The Belin-Blank Center is lucky to have many great teachers who work with the programs we offer. One of these teachers, James Wetzel, is an experimental high energy particle physicist with the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) Group at the University of Iowa. He also teaches physics at Augustana College and astronomy at Coe College. James has taught a physics section with Professor Ugur Akgun for the NSI program over the past four years, as well as a physics class during CSP/HKSP for the past two summers.
What is your favorite part of teaching?
Knowing that what I teach empowers people, giving them the tools and inspiration to accomplish and chase their dreams. Seriously!
What is the most important lesson you have learned about high-ability students?
Programs like those offered by the B-BC really allow high-ability students to thrive. When it comes to nature vs. nurture, it is my opinion that these programs are catalysts and focusing lenses for student achievement.
You recently worked with Mark Ginsberg on a project called the Cone Flower Cluster. Can you tell us more about that and how it involved 3D printing?
Actually I use 3D printing all the time. I have a little Afinia sitting on my desk that I use for prototyping all sorts of parts for our R&D efforts. The Cone Flower Cluster was a collaboration between an industrial artist, Bounnak Thommavong, Mark Ginsberg, and I. I developed the solar powered system and electronics, Mark provided the 3D printing materials (his printer can produce much higher quality pieces than my printer), and Bounnak did all the industrial design and welding, as well as getting the piece in the exhibition at Dubuque. All three of us strongly believe in the concept of combining the arts and sciences.