Austin Shaw gets excited about physics because it’s providing him with the foundation to pursue his dream career as an engineer.
“I want to be an engineer so I can be involved in the creation of new, clean sources of energy and modes of transportation,” said Shaw, who earned the Physics (BA) degree program in 2017 and is now in Appalachian’s Master of Science degree in engineering physics.
“To do this, you need a strong understanding of the elements of physics – especially energy, electricity and motion,” he said.
He’s already getting practical know-how as a member of Appalachian’s solar car team, Team Sunergy, which took second place at the 2017 Formula Sun Grand Prix and third place in the 2016 Formula Sun Grand Prix.
In both races, Appalachian was the only school from North Carolina. In the 2017 competition, Shaw served as electrical specialist, working on the car’s batteries and solar array.
He describes faculty in Appalachian’s Department of Physics and Astronomy as “bright and enthusiastic about teaching. Their enthusiasm captivates your interest, and they always go the extra mile to help students, inside or outside of class.”
With natural resources becoming depleted, Shaw recognizes that human culture depends on the field of physics to educate young scientists who will devise new technologies to overcome looming challenges.
“For example, Elon Husk’s hyperloop could revolutionize travel, making it faster and cleaner than ever before,” Shaw said.
“And the development of tidal lagoons would use ocean tides to create renewable, clean electricity. Both of these new technologies are gaining in popularity, and can help us move away from nonrenewable fossil fuels,” he said.