Benjamin Campbell

Benjamin Campbell(1997 TA:2000-2003, Faculty 2005-present)


Penn State University: BS Physics with Honors 2003 Minors:
Business, Mathematics, Astronomy and Astrophysics
Penn State University: MS Electrical Engineering 2003
Robert Morris University: Ph.D. Engineering 2008

Employer/Job Title

Penn State Electro Optics Center, Research Engineer (2003-Present)
Penn State New Kensington Adjunct Faculty (2004-2005)
PGSS Faculty at Carnegie Mellon University (2005-Present)


-Earned Brickwedde Prize for Undergraduate Research from the Penn State Physics Department (2003)
-Received PGSE Exemplary Service Award from PGSS (2005)
-Annual Invited Speaker at Westinghouse Science Honors Institute
-Annual Invited Speaker for Penn State Physics Department Freshman and Junior Seminars
-Conceived and produced Pennies with the entire Gettysburg Address laser etched on surface and Nickels with Declaration of
Independence to demonstrate micromachining scale
-4 Publications in Reviewed Journals (Journal of Physics B, Applied Surface Science, Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering)
-Over a dozen publications appearing in International Conference Proceedings (SPIE Photonics West, ICALEO, ICPEPA, SPIE High
Power Laser Ablation, DEPS Ultrashort Laser Workshop, Munich LASER World of Photonics)


I can think of no other event in my life that had more of an impact on my intellectual or social development than the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences. It was the first place I was exposed to likeminded intellectuals who shared my sense of discovery and achievement in academics. Seeing their shared drive and determination motivated me to work harder in life. PGSS is unlike any other educational experience. It is the most rigorous academic program I have endured, to invoke the proverbial SAT analogy format “PGSS is to college as basic training is to military service”.PGSS pushes young students to their limits and beyond, forcing those who have never been challenged academically to learn how to ask for help and accept it. Teamwork isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity to survive the program. My experience at PGSS as a student changed my life. I returned to high school with confidence and pride in who I was. The transition to college was easy the following year, PGSS taught me I was capable of far more than I had ever imagined. As soon as I waseligible, I applied to return as a TA/counselor to help create that experience for new generations of students.Compared to other potential summer jobs, PGSS requires long hours, and the pay is relatively low, but those who work there do it because they understand the value of the program. Working with those students each summer also gave me a renewed sense of drive and purpose for studying the sciences. Their enthusiasm was contagious and would recharged me for the upcoming academic year, packed with physics, math and engineering classes. Building off the PGSS work ethic, I pushed myself and in 5 years of college earned a Bachelor’s degree (with honors), Master’s degree, 3 minors, completed 2 theses and worked as a research assistant half time my 5th year (while taking a break every summer for PGSS!). After graduating college I was fortunate enough to be invited back to PGSS as faculty. The first year, the budget was uncertain and I agreed to teach without knowing if I would be compensated, because I believe in the program. I have taught college courses, but have never encountered students like those at PGSS; the kind of students that make you love teaching because they are so eager to learn. They keep me on my toes, asking tough questions and stimulating thought-provoking discussions. I have been with the program long enough to see those students go on to our best schools and enter our workforce as doctors, scientists and engineers. Their accomplishments are long and impressive, and without exposure to science at this critical point in their development, they might have never have explored careers in these areas where U.S. talent is underrepresented. I know this program changed my life for the better, giving me lifelong friends and a passion for my career. Even more rewarding it has given me a sense of purpose, to make an impact fighting against the decline of America’s intellectual dominance in the sciences. People complain that America’s educational system is broken, but PGSS has a proven record of educational excellence.