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Alumna Soha Aslam

(’15 BS, Physics) Engineer

Alumna Soha Aslam

As an engineer at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, what do you do?

The mission of the laboratory is to conduct plasma physics research for the U.S. Department of Energy in order to make nuclear fusion a possible source of energy in the future. My job as an engineer is to oversee ongoing projects on our machine, NSTX-U.

Why do you have a passion for your work?

Choosing physics stemmed from my passion for the arts. When people think of physics, complex mathematics, logic, and linearity come to mind. This quick judgment categorizes physics as being heavily restricted by lengthy equations and eternally evolving theories. However, I realized that physics is just a nonconventional form of art. Behind the technical facade, it is a subject that allows us to freely explore the beauty of the universe. And that is why I fell in love with it.

Where did that passion begin?

If UTA would like to hire me as a physics researcher or lecturer someday, I would love to be back!

I have always wanted to be a scientist. However, like most incoming freshmen, I did not enter UTA knowing what my major would be. All I knew about physics was from high school: that it was remarkably difficult and everyone hated it. So during my first few weeks as a freshman, I started talking to the advisers and professors in biology, chemistry, and physics. One of the physics professors immediately recruited me for his research group. I liked this welcoming atmosphere, and from then on I knew: These are my people! However, one of the most defining moments of why I chose physics was when one of my professors said, "Choose physics. Everything except physics is stamp-collecting."

How did UTA help prepare you for your career?

Mostly through the large amount of research opportunities available in the Physics and the Engineering Departments. The smaller class sizes in upper-division physics classes helped because it made it easier to approach the professors during office hours and ask for one-on-one help with difficult physics or math concepts.

What's next for you?

I am thinking about advancing my career by going back to school and obtaining my PhD so I can focus on more research- and education-oriented positions. If UTA would like to hire me as a physics researcher or lecturer someday, I'd love to be back!

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