Watch: physics students get hands-on experience aboard WWII-era steam ship

Professor James Overduin's thermodynamics class applies physics to the real world on WWII-era steam ship

By Henry Basta on July 28, 2022

Towson University physics students in professor James Overduin’s thermodynamics class saw firsthand how steam can generate power to move a World War II Liberty ship across the ocean aboard the S.S. John W. Brown.

As part of the ship’s Steam School program, Overduin, Trevor Lowing, operations manager for the Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences, and thermodynamics students traveled this spring to the Baltimore harbor to experience physics outside of the classroom.

“This is my first STEM college field trip,” says student Jasper Scelsi. “It’s cool to see how my area of study affects the world, how important physics is and how it interacts with my day-to-day life.”

The field trip is an example of TU’s commitment to distinguished faculty mentors pushing the possibilities of engaged learning, providing students with exceptional, student-centered educational experiences.

The experiential learning opportunity gives students an appreciation for how physics theories apply in the real world, Overduin says. “They see how moving water around and changing phase from a liquid into a gas powers a massive ship like this and actually ends up saving the world during World War II.”

The Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences offers small classes taught by faculty dedicated to teaching and scholarship.

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