Physics Department

1570 E. Colorado Blvd E-Building



Mr. Cheney




Summer I


To Contact:

E 310C

626 585-7134


Visit Mr. Cheney's Homepage: "Ken's Place"

B.A. in Physics at UCLA in 1956. Why a B.A.? Well, you could take math for a B.A. or electronics for a B.S. and I chose the math.

M.A. in Physics at USC. This time the choice was an experimental project or a comprehensive exam for the masters and I chose the exam. Experiments are messy and time consuming.

I took more than enough courses for a Ph.D., enough math so I have a Life Credential in math (doesn't count any more though).

I worked four years in aerospace, Marquardt Corporation. I worked on many aspects of electric propulsion for spacecraft. Ironically I spent most of my time directing experiments supporting ion rockets. I had to learn about high voltages, ion sources, accelerators, ion beam focusing, mass spectrographs, vacuum systems, and (the real point) damage due to sputtering. We got enough results to publish in the Journal Of Applied Physics. At the time I thought that worrying about sputtering damage to the electrodes of ion rockets was stretching it a bit, now (thirty years later) I understand that sputtering is the limiting factor in the life of ion rockets!

I learned lots of applied physics and a great appreciation of engineering.

One summer, after I started teaching, I worked at JPL in support of their Solar Simulator. More applied physics but it turned out that this time I contributed theoretical analysis of the overall system and a planned exploding wire light source (physics was against this one).

CheneyHippie2.jpg (177896 bytes)I've worked at PCC since 1966 always in Physics but with a few interesting diversions.

When our Laser program was starting I taught the labs for the first two courses and established what turned out to be their long term direction. I taught the introductory Laser course many times and enjoyed it immensely. I founded a course in Computing for Laser Technicians, and wrote a book for it. This was very interesting we did a bit of everything from assembly to A/D and D/A. I regret we are not still doing this.

During some lean times after Proposition 13 I taught a number of programming classes: Business Basic, Scientific Basic, Fortran, and established a computer graphics class (I wrote a manual for this too). This last was fun but NOTHING like computer graphics today, we were always very close to laying down the pixels one at a time.

My greatest love in science has turned out to be computer simulations for teaching physics. We have been doing that ourselves and teaching students how to do it since the early seventies.

PhysicsIB2.jpg (264662 bytes)I have happily taught all of our Physics courses many times and have gradually written lab manuals for three of our four courses for Physics majors, assembled manuals for Liberal Arts Physics and the second semester of Life Science Physics, and written a math supplement for Physics majors. I never actually set out to do any of these, they simply seemed needed at one time or another.

Currently (Summer 1996) I'm busy trying to help get the college on the web and planning a complete revision of our first semester lab for majors. I have hopes we can simultaneously make the progression easier for students and greatly increase the number of lab techniques mastered. We are also working on incorporating spread sheets and Mathematica into our student's arsenal of tools.

(5/19/2003) Well, we have LOTS on the web as you can see.

We (well, some of us) have incorporated spread sheets into the1 series very successfully. See my web site for lots on using Excel for least squares analysis.

There are instructions and photos of many labs posted on my web site, "Ken's Place" ..


Slide Show, short!