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Student wins $10,000 physics award

April  24, 2014

Augustana junior Mark Hoffmann has been named a Rossing Physics Scholar for 2013-2014. Hoffmann is a native of Lansing, Ill., majoring in pre-medicine and engineering physics.

mark hoffman

Hoffmann will receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Foundation through the Thomas D. Rossing Fund for Physics Education Endowment.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Foundation awards the competitive scholarships to exemplary physics students chosen from the 26 ELCA colleges and universities.

Thomas D. Rossing, a Luther College alumnus and professor emeritus of physics at Northern Illinois University, established the scholarship fund in 2005.

Hoffmann has been actively involved in research since he started his undergraduate career at Augustana. His first project as a first-year student was on nuclear physics research. Throughout the summer of 2012, Hoffmann conducted data analysis at Augustana on a nuclear physics experiment that previously took place at Michigan State University, and later presented his research at the National CEU Nuclear Physics Conference in Los Angeles, California.

“Augustana has definitely prepared me not only to obtain academic knowledge and success in my classes, but to critically think and apply such concepts as well,” said Hoffmann.

Intrigued by the idea of visualizing music, Hoffmann spent his sophomore and junior year working on a side project to engineer a physical spectrum analyzer. This device essentially connects to any audio source such as an iPod and displays a unique visualization of that music. Through teaching himself about electronics and signal processing, Hoffmann, along with two other students, was able to build the prototype.

Hoffmann has a passion for applying knowledge learned from classes and previous experiences to hands-on engineering projects. During his recent internship at a local engineering firm, Hoffmann worked on a project to minimize cost and maximize efficiency for air-handling units. He then presented his work to many engineers in the company.

Currently, he is working on an optics project with Dr. James van Howe, associate professor in physics. Part of the project requires him to write a simulation that will propagate an electromagnetic wave through space. Hoffmann is very excited about this opportunity, which has required him to do a lot of reading and investigation leading to asking the right questions — the kind of research, he said, “Augustana has really prepared me for.”

Sam Schlouch
Director, Public Relations and Arts Promotion
(309) 794-7833