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

Susan Lewallen (’76)

I graduated in physics in 1976, went to medical school and am now an ophthalmologist doing research in tropical eye diseases. HMC was a great education - can't say I really use a lot of physics, and I'd choke if I had to do a Fourier transformation, but I do rather enjoy optical problems (unlike a lot of my colleagues) and I repair the odd broken instrument...
Jan. 1, 1997

Eric Fullerton (’84)

IBM Almaden Research Center
Regarding the employment opportunities for physicists; I've found that physics offers a great deal of flexibility in choosing a career path. When I decided to return to the west coast and join IBM, I was also actively recruited by a teaching college, research university, national lab and I had a tenured position at Argonne if I had chosen to stay there. Presently, the job market is very strong for Ph.D.s.
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

Ralph Castain (’76)

Eaton Corporation
Probably the most useful part of my education has been its broad nature, and that's where HMC has contributed the most. I have to pull in a wide variety of areas, and am continually surprised at the lack of breadth I find in those educated at the larger state universities. I guess HMC provides a wider education than you realize as you go through it.
Jan. 1, 1997