Unexpected experience pays dividends for Purdue Calumet Highland graduate

2013-05-24T13:36:00Z Unexpected experience pays dividends for Purdue Calumet Highland graduateKaren Holland | Purdue University Calumet nwitimes.com
May 24, 2013 1:36 pm  • 

HAMMOND | It’s been said that one college class can change a person’s life.

That idiom seems to have introduced a passion and career path for recent Purdue University Calumet spring graduate Andrew Jackura.

Physics course fascinated him

“While working on my mechanical engineering degree, I took a physics class from Professor Robert Kramer,” Jackura, 24, said. “I instantly knew that I wanted to pursue physics; this class was fascinating to me.”

But since he was so close to completing his mechanical engineering baccalaureate degree, the Highland resident continued in that curriculum, earning his degree in 2011.

But Jackura was not yet ready to close his book bag and leave campus. In fact, he remained at Purdue Calumet two more years to earn a degree in physics.

On to a Ph.D program

Unwavering in his new-found interest, he now plans to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics beginning this fall at Indiana University.

Initially, Academic Advisor William Baginski saw Jackura as an average student who would impress him by excelling at each academic challenge he faced.

“I wasn’t sure how Andrew would handle the rigors of the mechanical engineering program, but as he progressed, his thirst for knowledge grew,” Baginski said. “He continued to excel at a high level, and his interests expanded. Along the way of earning a degree in mechanical engineering, he developed an appetite for the science that supports all engineering: physics.”

Smaller class sizes allow more familiarity with professors

Though accepted out of high school to Purdue’s West Lafayette campus, the 2007 Highland High graduate chose to attend Purdue Calumet, so he could continue working at his fulltime job and remain near his family.

“I really didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do (academically), but I knew it was in engineering,” he said of his application to Purdue Calumet. “And this campus has much smaller classes, which allow students to become more familiar with their professors.”

His Purdue Calumet education also enabled experiential learning opportunities at the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill. and as an instructor in the campus Physics Lab.

Jackura counts support from Purdue Calumet staff and faculty in his educational success. In addition to Baginski and Kramer, he calls Professors Adam Rengstorf and Dan Suson “great role models.”

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