Arturo Garcia


May 11, 2020


Hammond, Indiana

High schools attended:

I attended two high schools: Hammond High School (9th and 10thgrade), and graduated from George Rogers Clark High School (11thand 12th grade). With a summer Spanish class, I was able to graduate in three years with a Core 40 Honors diploma and tied for fourth in the top 10 of the class of 2012.

PNW degrees received:

I graduated on May 5, 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Physics. It took me six years to earn both of them, but I feel it was worth it.

Master’s degree currently in progress at PNW:

I am currently working towards a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (with thesis).

When do you expect to graduate with your master’s degree?

My expected graduation is May 2020.

Why did you choose your field of study/major?

My end goal for all my education is to be able to open up and operate my own research facility. I feel that having a firm grasp on how to build a component as well as the theory behind how that component functions would be most beneficial to that goal. This is why I chose to do the double bachelor’s degree. As for my current master’s degree, I originally wanted to do Applied Physics, but that is a very new and developing field which not many universities offer, so I had to improvise. I originally enrolled in the Master of Science in Engineering program. My intention was to study engineering while incorporating as many graduate level physics classes as possible. After further research, I found that it was not possible, so I transferred over to the Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering.

Why did you choose to attend PNW for your bachelor’s degrees, and continue at PNW for your master’s degree?

The answer is simple. It was close to home and it was affordable for both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees. For the master’s, there was extra incentive: I was already familiar with most of the STEM faculty and understood their teaching methods so I had a well-rounded idea of what I would be getting into.

What has been your most rewarding academic experience at PNW?

It is a tie between presenting my senior design project, senior research project presentations at the 2018 Days of Discovery, and taking a field trip to Fermilab. The former really gave me the chance to showcase the work I have had done that year in both the physics project of Higgs boson decay that tried to simulate the possibility of detecting a high energy Higgs boson based on its decay structure, and my engineering project of building a functioning Solar Powered Vehicle. The Fermilab trip was quite an experience. It gave me a chance to glimpse into the world and various jobs related to particle and accelerator physics research. It really is a massively diverse field as engineers and physicists of all types and every corner of the world gather to work on common projects.

Any specific classroom projects/learning experiences that have been beneficial to you?

The main projects that helped me were the ones that really gave me a sense of what a career as a researcher would be like. These, in order of when they occurred, were:

  • The Remote Physics Laboratory Distance Learning Project:
    • Independent Student Research with Dr. Daniel Suson. The goal of this research was to create, design, and test remote controlled beginner lever physics labs. These labs were intended to be integrated into the distance learning courses for introductory level physics courses. I took up that research because I felt that it could be a proof of concept and allow all online schools, both high school and college levels, the opportunity to provide their students with a fully immersive experience into the basic core of physics.
  • Solar Car Senior Design:
    • This was a continuing project with Dr. Hansung Kim that began two years before my teammate Christian and I picked it up. The goal was to construct a solar powered vehicle that complied with the Shell ECO Marathon competition for Urban Concept vehicles.
  • Higgs Boson Decay Angles:
    • This was the physics equivalent of a senior design project. It was about developing a theory and simulating the results. The theory was that when a Higgs boson is created with High energies, its decay products will travel in different directions than the decay products of a normal Higgs boson. The simulation also required a custom Monte Carlo code to simulate the randomized decay of the Higgs particle.
  • Stress Effect on CIGS Solar Cells:
    • This is an ongoing thesis research project. It is the investigation of how applied mechanical stress affects the performance and properties of Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide solar cells. I recently presented some of the findings at the 2019 Photovoltaic Specialist Conference (PVSC). The current experiments and results may be used for a journal publication, too.

The main classes that prepared me the most were the Advanced Physics Laboratories and the Technical Writing class. These were extremely helpful in preparing me for the writing portion of my career.

PNW activities/organizations:

  • Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • Member of the American Physical Society (APS)
  • Member of the PNW chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)
  • Former member of the Chemistry and Physics club
  • Former President of the PNC Change Through the Arts student organization

Current work assignment:

As a graduate student, I work as a teaching assistant and research assistant for Dr. Hansung Kim. As a teaching assistant, I instruct the Machine Design Laboratories in the fall and the Finite Element Analysis Laboratories in the spring.

How has PNW helped prepare you for your future?

PNW has provided me with nearly all the knowledge I will need to pursue my dream career as an inventor and researcher. Going to this school also has really helped me improve my social skills and helped me to become a much better team player than I used to be. Through my entire seven years to date here, I have been given a glimpse into what the life of a researcher really is and the many situations that I would encounter in the real world. All in all, everything about my college education has directly helped me prepare for my career as a researcher.

Faculty and/or staff members who have helped you along your journey at PNW:

From the Physics Department, I would like to thank Dr. Doss, Dr. Suson, Dr. Kramer, and Dr. Dolan for working with me and giving me a chance to earn my Bachelor of Science in Physics. From the Mechanical Engineering Department, I would like to thank Dr. Hansung Kim. I have taken several classes with him and he took a chance and offered me an opportunity to work with him as a thesis student even before I graduated. It is thanks to his guidance that I have been able to make the progress I have within my master’s program. From my high school years, I owe a lot to my algebra teacher, Mrs. McSerry. It was thanks to her working with me and showing me how much math applied to real life that I was able to pursue a STEM degree in the first place.

Arturo Garcia is pictured.

Awards received at PNW:

In my last year of undergrad, I achieved Semester Honors. I also won third place in the oral presentation at the 2018 Days of Discovery for the solar car research.

What is your next step after graduation?

I am hoping to continue onto a Ph.D. in Applied Physics or Engineering Physics. With Applied Physics and Engineering Physics being an emerging field, it will be difficult to find a good program. I do intend to start setting the foundations of my research facility, too. Whether that is setting up savings for it or creating a small business for it, I will certainly say something will be set up.

Final thoughts about your PNW education:

Just make sure you take a lot of English and writing courses while you can. From what I’ve seen, all the STEM-based courses don’t put a lot of emphasis on writing, but writing is crucial in the real world. I was once told you can be as smart as Einstein, but if you cannot clearly communicate what you know through writing, then it’s pointless because your ideas and knowledge will die with you and only you. So make sure you can write at a professional level when you leave here. The classes are available; you just need to take them.