Wat doen natuurkundigen eigenlijk?

Hoe stel jij je een fysicus voor? Denk je aan een professor voor een bord vol ingewikkelde formules?

We kunnen gemakkelijk nagaan hoe representatief dat beeld is. Een grote universiteit heeft – ruw geschat – dertig professoren natuurkunde in dienst. De loopbaan van een professor duurt ongeveer dertig jaar. Gemiddeld komt er dus ieder jaar één positie vrij. Als er ieder jaar 25 natuurkundigen afstuderen, kan slechts vier procent professor worden.

Maar wat doen al die anderen dan? Continue reading “Wat doen natuurkundigen eigenlijk?”

Preparing physics students for 21st-century careers

Are universities teaching physics students the things they need to succeed in the real world? The vast majority of physicists don’t work as physics professors. Jobs outside of physics departments often require skills that are less important for an academic career.

In Physics Today (open access during November 2017), professors Laurie McNeil and Paula Heron discuss how universities can teach relevant business skills, without neglecting the physics curriculum. Based on statistical data and interviews, they show that there is much room for improvement. Continue reading “Preparing physics students for 21st-century careers”

What do physicists do? Research, software, and finance

After I got my PhD in physics, I started working for a bank. People often ask why I left physics. I usually reassure them by saying that this career choice isn’t exceptional. In fact, most physicists don’t work “in physics”.

A report by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) tracked down physicists working in the private sector, who earned their PhDs in the U.S. about ten years earlier. The respondents were employed in a variety of industries, working as consultants, managers, (software) engineers, etc.

But what about the rest of the world? Are the AIP findings representative for all physicists? Continue reading “What do physicists do? Research, software, and finance”