Union College has been a member of the New York Space Grant (NYSG) Consortium since the 2007-2008 academic year. Union’s Space Grant program is bolstered by grant support through NYSG, through funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Under the direction of Professor and Chair of Physics and Astronomy Rebecca Koopmann, Union’s Space Grant centers on undergraduate and high school students. In the past five years of NYSG funding, the program has sponsored over 30 summer research projects and student travel to attend conferences. Union’s Space Grant also incorporates secondary school outreach activities with the annual Physics Constant workshop for high school teachers and students. Space Grant student researchers participate in Union’s active summer student seminar program, and present their findings at national meetings and at campus research seminars such as the Union College Department of Physics and Astronomy Summer Student Poster Session and the Steinmetz Symposium.
The Space Grant outreach activities include part support for a partnership between Union’s Kenney Community Center and Union’s Society of Physics Students’ demonstration team to reach out to local secondary schools. Teachers and students from regional high schools work in teams with Union College Physics and Astronomy faculty and advanced undergraduates to perform experiments to measure fundamental physical constants. They gain experience with modern instrumentation and laboratory techniques such as high-resolution video analysis, scattering experiments with a particle accelerator and scanning electron microscopy.