Physics and Engineering Department


Prof. Nicholas P. Truncale


Prof. Truncale is a faculty specialist in the Physics and Engineering Department and Interim Coordinator of General Education Assessment as well as a College of Arts and Sciences Assessment Fellow working with the Office of Educational Assessment (OEA). He brings industry experience to the department, having worked as a systems engineer at Lockheed Martin on a complex satellite system and as a technical instructor at the Joint Cyber Analysis Course at Corry Naval Station in Pensacola FL where he instructed the programming module for enlisted personnel attaining the CTN (Cryptologic Technician) rating. For the OEA, he is the Director of the Provost Assessment Scholars special program and designs and implements campus wide General Education Assessment Projects.  His responsibilities for the department include consulting with other general physics and elements of physics faculty in managing the elementary physics laboratory to ensure that course objectives are met, selecting laboratory exercises that appropriately complement lecture materials, ordering laboratory materials, overall responsibility for equipment setups and maintenance, and training, supervising and evaluating graduate teaching assistants. Prof. Truncale is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Mathematics.  He regularly teaches special topics and honors tutorials and the following courses:

  • PHYS 101 (E) The Solar System
  • PHYS 102 (E) Earth Science (online and live courses)
  • MATH 106 (Q) Quantitative Methods I - College Algebra
  • MATH 107 (Q) Quantitative Methods II - Business Calculus I
  • PHYS 115 (E) It's Only Rocket Science
  • PHYS 120 (E), 120L, 121 (E), 121L General Physics I and II and laboratories
  • PHYS 140 (E) , 140L, 141 (E), 141L Elements of Physics I and II and laboratories
  • MATH 142 (Q) Discrete Structure
  • ENGR/PHYS 150 (FYDT, FYOC) Foundations of Physics and Engineering
  • PHYS 270 (EPW) Modern Physics Laboratory
  • PHYS 382 Detecting Physical Emissions from Computer Systems
  • PHYS 383 Electronics for the Scientist
  • PHYS 384 Python for Neuroscience
  • PHYS 386H, PHYS 383 Applied Rocket Science
  • PHYS 097, ENGR 097 Physics and Engineering Faculty Student Research
  • INTD 097 Provost Assessment Scholars Research
Prof. Truncale also serves as the faculty administrator of the  Hayes Family Science Competition,  an annual high school physics competition sponsored by the department, the Joseph Kane Estate, and The Hayes Family, specifically Ed '61 and Margaret Hayes.  He is Past-President of the American Association of Physics Teachers - Central Pennsylvania Section.

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Check out our Newsletters!
2018-2019 Newsletter
2017-2018 Newsletter
2016-2017 Newsletter
2015-2016 Newsletter


I consistently work with students on a variety of physics and engineering research projects.  My philosophy about student research is that a student should work on any project that I am currently working on.  Some projects and research include:

The Reflective Solar Tracker and Celestial Body Digital Tracking System - Nathan Williams '16, Frank Pallien '16, Daniel Schlasta '14, Walter Checefsky '14, Caroline H. Earnest '14
Micromouse Robot Development and Implementation - Wilson Ortiz '18, Peter Kulick '19, Nathan Williams '16
The Electro-Optical Eardrum - Michelle Graham '15, Megan Glassell '17
The Pulse-Oximeter Introductory Physics Experiment - Nicole Furman '13
The Universal Motor Controller - Nathan Williams '16, Timothy Thomas '16, Benjamin Degler G'16
Sustainable Water Solutions and University of Scranton Water Quality - Chase Standen '18
Emission and Absorption Spectrum Analysis of Rocket Fuel - Natalie Krupka '20
Rocket Launch and Orbit Simulaton Using Python - Matthew Owens '17
The Raspberry Pi Beowulf Cluster - Nathan Williams '16

News and Highlights from Projects:
Electro-Optical Eardrum and the Celestial Body Digital Tracking System

Electro-Optical Eardrum Article - Published in "The Physics Teacher":

The Reflective Solar Tracker's Celestial Body Digital Tracking System - Published in "The MagPi":

Students Winning IEEE Region 2 Micromouse Kit Robot Competition

The Universal Motor Controller Places 3rd at Intel-Cornell National Embedded Systems Competition

The Reflective Solar Tracker Featured

Poster Presentations and Conferences with Locations:

The Reflective Solar Tracker Collaboration – Energypath 2013, Villanova University
Visualizing Sound with an Electro-optical Eardrum – AAPT-CPS Conference 2014, Misericordia University
The Reflective Solar Tracker Interfaced with the Raspberry Pi Computer - Energypath 2014, Albright College
Sustainability in Practice – The Third Annual Conference on the Physics of Sustainable Energy 2014, University of California at Berkeley
The Universal Motor Controller – Intel Cornel Cup Competition 2015, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral FL
Micromouse Robot Development and Implementation – ASEE Northeast Conference 2016, University of Rhode Island
Sustainable Water Solutions – Celebration of Student Scholars 2016, University of Scranton
Rocket Launch and Orbit Simulations Using Python – AAPT-CPS Conference 2017, University of Scranton, Scranton PA
Emission and Absorption Spectrum Analysis of Rocket Fuel – AAPT-CPS Conference 2017, University of Scranton, Scranton PA
"Implementing a Student Assessment Scholar Program: Students Engaging in Continuous Improvement", Truncale, N., Chalk, E., Pellegrino, C., Kemmerling, J. (2017), The 4th Annual Drexel Assessment Conference, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Matthew Owens '17 and Natalie Krupka '20 displaying their posters at the 2017
Celebration of Student Scholars held in the Loyola Science Center on the campus
of The University of Scranton.

Demo Time
Dawn Dorris, junior physics major, showcasing the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Equipment during the conference demonstration session in the Loyola Science Center Atrium.

Declan Presenting
Dr. Declan Mulhall presenting on the new PHYS 333 Advanced Physics Laboratory added to the Physics Program curriculum due to a Program Review and Departmental Assessment.

The conference was held on Friday, April 21st and Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 
Find the conference program here: 2017 Conference Program


A PTRA Workshop on Hands-On Electricity Lessons was held Friday, April 21st, from 8:00am until 3:00pm. An AAPT National Bauder Grant was secured by CPS Section PTRA Leader, Pat Callahan (in red below), who is also the National PTRA Advisory Board Director.  The grant allowed the high school teachers who attended the workshop to leave with equipment from the CASTLE Curriculum.

On Friday evening, there was a conference dinner in conjunction with a poster session in the Loyola Science Center Atrium.

Following the dinner, a keynote presentation by speaker Dr. Matthew Farrar of Messiah College and was titled: Seeing Anew: How Advances in Microscopy are Changing the Life Sciences.

Saturday included a day full of presentations by faculty and students from the CPS region. We also tried something new; we showcased new equipment and demonstrations from our department. Beginning in the upper left and going clockwise: Dr. Robert A. Spalletta demonstrating live Radio Telescope data to our Keynote Speaker; First year physics major, Natalie Krupka, showcasing a Vernier Spectrophotometer to another student attendee; one of our plenary speakers, Dr. Natalia Dushkina from Milersville University, viewing the radio telescope data; Dr. Declan Mulhall speaking to faculty attendees about Modern Interferometry equipment specifically about using Quadrature detection.

Newly elected AAPT-CPS officers for 2017-2018:
Nicholas P. Truncale, President - University of Scranton
Michael R. Gallis, Vice-President - Penn State University: Schuylkill
Sadari Khanna, Treasurer - York College
Abaz Kryemadhi, Past-President - Messiah College
Michael R. Gallis, National Section Representative - Penn State University: Schuylkill
David McCachren
, High School Representative- Mifflin Area High School
John Reid, Webmaster - Lock Haven University
Chris Shope, Interim Two-Year College Representative - The State Museum of Pennsylvania

The Spring 2018 Conference will be held at Penn State University - Schuylkill at a TBA Date. 

ScholarsThe Provost Assessment Scholars is a new special program for undergraduate students through the Office of Educational Assessment, which is housed within the university's Office of Institutional Effectiveness .  The student scholars investigate issues brought to them by “stakeholders” on campus by conducting student-led focus groups.  They analyze the focus group data and provide a summary report and recommendations to the stakeholders on the issue.

More information about the program can be found here:

Presentations and Publications:
Truncale, N., Chalk, E., Pellegrino, C., Kemmerling, J. (2017) "Implementing a Student Assessment Scholar Program: Students Engaging in Continuous Improvement", The 4th Annual Drexel Assessment Conference, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

-Prof. Nicholas P. Truncale, Director of the Provost Assessment Scholars

The department of Physics and Electrical Engineering has been hosting an annual high school competition kane_dunkfocusing on physics and its applications in engineering since 2003.  Held during the spring semester usually in March or April, this competition attracts high schools from all over Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Our current capacity iincludes over 300 students from 16 high schools in our region.  The competition is currently financially sponsored by the department and the generous contributions of Edward '61 and Margaret Hayes.  The photo taken to the right at the "Invention Island" themed 2013-2014 Kane competition, shows Mid-Valley high school physics teacher Rich Therkorn being captured in the dunk tank by one of his student teams during the "Mad Scientist" media event (photo credits: Butch Comegys - Times Tribune).

2017-2018 Competition:
The 2018 competition will take place on Tuesday April 10th, 2018 from 8:30am to 2:00pm in various locations on our campus.  This year's theme is Divide and Conquer.  This year will be the first year of the "The Hayes Family Science Competition".  Many of the awesome and creative things from the Kane Competition will remain, including the scholarship given to the higher written quiz scorer attenging The University of Scranton, which will have the name "The Joseph Kane Scholarship".

Competition Registration Materials
Team Registration Form: TBA
Competition Event Book: TBA

Previous Year Competition Booklets and Descriptions:
2016-2017: Time Travel 2017 Event Book

2015-2016: Mythbusters 2016 Event Book
2014-2015: Music, Waves, and Oscillations 2015 Event Book
2013-2014: Invention Island 2014 Event Book

High school teachers compete in a Tug of War match with only intertwined phone books holding their ropes together during the 2015-2016 Kane Competition.

High school teachers John Croom, North Pocono High School, and David Pizano, Wyoming Area High School dressed as "Angry Birds" hurl fruit at the Evil Green Pig King, Aaron Holzman of Scranton Prepatory School, during the 2012-2013 Kane Competition.

The Kane Competition in the News:

The physics and engineering cornerstone course, Foundations of Physics and Engineering (FYOC, FYDT) will cover foundational topics including science literacy, basic computer programming skills, micro-processing, and professional ethical standards.  After completing the course, the student will progress toward proficiency in oral communication skills and the use of digital technology through assignments and projects relevant to the physicist and engineer.  This course satisfies the First-Year Digital Technology and Oral Communication requirements of Eloquentia Perfecta.
Micrmouse Capstone Project:
All of the skills necessary to complete this project will be taught throughout the semester.  The students will develop a maze solving algorithm to solve an IEEE micromouse competition maze.  The best micro mouse robot team(s) will be invited to compete in the IEEE Region 2 student activities conference micro mouse competition.  The picture shows a few groups of first year students, class of '20, working on our full-size IEEE competition maze set up in one of laboratories year round.  Studnets have access to this room from 7am-1pm Monday through Sunday during the semester.
IEEE Region 2 Student Activities Conference Micromouse Kit Competition Results:
2015_win2016_2nd2017 mouse team
            1st Place Team - 2015 SAC              2nd Place Team - 2016 SAC              1st Place Team - 2017 SAC 
The students you see from left to right are Luke Alonso '18, Tara Hambrose '18, WIlson Ortiz '18, Griffin Mulvihill '19, Vu Nguyen '19, Peter Kulick '19, Clarence Gallagher '19, Mark Pawelski '20, Zackary Walsh '20, Prof. Truncale, John Radetich '20, and Natalie Krupka '20.  All of these students were chosen to compete at the IEEE Region 2 competition based upon them winning the ENGR/PHYS 150 course micromouse competition.  They were first year students competing against upper classmen at the conferences held at Ohio State University, Cleveland State University, Rowan Univeristy in respective years 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Prof. Nicholas P. Truncale
Faculty Specialist
CAS - OEA Faculty Assessment Fellow
Kane Competition Administartor
Vice-President - American Association of Physics Teachers CPS Section
Elementary Physics Laboratory Director
Department of Physics and Electrical Engineering
University of Scranton


2007 M.S. Education, University of Scranton, PA
2006 B.S. Physics, University of Scranton, PA

January 2012 – present

  • Full time faculty with teaching load of 24 credits per academic year
  • Elementary Physics Laboratory Director
    • supervision of all elementary physics laboratories in consultation with the other faculty to ensure the course student learning outcomes are met, selecting laboratory exercises to appropriately compliment lecture materials, ordering laboratory materials, overall responsibility for equipment maintenance and setups, and training, supervising and evaluating graduate teaching assistants
  • Supervise faculty/student research projects
  • Kane Competition Coordinator
    • administrative duties for the department’s annual high school physics event, the Kane competition
    • supervise department volunteers in organizing and administering the event
    • Kane budget responsibilities including soliciting funds from potential donor
  • IEEE club student activities conference advisor
  • Courses Taught:
    • General Physics I, II with laboratory – PHYS 120/121/120L/141L
    • Elements of Physics I,II with laboratory – PHYS 140/141/140L/141L
    • Foundations of Physics and Engineering – PHYS/ENGR 150 (FYDT, FYOC)
    • Modern Physics Laboratory - PHYS 270L (W)
    • Earth Science (E) – PHYS 102
    • It’s Only Rocket Science (E) – PHYS 115
    • Applied Rocket Science - PHYS 386H, 383
    • Observational Astronomy – PHYS 386H
    • Detecting Physical Emissions from Computer Systems – PHYS 382
    • Physics and Engineering Faculty Student Research – PHYS 097, ENGR 097

Assessment Activities:

  • Participated in the Intersession Assessment Pilot assessing a GE Natural Science course
    • PHYS 115 (E) “It’s Only Rocket Science”
    • Quantitative analysis of exam questions to show student learning
  • Assessment plan for all introductory physics labs
    • Both adjunct faculty and graduate teaching assistants follow plan and assess their own labs and report data back to me
  • Physics program review
    • Along with Declan Mulhall, we completed a physics program review enacting changes to the curriculum including:
      • Updating the laboratory experiences starting during the first year
        • Based upon analysis of peer institutions
        • Performed a quantitative analysis of lab reports grades with new lab sequence in PHYS 140L/141L
  • Performed an assessment, both quantitative and qualitative, of Eloquentia Perfecta Level 1 FYOC and FYDT SLOs and compiled a report in order to give a new Foundation of Physics and Engineering Course permanent EP status
  • Participated in a departmental retention study
    • Enacted changes to the first year curriculum based on a data analysis of math placement scores

Previous Employment:

Technical Instructor, Epsilon, Inc., Joint Cyber Analysis Course (JCAC), Pensacola FL     

  • Instructor for the JCAC at the Center for Information Dominance located at Corry Naval Station. Course funded and sponsored by the National Security Agency
  • Taught Module 5 – Programming at the TS/SCI level
  • Languages taught: C, Perl, HTML, JavaScript, WINDOWS BATCH, UNIX Shell, SQL
  • Instructed elements of Computer Network Operations including:  Defense and Exploitation
  • Developed UNIX/Perl scripts for CNE module that mimics traffic across multiple networks for exploitation exercises
  • Developed curriculum, model specific software/ hardware capabilities and employ interactive instruction techniques to ready services personnel in the field of information warfare

Physics, Mathematics Teacher and Coach, Dunmore School District, Dunmore PA

  • Instructed honors physics, regular physics, and mathematics classes
  • Engineering Club Advisor
    • Received two grants for students to conduct various school year long projects
    • 2009-2010 Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority Grant
      • Project: “Capturing Lackawanna Valley with an Aerial Vehicle”
      • Project recognized by Vice President Joseph Biden
    • 2010 Scranton Chamber of Commerce Sustainability Education Grant
      • Project: “Converting Used Vegetable Oil into a Useable Biodiesel Fuel”
  • Head Girl’s Tennis Coach

Systems Engineer L2, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Valley Force PA

  • Member of the Aerospace Analysis and Integration Center’s 7M31Geolocation Team
  • Responsibilities that supported a complex satellite system at the TS/SCI clearance level:
    • Several daily, weekly, and monthly monitoring tasks to ensure vehicle calibration
    • Streamline existing software tools for efficiency and cost reduction
    • Test experience - software verification test procedure execution and development
    • Project Lead for High Test and Evaluation Sites
    • Support to an anomaly Tiger TeamGeneration of chart packages and presentations/briefs delivered to the customer
      • Anomaly resolution
      • Resolved key issue with teammate and increased product throughput
      • Generation of calibration data with extensive MATLAB data analysis/scripting


Truncale, Nicholas P., & Graham, Michelle T. (2014). “Visualizing sound with an electro-optical eardrum”. The Physics Teacher, 52(February), 76-79.
Williams, Nathan D. and Truncale, Nicholas P. (2014). “Reflective Solar Tracking: Calculating motor run intervals using astronomical data using a Raspberry Pi”. The MagPi, 22 (April), 4-8


“Effects of Volume Conductor Geometry on Extracellular Potentials”, International Comsol Users Conference, October 5th, 2005, Boston, MA
“Visually Demonstrating Sound with an Electro-optical Eardrum”, Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, May 12th, 2012, Pittsburgh, PA
“Sustainability in Practice and Social Justice”, Keynote Presentation, 2013 Energypath Conference, Villanova University, August 2nd, 2013
The Reflective Solar Tracker Interfaced with the Raspberry Pi Computer, Poster presentation at 2013 Energypath Conference, Villanova University, August 1st - 2nd, 2103
“Solar Energy Engineering: Sustainability in Practice”, IEEE Seminar, University of Scranton, September 26th, 2013
“Introduction: A Practical Sustainability Example”, Symposium on Sustainability, University of Scranton, October 23rd, 2013
Solar Energy Production and Consumption on the Electrical Grid, Green Drinks, February 11th, 2014
Sustainability in Practice with the Reflective Solar Tracker (RST)”, Poster presentation at the Third Annual Conference on the Physics of Sustainable Energy, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley CA, March 8th-10th, 2014
Visualizing Sound with an Electro-optical Eardrum, 2014 APPT-CPS Conference, Misericordia University, March 22nd, 2014
“Water and the Human Condition”, Symposium on Sustainability, University of Scranton, April 22nd, 2014
“Solar Energy Production and Infusing Sustainability in the Curriculum”,
Faculty Research Seminar, University of Scranton Office of Research and Sponsored Services Environmental Research Day, April 25th, 2014

“Educating and Learning through Sustainable Innovation”, Presentation, 2014 Energypath Conference, Albright College, June 19th, 2014
Assessment of an EP Course with a Department Retention Study, 2015 APPT-CPS Conference, Messiah College, March 2015
“Student Research Presentation Keynote”, Celebration of Student Scholars, University of Scranton May 2015
Sustainability Workshop Breakout Session, co-presented with Jessica Nolan, Energypath 2015 at The University of Scranton, July 24th, 2015
"How to Design and Implement a Comprehensive Assessment Plan Under Pressure", co-presented with Satyajit Ghosh and Richard Walsh, Drexel Assessment Conference, Septmeber 2016
"Implementing a Student Assessment Scholar Program: Students Engaging in Continuous Improvement", co-presented with Elizabeth D. Chalk, Caitlin Pellegrino, and Jesse Kemmerling, The 4th Annual Drexel Assessment Conference, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Truncale and Graham, "Visualizing Sound with an Electro-optical Eardrum." U.S. Patent #61/908,234. Filed November 25th, 2013.
Truncale and Williams, “Celestial Body Digital Tracking System.” U.S. Patent #61/938,869. Filed February 12th, 2014