Example of Best Practice 1A

Carleton College
Provided by Professor Joel Weisberg (jweisber@carleton.edu), 12/05

For many years, the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Carleton College had a one credit course that was offered each spring term on contemporary research in physics. A program of five lectures by invited speakers gave undergraduate students who had already taken certain physics courses exposure to current research in physics, especially in academic institutions. About ten years ago, partly in response to concerns expressed by the American Physical Society about the tendency of physics departments to feature only the academic track, the Department broadened and renamed the course, “What Physicists Do.” The course now consciously provides some perspective on the variety of work done by people with a physics background. Visitors from industry, government, business, and research and educational institutions discuss their work and work-related experiences. In recent years, topics from outside the realm of traditional physics and astronomy research have included Medical Imaging, Structural Engineering, Micromachining Technology, A Physicist in Congress, Measuring Evaporation with Satellites, How to Make a Hard Drive, What Works for Women in Physics, Airline Navigation, and Radio Frequency ID Tag Design. The department keeps track of its alumni and produces an annual alumni newsletter*. Many speakers in this course, particularly those in non-academic positions, are alumni. Students are required to write a one page report on their reaction to the material presented by each speaker. Students appear happy with the course and the faculty believe that it is filling an important need.

University of Washington
Prepared by Dr. John Orrell (jorrell@u.washington.edu), 12/05

The physics graduate students at the University of Washington have developed and organized an annual event, called the UW Physics Networking Day, that brings employer representatives from industry and national labs to campus to meet and hear about physics students’ work. The Networking Day provides an opportunity for students to present their work to potential employers. Students can meet people working in non-academic positions and thereby explore a broader range of career options. Employers have the opportunity to meet with many students informally, without the burden or expense of individual interviews. Additionally, employers learn the value of hiring physicists as flexible problem-solvers. Both students and employers have the opportunity to make themselves known to one another. The Networking Day is formatted to focus on presentation of students’ work while providing time for employer representatives to meet with students in an informal manner. Students present their work in talks or poster sessions and spend time with the employer representatives who attend.