Physics Essays Yurman

Physics students at the University of Rochester discover quickly that Professor Joseph Eberly is different, and that he treats science differently.

If they haven't figured it out by the first exam, it certainly becomes clear then.

"My students, whether it's the freshmen in the spring semester or the graduate students in the fall, are required to write," Eberly said. "My exams usually have an essay question. Physics students are not used to that. But, if they cannot explain their science, there's no way to know if they really understand. They need to know how to write, especially the graduate students for dissertations and publications."

Eberly learned the importance of writing from his father, Norman Eberly, who graduated from Dickinson College in 1924, and then worked as a newspaper journalist for 20-some years -- first even as an undergraduate -- before joining the Penn State faculty as a writer-editor in the College of Agricultural Sciences. He helped publicize agricultural extension and outreach efforts across the state of Pennsylvania.

Norman Eberly retired from Penn State to continue his writing career with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, where he coordinated public relations efforts for the Secretary of Agriculture and made an impact across the Commonwealth, but he always stayed connected to Penn State.

Until his death in 1996 at age 99, he faithfully followed Penn State football.

Now, a major gift by Joe and his wife Shirley has ensured that the senior Eberly's dedication to writing and to Penn State will be remembered in perpetuity and have a profound impact on the College of Communications and its students.

In response to Penn State’s ongoing Faculty Endowment Challenge,  the Eberlys have created the Norman Eberly Professor of Practice in Journalism. The first-of-its-kind gift to the College will provide support for an outstanding professionally-oriented faculty member in the Department of Journalism.

"It's clear that my father wasn’t an academic, but a writing-editing journalist," Joe said. "The new category of professional position that’s appearing on university faculties across the country, called variously professor of practice or a similar title, would fit his style very well.  My wife and I hope that Dad would like having his name associated with journalism at Penn State."

The gift will make an impact.

"We're simply elated that Joe and Shirley have deemed us worthy of such a generous gift," Dean Doug Anderson said. "We pride ourselves on our faculty balance -- we value those with strong academic credentials as well as those who possess extensive professional media backgrounds -- and this endowed professor-of-practice position will enhance that overall balance."

The holder of the position will  boast exceptionally strong professional credentials and skills, possess extensive contacts at media outlets and organizations, stand among the best classroom teachers in the College, work within the College to facilitate internship and career placement opportunities, and serve as a liaison for the program with relevant journalism associations and organizations.

Joseph Eberly earned his bachelor's degree in physics from Penn State in 1957 and his doctorate in physics from Stanford in 1962. He was named recipient of the Outstanding Science Alumni Award from Penn State in 1998.

Eberly knows the importance of sharing his expertise and sharing a message. He judges his own teaching success in part by how well students relay information back to him on those exams.

"I believe strongly that you don't know what you believe until you write it down," he said. "It's not only telling the world at large what you believe, but organizing it for yourself. In the classroom I try to give students time to share what they’re thinking. For education to be successful it cannot be one-way communication, with just the teacher talking. They have to be able to share what they’re learning."

Eberly understands and appreciates the importance of endowed positions. He is the Andrew Carnegie Professor of Physics and Professor of Optics at the University of Rochester.

The author or co-author of three textbooks and more than 300 scientific articles and papers on quantum optics and laser science, he was awarded the Frederic Ives Medal in 2010, the highest award of the Optical Society of America.

Prestige designer jewelry house David Yurman commissioned Cooper Union's student-run origami club to provide the dressing for their holiday windows displays in three of their national boutiques, including their Madison Avenue flagship store. In the holiday spirit, the club will in turn donate their fee to the school.  It wouldn't be a Cooper project without marrying art and science, so the club's original designs include over three hundred LED-illuminated paper sculptures for a display worthy of one of the country’s premier luxury brands. All of it was done in five days, not long before final exams.

“Who would think that engineers are actually artists? And yet, they did this,” David Yurman, founder of the jewelry house, says. “This is origami at level five.”  He met with Uyen ("Win") Nguyen, president of the club, to see the final installation at the Madison Avenue store, a moment captured on Youtube, above. The team’s origami designs are also featured in the Beverly Hills location on Rodeo Drive, and the South Coast Plaza location in Costa Mesa, California.

“How do you say no to David Yurman?” Nguyen, a mechanical engineering junior, says of the collaboration. “It happened very quickly, on the heels of our Hurricane Sandy Relief Fundraiser in November,” she says. The schedule for the project was incredibly demanding, with less than a week between the official commission by the jeweler and when the deliverables were expected to be ready in time for the holiday shopping displays.

It started when Richard Barrett, Director of Special Projects at David Yurman and father of architecture freshman Henry Barrett, attended a Parent’s Day event in September where he met Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha. Hearing the President's presentation on student organizations, Mr. Barrett was impressed when he saw pictures of work by the origami club. A few weeks later in November, Mr. Barrett reached out to Student Services and got in touch with the club president looking for hundreds of intricately folded pieces in a matter of days.

As Cooper Union students, Ms. Nguyen and her team are used to demanding schedules and punishing all-nighters. So they naturally accepted the challenge. Nine members of the club put in over 300 hours of work over the following five days. They created four “Christmas wreaths” with 33-inch diameters, six ten-inch paper cranes, and over 300 LED-wired cube “holly berries.”

The origami club designed its own circuit for the electronic lights display; a view into the process

“Getting the wiring right for the illuminated berries was the most difficult part,” says Ms. Nguyen. “We ended up designing our own circuit.” For the lighting, the origami club recruited Henry Kasen, an electrical engineering junior who volunteered his efforts to make sure the club’s designs twinkled properly. “This wasn’t just about folding paper,” Ms. Nguyen explains, “there was wiring, soldering, electronics. Most of my work hours were not paper folding, but trying to get the electronics right.”

For their efforts, the group was paid a fee of $5,500, in addition to the $500 worth of paper materials used for the project. Ms. Nguyen and her team decided to donate the entire fee for the project to Cooper Union.  “Our school is in a pretty bad financial situation right now. And we wanted to help in a way that was productive,” Nguyen says. “We thought it would be a good gesture to the Cooper community, and potentially encourage more people to donate to the school.”

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