Ingenuity. Originality. Building a better mousetrap. Or, as Hawkeye of "M*A*S*H" fame puts it, good old American know-how and insanity.
But whatever you call it, America's passion for invention has been unparalleled, if not always respected Ä after all, for every telephone and steam engine, Americans have probably invented about a thousand mouse traps and more ways to shave hair than you could possibly count.
Still, you have to take the irrelevant and the silly along with all the technological breakthroughs. For this reason, there are many students on this campus who deserve a pat on the back for their ingenuity, know-how and/or insanity.
One group recently reatured in the Wildcat is the Society of Physics Students, a group of enterprising UA students who have created their own lab to study and learn things the university might not be able to teach them. With a little help from faculty, they now have the opportunity to study topics from nuclear physics to "electrical rocket propulsion."
In an age when the university's commitment to teaching students is dubious at best, it's refreshing to see students taking matters into their own hands.
Another group of would-be innovators are the folks at KAMP student radio. Daunted by the $200,000 they need just to afford a radio frequency (they now broadcast on cable), these students want to up a series of low-energy broadcast antennae around campus so the UA can tune in. If the power levels are low enough, the broadcast doesn't have to be approved by the feds, meaning the frequency doesn't have to be paid for.
Will it work? It's impossible to tell at this point. Besides the need to get the university's permission, they've got to do some serious math to figure out how much power is legal but still listenable. Perhaps the experiment will result in little more than walkie-talkie sound quality.
But since other methods of broadcasting are impossible to achieve at this point, KAMP's willingness to consider unorthodox alternatives is a good thing. And if they have technical difficulties, there might be some physics students willing to help them out.
All these students are setting an example Ä although not necessarily to other students, some of whom are not interested in creative problem solving. But as administrators respond to budget problems every year by cutting more and more academic programs, perhaps this university could use a little more "good old American know-how."
It already has the insanity, of course. Read Next Article