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Q & A with Lucy Karpen '04

Where are you from originally?

Raleigh, North Carolina though I spent part of my childhood in Ashville, NC as well

What led you to the University of Maryland?   

I chose UMD because it is one of the best schools for undergrad physics in the US, as well as there would be a chance I could do research as an undergrad.  Also at the same time that I was looking at where to go to university my brother was looking at moving to MD for work, even though later he decided not to. 

How would you describe your experience here?

My experience at UMD was mostly positive, or well I loved the physics department and how much it made the undergrads feel included into everything as well as having such nice small classes. 

Where do you currently work?

I currently work as a linux systems administrator at the math department at the University of Oslo, in Oslo, Norway.   I'm primarily a hardware specialist though I deal with anything needed in our system of around 200 workstations and multiple servers and number crunching machines.    Its not directly physics related, though I ended up getting the  job partly because  I was studying fluid mechanics here shortly  before I started working.   A lot of what I do involves being handed a closed system with an unknown problem and diagnosing and fixing said problem (or replacing the system/workstation itself).   Its essentially a form of engineering.   It does sound very trite to say that 'the problem solving skills I learned studying physics helps me in my work', but it's rather true.   It is basically the same as solving a problem in a physics class, you have a set of tools to use, a set of variables and a set of known system behaviors. 

Do you enjoy your career?

I love it.  Its what I figured I would end up doing after graduating, and what I wanted to do.

What advice would you give current students?

Do you remember any problems that you faced while here?I would tell people to study, but also to enjoy themselves, and to remember that grades aren't everything. That and graduate school is not the only path one has to take after getting their BS to have an interesting and enjoyable career.   Good grades are nice to have, but grades aren't everything.   Talk to your professors, talk to your fellow students and find something you love doing, even if it has nothing to do with what you studied at school.    Remember to have fun too.  Physics gives a lot of tools and a way of thinking.  



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