Leaving Las Physics

I went to a job seminar this afternoon.  Bizarrely enough, the lab organizes a bi-monthly job seminar where someone who used to work on an experiment here left for industry comes back to talk about their job.  This is kind of them.  It’s nice to have students looking at all their options, but to me it looks like the state is training students for academia and then losing their investment to industry.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect industry.  But the government needs to train pure researchers as well as topic directed engineers.  Sustained growth can’t happen with only one or the other.  So is it worth the investment in training someone for long-term payoff research to have them work on shorter-term payoff projects?  One of the students asked today’s speaker (who works for Philips on the next generation of CT scanners) what a physicist can bring to the work that an engineer may not.  He replied that we make good project managers because we can start with a very fuzzy picture of a project and incrementally improve it, like the history of the standard model.  I’m sure that engineering training must do this as well.  I have a few friends in the engineering school back at the university, and all their work seems project based. He also told us his salary, and showed lots of pictures of him on yachts and driving fancy cars.  Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot.

Hey boss, if you’re reading this, don’t stress.  I’m staying in academia indefinitely.  I like the flexible hours.  All 60 of them per week.

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2 responses to “Leaving Las Physics

  1. Hi Homer! Given, however, that only so-and-so percentage of PhDs get postdocs and only so-and-so percentage of postdocs get second postdocs (let alone junior faculty positions) and further still that only so-and-do junior faculty get tenure… isn’t it reasonable to provide seminars for employment options outside of academia? I agree with you that this might not be the best message for the [100 minus so-and-so]* percentage of us who have our hearts set on the academic life, damn-all-else. But to some degree it’s just a responsible type of programme for those who will ultimately end up displaced from the ivory tower.

    *- this should probably be (1 minus so-and-so-ratio)^(iterations)

  2. Hey Fliptomato, you are right. Not everyone who starts in this field stays, and its responsible of the lab not to drop them cold.

    I probably should have stated that several people needed to bring in our own chairs from a neighboring seminar room, because the room was so packed. Looks like they are just adressing a pre-existing need.

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