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Students place in top 10 of international physics competition

RELEASED: Dec. 20, 2010

Andrew Bartlein, Justin Vasel and Nick Brewer
(Left to right) Andrew Bartlein, Justin Vasel and Nick Brewer received a silver medal in the University Physics Competition.

EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire team of physics majors ranked highly in the inaugural University Physics Competition. Seniors Justin Vasel, Eau Claire, and Nick Brewer, Clintonville, and junior Andrew Bartlein, Mequon, placed in the top 10 of 58 participating teams, earning a silver medal for their work.

The University Physics Competition is an international contest for undergraduate students, who worked in teams of up to three students at their home colleges and universities all over the world. They spent 48 hours during the weekend of Nov. 6-7 analyzing an applied scenario using the principles of physics, and writing a formal paper describing their work. All teams independently worked on the projects at their home universities.

The UW-Eau Claire team worked on the problem titled "Aerobraking a Space Probe at Neptune." In their work, the three were to find the best alternative route for placing a spacecraft into orbit around the planet Neptune using the process of aerobraking.

"The process of starting with nothing and systematically dissecting and analyzing the problem at hand with no outside help has been truly invigorating," Vasel said. "This competition pushed us to utilize everything we've learned during our time here at UW-Eau Claire, and we couldn't be more pleased with results."

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BC/RD/JP

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