College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

It was a high-energy summer for Iowa State undergraduates at European physics lab

“I’m going to CERN,” John Hauptman told the undergraduates in his classical physics course, referring to the European Organization for Nuclear Research and the home of the Large Hadron Collider. He explained he needed students to help with some projects he’d finish there over the summer. “If anyone wants to come along, send an email.”

Waidanz, then a first-semester freshman and now a sophomore physics major from Glen Ellyn, Ill., opened her laptop and sent a note right away.

Hauptman, a professor of physics and astronomy, was facing a busy summer as part of the DREAM Project, an Italian-American collaboration led by Richard Wigmans, a professor of physics at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Project collaborators are working to develop a new kind of particle detector for high-energy physics, a calorimeter to measure the energies of hadronic particles, subatomic particles made up of quarks, such as protons, neutrons and pions.

“The goal of the project is to develop the best detector in the world by far,” Hauptman said.

To help make that happen, Hauptman’s goal for the summer of 2011 was to build nearly a half ton of instrumentation designed to test one of the concepts behind the DREAM detector. It was going to be a big job at CERN. And so he asked if there were any students willing and able to help.

“I wasn’t sure if he was joking at first,” said Waidanz.

But she sent Hauptman a note, “If you’re serious …”

Before long, Hauptman had assembled a team of 10 undergraduates, most of them freshmen.

Of the 10 undergraduates, four were from the College of Engineering:

  • Aaron Bazal, an electrical engineering major from Newton
  • Anthony de los Reyes, an electrical engineering major from Moline, Ill.
  • Cody Ross, an electrical engineering major from Batavia
  • Priscila Torres, a physics and aerospace engineering major from Harrison, Ark.

To read more about these undergraduates’ summer, visit the ISU News Service article.