PU summer program inspires laser scientists of the future

July 29--Princeton University played host last week to more than a dozen aspiring laser scientists--participants in a summer outreach program called the Princeton University Materials Academy

July 29--Princeton University played host last week to more than a dozen aspiring laser scientists--participants in a summer outreach program called the Princeton University Materials Academy (PUMA).

PUMA brings together university faculty and research staff with local high school students, most from economically disadvantaged families, for a series of summer sessions focused on materials science.

The materials academy is an outreach program run by the Princeton Center for Complex Materials, with sponsorship by Lawrence-based organization MentorPower, which conducts outreach for disadvantaged high school students.

About 50 students are participating in the PUMA sessions, said Daniel Steinberg, director of educational outreach with PCCM at the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM).

The two-week session that began July 11 was to culminate Monday evening with presentations by the students at Princeton's Bowen Hall. The session, which focuses on the redesign and performance of materials, drew 16 participants, 13 of them female, who were primarily sophomores and juniors from high schools in Princeton, Trenton, and Lawrence.

On July 19, Professor Claire F. Gmachl, an associate professor of electrical engineering at Princeton who does research on quantum cascade lasers, opened up her lab to the students, who, in addition to receiving laser demonstrations, also conducted their own hands-on experiments.

In the lab the students learned about the properties of lasers and the optical characteristics of the materials that comprise them.

Two more PUMA sessions are scheduled for this summer.

This article was excerpted from the South Brunswick Post, www.southbrunswickpost.com.

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