Princeton’s toughest classes may not look the same, but that doesn’t mean academic rigor is suffering.
Illustration by Tim Bouckley
Excerpt: In Claire Gmachl’s introductory physics class for engineers, first-year students work in teams to tackle problems such as: How much energy would a hyperloop (an ultra-highspeed transportation system proposed by Elon Musk) save, or how would melting polar ice caps affect the spinning of the Earth? Gmachl, a professor of computer and electrical engineering at Princeton, says the class, Mechanics, Energy, and Waves, is different from what incoming students would typically learn.
“In a classic physics lab, students might measure energy conservation in a roller coaster,” says Gmachl, who came to the University in 2003. “But in this class, we focus on how you would design a roller coaster to minimize energy loss to friction and air resistance, for example, and then measure it. So, it’s an interaction between science and engineering.”