Story By Anna Lussier
While graduating from college can be a wonderful experience, the joys of commencement can be followed by the worries associated with job hunting. Many students worry that the years they have invested in achieving their degrees may have done nothing but land them a minimum wage job.
For PLNU’s electrical engineering students however, this is not the case. According to the study “College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings” by Georgetown University, electrical engineering majors have a 5.2% unemployment rate and starting salaries average at $57,000 for recent college graduates.
Despite this major’s high employment rates there are currently only three PLNU students pursuing a degree in Physics and Engineering with an Emphasis on Electrodynamics, (PLNU’s version of an Electrical Engineering degree). Junior Ian Stubbs makes up a third of his major.
Stubbs discovered his love for electrodynamics during his freshman year of high school. “I got interested in electronics by my freshman science teacher,” said Stubbs. “He had several electronics texts that I would read during reading hours, and as I got more confused by the textbooks I asked him more and more questions.”
Stubbs and his teacher started an electronics and inventions club that grew over the next four years to the point where the club was able to design, construct, and operate an electro-magnetic coil launcher.
“An electro-magnetic coil launcher would probably be better known as a rail gun,” says Stubbs. “Its kind of like a canon, but with electricity instead of gunpowder. That project made me want to know how to do what we did on my own, and know the process, instead of just following one.”
During his time at PLNU Stubbs has enjoyed learning even more about electronics and has been challenged by the difficulty of the program.
“It’s true engineering is hard, but it’s so worth it,” he says. “That moment when you do figure out that problem after four hours is really satisfying. When after 700 hours you finally get your invention to work it’s a pretty incredible feeling.”
Despite the challenging material, Stubbs recommends his major to any one interested in electrical engineering.
“This program provides an environment that catalyzes growth in a team as well as an individual,” stated Stubbs. “It has provided me with a very beneficial foundation for the rest of my career, a foundation for engineering, but also for other life skills, friendship, communication, networking, collaboration.”
Freshman Marissa Dotter, is also studying electrodynamics and is pleased with how small the emphasis program is.
“You can get to know your professors and your fellow students, and really get in touch with the material, which is super helpful,” she says. “I can tell this major is going to get difficult, but I think I’ve been doing pretty good so far.”
In addition to the small sizes and high quality of classes, Dr. Paul Schmelzenbach, associate professor of physics, feels that PLNU’s program in Engineering Physics with an emphasis in Electrodynamics is competitive in the engineering job market.
“The degree itself provides a strong foundation in the way the world works and teaches students how to solve problems using engineering,” he said. “A lot of the focus is placed on teaching students to adapt. So, when they get jobs, they can acclimate really quickly. This degree is very versatile, which is really key in the current job market.”
Upon graduating from PLNU, both Stubbs and Dotter hope to attend graduate school, Stubbs wishing to study hardware design and Dotter having dreams of working in aerospace engineering. Matt Smith, a junior also studying Physics and Engineering with an Emphasis on Electrodynamics, is interested in one day working in the automobile industry. He plans to take some time after graduation to gain experience in the work force and then go back to school for a masters degree. Smith says he believes he will leave PLNU well equipped to begin work as an engineer.
“So many of the things I’ve learned in engineering carries on directly into the workforce,” he says. “I plan on using the skills I’ve acquired here at school to make me a better engineer.”