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Finding Your Momentum: Meet Antonia Frech, 2024 PNW Graduate

Finding Your Momentum: Meet Antonia Frech, 2024 PNW Graduate

Antonia Frech, 24, initially thought she would become a doctor when she grew up. At the start of her university career, she tried her hand at biochemistry. Then she tried electrical engineering. But the real push finally came when she started taking more physics classes at Purdue University Northwest (PNW).

Frech, a native of Chesterton, Indiana, is completing his Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the PNW College of Engineering and Science. She will serve as a nuclear fuels engineer at Constellation Energy, based in Warrenville, Illinois, where she has been interning since 2022.

“The more physics classes I took, the more I loved it,” she said. “I wanted to know the why of different phenomena and what was happening behind the scenes. I could also connect it to many different interests and get a well-rounded degree.

Why did you choose to participate in PNW?

“I wanted a smaller school closer to Chicago and smaller classes. I wanted to get to know my professors and the students in my classes so I could feel comfortable asking questions and chatting with everyone. I also wanted a smaller school because I would be more likely to create opportunities for myself.

How did you become interested in your subject?

“I wasn’t passionate about physics when I studied it in high school. I didn’t see the beauty in it. When I started following him at university, I saw him differently. It challenged me. It was satisfying to see a problem and work on it for hours or days to find a solution and see how everything becomes clear.

“Physics is like the bridge between mathematics and the most fundamental parts of our universe. The bridge between mathematics and pure physics also carries over to real-world applications. That, I think, is where the beauty lies. If you really understand what’s going on at a basic level, physics allows you to take that and do something with it to make sense of it.

Were you involved in student organizations or other activities on campus?

“Doing STEM on the Road with Dr. (Daniel) Suson and the Chemistry and Physics department was great. It was a good learning experience for me to understand how to teach and explain things in a simplified way to communicate with people at different levels.

Did you have a pivotal experience participating in PNW?

“In 2022, students from the Department of Chemistry and Physics were invited to join the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) chapter for a tour of Braidwood Power Station. During our tour, I had never considered nuclear energy as an interest. Seeing it in person was like “wow!” There was so much going on that it really was a melting pot of different disciplines. Sometimes it’s hard to say what you want to do before you go see it and understand its scope in real life.

“I went home and applied online for a nuclear fuels co-op internship position. I got an email pretty quickly and got the interview. The factory tour with IEEE changed the trajectory of all my projects. Afterwards, everything fell into place. »

What advice would you share with future students?

“If there is something you would like to get involved in, such as research, an internship or a job, please do not hesitate to contact us. Make those connections and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Send emails, ask professors questions about what they do. There are plenty of opportunities out there…you just have to look for them.

Is there anyone at PNW who has inspired or encouraged you along your journey?

Adam Rengstorf

ACTING CHAIRMAN OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY

“When I was doing my internship, he was a big help in helping me organize my schedule for work and school. He made this possible for me, otherwise I would have struggled.

Daniel Suson

PHYSICS TEACHER

“He always tried to be thorough in his lessons. These were challenges, but he delved into different topics. When I felt stressed about a certain concept, he would talk about a related topic and it would reignite that spark.