Shaun Mills, '10

B.S. in Applied Physics-Computer, B.S. in Mathematics

Describe typical activities and responsibilities of your job.
I develop integrated nanofabrication processes to enable high-volume manufacturing of microprocessors. I design, execute, and analyze experiments to improve device yield and performance. As an Integration Engineer, I am expected to have a high-level understanding of the entire nanofabrication flow, rather than an in-depth knowledge of a particular toolset, so I coordinate a team of approximately 10 technical engineers.

What are some ways that the Department of Physics at Grove City College prepared you for your career?
My preparation for my current job came mostly from graduate school. Grove City College, however, prepared me quite well for my graduate studies, both in terms of my incoming knowledge base and my ability to reason through new ideas. I also think that having a degree in mathematics was beneficial to my graduate studies in physics. Each Ph.D. degree is unique, and one physics Ph.D. may look nothing like another (the experimentalist working on superconductors knows nothing of the theorist working on neutrino oscillations, and neither of them have any clue what the computational guy down the hall is doing with network models – but they all claim to be “physicists”). I feel that having a broader background incoming to my Ph.D. studies helped me see how my research tied in with other fields.

How does the tuition cost of Grove City College compare to the other schools you looked at during your college selection?
Cheaper, for sure. In addition to Grove City College, I looked at some technical institutes, which, of course, are costlier.

How was your faith been strengthened and perhaps even challenged during your time here?
It’s hard for me to identify more formative years in my faith than the years I spent at Grove City College. Part of that was simply my age – 18 to 22 is a common time for people to really investigate their faith. But a lot of that is a result of spending literally every waking moment in the presence of someone else who was working through their faith, as well. I especially appreciated that, while the student body seemed predominantly Protestant, I was able to converse with Catholic and Orthodox Christians as well, which gave me a broader understanding of the historical Christian faith.

How do the academics challenge students to think on a deeper level about the world and life in general?
I won’t speak for all majors, but physics and mathematics are about problem solving. You’re given a particular problem to solve – the phase transition from liquid to gas, or the relationship between an infinite summation and the ratio of sides of triangles – and your only tool is your assumption that the Universe is understandable. I would say that the academics at Grove City College helped cement that assumption in me: the Universe (of which our world/lives are a proper subset) is here to be understood. My professors essentially gave me the charge: “Go understand it!”

What is the relationship like between students and professors?
Like all relationships, I found the student/professor relationships to develop over time. The departments are small, so it’s easy to get to know professors well. And it was my experience that the professors were happy to engage students outside of the academic environment as well.

Describe some of your experiences in campus activities.
I was involved in a lot of IM sports. It is possible to be involved and still devote sufficient time to academics. In fact, I would encourage it. If you can’t make time for leisure now, why would you expect it to get any better later in life? You might not want to hear it, but you’re never going to have as much free time as you do now (that advice applies equally well to someone in high school, college, graduate school, etc.). 

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