Skip to main content

Physics & Astronomy


  • Alumnus Eric Ireland '15

Eric Ireland ’15

Class Year



Physics and Mathematics

Current home

Portland, Oregon

Current position

Applications Engineer at Electro Scientific Industries (a division of MKS Instruments) 

While at Carthage, Eric Ireland ’15 took advantage of the many opportunities available, such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program and the Carthage Microgravity Team. He credits these programs and his Carthage education for his success at his current job.

Mr. Ireland works as an applications engineer at Elector Scientific Industries. He says he works as a “Jack of all trades” and that having such a variety of functions at work has been extremely valuable to him so early in his career.

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“Getting to travel and train customers has been the most direct and meaningful way to see the impact of my work. It’s extremely rewarding to see people get excited to learn ways to save hours of time or to make their jobs easier with our machines.”

How did Carthage prepare you?

“All of the research opportunities at Carthage were some of my most beneficial experiences. I participated in math research as a part of the SURE program after my freshman year, observed an asteroid at Kitt Peak National Observatory, and studied microgravity fuel gauging both through the Rock-SAT program and through the Carthage Microgravity Team. Having such a range of research experiences has shown me what it’s like to work side by side with a professor on problems to which there’s no textbook solution — an essential skill for any Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) job. Carthage’s requirement for a senior thesis gives each student from every discipline the chance to contribute something novel to their field.

I am also thankful for experiences from extracurricular organizations that prepared me for the master’s program at the University of Oregon and for working in industry. My fraternity Delta Upsilon gave me a lot of professional developing skills without even realizing it at the time. I practiced interview skills (on both ends of the table) with the “convos” or conversations that associates had to get to know each of the 50+ full members. I also got practice giving dozens of convos once I became a full member. Being a Greek also prepared me for networking events during our semesterly rush parties, especially when I first rushed the fraternity and had three hours to hang out and get to know 60+ new people. In many ways, Carthage has given me a foundation to be successful — both personally and professionally.”

Tips for current Carthage students:

“Take advantage of opportunities for research like the SURE program. You’ll get used to working on longer-term projects; rather than having a weeklong lab, you have several month or yearlong projects. You’ll get experience working with teams and truly understand the need to maintain good communication and harmony when things aren’t going as smoothly as expected.

Get used to networking and meeting new people. Fraternities and sororities aren’t necessarily for everyone, but being in a club or two where you’re having to get to know a group of new people every semester will help.

Enjoy taking naps when you can. You may be sleep deprived in college and need to take a few naps here and there during the week. Enjoy it. Having to be on the top of your game for eight hours straight, five days a week is another type of challenge, but you get used to it.

Be confident in your ability to learn. If you have an interest in something that’s not offered as a course, ask for independent study. Be resourceful. 

At the beginning of your college career, start a document to write down all your accomplishments and skills. You learn a program in a class, jot it down. You get a scholarship or do a research project, write it down. When you go to make your resumé, all the content will be there. You’ve fought half the battle; the other half is refining it.

Enjoy and savor your time in college, and try as many new things as possible — opportunities won’t be nearly as plentiful and easy to come by.”

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2020), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Computer science students watch Prof. Mark Mahoney’s recorded lecturers in their free time, so he can nearby “when they do their real learning,” he says. He has company: Physics professor Brant Carlson’s quantum mechanics video playlist has been viewed more than 170,000 times. 

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $20,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 3 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …