Letters

Jeff Bairstow`s recent editorial ("Let`s reinvent the Master`s degree," Laser Focus World, Sept. 1995) seems to be a call for establishing a program nearly identical to the one that has been operating at Stony Brook for 12 years. We offer a Master`s of Science in Physics, with concentration in Instrumentation (MSI). The curriculum includes both a sequence of courses and a thesis describing a state-of-the-art instrument built by the student in one of our modern research laboratories. Holders of t

Letters

Master`s degree works in today`s job market

Jeff Bairstow`s recent editorial ("Let`s reinvent the Master`s degree," Laser Focus World, Sept. 1995) seems to be a call for establishing a program nearly identical to the one that has been operating at Stony Brook for 12 years. We offer a Master`s of Science in Physics, with concentration in Instrumentation (MSI). The curriculum includes both a sequence of courses and a thesis describing a state-of-the-art instrument built by the student in one of our modern research laboratories. Holders of the MSI degree are professional scientists whose understanding of fundamental physical phenomena enables them to adapt to a wide variety of challenges in modern technical institutions. The main point of the program is to produce physicists, not technicians, and it has been enormously successful. All its alumni have excellent jobs.

In the present era of limited resources, there is always competition for money to support incoming graduate students. In our particular case, we have to make hard decisions between supporting PhD and MSI students, and this limits the size of the program. At present we can take only two students a year. Of course, we would like to find alternative means to support and expand it because it matches so very well the current job market situation. Proof of this lies in the successful employment of its alumni.

This special course of study is open to students holding a Bachelor`s degree in physical science or engineering who wish to pursue a career in today`s high-technology research and development laboratories. The brochure describing the program can be obtained from me at the Physics Department, SUNY, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3800.

Harold Metcalf, Professor of Physics

State University of New York at Stony Brook

Stony Brook, NY 11794-3800

Air Force values MS degree

Thank you for your September editorial regarding the need for terminal MS programs. The Department of Engineering Physics of the Graduate School of Engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), located in Dayton, OH, has 25 years of experience with the very type of program you describe.

We produce terminal MS degrees in applied physics and electro-optics with heavy emphasis on engineering applications. We find that our customer, the US Air Force, is very happy with this product. In fact, the Air Force seems to prefer sort of a "Co-Op" program where our scientific and engineering officers serve two to four years in Air Force labs between each degree (for example, a typical scientific officer will graduate from college with a BS, serve a lab tour, come to AFIT for a MS, then another lab tour. (The lab tour may be scientific/engineering management instead of "get your fingers dirty at the bench" work.)

The Air Force places great emphasis on the terminal MS--even in physics! It is not viewed as a booby prize. (Ours is a fully accredited, demanding, 72-quarter-hour program which must be finished within 18 months. A written thesis is required.

AFIT, and our degree, is not just for the military anymore. AFIT recently joined with the University of Dayton and Wright State University to form the Dayton Area Graduate Studies Institute. This fall we will begin admitting civilian students.

Paul H. Ostdiek, Major, USAF

Assistant Professor of Physics

Air Force Institute of Technology

E-mail: [email protected]

More in Research