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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Sweetnam awarded Fulbright to conduct research in Switzerland

<n Sweetnam ‘08, a physics major, has been awarded the Fulbright Scholarship and will travel to Switzerland, where he will attend Neuchatel University and conduct research on solar cells.
Sweetnam gives many reasons for his decision to accept the Fulbright. “The Fulbright is a great opportunity to continue studying physics. I’m planning on working with solar cells, and I’m hoping to do some traveling, too.”

Sweetnam is also interested in solar cells as a career path. He says, “Junior year, I had a project on solar heating; it’s an elegant way to solve the energy problem. The solar cell field is also applicable to other fields, such as memory storage.” Of his interest in studying physics in Europe, Sweetnam says, “In the U.S., oil is so driven by politics. In Europe they have a different view of solar power.”

Besides his experience at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sweetnam has worked with Carleton professors doing research on theoretical computation and computer programming. On campus he has also been captain of the Gods of Plastic frisbee team and involved with the squash club.

Had Sweetnam not been accepted to the Fulbright, he would have taught English in Fengying, China. He says, “I was dedicated to finding a way to visit another country.”

However, his decision to go to Switzerland has brought up some concerns. Sweetnam says his biggest fear is getting lost and adjusting to a foreign country. “I speak French, technically, but not that well. They also speak German and Italian.” Still, he adds, “The Swiss don’t seem that intimidating to me.”

“Carleton does a good job at teaching you how to learn,” Sweetnam said. “I may not know everything when I get there, but I can learn quickly.” This also will not be Sweetnam’s first time abroad. “I went to Madrid in the fall of 2006 through Carleton. I’ve also traveled to Italy and France. It will be nice to go out and see the world. I’m planning to go to graduate school, so it will be nice to get out of the U.S. while I still have the chance.”

After his completion of the Fulbright Program, Sweetnam will most likely attend graduate school. “The longer you wait between college and graduate school, the more difficult it is to get back into academia.” If he is not accepted to graduate school on his first try, Sweetnam may consider staying in Europe to teach English.

To other Carls, he says, “My experience with applying for the Fulbright, Carleton, and life in general is if you try hard you sometimes get it and sometimes you don’t. Either way, it is a rewarding process. I enjoyed putting all I had into the Fulbright application.”

Sweetnam would like to recognize and thank the entire faculty, especially the Physics Department and the Fulbright Scholarship Committee. “This year’s Fulbright Committee pulled out all the stops and gave us great advice—they helped a lot.”

In light of his upcoming graduation, Sweetnam summarizes what many other seniors feel about Carleton: “I’ll miss it, but I’m ready to graduate.”

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