Alums create legacy for Kettering Physics

Jul 30, 2010

Graduates of Kettering University's Physics Dept. like Scott Porter and Simon Murphy leave an indelible legacy as they make significant strides with industry and educational opportunities.

Since its establishment in 1995, the Kettering University Dept. of Physics has built a legacy of producing graduates of distinction.

Recently, the department hosted the spring 2010 Meeting of the Ohio Region Section of The American Physical Society (OSAPS) and welcomed back to campus a great many graduates of the Physics program. One goal of this event was to bring back as many Physics graduates as possible to campus to check out the latest and greatest going on within the program.

Scott Porter, who graduated in 2006, attended this important conference and was pleased to see many of the faculty who taught him during his Kettering years. Originally from Clinton Township, Mich., Porter earned his dual degree in Applied Physics and Mechanical Engineering. Afterward, he attended Penn State, receiving his master’s degree in Acoustics and is now engaged in his Ph.D. program, which he expects to complete by the end of 2010.

Porter is working on a thesis project supported by the Applied Research Laboratory ( at Penn State where he works as a graduate researcher. This work involves examination of new magnetostrictive materials (materials that change shape when a magnetic field is applied) for sonar transducers. Sonar transducers are devices that convert electrical signals into underwater acoustic signals or vice versa. Typically, there are two types of sonar transducers: underwater sound projectors and hydrophones (underwater microphones).

Complicated? Perhaps, even for Porter. “Magnetic materials tend to be highly nonlinear and alloys are no exception,” he said, adding that his experience in Kettering’s Acoustics Lab played a large role in his decision to attend Kettering when he was a prospective student.

“Not many institutions offer acoustics courses at the undergraduate level, but at Kettering I was able to take three acoustics courses and complete my senior research on an acoustics-based project,” he explained adding that for nearly all of these classes, “I got to spend time in the Acoustics Lab and it was one of my favorite places on campus. Another area in which I feel my Kettering education has been very helpful is that the hands-on education helped me to become goal- and project-oriented, which helps me manage my thesis projects.” 

Porter said that Acoustics, an interdisciplinary field, is viewed as a subfield of Physics. The disciplines that play an important role in Acoustics are wave theory, mechanics, thermodynamics, hydrodynamics, electricity and magnetism. 

“The electroacoustic transducers I work on are heavily based on principles of electricity and magnetism, which are core fields of Physics,” he said. “Kettering really provided me a solid foundation on which to pursue graduate studies,” he added.

Simon Murphy, a 2009 Applied Physics and Mechanical Engineering grad from Barstow, Calif., agrees with Porter.

“The physics curriculum at Kettering has prepared me well for the rigors of my current graduate program. Kettering’s emphasis on working in interdisciplinary teams helped to make me comfortable with the interdisciplinary nature of Acoustics,” he explained, adding that the small size of the program “encourages plenty of interaction with faculty and with fellow students.”

Murphy is a master’s degree student in the Medical Physics graduate program at Duke University in Durham, N.C. His current research project involves the image assessment of radiographic x-ray detectors, which requires in-depth knowledge of the principles in modern physics and radiation physics.

“The problem-solving skills that I developed in Physics now help me develop a program to quantify image quality for these detectors,” he said.

Learn more about the Kettering University Applied Physics program.

Contact: Gary J. Erwin