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College of Arts & Sciences

The  Department of Physics and Astronomy at  Texas A&M University founded the  Mechanics Scholar Program in the Spring of 2002 to identify and honor the best students in Physics 206 (Classical Mechanics). The top performers are identified by an end-of-semester Challenge Exam that is open to all students in all sections (typically ~750 in the Fall semester, and ~2,000 in the Spring), with a turnout of around 5-10% writing the exam. It covers the material from the first three exams. While the difficulty level of the Challenge Exam is above the norm for Physics 206 exams, it is nevertheless meant to be for “fun” and is a way to let you match your physics (aka problem-solving) skills against the very best here at A&M. Note that we do  not stress memorization; a formula sheet will be provided with all of the formulae and conversions you will need.

The top three winners will be presented with the Dr. Phyllis Toback Award, given a textbook for PHYS 207, and a monetary award for their accomplishment. As an added incentive, all students who perform well on the challenge exam will be named a MacMillan Mechanics Scholar  (which includes a certificate suitable for framing), and will be invited to a catered luncheon in their honor. In addition to lunch, we will have presentations by faculty members regarding potential careers for people with high levels of physics problem solving skills. The exam is typically held just before (or during) Reading Days, right before finals.

Read About Our Winners


Fall 2019 Mechanics Scholars

(from left) Dr. Alexey Akimov, Hao Zhu (third), Rishi M. Phatak (first), John McKelvey (second) and Dr. Vitaly Kocharovsky.


Mechanic scholars in 2019

Spring 2019 Mechanics Scholars

(front row, from left) Thomas G. Goodwin (first), Cole A. Greene (second) and Zihan Ouyang (third), with their respective professors (back row, from left) Dr. David Toback, Dr. Ricardo Eusebi and Dr. Wayne Saslow.


Spring 2018 Pearson Mechanics Scholars.

Spring 2018 Mechanics Scholars

The top spring 2018 Mechanics Scholars: (from left) John D. Killough (2nd), Faith A. Leskowitz (1st), Jinwoo Jeong (3rd) and professor/organizer Dr. David Toback.


Spring 2013 Pearson Mechanics Scholars. Front row: (from left) Bethany Butler, Allyson Souris, Zhibin Ye, Yinewi "Charlie" Zhang, Tushar Rajput and Cameron Hill. Back row: Dr. Dan Melconian, Xing Zhao, Gabriel Apfel, Sam Terrill, Alex Dyson, Department Head Dr. George Welch, Jacob Lehner and Oliver Garcia. (Not pictured: Drew Spennato and Kalyn Weiss.)

Spring 2013 Mechanics Scholars

Top three winners of the Spring 2013 Pearson Mechanics Challenge Exam. From left: Dr. Dan Melconian, Yinwei “Charlie” Zhang (2nd place), Xing Zhao (1st place), Gabriel Apfel (3rd place), Department Head Dr. George Welch and Dr. David Toback.

Fall 2012 Addison Wesley/Benjamin Cummings Mechanics Scholars, pictured with Texas A&M physicist Dr. David Toback (front row, far right).

Fall 2012 Mechanics Scholars

The top fall 2012 Mechanics Scholars: (from left) Jose Roberto Dimas Valle and Andrew Baxter (tie for third), Andrew Kostrzewa (1st), Department Head George Welch, Jacob Shaw (2nd) and professor/organizer David Toback.

Spring 2012 Addison Wesley/Benjamin Cummings Mechanics Scholars, flanked by Texas A&M physicists Dr. George Welch (back row, far left) and Dr. David Toback (back row, far right).

Spring 2012 Mechanics Scholars

(left to right) Dr. George Welch, freshman general studies major Matthew Krusleski (first), freshman petroleum engineering major Shangjie Yue (second-place tie), freshman general studies major Steven Skobel (second-place tie), and Dr. David Toback.


Past Mechanics Scholar Program Winners

Year Spring Fall
2022 You?!? You?!?
2021 N/A N/A
2020 N/A N/A
2019 Thomas G. Goodwin Rishi M. Phatak
2018 Faith A. Leskowitz N/A
2017 N/A N/A
2016 Christian Brazell Daniel Hartman
2015 Chansik Kim Christian Aycinena
2014 Rohit Nasa Zachary Magnotti
2013 Xing Zhao Gabriel R. Siegel
2012 Matthew Krusleski Andy Kostrzewa
2011 Matthew Barry Hanyu Li
2010 Rongqiang Chen Casey Perkins
2009 Drew P. Mitchell Austin Butts
2008 Blain A. Lawson Katherine S. Bhora
2007 Peng Cheng Cory A. Olsovsky
2006 Jason D. Smith Gleb Zhelezov
2005 Varun Chowdhary Paul B. Geffert
2004 Ariel D.Z. Chisholm Christopher N. Barot
2003 David A. Smith Vernon R. King
2002 Ryan B. Thomas Heng Guo