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What is SPS?

The University of Michigan SPS (Society of Physics Students) is student-run organization for anyone interested in physics.

What We Do

University of Michigan's SPS is deeply involved in the community, by volunteering at educational events, offering tutoring and GRE preparation to students in the area, and hosting biweekly lectures. SPS also hosts a variety of social events. Email h-bar@umich.edu for updates on upcoming social events.

Who runs SPS?

SPS has a governing body of seven officers who maintain SPS operations. These are the:

  • President - Duties of the president include coordinating activities, including outreach, tutoring, and recruitment, among members and outside persons. The president also keeps track of important paperwork with both the department and the national organization. He or she is responsible for the office, running meetings, scheduling, and making budgeting decisions.
  • Vice-President - The main responsibility of the vice president is to arrange speakers for the meetings. This involves researching professors, contacting them, setting up a schedule, and sending out reminder emails. The vice president also serves as a general administrator, doing odd jobs (such as setting up visits to intro physics classes to recruit), and helping out in other areas when needed.
  • Treasurer - The treasurer's main job is to order and pick up the pizza for the SPS meetings and manage dues collection each semester. He or she keeps an up-to-date ledger for the cashbox and a spreadsheet of who has paid dues or for t-shirts, and all receipts submitted to the Student Services Office. The treasurer also makes and turns in a sign-in sheet from each meeting.
  • Secretary - The secretary sends out reminder emails for meetings and occasionally social/outreach events, helps keep the email lists updated, and organizes the ordering of the t-shirts. It is also traditionally the secretary's job to edit and do maintenance on the website. Furthermore, the secretary occasionally does general organizational tasks around the office.
  • Tutoring Chair - The tutoring chair is in charge of coordinating tutoring hours for SPS in the Physics Help Room. He or she is also responsible for communicating these times to SPS, and helping to recruit and motivate members to participate in the intro physics tutoring. The tutoring chair also helps organize some large outreach events, such as Physics Palooza.
  • Social Chair - The social chair organizes SPS social events so that members can get to know each other outside of the department. This ranges from ice cream trips, movies, and pick-up frisbee games to our monthly "h-bar"s (parties). It is the job of the social chair to plan, communicate, and facilitate these events. This can mean tasks such as finding locations/transportation, buying food and drink, and/or making facebook events and sending out emails.
  • Outreach Chair - The outreach chair finds and organizes outreach activities for SPS to participate in. This involves communicating with schools, student groups, city event coordinators, etc., preparing appropriate demo shows or activities, and recruiting members to volunteer there. Annually, we are involved in Physics Palooza and the UM Physics Olympiad, though there are many smaller events throughout the year to organize as well.
Elections for the fall and winter semesters of a given academic year take place at the end of the winter semester of the previous year.

Seven Roles of SPS

The SPS has seven unique roles within the physics community:

  1. Encouraging undergraduate research experience as a teaching tool.
  2. Promoting science literacy and appreciation through physics outreach programs to grades K-12 and the general public.
  3. Through SPS alumni and the members of Sigma Pi Sigma, the Society maintains the only institutionalized structure the physics community has for communicating with the "friends of physics" that exist throughout all walks of life in society.
  4. The SPS provides an effective signpost for educating the student on the many career options, in addition to traditional physics, that come with a degree in physics.
  5. The active SPS chapter is an especially effective student recruitment and retention tool for the physics department.
  6. The SPS is a gateway society to the other professional societies in physics.
  7. The SPS provides training for leadership. Through SPS activities, students' professional development, communication skills, leadership qualities, and professional networking is enhanced in ways that cannot be realized in course work alone.
The SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma are sponsored by the American Institute of Physics (AIP). The AIP is a "society of societies," with ten Member Societies, besides the SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma. The only requirements for membership in the local SPS chapter are an interest in physics and a small membership fee. If you have any questions about SPS or about joining SPS, drop by our office or contact us at sps-execboard@umich.edu.