The Inertial Observer

The Inertial Observer

Volume 1, Issue 1

September 24, 2013

 A new publication of the St. Olaf Physics Department

Students – The Inertial Observer is your place to find out about important events, job opportunities, internships, and other items of merit. All in one place, delivered to your inbox. Read it carefully. Your patience will be rewarded!

Brian Borovsky, editor-in-chief

And now, I present the first batch of noteworthy items:

Future Events

Engineering Dual Degree Visit from Washington University on Thursday

Christopher Ramsay, Assistant Dean of Engineering Student Services, will be here Thursday, Sept. 26 from 2-3pm in RNS284 to talk with students who may have interest in the 3/2, or 4/2 programs for acquiring a BSE in addition to the BA from St. Olaf.

A reminder that we have Dual Degree programs at both UMN ( ) and Washington University ( In both programs students have the option of remaining here for 3 years and then transferring (3/2) for a BA/BSE combination, but have some differences:  At UMN you can finish here with a BA and then take 1+ year to get a BSE, or you can finish here and apply for a Masters in Engineering ( 4/2 ), although entry into the grad school isn’t guaranteed; at WU you have the option of finishing here and spending 2 years extra for the BSE(4/2), with the option of applying for a Masters after your first year at WU ( which will probably take 2 more semesters ).

For more information or questions feel free to contact David Dahl. These programs aren’t for everyone’s taste, but with graduate engineering programs faced with rising applications they can be an entry point into a field you wish to pursue.

Nobel Conference 2013 – The Universe at its Limits

Tuesday, October 1 and Wednesday, October 2

This year the Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus is on “The Universe at its Limits”.  Talks will range from new discoveries in particle physics and the accelerating universe to the cosmic background radiation and the future fate of the universe.  Check out the schedule of speakers and presentations at the Nobel Conference website

The talks will be streamed live in Tomson 280. That’s a big room with a really big screen, so it should be a fun venue. Almost like being there!

Interested in medical physics?   Here is a golden opportunity:

Wednesday, October 2nd, 7pm, Black Ballroom in Buntrock

Dr. Timothy McKone and Dr. Ralph Young (medical physicist) will share information about their work at the Mayo Radiation Center in Northfield (located near the Northfield Hospital).  They will describe the process through which St. Olaf sophomores, juniors and seniors may sign up to shadow with them on site at their facility.
These working professionals are eager to talk to Oles who may be interested in exploring a career as a medical physicist.

Women in Physics!

The Women in Physics and Astronomy (WiPA) group at the University of Minnesota is hosting “Life after Undergrad”, an event for undergraduate women in physics and related fields.  We would like very much to invite female undergraduate students in your department to our event. The basic information is as follows:

Date: Monday October 7th, 2013
6:15-9:15 PM
Location: Tate Lab of Physics, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, East Bank (specific room TBA)
Who: All undergraduate women currently majoring in or interested in physics or related fields (astronomy, engineering, etc)  (preferably by Sept. 26, 2013)
Cost: FREE

Please email Brian Borovsky at if you are would like to attend. He will coordinate rides to the UMN, depending on interest and availability.


If you have engaged in research, here or off-campus, then you are invited to travel with fellow Oles to Chicago to present your work at the Midstates Undergraduate Symposium in the physical sciences. There is a similar symposium in St. Louis if your work falls within the biological sciences. Ask your adviser if you are not sure which is best.

The deadline to apply is September 24. This is a great experience, and the application is easy. St. Olaf funds the trip for you!

The dates are:  Fri, Oct 25th to Sat, Oct 26th  2013 for the physical sciences

(for biological sciences the dates are a week later)

The details are here:

Please apply early. St. Olaf College tries to fund as many students as possible, but there is a limit.

Jobs and internships at Proto Labs – campus visit

Brad Cleveland ’82 (Math/Stats) and CEO of Proto Labs will be on campus on Thursday, October 24th during community time (11:30-12:30)in BC 142 for a recruiting information session.  He is looking for Software Developers (summer intern & full-time) and Research and Development (R & D) Interns.

He is looking for physics, math and CS students in particular. His company is doing exciting things:


Registration is open for the Big Ten+ Graduate School Expo on October 20-21, 2013.

Students will:

  • Get an inside look at graduate school and the application process
  • Receive advice about funding opportunities
  • Network with representatives from more than 50 of the nation’s top graduate institutions
  • Attend a premier graduate school fair

This two day mini-conference is especially designed for students interested in graduate education in:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Other science-related disciplines.

The Big Ten+ Graduate School Expo awarded more than $30,000 in travel scholarships last year.  All students, including women and members of underrepresented groups, are encouraged to attend.

Visit for more information and to register. The deadline to apply for a travel scholarship is October 1!


Students, you are cordially invited to attend Viterbo University’s 11th Annual Seven Rivers Undergraduate Research Symposium on Friday, November 8, 2013

 in La Crosse, WI.  This symposium showcases the research and creative works of undergraduate students from a variety of disciplines and a variety of institutions. While there is no fee associated with participation, all attendees and presenters MUST register via the link below.

  • students who have completed research/creative works on or off-campus or as part of a course,
  • students who may be interested in completing research projects in the future (presenting is not a prerequisite for attendance),

The symposium will run from 11am to 5pm (check-in occurs from 10-11am) and includes a keynote address; lunch (provided); and oral, poster, and creative works presentations by students from the tri-state area.  There is no fee for presenting or attending.

As was the case last year, there is a single deadline and online form for both registration and abstract submission. By streamlining our processes, we hope the registration process is simpler and easier for all involved.  Please note that presenters will be expected to submit their abstracts when they register.


The online registration & abstract submission form as well as additional information about the event can be found online at

If you have any questions, please email


Information that may be of interest to physics and astronomy faculty, staff, and students.

EPIC job opportunity

EPIC is currently looking for talented individuals for our Technical Services/Problem Solver positions!

Problem Solver/Technical Services

If you’d like a career that is both challenging and meaningful, consider Epic. We’re a worldwide leader in healthcare software, caring for 49% of Americans.  Chances are we are affecting the life of someone close to you.

As a Problem Solver (Technical Services) at Epic, you will build strong and lasting relationships with your customers and deliver top-notch technical guidance, ensuring they realize their full potential using our software. You’ll apply your creativity and problem-solving skills to design unique solutions, from improving efficiency and patient safety to optimizations and software upgrades.

We’re currently hiring engineers, math, physics and MIS or related majors for both 2013 and 2014 start dates. If you think you might be a good fit for Epic, apply at or send your resume to

From the Piper Center

  1. Due to increasing student interest, we will be holding two Sophomore Retreats this year – one in the fall and one in the spring. Quo Vadis (a Latin phrase meaning “where are you going?”) will take place at the YMCA Camp Ihduhapi in Loretto, MN, on November 8-9. The retreat provides sophomores an opportunity to: reflect on their first year of college; connect in meaningful ways with fellow students, faculty, and staff; learn about how to make decisions that align with their values and interests; and take away resources for future vocational and career exploration. Registration opens September 22, and Nate Jacobi, Associate Director for Service & Leadership, will lead the retreat, which will be offered again in early April.
  2. During Fall Break, Kris Estenson, Associate Director for Alumni Engagement, will kick off our Connections Program in Chicago, IL, where 25 juniors and seniors will meet alumni and explore careers in community development, consulting, law, and media/communications. We will return to New York City over Interim Break, where 25 students will meet alumni working in business, journalism, performing arts, and visual arts. We will wrap up the year in Denver over Spring Break, where 25 students will explore careers in environment, healthcare, marketing, and research. The student application for Chicago is due Sunday, September 15th through Ole Career Central.


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