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Auggies test the skies above downtown

physicsEarlier this month, two students in professor Gary Egbert’s general physics lab went to the top of one of the tallest buildings in downtown Minneapolis to conduct a laboratory experiment. Ashley Gruhlke and Michael Schmit measured the change in atmospheric pressure with altitude from the 15th to the 54th floor of the 225 South Sixth Building. The building’s engineer, Frido Verkman, accompanied them.

Gruhlke and Schmit first took pressure readings in the basement and on the roof of Mortenson Hall, but after seeing only a slight difference, they knew they needed to go higher. They contacted Minneapolis building managers and found Verkman willing to help.  

Gruhlke said she never imagined being able to conduct an experiment while hanging over the edge of a building and looking 850′ down onto the downtown traffic. “I am excited to continue this research,” she said, “and see how we could really combine our classroom knowledge with our first-hand experience.”

Egbert added that the students’ experience taught them not only about atmospheric pressure, but also that people in the community are willing to engage with them in the learning process. “The exciting part of the trip was to actually be able to go to that height and make the measurement but also to just see the view, and Augsburg, from the roof location,” said Egbert.

The building, formerly the headquarters to U.S. Bancorp, is a distinguishing feature of the Minneapolis skyline — it has a round, lighted “crown” on top. Unofficially, 225 South Sixth is the second tallest building downtown, rumored to be just one foot shorter than the IDS Center.

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