Department Banner

A Brief and Incomplete History of the Physics Department at El Camino College

From the very beginning (1947), ECC's physics classes were set to high standards. They were almost identical in content and textbooks to UCLA's comparable courses because most of our transferring students in those days went to UCLA, and our physics faculty had bachelor's and master's degrees in physics from UCLA, USC, and Caltech. Our faculty has consistently maintained a high degree of competence. We can't name all of our Physics faculty members over 53 years, but here are some of those who have served longest, and have worked to make sure that the ECC Physics Department has the best possible instructional material, laboratory equipment, and demonstrations. If you talk with former ECC transfer students, they will probably tell you (something good, naturally) about these instructors.

Tom Wilson served from 1950 to 1995, and was responsible for much of the present organization and the supplementary lecture and lab material in the program for majors in engineering & physical sciences. Julius Sumner Miller served from 1953 to 1970, and was well known to a large public through his appearances as Professor Wonderful on many television shows (e.g., Groucho Marx's), and in his own series, with challenging questions about his physics demonstrations. Your older relatives may remember his programs and his flamboyant personality. Geraldine Karpel has served from 1955 to the present. She has encouraged many female students, uncertain about their majors, to consider the physical sciences, math, and even engineering, and it has been rewarding for the Department to see these women now following successful careers in these fields. She has also devoted much effort to the work of faculty organizations. Mr. Wilson and Ms. Karpel taught almost all the sections of the physics courses for engineering and physical-science majors from 1950 to 1980.

Margaret Lehman Feero (1956-1981) brought the teaching of physics for non-science majors to a high art. Donald Joslin (1958-1985) and Jesse Platts (1959-1988) brought a lot of physical insights to the pre-professional physics courses (for pre-medical, pre-dental, architecture, et al.)

Leon Leonardo (1981 to present) has an engineering undergraduate major and physics graduate major, and brings physics theory to bear upon practical engineering problems. He is enthusiastic about SCUBA, aviation, racquetball, and enjoys long summer camping trips, and working on his house, car, and airplane. His experiences frequently find their way into lab experiments, homework and exam problems, and lecture in his classes. Norman Kadomoto (1986 to present) is described by his students as endlessly patient in helping them, and knowledgeable on every topic of science they ask him about. Mr. Leonardo once had Mr. Kadomoto as a physics teacher in a community college, and says he is one of the best teachers he ever had. Both Mr. Leonardo and Mr. Kadomoto are working on broader computer applications for taking and processing experimental physics data, as well as the use of the Internet in physics instruction.

Susana Prieto (1991 to present) is praised by her students as a cheerful, competent and a thorough lecturer, who works hard to make sure that her students grasp and can apply physical principles.

Mr. Leonardo, Mr. Kadomoto, and Ms. Prieto regularly teach the 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D (required by all physics majors, and most engineering majors). They are committed to upholding the high standards that have prevailed in the Physics Department since its beginning in 1947. Many teachers from other colleges who have taught at ECC on a temporary basis have said that ECC's Physics Department is the most rigorous and best organized of all the places they have ever taught. That's high praise from physics teachers.

Last Published 12/21/16