In all my years as a Florida Gator, I’ve had a few burning questions — the top one being how did UF become such a popular college for the sciences?
It seems that nearly everyone I come across nowadays is either an engineer or pre-med. To answer this question, I’ll interview students who have a type of science major to find out why they choose this career and this college.
First up, I spoke over the phone with my friend Josh Bauer — physics major, box drum extraordinaire and Rubik’s Cube master. He’s a third-year at UF, and he started as an aerospace engineering major and switched to physics in his sophomore year. He interned this summer for the group that works with the CMS detector, which is an instrument that collects data from the Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator the size of a city.
Why did you decide to study physics?
“Well, I’ve always enjoyed interesting intellectual problems, for one thing, and math and physics are two things that have always provided those in ample supply. … I’ve always been curious about how things work — even as a little kid my parents said I would always ask, ‘How does that work?’ … And going into the field allows me to get paid for answering the questions that I would’ve [wanted] answered anyway.”
What do you enjoy most about it?
“The ability to kind of see the inner workings of the universe slowly come together is pretty cool.”
Why did you choose the University of Florida?
“I actually applied to Georgia Tech and got in, but it’s very expensive to go there. … When I came into the college I wasn’t 100 percent sure I knew what I wanted to do, and if I went to a place like Georgia Tech I was basically stuck in a technical major. … [Plus] UF is pretty strong in most areas.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“There really are a lot of paths that students with physics degrees take. … If I choose to take the graduate school route then I could end up with a career as a researcher. … Or I could end up teaching somewhere as a professor. Or, ultimately, a lot of people end up in main-stream industry. … I’m still trying to figure that out for myself right now.”
Why physics rather than engineering?
“In engineering, the main goal is not to figure our the answers to the big questions, but it’s rather to figure out how to make practical things work, which hasn’t always interested me as much. … The advantages [to studying physics] are that it’s crazily interesting and at times a lot of fun. It is a pretty heavy workload though, which is less of an enjoyable thing, but all in all I’d say it’s a pretty enjoyable experience.”
Keep checking back for more interview from UF students! Post a comment if there’s any subject or person you’d like to see highlighted.