Governor Scott’s university information request: Some highlights from the response of the FSU Physics Department

Since several Florida universities have released their responses to Governor Scott’s questionnaire about how well universities are preparing their students for the workforce, I thought you should see some of what we said about our own department to our institution’s administration.  Here are some excerpts:

We should emphasize the role of research experiences at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in preparing our students for employment.  According the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) , the five “soft skills” that employers want are:  the ability to work in a team; the ability to communicate verbally; the ability to make decisions and solve problems; the ability to obtain and process information; and the ability to plan, organize and prioritize work.   (,_Verbal_Communication_Top_%E2%80%9CSoft_Skills%E2%80%9D_Employers_Seek_in_Job_Candidates.aspx). Students who participate in research are immersed in learning these skills.  Of course, research is at the core of the doctoral student’s experience.  By the time they graduate, approximately two-thirds of our undergraduates will have participated in research projects.  In short, physics students — at both the bachelor’s and doctoral levels — are among the most employment-ready students graduated by our university…

As stated in a recently released report on the value of a STEM education ( )  “Critical thinking”  is  “Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.” This is exactly what is required for what a physicist does, and is an integral part of learning physics. In this sense, all of our courses are critical thinking courses – they force the student to develop their critical thinking skills…

Of the Physics Department’s 65 bachelor’s degree graduates during the years 2006-2011, we know of 37 that have continued on to a graduate program.  Of these 37, 26 have entered graduate programs in physics, including the highly ranked programs at the University of California – Berkeley, University of Texas – Austin, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Michigan State University, and the University of Notre Dame.  Ten of these students stayed at FSU for graduate school. 

FSU Physics bachelor’s degree graduates have also matriculated in graduate programs in other fields, including biophysics, chemistry, computational engineering, digital arts, electrical engineering, finance, medical physics, nuclear chemistry, science policy and space sciences.          

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