Giving to Physics

Sustained support from generous donors and friends like you ensures that CMU Physics Students continue to receive the quality education that best prepares them for a meaningful career.

Current and future students benefit from all gifts that we receive from alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students, and friends.

Ways to give

General physics fund (physics discretionary fund)

Physics faculty member and a graduate student examining the data on her research posterOne of the things we are the proudest of at the Department of Physics, and is one of the pillars for the success of our programs, is the high level of engagement in research projects of our students. Most of our undergraduate students base their Senior Capstone projects on work conducted in summer research projects, and our MS students complete thesis-based degrees that often result in publications in peered-reviewed journals and presentations at national and international conferences. This engagement energizes students by connecting their coursework with concrete physics and astronomy problems, gives students a deeper sense of belonging to our department and the science community, and allows them to acquire skills like data analysis or work with instrumentation that are transferable to non-academic careers or help them build their academic credentials in case they plan to continue their path into graduate programs. We aspire to provide to all our students the opportunity of experiencing at least one summer of research within our department, but this requires funds for the summer stipend to supplement those we can secure from external research grants. Help us get our students the tools and support needed for these experiential learning opportunities!

Astronomy fund

Astronomy student entering data in the telescope room on top of Brooks HallOn top of the Brooks building sits, arguably, the best window to the universe in all of Isabella County: a 16’’ Cassegrain telescope equipped with a state-of-the-art digital spectrometer to precisely characterize the colors of the light reaching us from distant twinkling stars. The Brooks Observatory is a key tool for us to share the wonders of the cosmos with the CMU community and beyond, as evidenced by the popularity of our outreach programs like the Observatory Open House. It is also an essential educational tool. Recently, our Astronomy and Astrophysics program was upgraded from a concentration within the Physic major to a major, and it is currently our most popular one. The telescope is used in upper-level courses and research projects to give students direct hands-on experience operating professional grade instrumentation. Our Astronomy Funds are essential for the maintenance and upgrades of the Brooks Observatory and to support other astronomy academic activities like student trips to professional events.

McDermott equipment fund

Physics faculty member Matt Redshaw and a student preparing equipment for experimentationThe McDermott funds are dedicated to continuously support the infrastructure and equipment for physics teaching and research labs, so they stay updated with state-of-the-art equipment. We strive to maintain relevant equipment in the teaching and research labs so students can apply the theoretical concepts learned in lectures to ”real world’ problems and learn research skills useful to careers in both academia and industry. For this reason, our upper-level experimental courses are structured with flexible formats for the lab exercises, giving students significant flexibility to design and execute their experiments, so they can learn how to overcome hurdles typical of research projects, like time management and using data to inform critical decision making. We are currently in the process of increasing the computational content that the students are exposed to, with a focus on using Python as a tool for data analysis and problem solving. In recent years the McDermott funds have been used to add an experiment on trapped ions to the curriculum of the advanced lab course. Our next goal is to add experiments that allow students to work with computer-controlled devices and digital data acquisition systems.