Top three winners of the Spring 2013 Pearson Mechanics Challenge Exam. From left: Dr. Dan Melconian, Yinwei "Charlie" Zhang (2nd place), Xing Zhao (1st place), Gabriel Apfel (3rd place), Department Head Dr. George Welch and Dr. David Toback.


The Department of Physics and Astronomy, in conjunction with Pearson Higher Education, has honored 14 Texas A&M University students by naming them Pearson Mechanics Scholars for the 2013 spring semester.

"The Scholar Program, which was started in 2002 by Dr. David Toback, is meant to provide an extra challenge for those students who are excelling in our introductory mechanics course, Physics 218," said Dr. Dan Melconian, assistant professor of physics and astronomy and current organizer of the Mechanics Scholar Program. "It gives the really gifted students a chance to 'strut their stuff' and see how they compare against the very best at A&M."

At the end of both the fall and spring semesters, any student enrolled in Physics 218 is eligible to take the Pearson Mechanics Challenge Exam. The exam covers the same material as the semester-long course -- Newton's Laws of motion, the concepts of energy, work and momentum, rotational motion and gravity. The difficulty level is higher than the course in order to identify the top performers -- more than a dozen of whom were honored earlier this month as Pearson Mechanics Scholars at a May 1 lunch and awards banquet within the scenic Cynthia Woods Mitchell Garden. After learning about career possibilities in physics and related fields from Toback, each student was presented with a certificate commemorating their accomplishment by Department Head, Dr. George R. Welch.

This semester's top three performers were physics major Xing Zhao (first), computer engineering major Yinwei "Charlie" Zhang (second) and biochemistry major Gabriel Apfel (third). To recognize their exceptional performance, Pearson Higher Education awarded each of them copies of the Physics 208 textbook, "Young and Freedman's University Physics, Volume II," (valued at around $90) as well as monetary awards ($200 for first place, $100 for second and third) to be used toward academics.

"I've been told by my students that 218 is considered to be one of the toughest introductory courses," Melconian said. "It is a required course for many programs at A&M, and specifically most of the students are from the College of Engineering. With their '25 by 25' initiative, we are already beginning to see significantly more students in 218 than we have in the past (which was typically about 800 students in the spring, and 1,500 in the fall). The Pearson Mechanics Scholar program is becoming even more competitive and therefore more prestigious."

For more information on the program, visit http://people.physics.tamu.edu/dmelconian/mech-scholar/.


Contact: Dr. Dan Melconian, (979) 845-1411 or dmelconian@physics.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Spring 2013 Pearson Mechanics Scholars. Front row: (from left) Bethany Butler, Allyson Souris, Zhibin Ye, Yinewi "Charlie" Zhang, Tushar Rajput and Cameron Hill. Back row: Dr. Dan Melconian, Xing Zhao, Gabriel Apfel, Sam Terrill, Alex Dyson, Department Head Dr. George Welch, Jacob Lehner and Oliver Garcia. (Not pictured: Drew Spennato and Kalyn Weiss.)

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