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John Garland, former U.S. Army sergeant

John Garland, a former U.S. Army sergeant, said Clarkson is a great place to work toward his Ph.D. “As a graduate student you get much more time here with your advisor than most universities,” he said.

Garland, 40, had heard about Clarkson while he was in high school in nearby Franklin County. “I had applied and was accepted at Clarkson in 1987, but didn't feel I could afford it at the time, so I joined the Army.”

Garland served until 1993 and was stationed at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver and Fort Polk, LA. He took a break from the Army until 2003, after which he served at Redstone Arsenal, AL; Camp Humphries, South Korea; Fort Drum, NY; Fort Belvoir, VA; and Fort Bragg, NC.

“My job in the Army, from Lowry AFB in 1987 until Ft Drum in 2005, was Calibration Technician,” Garland said.  “I worked in a lab making sure test instruments were accurate and traceable to NIST.” NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technology, which makes sure certain types of equipment use the same measurement standards.

After Fort Drum, Garland went to Prime Power Production Specialist school, where he learned how to install, operate and maintain electrical power plants.  He was a prime power production specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Bragg until he left the Army in 2009. “At Ft Bragg our mission was to work with FEMA providing emergency power.”   During his break from the Army between 1993 and 2003, Garland first worked for the Army as a civilian calibrator and then enrolled at Clarkson in 1998 as a transfer student from SUNY Potsdam. He graduated with a major in physics, received his master degree and became a doctoral candidate. “I did my preliminary defense in June of 2003 just before going back into the Army.”

After his second term of service ended in February of 2009 he returned to Clarkson to finish his Ph.D. He lives in his hometown of Westville and commutes the 40 minutes to attend classes. His wife is also in the Army and is deployed until 2010, “so I have time to concentrate on school.”

Garland said he enjoys his studies. “I like how you can explain an apparently complex set of interactions with just a few rules.” The lab work he’s doing involves electrical batteries and solar cells, which is right up his alley. “It’s a good fit to get a Ph.D. in a related field,” he said. “The things I’m interested in are here at Clarkson.”

His immediate goal is to finish his Ph.D., then return to North Carolina to wait until his wife retires. After that, they’ll both likely seek consulting jobs overseas until they decide to return to North Carolina permanently.