Enthusiasm for experimental research, willingness to dedicate time to the project.
Due to the nature of this course, taking part in this course requires (i) building a student team of around 4-8 people, and (ii) discussion of the project with the lecturer several weeks before it starts! Please contact Wolfgang Löffler as soon as possible.
In Experimental Projects you can learn how to independently plan and conduct a scientific research project, from generating the first idea until presenting and reporting the final results. The required time is 6 EC * 28 h/EC = 168 hours, about 140 hours for the project itself and some time for report & presentation. This means that the course is not about just a small experiment but gives you the opportunity to realise a real project of an appropriate size that requires project planning and management. Note, however, that we will carefully help you choosing or propose a project that has a very high success probability, if you bring the necessary motivation, skills and time! A skilled teaching assistant (PhD) will help you in the project phase. Next to learning essential skills in physics, team work and project management, enrolling in this course will prepare you nicely for an experimental BSc Project.
You will choose the team, have a lot of freedom but also responsibility. A reasonable budget is available, and you can work together with the fine-mechanical department (FMD) and electronics department (ELD). One of the goals of this course is to develop problem mitigation strategies, what to do if things don't work out, and how to realistically design projects.
At certain intervals you will present or report the status and results to the lecturer and your fellow student teams. The course will be finalized by a presentation and a written report. The team grade will be assessed using similar rubrics as for BSc research projects (re-normalized for limited time).
To give you an idea, here some successful projects from the past:
2018/2019: A Gauss Gun
2019/2020: A low-cost LIDAR system
2019/2020: A SONAR system
2020/2021: An Ion-propelled aircraft
2021/2022: Bell test with quantum entangled photons
Next to improving your physics skills (experimentally and theoretically), we hope that this course will improve your teamwork and project management skills, teach how to plan & conduct a research project largely independently, and by this increase your scientific self-confidence! Rigorous and critical thinking, reporting and presenting are also important goals.
This means you will be able to
Formulate relevant scientific questions, based on prior research results and literature study
Write a project proposal, which describes the measurement technique, the data analysis, the expected results, and their relation to the research question(s)
Design, construct and characterize physical experiments on your own, and obtain data.
Critically and correctly analyze the data, compare to models.
Project and team management: plan and design a project realistically and write a short project proposal, distribute and manage the work within the team, continuously monitor the progress and re-evaluate decisions.
Learn from setbacks, mistakes and team problems - and be able to spot it earlier the next time.
This means that you will also learn how to
Professionally respond to feedback: incorporate feedback into the research by adapting your practices
Collaborate as a proactive team player
Plan your research activities realistically
Communicate and discuss your research in an efficient way
Work in a larger team
Hold and contribute to effective meetings
Interact with experts from the electronics and fine-mechanical departments
Mode of instruction
Project work, coached by staff and TA(s).
Project work with continuous feedback also on performance, presentation and project report.
Depends on the project
The project has to be discussed with the lecturer before you register as a group!