Father, daughter team up for Jorgensen Hall ribbon cutting

Dec 17th, 2010 | By | Category: Campus News, November 18

A Rube Goldberg device was the first thing that came to mind when Jayme Cox and her dad, John, began brainstorming how to cut the ribbon on UNL’s new physics building.

“We had a lot of little pieces — stuff that we already had put together,” she said. “We figured it would work well to make it all go in sequence.”

Luckily, the principle of first thought, best thought proved true for the Pius X High School sophomore and her father, a high school physics teacher who also teaches a lab at UNL.

The father-daughter team from DeWitt won a university-sponsored contest designed to add some physics-related fun and drama to the Oct. 29 ribbon-cutting ceremony. The ceremony, which began with a talk from alumnus and Nobel laureate Alan Heeger, was part of week of physics-themed events designed to celebrate the dedication of Jorgensen Hall. The 125,000-square-foot building that features large lecture auditoriums, state-of-the-art laboratories, classrooms and offices is named for alumnus, distinguished educator and former department chair Theodore “Ted” Jorgensen.

Online voters deemed the Coxes’ six-step approach using a bowling ball, a Husker-themed auger and a guillotine, among other tools, as the best way to cut the ribbon. After being notified they had won, the Coxes refined their idea and squeezed in several practice runs, which paid off in the end. On dedication day, it went off without a hitch.

Building devices for science experiments and teaching aids is something they’ve done together for years, they said. Sometimes they just build stuff for fun.

“I always kind of tease her and tell her I have to make sure they’re safe for my students … to make sure they don’t hurt anybody,” John Cox said. “She’s the guinea pig. She’s a good sport, too.”

– Jean Ortiz Jones, University Communications

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