Al Darold ’62+
I am a retired (end of '01) Ford engineering manager and was in the Gettysburg class of 1963.
When I started at Gettysburg I was in the class of '62, and in the 3-2 Engineering Program.
There were about two dozen in the initial (3-2 program) classes. The mechanical drawing class weeded out a bunch and by the time I was a junior we were three. Only two of us transferred to Penn State, which was one of the schools available in the "2" part of the program.
Dr. Richard Mara was one of the key faculty members in my (our) completion of the program. He taught physics, and made it compelling stuff. Dr. Arms was the math professor who caused me a lot of hard work - some of the math was tough to get through. Both were good people and dedicated to us, the students, in the 3-2 program or otherwise.
After two years at Penn State I graduated from Gettysburg and PSU (simultaneously)in the class(es) of 1963. From Penn State I interviewed several companies, including Ford Motor Company. I took a job in Dearborn, MI at the Ford Engineering and Research Center, and in the Light Truck engineering activity.
For most of my time with Ford I was working with both the light truck products and with many lawyers in the defense of product lawsuits filed against Ford. As it worked out, this was a career that allowed me to utilize my (PSU) engineering education and my (Gettysburg) liberal arts education. One of the key functions in my work was testifying on behalf of Ford, as an engineering employee, for the purpose of explaining the design, function, and history of whatever (light truck) vehicle was at issue. In many of those situations I had worked on the vehicle in the product development process. Overall, the 3-2 program was the perfect preparation for the career I never anticipated when I started at Gettysburg, or even when I graduated from Gettysburg (and Penn State.)
Charles Bikle ’63+
During my senior year, or a bit before that, I was wondering if I was in the right field, but it was a bit late to make changes as I had a military obligation awaiting, being also in AFROTC. I was active in a group called the Gettysburg Baroque Workshop in my senior year, and through it I knew that I had to study music formally down the road.
I graduated in 1963 and went immediately into the Air Force, studying meteorology at the University of Utah, before going on to practice the subject first at Okinawa, then in northern Michigan near Sault Ste. Marie.
I began my studies of music history/musicology at the University of Michigan in 1967 upon my release from active duty. I transferred to the Ready Reserve of the Air Force, practicing meteorology part time at Selfridge AFB(now ANGB), a base northeast of Detroit. I earned my Ph.D. in musicology at Michigan in 1982; the subject of my dissertation was "The Odes for St. Cecilia's Day, 1683-1703".
It was a good thing that I remained in the ready reserves because teaching positions in musicology took a dive in the mid 1970's.At the same time, however, a position opened up at Selfridge for a civilian forecaster.With the blessings of my doctoral committee, I applied for and got the job. So I began doing meteorology on a regular basis again. In early 1980, I transferred to the National Weather Service (NWS) and remained there for the rest of my career. Assignments to me were to Lansing, MI, Des Moines, IA, and finally Billings, MT. I retired from the NWS in late 2004 as a senior forecaster. My wife and I still live in Billings and like the area very much. I retired in 1985 from the Air Force Reserve as a Lt. Col.
Retirement life has been busy. I began studying the Viola da Gamba in early 2005 with a teacher who lives in Denver, CO. Lessons with her are worth the 550 mile one-way trip. While with the Gettysburg Baroque Workshop, I was introduced to the gamba, and then re-introduced to it at Michigan. My principal instrument at both Gettysburg and Michigan was the cello.I also have been doing some music editing. Some of my editions (notably pieces by Telemann and De Lalande) have been performed by the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado. More recently, I have gotten back to editing some Cecilian odes by Michael C. Festing and Maurice Greene.
James Vinson ’63+
I graduated in 1963 from Dr. Mara's Department. After receiving a PhD at the University of Virginia, I taught Physics and then moved into higher education administration at various universities. Finally, I spent 14 years as President of the University of Evansville in Indiana.
Now I serve on the Alumni Board of Directors and often visit the Physics Department when I return to campus. In fact, I recently donated many of the books in the Physics lounge. We had such a lounge when I was there and I think it's a very important facility for the students. When I became Chairman of a Physics Department years ago, one of the first things I did was create a Physics lounge. The Physics Department was excellent when I was there and continues to be one of the best in the country.
Bob Hall ’63+
I graduated in June, 1963 with a B.A. in Physics and immediately began graduate studies in Solid State (now Condensed Matter) physics at the University of Delaware. In 1964 I married Janet Dreves (Class of 1964), a math major/physics minor. She and I each were awarded MS degrees (in physics and math, respectively) in 1966. After my master’s degree, I worked two years at the General Electric R&D Center in Schenectady, NY on materials for LEDs. At that time the brass ring was finding a blue light LED material. We did not find one (the ring was subsequently grabbed by others two decades later) so I decided to return to graduate school for more schooling. My game plan was to complete the next degree, return to corporate R&D for several years, and then eventually move on to a to teach science and coach in secondary school (the twenties dream). The Ph.D. degree in Physics was subsequently completed at a time (1971) when there were no jobs available in corporate research, but I did land a job teaching physics at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. I found that I loved teaching...and still do. In 1974 I followed an opportunity to work at the Institute of Energy Conversion at the University of Delaware. My timing was impeccable (OK, I was lucky) as this was the period when R&D on renewable was just beginning to blossom. The rest is history, I spent nine years at the Institute, and then in 1983 left to become a founding member of a start-up company formed to develop (and eventually manufacture) solar cells for solar electric energy panels. I spent 18 years there before “retiring” in 2001. I was fortunate to have landed in this field of endeavor (solar energy), and am still playing on that field, now as a cagey, long-in-the-tooth veteran.
Glen Spangler ’65+
I graduated from Gettysburg College with a double major in Math and Physics in 1965 while Professor Richard Mara, my advisor, was still there. He advised me to go to the University of Virginia for graduate studies, where I completed studies with a Ph.D. in 1970. My Ph.D. dissertation related to the mobility of electrons in heat flushed superfluid helium. From there, I spent about 6 months at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD before being employed as a civil servant by the Army at Fort Belvoir, VA below Washington, DC. As a research scientist at Fort Belvoir, my responsibility was to develop techniques to detect vapors released by explosives at the ultra-trace level. I sponsored a technology review at a research institute in Raleigh/Durham, NC and conducted experiments of my own in the Army laboratory.
Because of my work, I became widely known in the Government as an expert on trace vapor detection that a leading candidate for detecting buried landmines, counter-terrorism, protection of major strategic US resources (such as nuclear facilities), and security of the airline and postal systems. I consulted widely and the technology is now used widely in airports for this purpose. But the technology is also useful for detecting chemical warfare agents of interest to the military.
Because of my expertise and publications, a contractor came to me to see if I was interested in working with them on their project under contract with the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. I accepted their offer, and spent nearly twenty years as the principal scientist in an engineering department (now Smith Detection) to realize a fielded capability. While my secondary function was to advise the engineering and production efforts, my primary function was to become an expert on ion mobility spectrometry. This I did by interfacing with the academic community, and establishing an ion mobility/mass spectrometry capability in my laboratory. I was allowed to hire a Ph.D. chemist to help me with this effort. After the twenty years were completed, we had miniaturized the ion mobility spectrometer technology from a large office desk size to a lunch box size fully integrated detector. After it was mass-produced for the Army, my job was done.
Having received an additional degree in Chemistry, I decided to start a small consulting company of my own to address outstanding issues for the technology. After receiving several contracts to further the application of the technology, I decided to not compete further for contracts, but to semi-retire so that I could spend more time on the theory of operation for ion mobility spectrometry. That is what I am doing today. I am deeply involved in classical mechanics, statistical mechanics, and quantum mechanics as I am tackling the dependence of the collision cross section on effective ion temperature. This relationship not only applies to the more traditional linear ion mobility spectrometer technique that I help to develop and field, but also to the newer differential ion mobility spectrometer and travelling wave ion mobility spectrometer techniques recently developed to study large complex biological compounds. I am still very active in scientific conferences trying to help chemists and biologists understand the mathematics and physics of ion mobility spectrometry in combination with mass spectrometry. A day does not go by during which I learn something new. Also my workstation computer has capabilities way beyond the scientific calculators that I was not allowed to use while taking exams at Gettysburg College. HA! Technispan LLC (my small consulting company!)
Nolan R. Walborn ’66+
As is (or should be) well known to some in the Physics Dept. (or well, perhaps only to a few remaining at this point!), I've been in the Baltimore-Washington area for 30 years, and on the scientific staff of the (Hubble) Space Telescope Science Institute at the Homewood Campus of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore since 1984. Unfortunately my interactions with Gettysburg during all these years have been minimal, most recently a lecture in the Alumni College at my initiative for my 40th anniversary. Around the same time I offered a Hubble astronomy talk for Gettysburg students and alumni here.
John W. Berthold ’67+
John W. Berthold received the B.A. degree in physics from Gettysburg College and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in optical sciences from the University of Arizona, Tucson. He has forty-five years of experience in optics research, thin film coatings, and sensors, and is internationally recognized for many contributions in the development of fiber optic sensors. Dr. Berthold has worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc., National Security Agency, Babcock & Wilcox Company, and continues to serve as both Chief Technology Officer and Board member of Davidson Instruments, Inc., The Woodlands, TX. Through his independent consulting company j w b c.llc, John has performed work for several small companies and start-ups. He has served as principal investigator on U.S. government contracts with NASA, Department of Defense, and Department of Energy. He has authored or coauthored over 75 journal and conference publications and is an inventor or co-inventor on 51 U.S. patents. Dr. Berthold is a Fellow of SPIE – the international society for optics and photonics and an Emeritus Member of the Optical Society of America.
Lawrence Luessen ’67+
I graduated from Gettysburg with a degree in Physics in 1967. I was lucky enough to have Dr. Richard Mara as my freshman physics instructor and he was responsible for talking me into remaining Physics major as I struggled through freshman physics. He was a brilliant and wonderful person and instructor.
After graduation I worked for the Department of the Navy, mostly in Dahlgren, VA, from 1967 to 2000. I received an MSEE from Duke University in 1970; chaired a number of NATO Advanced Study Institutes in France, Scotland, and Portugal in the 1980’s; spent a year at the Pentagon (1992-93); and spent 1996-98 in the United Kingdom working for the British MOD’s Defense Evaluation and Research Agency, Portsdown West (near Portsmouth). From 2000 to 2008 I worked for BAE Systems, and from 2008 until my retirement in 2010 I worked for EG&G (now URS).
I’m now retired and living at Wintergreen Resort, just outside Charlottesville, VA, in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Bill Green ’70+
Besides attending Gettysburg in the 70s in the Physics program and evennnnnnntually getting my B.S. from Maryland and MS from Hopkins AND playing in the bands at Gettysburg (and fighting myself in deciding what I should major in), I like to write!!! I have about 50 publications from my time working in research at JHUAPL and here at NASA I am now an Instrument Systems Engineer coming up on 10 years...
I also played on the baseball team and Dr. Mara used to come out and watch...that alone should qualify me this gig!
I’m a self-taught piano and sax player although I was playing trumpet back in my youth.
I have had my results for a long time: but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them. ~Karl Friedrich Gauss
Peter Dewald ’76+
I put my physics background to good use. After college I taught math and coached football at the Severn School, Severna Park, Md. (I am actually in their hall of fame as a football coach!! Go figure). After Severn, I coached football at the University of Maryland, Marshall University, Davidson College, and Ohio University. Currently I am Vice President of Raymond James and Associates, Financial Advisor. But at least I understand questions like is 'Hell exothermic of endothermic', and I can have a good laugh!!!
As a side note, at the University of Maryland I had to tutor Pete Koch in Math. Pete went on to be a first round draft choice for the Bengals, and has also starred in a few movies. You can check him out in his role as the 'Swede' in Heartbreak Ridge with Clint Eastwood.
Andy Parker ’79+
I went from Physics (I actually had two majors -Econ as well) to Wall Street. I now work for the firm Lazard Wealth Management.
Perry A. Pitrone ’83+
I believe that I was the first student to participant in the 3-2 cooperative Engineering program with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. I started at Gettysburg in the fall of 1978 and graduated the spring of 1983 with a BSME from RPI and a BA from Gettysburg. I've worked as an engineer in the aerospace industry ever since graduation, first as a Mechanical Design Engineer and now as an Engineering Manager. I'm currently the Engineering Program Manager for the E2D Hawkeye Radar Transmitter at Northrop Grumman in Baltimore Maryland.
Sarah Eno ’84+
Sarah Eno, a professor at the University of Maryland, is a member of the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that recently discovered a new boson that may be the Higgs boson.
Jeremy Smith ’96+
Currently I am in education, teaching electronics at a two year tech school and enjoying it very much. I also coach track and field at a local middle school (where I admittedly probably use more physics knowledge than I do in my real job... the discus is the ultimate exploration of rotational dynamics).
Ben Barnhart ’98+
I graduated in 1998 and during my summer before senior year I did an internship with a Physicist at NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and used a programming language called LabVIEW. The reason this is pertinent is because when second semester of senior year came and I started applying to jobs I submitted an application for a Software Engineer simply because this programming language was desired. I did not expect anything to come from this interview because I wasn't a Computer Science minor or anything but when I got to the interview the company told me that they were going to train me to do the work once I got there and having a degree in Physics (and Math) proved that I was capable of the analytical thinking that they were looking for.
After that I continue my career as a Software Engineer, moving up to become a Software Group Manager (managing a group of engineers) and then transitioning to Program Management (managing a program including the contracts and negotiation as well as coordination with engineering group mangers). I have most recently accepted a position as a Project Manager at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD.
Andrew Danner ’99+
I graduated in 1999 with a Physics/Math major. From there, I ended up going to graduate school in Computer Science and I've been teaching CS at Swarthmore College since 2006. Despite taking only one intro CS course at Gettysburg, I would definitely be a Physics/Math major again even if I knew ahead of time I would end up where I currently am.
Michael Oberlin ’06+
The hardest, and most important, lessons that I learned in college were the ones immediately following it. I am Michael Oberlin, class of 2006, one of the fabled Millennials. I had perfect grades throughout high school, took not the easiest but the most interesting classes I could during college, and graduated with a baccalaureate in Physics and a minor in Neuroscience. Unfortunately, I must warn you, academic accomplishments meant very little on the job market.
I proceeded from my degree to some time in a deli, followed by a few years working for a pharmacy, two years as a substitute teacher and a number of precious months as a software engineer. I've had a few volunteer projects going, inclusive of a little systems engineer work and some recent time in biomimetic engineering work, but both companies ultimately resolved themselves as doll-house projects and collapsed under the weight of an untrained managerial staff and a state engineer with no real training in any kind of actual scientific work. I will admit that I am still rather bitter about it, as I'm sure you can understand.
However, it isn't all bad news. At this point, I have a stable early-morning part-time job as a bay integrity specialist at a Home Depot, paying reasonably well and leaving most of my day free. I get up at three in the morning and hike the half hour down to the job site, warming up for the endurance exercise that it inevitably is and getting my blood going. I work for four to five hours a day, for the most part before any customer sets foot in the warehouse. Afterward, I grab coffee somewhere and hike back. During the open time afterward, I've been honing my skills as a writer (both journalistic and fictional) and working on a novel, under the study of an experienced editor who has been very encouraging. After it's published, I will ideally be able to pay off my student loans entirely (or in large part) and eventually progress to a full time career in novelism, though I don't expect it to be immediate. I look back on my education frequently, and I'm happy to say that I made the right decisions even if they were for the wrong reasons. Education is, perhaps contrary to everything you have been told from the day you were born, not inherently about getting a job. It's about expanding your horizons and understanding your world better.
Most of my ideas have stemmed from Animal Behavior with Dr. Winkelman, Statistical Mechanics with Dr. Stephenson, and Psychopharmacology with Dr. Siviy. I learned to write (truly write) in Robert Knight's Journalistic Writing and Creative Writing under poet Sally Keith. Most of Dr. Good's classes were invaluable, though difficult. My work in Neuroscience (the "sampler" major) had me across campus, and the breadth of what I was exposed to completely changed my world. I don't regret any of it, and I've continued to live an academic and industrious life since. I had a sequence of misfortunes growing up that I haven't even bothered to comment on, the least of which was the way that the economy was bleeding out at the moment that I graduated. Still, it made me a stronger human being to face these demons while I was still in college.
Well, actually I can regret Introduction to African American Traditional Music with Robert Winans, primarily because he knew absolutely nothing about the subject and the entire class wanted to kill him by the end of the course. Dude was even whiter than I am. He also seriously abused the words "sexual activity". That was probably a waste of time. But all the others were fine (with Human Cognition under Dr. O'Neil and Multivariable Calculus under Dr. Kremer tying as the goats).
So I suppose if I'm going to be completely honest, or at least more honest than I ever have been before when asked this question, I'm just living life but living it more. The colors are brighter and everything is sacred to me now. If you really want a career in physics—and that is, independently, a question you should ask yourself and think hard on—then the way to go is to get an internship that is specifically in it. Expect to fight like an animal for it too, as there are many more physics majors than there are open physics jobs. Also, if the bookstore still carries Introduction to Error Analysis by the late John R. Taylor, also known as Mr. Wizard, I recommend you read it early. It was the last book required to get my degree, and also the most sensible. I really wish we had read it first, to be honest with you.
Matthew Recore ’06+
I graduated in 2006. Since then, I spent one year (06-07) as an electrical engineer, then went to get my Masters in physics at the University of Connecticut (originally going for a Ph.D.). During my Master’s program I switched mindset from becoming a college professor to becoming a high school physics teacher. I enrolled in a different Master’s program for teaching, which I completed May 2011. I just finished my first year of teaching high school physics in Connecticut. I absolutely love what I do now.
Nick Green ’07+
I am currently pursuing my MBA at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business (graduation exp. May 2013). This summer I am interning at Sabre Holdings in Southlake, TX as a Financial Analyst. Prior to business school, I worked at Wollmuth Maher & Deutsch LLP, a New York City law firm, as their Controller.
Melissa Schmidt ’09+
I am a graduate of the class of 2009. I went to the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine when I left Gettysburg. I am currently in my 3rd year as a medical student. I don't know what field of medicine I am going to pursue yet but I can tell you that physics is always coming up! It is everywhere in cardiology, ophthalmology, oncology, pulmonology, and so many more! I will be in Baltimore for one more year and then who knows where my residency will take me! I certainly miss the Gettysburg physics department all of the time. Hope all is well!
Joseph David Newcomer ’09+
My job progression, since graduating in 2009 with a BA in Physics, has been rather untraditional. I started off working for Johns Hopkins University in a Biology lab. This made sense at the time, because the lab featured microscopes that use Physics principles of optics and electron-scattering in order to operate. I also served as the IT specialist at the lab, which helped prepare me for my 2nd job.
In 2011, I moved to a different part of Hopkins, and became a software developer for the Center for Inherited Disease Research(CIDR), a medium-scale genomics lab. At the time, I had very little programming experience. I was hired with the expectation that I could learn on-the-job based mostly on my Physics degree and my "go-getter" attitude. For three years I helped CIDR automated many of their processes, and worked on software that would help them process and analyze genomic data.
In 2014, I started a new job as a software engineer at JHU’s Applied Physics Lab. These days, I spend my time working on software models for defensive naval-combat simulations. I’m also working on a Master’s in Computer Science through JHU’s Graduate Degree Program. I've learned that having a mixed-background in both Physics and Computer-Science has led to a remarkable breadth of job opportunities.