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Spirit is published three times per year by the Texas A&M Foundation, which manages major gifts and endowments for the benefit of academic programs, scholarships and student activities at Texas A&M University.

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Sparking Curiosity

Tesla coils, developed around 1891 by the inventor Nikola Tesla, are used to produce high-voltage, low-current, high-frequency, alternating-current electricity. These days, however, their primary purpose is to generate interest in the wonders of science and electrical phenomena.

This particular one, located in the basement of the George P. Mitchell ’40 Physics Building, was designed and built by a six-member Texas A&M University team as a project for the university-funded Discover, Explore and Enjoy Physics and Engineering Program. The group, led by physics graduate student Andrea Delgado ’12 and mentored by Texas A&M high-energy physicist Ricardo Eusebi, spent about seven months assembling, testing and refining its creation—an exclusive design, from the coiler to many of its other electrical components.

In addition to being a valuable educational experience for the five Aggies involved, Texas A&M’s Tesla coil is one of the most popular outreach attractions for aspiring scientists of all ages at the annual Texas A&M Physics and Engineering Festival.