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When people are the best facilities

| Denise Olson

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Phillips 224, the physics seminar room, is that special spot where students know they can go to find support and camaraderie.

Although UW-Eau Claire can boast some of the most advanced academic facilities available to undergrads in the region, sometimes what matters just as much are the simple gatherings of students and faculty. Personal connections and interactions are the glue that hold the Blugold academic experience together, and for our physics students that most often happens in "the seminar room."

At first glance, it's nothing to write home about — an empty room with a conference table surrounded by what looks like perhaps decades worth of knick knacks, posters, quotations, and general physics kitsch.

What the seminar room has become, however, is that place where majors and minors in physics can always go to get help with a project, get to know their professors on a more personal level, and get to know each other outside of class. In short, in this space students make the kind of connections that truly help to feel anchored to this place.

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The seminar room for physics is the hot spot for lunch—a time when students and faculty just enjoy each others company and talk a little shop. Senior AJ Kukay, left, gets a little advice on a poster from Dr. Kim Pierson.

Senior applied physics major AJ Kukay has spent much of the last couple years hanging out in the seminar room, and described it's importance to himself and his fellow students.

"The seminar room gives students a place to collaborate on coursework as well as become an active member of the department. Being able to get to know professors over lunch and work with other students in a team environment has fostered a tight knit community that encourages students to reach their fullest potential," he said.

If you ask a physics major, they will tell you that what makes their program the best on campus is the people. Senior Chris Hopp also points to the seminar room as the place where the essential connections are taking place.

"What really sets the department apart from the rest is the Physics seminar room, Phillips 224. Students can come here to work on homework, study, eat, play games. The faculty also use this room, and we have conversations outside of the typical professor/student interaction— conversations about solving puzzles and riddles, jokes, politics, and the latest scientific discoveries. This type of interaction is something that I feel makes the Physics department so unique," Hopp said.