Sigma Pi Sigma Is Building Bridges at Cleveland State University

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Chapter Profile

Sigma Pi Sigma Is Building Bridges at Cleveland State University


Samantha Tietjen, SPS Member, and Kiril Streletzky, Chapter Advisor & Zone 7 ZC, Cleveland State University

 Jim Pitchford (CSU alumnus), Tony Dobrila, John H. Oldham (Logistical Innovations, Inc., exhibits specialist and lunar sample coordinator), Dr. Kiril Streletzky (CSU SPS advisor), Samantha Tietjen, Dr. Krista Freeman (CSU alumni/Carnegie Mellon alumnus), Aubrey Lokey. Photo courtesy of Kiril Streletzky.

The physics department at Cleveland State University (CSU) has boasted impressive growth over the past 12 years, and with it have come successes in both employment and graduate program acceptance. Recent graduates have gone on to NASA, NREL, CERN, Cleveland Clinic, Caltech, Johns Hopkins, and Carnegie Mellon, among others.

The growth has been attributed to the program’s academic quality, as well as research and teaching opportunities available to undergraduates within the department. “It is very rare to have a department that is both small enough to really care for each student and also academically rigorous and rich with research and teaching opportunities,” says 2011 graduate Krista Freeman (PhD, Carnegie Mellon, postdoc at University of Pittsburgh). “So I always think to myself how lucky I was to get the best of both worlds.”

Information on the successes of CSU physics alumni is being carefully and disseminated. Photo courtesy of Samantha Tietjen.

Meanwhile, student engagement has also flourished through CSU’s award-winning Society of Physics Students (SPS) chapter. But while growth in these areas has helped to foster connections with recent graduates, there’s been little interaction with alumni who are well established in their fields. CSU’s SPS hopes to bridge this gap by reviving the university’s Sigma Pi Sigma chapter, which started in 1969 but has been dormant since 1972. 

The link the chapter will create between students and alumni who are active in industry and academia is essential for physics majors nearing graduation and for students seeking research or employment experience. A planned 2018 induction ceremony and formal networking dinner will begin opening up these invaluable pathways.

Says 2009 graduate Vincenzo LaSalvia, now a process engineer at NREL, “The plentiful opportunities and experiences that I was fortunate to accumulate throughout my years [at CSU] are what definitively shaped my calling as an engineer and innovator.” The goal for CSU’s reestablished Sigma Pi Sigma chapter is to connect current students with alumni like Vincent who have excelled in physics.

Drace Adams and Samantha Tietjen with CSU alumnus Dr. David C. Spelic during his visit to CSU’s SPS chapter. Photo courtesy of Kiril Streletzky.

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