DR. ANN WRIGHT, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS:
I teach in the Physics Department a Hendrix College and I teach anything in the
Physics Department, anything from general physics, astronomy, quantum mechanics.
Right now I'm teaching classical mechanics, but I'll teach pretty much anything.
I thought that I enjoyed science, so I went to MIT thinking I would become an
engineer. I enjoyed my physics class very much, so I stuck with physics. I did some
research at MIT in the nuclear particle physics area. My advisor had a collaborator
at Rensselaer, and that's how I chose Rensselaer to go to graduate school. That
led me to a postdoc at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and that was in
the field of hybrid rockets.
The professors at MIT would not have known my name, would never have been able
to pick me out of a crowd. We weren't asking questions during the lecture. Here
at Hendrix I know my students. My students know me. We interact inside and outside
the classroom, and that makes a very large difference in your ability to learn well.
So, I think my students here are getting just as good a technical education as they
would at MIT. It's just presented in a different way.
One of the most popular courses at Hendrix is astronomy. I've been teaching astronomy
since I came here in 1998, and I just love the course. It's different every time
I teach it. It's different because, practically every day, there's a new finding
and something new to talk about in astronomy.
One of the things we did several years ago was to develop a robotics course.
We use Lego Mindstorms – the kits. We have the students build several different
robots, program them in in different ways, and at the end at the course they are
allowed to design and build anything they want in a design project.
Some physics graduates have gone on to programs where they take their physics
background and they apply their problem-solving and analytical skills to other areas
such as finance, business. Several of our graduates go on to engineering school,
graduate programs, or even into a corporation, into businesses. We even have one
student who has gone on to become and a leader in the world organic farming, right
here in car in Conway. So, a physics degree can take you many places.