What do some our alumni say about their education at HMC?

Brian Baxley (’72)

I see physics as a "liberal" education in technology. It prepares one to understand much of modern technology, and in the sense that a liberal education prepares one for life but not for a specific role in life, physics gives one access to the world (should I say the universe?) in a general way that goes beyond preparation for research or an academic or industrial career. The physics curriculum develops curiosity, observation, reasoning, mathematical analysis, verbal and written discourse, etc., and these can be applied to writing, teaching, business, engineering, research, diplomacy - to any endeavor.
Jan. 1, 1997

Mike Leung (’78)

Northrop Grumman

… it has been my experience that the physics background is extremely well suited to the ebbs and flows and constant changes in industry. Perhaps you can use that as a selling point to attract more majors. What I have found with myself and other PhD physicists at Northrop (former TRW), is that we are the most versatile of the many technical disciplines at work. I'll mention a few skills that the physics major imparts that perhaps aren't as strong in many engineering majors:

  • the physicists seem to have better critical thinking skills and quantitative skills
  • the physicists who were experimentalists in graduate school (or perhaps even during senior research) have a very broad knowledge and can step easily into several disciplines (e.g. I count myself very familiar with materials, vacuum techniques, cryogenic techniques, and influence of measurement equipment on experiments). This broad background is also a key advantage when it comes to troubleshooting and other problem solving
  • they seem to remember their college subject matters better; believe it or not it comes in handy sometimes. Maybe this comes from the grad school courses, I don't know

I first entered HMC intending to major in engineering. I switched to Physics because I found the subject matter and approach to teaching much more appealing.

Sept. 1, 2012

Stan Kidder (’71)

Colorado State University
I can't speak highly enough of the broad-based physics education I received at HMC. I have done a lot of things over the years, and virtually all of them were made possible by my physics education. Yes, a job after graduation is important, but the broader your education, the more likely you are to be able to keep up with the rapidly changing times.
Jan. 1, 1997

Sean Burke (’82)

Sapient Health Network
The scope of my technical education at Harvey Mudd made it possible for me to design products in physics, mathematics, chemistry, and electrical engineering. I felt confident enough to teach myself new subjects... My current team covers a lot of technical ground, and I think that the broad scientific training I received in physics at Harvey Mudd continues to contribute to my ability to successfully educate myself in new subjects and to understand the post-graduate-level work being done by the group.
Jan. 1, 1997