featuring 1,000 plastic balls. The tentative schedule also includes a three-part demo show (10:20 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m.) highlighting the best of the festival’s trademark 200-plus science exhibitions and engineering technology demonstrations, which as in previous events will debut dozens of exciting new demonstrations built during the past year by student teams affiliated with the DEEP (Discover, Explore and Enjoy Physics and Engineering) Program.
At 11 a.m., NASA astronaut and Texas A&M engineer Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg will present Laying the Cornerstone of the International Space Station, the first of the day’s two keynote talks. Currie-Gregg, a professor of engineering practice at Texas A&M since 2017, accrued 1,000 hours in space as a mission specialist on four space shuttle missions and helped to assemble the ISS while also logging more than 4,000 flying hours in a variety of rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft.
At 12:30 p.m., UCLA Physics and Astronomy Chair Dr. David Saltzberg will deliver a keynote presentation, How Did Amy and Sheldon Win Their Nobel Prize?, in which he will discuss his experiences putting his University of Chicago physics Ph.D. to work in an industry seemingly far from his own as a science consultant helping the writers and other crew tell the story of The Big Bang Theory as well as that of the spin-off series Young Sheldon.
From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., participants are invited to take in additional demos, moving from room to room (view tentative room list at bottom of schedule) to explore and interact with scientists, who also will be responding to pre-submitted audience questions throughout the festival.
All events are presented by the Texas A&M Department Physics and Astronomy in partnership with several other campus units, including the Departments of Aerospace Engineering, Atmospheric Sciences, Chemistry, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mathematics.
The 2021 livestreamed event is sponsored by Halliburton, Col. Hal Schade ’67, the College of Science, the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy and additional Spirit of Giving donors. Previous supporters that have made the annual festival possible include the Texas A&M University System, Dr. Charles R. ’62 and Judith G. Munnerlyn, ExxonMobil, the Willard and Anne Levin Foundation, Ahmed Mahmoud ’87, Michele Mobley ’87, Susan Sheskey, Purna C. Murthy ’88, CC Creations, Schlotzsky’s College Station and Pepsi.
For the latest details regarding the 2021 Physics and Engineering Festival, please visit https://physicsfestival.tamu.edu.