HMC Physics Colloquium

Tuesdays at 16:30 in Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning, Room B460

Paul SanGiorgio '01


Life After Physics, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Systems Engineering

Oct. 25, 2016

Traditional job opportunities for physicists in research and academia are becoming harder and harder to find and facing this new reality, physics graduates often find themselves making difficult choices about what to do with their lives.  One little-talked-about and oft-overlooked opportunity for physics graduates is the field of systems engineering.  But, what is systems engineering?  Why are physicists uniquely suited to it?  And what exactly does a systems engineer do?

 After graduating from Harvey Mudd College, I was certain that I would someday become a professor of physics.  After many years toiling in a basement at grad school, a couple of post-docs, and plenty of life events later, I have found happiness and fulfillment in a highly unusual place: as a systems engineer for Illumina, Inc.  Illumina is the world leader in genetic sequencing and is the principal driving force bringing the cost of sequencing a human genome down from $100 million in 2003 to less than $1000 today.  I will discuss the "Sequencing by Synthesis" (SBS) technology that drives Illumina's continued success and I how I contribute in my role as a systems engineer.