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

Matt McAdams (’92)

I very frequently thank my good fortune in having gone to HMC. I managed to learn a whole bunch of physics despite my best efforts to the contrary. :-) When I got to grad school I realized how good my undergrad classes had been. I think the biggest selling point for your department is the opportunity to do research and write a senior thesis working one-on-one with a faculty member. At _ _ _ _ _ _ _, undergrads get pawned off on us grad students, who assign the undergrads some boring grunt work--like build this circuit or do this computer simulation. At Mudd the physics research opportunities are much more intimate and enriching. It's pretty good experience for doing research in any field.
Jan. 1, 1997

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

CJ Baumgart (’79)

I have had a great life since HMC, I have worked on everything from military to law enforcement to environmental analysis in the Amazon to farming software. I am most proud of my work in remote sensing combined with knowledge-based earth / terrain modeling. This work has led me all over the US, Europe, and South America. The thread of satellite imagery combined with GIS data and then pumped through human rules of expertise has spanned almost all of my projects. I couldn't have done this at all without a strong background in physics.
Jan. 1, 1997

Randy Spangler (’92)


I graduated in 1992 and made a short move to Caltech to study Computation and Neural Systems, a multidisciplinary degree which covers everything from information theory to computer graphics to neural networks to measuring the behavior of individual neurons in rats.  The core curriculum of Mudd was great preparation for this, giving me a broad enough background to do well across all of that.  I finished my Ph.D. in 1999, with a thesis titled “Real-Time Rule-Based Analysis and Generation of Music” — which also leveraged the music courses I took at Scripps.

I then moved up to Silicon Valley and worked for 6 years at Foveon, an image sensor / digital camera startup, where I wrote software and firmware for digital cameras.  With a physics degree, I understood not only the software, but also the semiconductor physics and optics that happen before the image is captured, and I was comfortable enough with an oscilloscope to do hardware debugging as well.  That flexibility is particularly important at a startup, where there are few enough engineers that everyone need to be good at several things.

After Foveon, I worked a year and a half at Carrier IQ, a startup which does cell phone-based diagnostics and analysis of Sprint's mobile phone network.  All those E&M courses helped me understand how CDMA and GSM work, so I could determine what types of information would be most useful to read from phones.

In 2007 I started at Google, where I've now been for 5 years.  I’ve worked on Google Earth, written Python-based build systems, and for the last 3 years I’ve been the firmware lead for Chrome OS, Google’s new open-source browser-based operating system.  And yes, I still have an oscilloscope at my desk.

In the 20 years since graduating with a physics degree from Mudd, I’ve been unemployed, well, never.  I’ve also never had a job title of “physicist” or “scientist” — but every physics course I took at Mudd has been useful at one time or another.

Sept. 1, 2012