Physics alumni at Intel

OSU Physics graduates and undergraduate students perform exceptionally well in the job market, with many joining high-tech companies in Oregon and Washington. Especially notable are the high numbers of Physics majors, MS and PhD students who have gotten jobs in Intel, often described as one of the toughest tech companies to interview for.

In 2013, 4 undergraduates and 3 PhD students from the Department of Physics received job offers from Hillsboro’s Intel headquarters. During 2011-2013, Intel employed 7 Physics graduates and 7 undergraduates.

This cohort includes the likes of River Wiedle whose research on thermal conductivity of thin films won him the College’s Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher award. He now works in Intel as a Manufacturing Technician. Whitney Shepherd, whose doctoral research focused on charge transport in semiconductor materials, is currently a process engineer at Intel.

Within the last two decades, more than two-dozen OSU physics alumni have taken up jobs at Intel.

“We think this is a testament to their excellent research experiences at all degree levels (all of our undergraduates write a senior thesis), and it shows that physics deserves its reputation as one of the careers with the lowest unemployment rate,” says Henri Jansen, former chair of the department.

Physics Professor Janet Tate attributes this positive trend to the unique undergraduate curriculum in the department.

“We are not training for a specific skill that they need but we are training people in the general skills that Intel needs,” says Tate, “that teach you to move quickly, be creative and acquire deep technical knowledge that can either be transferred or the ability to quickly acquire knowledge in a different field.”

A pioneer in undergraduate physics curriculum reform, the department revamped its curriculum seventeen years ago to give its students broader instruction in problem solving across the various sub-fields of physics: electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, materials, statistical physics. This has better prepared physics majors for applied careers and for competitive graduate programs.

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