Do Anything. Do It All. Do Physics.

[Career image] Start-up funding, a business plan, and a good idea are usually the key components to getting a new business off the ground.

For Jaime Cevallos it was something else.

“I have literally started and based my business on ‘F equals MA’” says Cevallos, founder of the Swing Mechanic, a company that makes baseball training aids for hitters and provides highly-individualized instruction to Major League Baseball players.

Cevallos says most traditional hitting instructors emphasize bat speed and eye-hand coordination. The 33-year-old entrepreneur says the key to improving a swing is getting the bat into key positions to increase the transfer of mass from the player’s body to the ball.

“F equals MA shot out at me at one point,” Cevallos says. “I don’t know how I made that connection, but once I did connect that equation to the baseball swing it opened up a new door for me and allowed me to walk through it while others have remained on the outside. It has been a great advantage for me.”

In 1996, Cevallos was a light-hitting college infielder for Division I Mount St. Mary’s University. Since age eight he had what he now describes as an almost unhealthy pre-occupation with the baseball swing. As he got older, his fascination grew even stronger, often pondering the swing at night as he lay in bed. He searched for a clue to the secret of the swing and found it after his first college baseball season. He discovered the best hitters in the history of the game swung their bats on a flat plane and with their elbows down. To do this, players had to get into what Cevallos calls the ‘slot position.’ Following these revelations, Cevallos went from batting .197, with a .277 on-base percentage, a .211 slugging percentage, and no home runs to a .364 hitter with a .466 on-base percentage, a .523 slugging percentage, and four home runs. If you’re not into baseball, that would be like going from an ‘F’ in Fluid Dynamics to an ‘A.’

It took about 10 years for Cevallos to refine his methods. Much of that time was spent working in golf shops for little more than minimum wage. The 33-year-old entrepreneur currently works with 12 professional baseball players. His most well-known clients are second basemen Ben Zobrist, with the Tampa Bay Rays, and Drew Sutton, of the Cincinatti Reds. Both players improved their offensive statistics dramatically from the 2008 to 2009 seasons after working with Cevallos.

Cevallos says he often uses the word “physics” during his swing sessions with big-leaguers. And while he says not all ballplayers get the concept yet, connecting physics and baseball certainly has been a home run for Cevallos and his business.

To learn about other connections between physics and baseball, check out: http://webusers.npl.illinois.edu/~a-nathan/pob/

Cevallos’s new book, Positional Hitting, is due out in June, 2010. To read more about Cevallos, go to: www.theswingmechanic.com

 

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Careers in Physics

Despite what you might have heard, you can do more with a Physics degree than teach at a college and conduct research. Physics teaches you to think. Thinking helps you to solve problems, regardless of the field. Think of Physics less as a career path and more as a skill set or toolkit. That’s why the careers below, and pretty much anything else you can think of, are possibilities.

Medicine

MRIs, PET scans, and proton beam accelerators are all based on physics. The proton beam accelerator at M.D. Anderson in Houston is used to treat cancer patients.

Fusion

Read about a UT Physics student who is now studying nuclear fusion energy at MIT.

Nuclear engineering

Read about how a Naval nuclear engineer ended up studying physics. We hate to say it this way, but while physics students can be engineers, engineers can’t necessarily do physics. (OK, so we don’t hate to say it that way.)

Teaching (high school physics)

Think about the most earthshaking discovery you might make as a physicist. What if you could pass that knowledge and problem-solving skill to hundreds of students every year? And then they could make thousands of earthshaking discoveries. Explore UTeach to find out more. You can also read about two students, Claire and Andrew, who plan to teach high school physics, and why.

Science journalism

If the public doesn’t know about the importance of science in our daily lives, how will it receive the attention it deserves in our public policy-making? Read about a UT Physics student who is doing her graduate work in Science Journalism at Johns Hopkins University.

Energy exploration

Imagine creating an MRI tool that is used to go into boreholes in oil fields. You have to make sure it works to 150° Celsius, and it must withstand 20,000 PSI. Once you do that, you’ll have to work as the go-between for the hardware and the software folks. And you’ll have to make sure that it works. So you’ll have to work with the manufacturing people and help create the process used to actually build the tool. You’ll also have to develop a way of calibrating the tool. When you get all that done, give us a call and let us know you’re finished, would you?

Patent attorney

Physicists make excellent patent attorneys because not only do they udnerstand complicated processes related to science-based inventions, they can explain it to others.

Business

Since physics is about discovering the “why” behind things, a Physics graduate is unexpectedly and uniquely qualified to tackle all sorts of business challenges. Read about a Physics student who will graduate in December and will most likely go to work for an alternative energy development company.

Consulting

Physicists were asked to help with the placement of the new Yankee Stadium, taking into account how wind patterns might affect the flight of a baseball. Physicists are asked to work on cool problems like this all the time.

Taxidermy

Well, maybe not. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

We Get You Ready If You’re Ready

Finding the right field is hard. You have to participate in undergraduate research to discover what fuels your passion. You also need to learn what fuels your professor’s passion for physics so you can decide if that field is for you or if you can cross it off the list. Nobody ever said that pursuing the “why” would be easy.

Physics Prepares You for What Comes Next

Physics majors and minors are prepared to perform well on entrance exams. Physics and Math majors score the best on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and are second only to biomedical engineers on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

The Numbers That Really Intrigue Physics Majors

The median annual income for a physicist is $94,240. The middle 50% earn between $72,910 and $117,080. The lowest ten percent earned less than $52,070, and the highest ten percent earn $143,570. The average starting salary offer to Physics doctoral degree candidates is $52,460.