Careers in Physics - Northern Michigan University

Northern Michigan University
Department of Physics
What is Physics?
 Physics is the most basic of sciences and involves the
study of phenomena from the microscopic
(atoms/molecules) to the macroscopic (e.g. the
motion of a ball) to the megamacrosopic (stars and
 Physics topics include: motion, force, energy,
momentum, heat and thermodynamics, waves,
electricity and magnetism, optics, relativity, modern
physics, quantum mechanics, materials…….and on and
What Can You Do With a Physics
 Physicist/Material Scientist
 Engineer (Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, Nuclear, etc.)
 Astronomer/Astrophysicist
 Teacher (high school/college/university)
 Computer Programmer
 Financial Analyst/Lawyer/Physician
 Meteorologist
 Technical Writer/Editor
Where Do Physicists Work?
Government Laboratories
Job Qualifications
 Ability for original and creative thinking.
 Problem solving ability.
 Ability to break complex ideas down into simpler,
solvable problems.
 Mathematical ability.
 Ability to invent, build, and work with experimental
 Ability to clearly express ones ideas in verbal or written
Academic Preparation
 High School: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English and
writing, and all the mathematics you can take.
 Undergraduate: Introductory through advanced
physics courses and all the mathematics you can take.
Computer programming is very important.
 Graduate: Specialization with graduate courses and a
lot of research (theoretical or experimental),
mathematics, and computer programming.
Internship Experiences
 For undergraduates, beside the research opportunities
available in their university’s department, summer
REU’s (research experience for undergraduates) are
widely available throughout the U.S.
 Study abroad may be possible.
 Scientific or technically oriented companies may
provide opportunities.
 Opportunities exist as interns in government.
Degree Programs
 Bachelor’s Degree candidates would work as technical
aides to PhD physicists or engineers or, with teaching
certification, could teach in high schools.
 Master’s Degree candidates could work as team leaders
or engineers, or work for PhD physicists. Can also
teach in two or four year colleges.
 Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) would be project research
leaders, or could also do research and teach at
 As the U.S. economy rebounds and focuses on science
and technology to bring us back on track, demand will
grow, especially for women.
 Academic positions are competitive and can be hard to
match well to as they often require specific expertise
and previous experience.
 Starting salaries depend on degree and industry vs
Salaries can range from $35,000 to $100,000
depending on location, degree, and experience.
NMU Information
 Located in Marquette, Michigan (Upper Peninsula)
on Lake Superior….beautiful, natural environment.
Approximately 9000 students.
Outstanding teaching and research facilities, much of
it new within the past 10 years.
High quality academic programs.
Easy faculty accessibility.
Opportunities for undergraduate researc h.
Relatively small campus….easy to get to classes.
Physics at NMU
 Outstanding teaching faculty. All physics major
courses are taught by PhD faculty with degrees from
Stanford, Indiana, Penn State, Kent State, and
Michigan Tech.
Small major…students get to know faculty well.
Easy to meet with faculty.
Full complement of physics courses.
Research areas include low energy nuclear
spectroscopy, theoretical particle/field, introductory
Physics at NMU (cont.)
 Two observatories with 16” Schmidt-Cassegrain
Majors have a great office facility.
Active physics club involved in outreach activities.
Annual trip to Argonne National Lab for research
Student success in obtaining summer REU’s.
NMU Physics Students
 Typically between 2 and 6 graduates each year.
 Most go onto graduate school. Schools include:
Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Texas Tech,
Stanford, Michigan Tech, Minnesota.
 Some students go to graduate school in engineering or
work with their Bachelor’s degree in a technical field.
 Physics (science in general) is a good major for
students interested in law school.
Physics Club Mackinac Bridge Tour
NMU Physics Tests Speed Skating
Pads for the USOEC
NMU Observatory
Neutron Detectors for J-lab (left)
Department museum display (right)
NMU Physics Major Office
Contact Information
Highly recommend a campus visit.
NMU Admissions (906-227-2650)
NMU Physics
Dr. David Lucas