Re: wall of separation

Larry Martin (
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 11:44:29 -0600

It's a small world.

Paul Arveson wrote:
>How interesting. I, as a physics major and a senior, once tried to take a
>course in the EE department (at VPI) and was rebuffed because of a lack of
>several engineering prerequisites.

I was even worse off at Virginia Tech ('74-78) as a music and math major.
I needed some extra credits to have physics certification for high school
teaching. It took a while to be allowed to take a beginning EE course.
And here I am twenty years later teaching Electronics as a physics
professor. I think some of the calculations of departments are based on
"What our graduates will be doing" without facing up to the reality that
upon entering the "real world" people change jobs very many times. One
would have to be a prophet to predict the needs a future career will have.

Rick Becker wrote:
>I used to work in the semiconductor OEM business doing ion beam physics. I
>wound up doing that quite by "accident" in that I was a theology major at
>Gordon-Conwell just prior to that. I learned physics and engineering on the
>job, by having an academic inclination to start with.

I was a student at Gordon-Conwell also ('82-84), before going on to gradual
school in physics. I lived in a basement apartment of a physicist (Purser)
who ran an ion beam company for doing radioactive dating. I also was a lab
assistant at Gordon College as well as a contract programmer of educational
games. Both of those jobs served me well in preparing me for grad school
and beyond. So here I am as a teacher in a Christian college who writes a
lot of educational programs in physics, music, and history.

Though I generally reject "Intelligent Design" in science, life has enough
weird and wonderful twists and turns that are not accounted for by academic
programs that I am willing to remain open on the question of "calling" =
"the Intelligent Design of life's work." Of course, a cynic would say I
chose an occupation that used all my skills; but they don't realize how
rare jobs are in physics nowadays.

I just thought I'd make a comment on the close proximity of these notes and
the "happenstance" of finding people with similar histories.

Larry Martin

-Larry Martin, PhD, Associate Professor of Physics
(773) 244-5668 fax (773) 244-4952 home: (773) 478-0679
North Park College, box 30, 3225 W. Foster Ave., Chicago, IL 60625