Mar 082011
Authors: Courtney Riley

David Alciatore, or “Dr. Dave,” an associate mechanical engineering professor, uses the game of pool to illustrate physics principles by filming various tricks on his pool table at home and showing them to his classes.

“A lot of people think it’s fun and different,” he said. “I think it has a novelty to it.”

Alciatore said he enjoys teaching complicated concepts through a fun game that his students can relate to.

Kevin Meyers, a freshman mechanical engineering major, is taking Alciatore’s MECH 102 class, mechanical engineering problem solving.

“You go into his class and it’s not a boring lecture,” he said. “He brings actual engineering into it.”

The concepts of friction, rotation, impact, energy transfers, momentum, speed and collisions are all illustrated on Alciatore’s pool table.

“It’s better to actually see something than just talk about it,” Alciatore said.

He said he loves it when students come up to him after class and tell him they’re going to try out the things they learned on their pool table at home.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “Some people just want the hardcore engineering concepts, but most people really enjoy it.”

Alciatore’s passion for physics began in high school when he realized he loved applying concepts, such as math, to real devices.

In college, he worked at a tutoring center, which sparked his interest in teaching. He said it’s a challenge to help people learn tough concepts, but he also says that the challenge is worth it.

“I always liked learning things and sharing them,” he said. “That’s what teaching is all about: learning and sharing.”

Alciatore also uses the concepts of physics to help people improve their pool skills. He has a website through the university, –– –– that has videos and other modules that explain the physics behind the game of pool.

He is also a member of a weekly pool team called “One More Shot” and writes a monthly article for Billiards Digest Magazine.

Meyers’ friend and fellow classmate major Darryl Beemer asked Alciatore to share his wealth of pool knowledge with them outside of class about three weeks ago. They invited him to play pool at their fraternity, FarmHouse, along with their friend and classmate Kevin Westhoff.

“Dr. Dave is a pool genius and expert,” sophomore mechanical engineering Beemer said. “And he’s a really fun guy to be around.”

Alciatore showed his students how to do different backspins and trick shots, while correcting their basic fundamental skills.

“He has quite an impressive background in pool and billiards,” Westhoff said. “His passion for pool is pretty obvious.”

After a couple of hours the students were playing at a much higher level than they were before.

“Everything falls together,” he said. “The stuff we’re learning really does apply to real life.”

Staff writer Courtney Riley can be reached at

All about Dr. Dave

  • Created a website that explains physics behind billiards and pool
  • A member of the pool team “One More Shot”
  • Writes instructional articles for Billiards Digest Magazine
 Posted by at 4:51 pm

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