The El Camino College physics team recently took home its second consecutive silver medal in an international competition.
Physics team members Evan Nunez, Alex Polanski and Timothy Wilson participated in the 2016 University Physics Competition, an international contest for undergraduate students who work in teams to solve a physics problem over the course of 48 hours.
Nearly 200 student teams submitted papers for judging in the competition. Teams were given the choice of two topics – methods of radioactive waste disposal or the differences in mass between dinosaurs and the largest ancient mammals.
The team, trained by faculty adviser and physics professor John Coroneus, chose the first question, and started researching whether it would be more effective to shoot radioactive nuclear waste into the sun for disposal or into the asteroid belt where it would eventually decay. Teams had 48 hours to research the problem, decide on the necessary physics and mathematical principles to address the problem, find helpful data and write a technical paper on the issue. In the end, the team determined neither option was a realistic solution to the problem.
During the contest, teams used books, journals, computers, the internet, programs they wrote, and other "nonliving" resources, but they did not consult with any people outside of their team. Professor Coroneus prepared the students for the competition through mock questions and skill building, but as outlined in the contest rules, did not speak to them about this problem; they were entirely on their own.
The El Camino College team directly competed with many four-year colleges and universities such as Cornell University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Toronto, Autonomous University of Barcelona and Civil Aviation University of China.