Saturday, January 09, 2010

Chris Carlson Chimes in with a few thoughts

We continue to get feedback from out graduates. This week, Chris Carlson (2005) chimes in with his take on life with a physics degree from JMU. If you have things to share with use, drop us a line.

Chris writes:

Studying physics at James Madison University is an excellent path for any student interested in science and mathematics. While the coursework is challenging, the rewards can be great. Many classmates from my year (2005) finished JMU and moved directly into first-rate graduate programs at schools like UNC, Duke, and Boston University. Others (myself included), pursued jobs in a wide variety of areas such as scientific consulting, web design, and even specialty foods (one classmate started out as the world’s youngest organic, free-trade cacao bean roaster and has since moved into flavor development). Studying physics at JMU opens doors.

Here are some of the best aspects of the department:
· Strong faculty. The professors make themselves available whenever possible to answer questions. Students are the first priority.
· Great research opportunities. Many of the professors have collaborations with external laboratories (CERN, Brookhaven National Lab, Jefferson Lab) that provide opportunities to travel in the summer for internships. Some of the key research areas include Particle and Nuclear Physics, Materials Science, and Astrophysics.
· Small class sizes. It’s very easy to get to know one’s peers in the major. Upper-level classes tend to be 10-20 students maximum. This is extremely beneficial for study groups, office hour sessions, etc.
· Physics major ≈ Physics major + Mathematics minor. The math minor is embedded within the physics degree requirements. Just fill out a form to make it official before graduation. This bonus makes you more marketable.
· Close knit community. Some of the best memories of my time at JMU include the fall/spring department picnics at Purcell Park and wild science demos for Harrisonburg schools. These events are great opportunities to get to know the professors and other students better – and to see/make things explode.
· Eccentric people. Physics majors (and faculty) tend to be a bit odd. One of my
classmates rode a giant unicycle to class and owned a pet flying squirrel (no joke).

For these reasons and many others, Physics at JMU is a great choice of major.