History of the Physics Trades Teaching Laboratory

The original machine shop in the Physics Department was called the Staff Shop. It was small, consisting of only one lathe and mill and a few other small pieces of equipment.  Harry Clark ran the shop from 1963 to 1984. Harry calibrated vacuum gages for scientific research groups and made parts for various Physics experiments used in the undergraduate labs. He is best remembered for machining the final version of the Colorado Centennial Foucault Pendulum and the starting mechanism that launches the pendulum every morning at eight. The pendulum length is 40 meters running all the way to the top of the 11 story Gamow Physics Tower.

After Harry retired Bob Tyler took over the supervision of the Staff shop in 1985 and ran the shop till his retirement in 1996. The shop stayed the same size and performed the same services as before.

In the spring of 1997 Sid Gustafson took over the staff shop with the idea of making it into a teaching laboratory. The first technology class was taught to upper level undergraduates and graduate students. The course provided a background in basic machine shop practice.  The course was originally designed for twenty students a year but was so popular that he ended up teaching fifty students the first year. The Machine Shop Technology course now teaches two hundred students a year from all disciplines on campus.  In order to teach that large amount of students Sid had to scramble to find enough equipment and space.  A former storage area was converted to a large machine shop and filled with lathes and milling machines that he bought from other departments.  Some of the other machines had to be purchased new and he accomplished this goal by taking a loan from the College of Arts and Sciences and paid it back from course fees he received from teaching larger classes.   His long hours teaching and hard work expanding the machine shop was rewarded when Sid received the University of Colorado Employee of the Year award in 1998. In 1999 Sid expanded the shop one more time, building a welding area big enough to teach six students at a time. The welding classes are still very popular both with on campus students and with many people from the local area.  In 2011 Craig Joy was hired to instruct students with Sid half time and build instruments in the Physics Precision Instrument Shop half time. In 2013 Sid retired and Craig Joy started teaching full time in the Physics Trades Teaching Lab. More information on Sid is found on this link: Who is Sid.

Craig Joy started writing a new 2-axis CNC milling course in the summer of2013 along with teaching all the machine shop courses. More information on Craig is found on this link: Who is Craig.  The CNC Milling course was approved in the spring of 2014 and was first offered to Physics Department Faculty, Graduate Students, and Staff.  At the same time, it was decided to hire a part time welding instructor to teach the welding classes. Herb Beaven was hired to teach the welding classes in September of 2013.