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Graduate Physics Education – Industrial Style

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.528.1 - 6.528.20



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Paper Authors

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Ronna Turner

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Ken Vickers

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Greg Salamo

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1380

Graduate Physics Education – Industrial Style

Ken Vickers, Greg Salamo, Ronna Turner University of Arkansas


The education and training of the workforce needed to assure global competitiveness of American industry in high technology areas, along with the proper role of various disciplines in that educational process, is currently being re-examined. Several academic areas in science and engineering have reported results from such studies that revealed several broad themes of educational need that span and cross the boundaries of science and engineering1-5. They included greater attention to and the development of team-building skills, personal or interactive skills, creative ability, and a business or entrepreneurial where-with-all.

While many engineering programs around the country have embraced some of these needs with unique programs, physics has lagged far behind and has tended to maintain its traditional basic science education. Rather than these needs being a goal of a traditional physics graduate program, we tend to instead produce students trained in the conventional sense. Students strong in basic understanding but with little or no interpersonal skills. Students ignorant of business related issues, yet with problem solving skills needed by business. And, above all, students very comfortable in an academic environment, but unsure of how to effectively use their academic expertise in a non-academic arena.

The University of Arkansas in the fall of 2000 received a Department of Education Fund for Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) grant to implement changes in its graduate physics program to address these issues. The proposal goal is to produce next-generation physics graduate students that are trained to evaluate and overcome complex technical problems by their participation in courses emphasizing the commercialization of technology research. To produce next-generation physics graduates who have learned to work with their student colleagues for their mutual success in an industrial-like group setting. And finally, to produce graduates who can lead interdisciplinary groups in solving complex problems in their career field.

In this paper we will present the evidence that led to the specific strategic plans that were proposed to the department of education, strategic plans that will be used to achieve the goal of physics graduates from the University of Arkansas with enhanced technology implementation skills. The early implementation status through March 2001 will also be discussed, along with specific near

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Turner, R., & Vickers, K., & Salamo, G. (2001, June), Graduate Physics Education – Industrial Style Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9313

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