Career Overview for the Physics Major
The physics major is designed to explore and understand the laws that govern the universe. We apply those laws in practical ways to everyday things like bridges, circuits, and GPS navigation, and to less familiar concepts like subatomic structure, quantum information, and the relationship between entropy and the flow of time. Students accomplish this though problem solving strategies that are taught, practiced, reflected upon, and refined throughout the major. This type of critical thinking empowers students to design ways to model and solve problems in the world that don’t yet have solutions. Our students recognize that the complexity of 21st century problems require the coordinated efforts of many individuals. To this end, physics majors learn to communicate their ideas persuasively and honestly, and they possess a framework that enables collaboration within a diverse team.
Internship & Career Exploration
Hendrix physics majors go on to solve problems beyond Hendrix as engineers, scientists, doctors, attorneys, consultants, and even CEOs. They work with data, equipment, chemicals, finances, energy, and people. But most of these majors didn’t know that as freshers – they discerned their path along the way through engaged learning opportunities like:
- Internships and Shadowing Experiences: One student’s passion renewable energy led her to an internship with Scenic Hill Solar, a solar development company in Little Rock, Arkansas.
- Research: One student has been working for the past 1.5 years with a faculty member on the design and testing of 3D printable optomechanical components that can be used to build custom optical systems.
- Postgraduate Studies: Students continue to explore their career path by continuing their studies in dual-degree engineering programs, in physics graduate programs, and in professional schools.
Students might start by examining an online resource like “What can I do with this major?” for physics, but we advise student to take advantage of the accessibility of faculty and staff in the department and in career services. Mentoring plays an important role in connecting students to alumni and employers, and growing student interest into graduate success.
Employment & Graduate School
Examples of recent first destinations for our graduates include:
- PinnacleART (TX)
- Keysight Technologies (TX)
- Epic (WI)
- Apptegy (AR)
- Materials Science at Vanderbilt University (TN)
- Masters of Arts in Teaching at the UA Fayetteville (AR)
- Energy and Environment at UC Boulder (CO)
- Physics at UC Berkeley (CA)
- Aerospace Engineering at UT Austin (TX)
- Information Technology at Carnegie Mellon University (PA)
- UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law (AR)
- Indiana University School of Medicine (IN)
Hannah McWilliams graduated with a physics degree form Hendrix in 2013 then went on to earn her masters in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in December of 2015. She has worked for Odyssey Space Research and for the Center for Space Research. At the Center for Space Research she was part of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On mission, a joint project between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences that makes precision measurements of the water flow on and in the earth to study the effects of climate change. She now works as an engineer for Lockheed Martin on projects that, if she told you about them, she would have to kill you.
A.J. Sanfilippo ’11 went to Washington University in St. Louis to complete a masters degree in Mechanical Engineering and a J.D. at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. He’s now an Associate Patent Attorney for the Garg Law Firm in Richardson, Texas.
Lauren Kendall Barker ’10 completed a Ph.D. at the University of Memphis in Geosciences and now works as a geophysicist for Hess Corporation.
Chelsey Bryant Krug ’01 graduated from Hendrix with a degree in Physics and went on to obtain a Mechanical Engineering Degree from Washington University in St Louis, as part of the 3-2 program via Hendrix. She began her post-graduate work at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) in 2002, working on the Student Dust Counter for the New Horizons spacecraft that encountered Pluto in 2015. After earning her masters in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado, she accepted a full time position with Laboratory, and is currently the Production Manager for LASP. Her portfolio includes projects that have launched to study Mars, the Moon, the Sun, and the Earth's atmosphere.