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UCLan wins annual regional physics challenge

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L-R: Patrick Williams, Matthew Teasdale, Dr Tim Mercer, Dr Joe Smerdon, Adam James Ward, Kurt Allen

Undergraduate physics students claim top spot in Institute of Physics Northern Region Physics Challenge

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has triumphed at the annual Institute of Physics (IOP) Northern Region Physics Challenge.

The UCLan undergraduate physics students competed against other universities in the competition, organised by the UK and Republic of Ireland’s professional body the IOP. It is the fifth year of the event, which this year extended its remit to include all 14 universities with physics departments in the North West, North East and Yorkshire.

The first year student challenge aims to develop and showcase workplace skills as well as practical physics skills and theoretical physics knowledge. The challenge was to design, build and demonstrate an analogue voltmeter, which must incorporate an elastic band as a key component, to measure voltages between 0 and 5 volts.

The UCLan team; Kurt Allen, Matthew Teasdale, Adam Ward and Patrick Williams pitched their design to a panel of judges during a demonstration and poster session that was followed by a test of the voltmeter for accuracy.

The team were supervised by Dr Joe Smerdon, Guild Research Fellow in Nanophysics, and the physics course leader who organised the UCLan internal qualifier heats, Dr Tim Mercer.

This is an excellent result. There are several reasons why I am particularly happy; one being our team was made up entirely of students who came through last year’s foundation year entry.

Katherine Platt, Regional Officer for The Institute of Physics, said: “The UCLan team were outstanding in each of these areas. They made an excellent presentation about the voltmeter they had designed and built, showing us that they had approached the challenge methodically and had utilised each team member’s skills to best effect.”

In addition to winning the top prize, the team won an expense paid trip to a science park, which includes a personal tour around the various companies. The UCLan students also won the prize for the most marks as voted by the students from the other teams.

UCLan Professor Derek Ward-Thompson, Head of the School of Physical Sciences and Computing, said: “This is an excellent result. There are several reasons why I am particularly happy; one being our team was made up entirely of students who came through last year’s foundation year entry. This really demonstrates the calibre of our students.”

The Annual IOP Northern Region Physics Challenge is organised by The Institute of Physics.

Catherine Thomas | 28 March 2019