Written by Namankita Rana and Melina DallaStella
Dr. Vladimir Lukic is the Physics and Astronomy professor. He has taught at Stevens for the last four years, and he previously worked at the University of Pennsylvania in the bioengineering department. He earned his Ph.D from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, after earning his undergraduate degree in Serbia.
Professor Lukic considers Stevens to be a special university because it is a very strong engineering school. Not only are all of the students enthusiastic about what they do, but the faculty and staff are also very engineering-oriented, even in the College of Arts and Letters.
What’s the best part about Stevens? For Professor Lukic, it’s the “smallness” of the school, even in large departments such as mechanical engineering. By the 4th week of the semester, he tells us, he already knows the names of all his freshman students, and he actively uses their feedback to make his classes better. He values the personal attention the professors are able to give to all of their students.
Lukic’s favorite part of his job, however, is something he’s spearheaded himself over the last few years: the astronomy classes. Lukic has a passion for astronomy, and is working on slowly building an astronomy minor with more courses offered.
One of the biggest mistakes first-year students make is not managing their time correctly, which Dr. Lukic warns against. Students judge how the entire semester will go based on the first three weeks of class, which, according to him, consists of the easiest material. Assuming that the remainder of the semester will continue this way leads students to procrastinate, but putting off assignments will only lead to an unmanageable amount of work. To combat this, he recommends attending time management and productivity workshops at the Center for Academic Support.
Lukic stresses that the transition from high school to college is a huge culture shock. The students who were top achievers at their high schools find themselves among peers who are at their academic level, if not higher. The time students spend studying in college does not come close to the time spent in high school, and unlike some high schools, college professors do not offer extra credit. Students must perform well on their assignments, for those are the only opportunities they have to demonstrate their skills.
Students who major in Physics, Professor Lukic says, have a wide range of careers open to them. Most go to graduate school to do work on their Master’s, Ph.D, or post-doc, but these students are also in demand. In fact, they can end up working in a range of jobs, from the oil industry to Wall Street, to the tech and startup world. As Lukic says, “Smart people are in demand—especially people who can calculate!”
Lukic offered another piece of advice. First, Professor Lukic says, “Don’t leave something for tomorrow—you will not understand it tomorrow.” He then encourages students to be proactive; the professors are open and you will get help, he says, but only if you ask for it first. Lukic also stresses that when it comes to troubles in studying, it’s important to understand what you don’t know, and understand why you don’t know it. Thinking is the most important aspect of solving problems, for thinking every step of the way (as opposed to working on “autopilot”) will allow students the chance to notice the subtleties of the problem. The subtleties of the problems are what allow you to truly understand every aspect of the topic being tested. He concluded with one last thought – “Look at anything closely enough” Lukic says, “and it’ll become really interesting after a while.”