For the first time in more than 20 years, the pendulum in the atrium of the Mathematical Sciences building is swinging back and forth again.
The Foucault pendulum, named after French physicist Léon Foucault, was part of the original building and has been on campus since October 1970. Back then the pendulum hung unobstructed until people began pulling at the cable that holds the brass ball with sculptured end caps. In an effort to avoid accidents, a see-through barrier was installed. The pendulum broke down in the 1990s and sat idle until Eileen Swindling, ’88, decided to do something about it.
“As a student, I found its gentle motion a reminder that life is about moving,” said Swindling who studied business administration on campus in the late 1980s. “At times when I was discouraged, I visited the pendulum as a reminder that even bad things pass. It’s up to you to keep your eye on the future and keep moving in that direction. In fact, that idea is the true embodiment of UCF’s history.”
Swindling earned her degree in business administration in 1988 at UCF and then went on to earn her Certified Public Accountant license and an MBA from Nova Southeastern. She has a successful business with her husband and is a Knights fan.
A $25,000 endowment was created, which paid for renovations and will help maintain the pendulum for years to come.
A pendulum is a mounted structure that can swing freely under the influence of gravity. UCF’s pendulum was crafted by hand at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Several museums around the world have Foucault pendulums, which are as much art as they are academic instruments used to demonstrate the rotation of the earth. UCF’s pendulum sits above a seal that bears UCF’s original name: Florida Technological University.
Swindling visited campus recently when the pendulum was reactivated. She was thrilled to have helped get it swinging again so her children can see it in operation. Both her grown children attend UCF. One is a political science major and the other is studying film.