October 2005: History of Ateneo de Manila University Physics Department

The BS Physics program and the MS Program and thus the official beginning of the Physics Department trace their orgins to the initiative of the Jesuits in the Manila Observatory in 1965.  They wanted a way to fittingly celebrate the centenary of the Observatory in 1965.  This featured an Open House celebration which highlighted the first gas laser used in the country.  Another highlight was the well-stocked library which at that time was the best research library in the country.

Through the 70’s the program continued with graduates numbered by the fingers on one hand.

By 1979 the first returning graduate became the new Chair of the program.  At the same time the ADMU new administration, under Fr. Jose Cruz, asked what would be needed to advance the physics program.  The new Chair was convinced that physics could mnove at ADMU and the country only if there was sufficient laboratory space devoted to experimental physics.  Fr. Cruz agreed and laboratories were built in the second floor of Gonzaga Hall where at present LS has its cafeteria for the students.

By the mid-80’s further desire for ADMU to modernize its offerings led to the development of the CS program and the Physics/CE program.  To house these new initiatives, a grant was secured from USAID and Faura Hall was built.  In this structure, for the first time in ADMU history, special physics research laboratories were built.  Since the building from USAID also included an equipment grant, the Chair was able to go to the US where through the services of the Purchasing Department of Fordham University in NYC, physics instructional and research equipment was purchased and shipped to ADMU.  At that time surplus research physics equipment was also secured from US Government labs.  In this way vacuum equipment, the aluminum optics bench, and much of the instrtuctional material now in SEC Physics was gotten.  The only requirement under the grant was that the material all be of US manufacture.

With this new setup the next question addressed was the students for the new BS Phys/CE.  These proved to be not too difficult to find when it was realized that one of the main attractions of the program was the double degree.

In this time frame of the 80’s the country at large was also setting up the ESEP program to move forward the development of science and engineering in the Philippines.  Under this program the three Physics Departments of UP Dilimna, ADMU Physics and DLSU Physics agreed to specialize in order that, working as a Consortium, the development of Physics could proceed in an orderly fashion.  UP was to be the center for fields and particles, ADMU for lasers and DLSU for material science.  Subsequent events of the 90’s have modified this arrangement.

(You may like to read a longer history of the ADMU physics Department in Ateneo Physics News)

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About ateneophysicsnews
Physics News and Features from Ateneo de Manila University

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