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Erin Gross decided to study physics back in high school because she loved applying math to something that was right in front of her.
Now at Carthage, Erin is taking full advantage of the 3-2 Pre-Engineering Program Carthage offers. This program allows students to study physics at Carthage for three years and then study engineering at UW-Madison for the next two years.
Erin said Carthage’s small classes will help prepare her for UW-Madison at the end of this year. “I thought this would work best for me to get the attention in my lower-level classes to form a good framework for the engineering classes I’d be taking in Madison.”
Another strength of the Physics Department is the amount of support students receive from the faculty. “Each student is seen as an individual rather than a number,” Erin said. “This has tremendously helped in the senior thesis process when the faculty discussed whom they thought each student should be paired up with. They have gotten to know us very well in only three years.”
Erin also had the amazing opportunity to travel to Belize. “I went to Belize my sophomore year for a Carthage Symposium J-Term that was taught by an environmental science and biology professor,” she said. “It was amazing to see the environmental practices other countries have, and also the lack of them. It gave me a perspective I would not have had if I had not gone on this trip.”
In addition to traveling to Belize, Erin was in an REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) at Biosphere 2 through the University of Arizona. She spent 10 weeks with other students doing research with Dr. Marcel Schapp on one-dimensional soil physics for a hill slope project that is being developed for the biosphere. “It was really great being able to be part of such a big project knowing that I had contributed in some way,” Erin said.
These experiences, as well as taking a few environmental courses, have helped show Erin that she would like to incorporate environmental awareness into how energy is captured and used. “I have always been a nature lover at heart while still loving physics and engineering,” she said.
Erin’s love of the environment has helped her become the president of CURE. “It’s great that Carthage faculty and students are starting a sustainability group that meets with all interested parties on campus to figure out new ways to greenify our campus,” she said. Erin is also a member of Society of Physics Students; is on the Carthage Microgravity Team, which allows her to develop a project with other students for NASA; and she is a member of Chapel Choir.
In the future, she looks forward to get her environmental engineering degree from UW-Madison. After that, she would love to design greener sources of energy.
“To help design clean energy technologies world-wide.”
“Although all of the faculty are amazing and helpful, I think Prof. Quashnock is my favorite professor. On top of his quirky attitude, he really cares for the well-being of the students in and out of the classroom and expects more out of us.”
“So far my favorite physics class has been Mechanics. It’s like grown-up physics that you learned in high school, and it makes a lot more sense. My favorite class outside of physics has been my environmental science classes, since they convinced me to be more aware and want to help out the environment any way I can. Because of that class, I became the president of CURE this year, and it’s been a blast!”
“My toughest class was probably my Intermediate Physics I class since it was my first college physics class and the solutions were not just handed to you on a silver platter. You really had to think about the problem in front of you.”
Favorite moments at Carthage
“I think some of my favorite moments are when all the students in my physics class get together and have late-night study parties. Developing study groups and friends in my classes has gotten me through a lot of tough subjects that I’ve encountered. It’s been extremely beneficial to not try to go it alone.”
Biggest surprise so far?
“How much I’ve developed as a person and a student. Before getting to college, I really doubted my capability, and now I think that with the help of my professors and friends, I can go on to graduate school and experiment for the rest of my life.”
Advice for other students considering your major
“Form a study group! Or at least go to the SI sessions. It’s really great to bounce ideas off of other people and it helps develop an ability to work with people for a job in the future. It’s great to know all the answers on your own, but in a job-site that might not be the best approach.”