Under the coordination of faculty member Dr. Asim Gangopadhyaya, a program of tutorial projects for freshmen Physics majors was started several years ago. The Freshmen work in small groups on research projects of their own choosing. Each group of students selects a faculty member to supervise their work on the projects, which must include both experimental and theoretical components. The planning of the projects occurs during the Fall Semester, and then the construction of apparatus, data taking, and write-up of results happens during the Spring. The projects end with each group giving a formal presentation of their work to the assembled department. This program has proved to be a popular way for the Freshmen Physics majors to become acquainted with each other and with the Physics Faculty—by doing some physics together.
2006–07: The effects of interfering with a laser beam that has been amplitude modulated to carry a sound wave
"To do so we will build a simple apparatus that connects a laser beam to a sound source and transmits the sound across the laser beam via two sinusoidal waves of slightly offset frequencies. The sound travels across the laser beam and hits a photo-resistor that is connected to an amplifier to project the sound signal again. What we hope to study is how the sound is related to the intensity of the laser beam, if there are changes in the resulting sound if the beam is interfered with by various means such as a half reflecting mirror, another source of light or another laser beam, or different solid obstructions. In doing this we will study the mathematics behind the modulation which will involve the Fourier Transform to look at the frequency spectrum of our modulation. Using the Fourier transform we can look at the relationship between the sound wave we are transmitting and the intensity of our light beam. We think there must be a direct relation."
—Maxwell Grady, Mike Hutson, Shawon Joseph, and Muhammad Khan—Dr. Dykla