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GOTW: Colton Bigler, Senior, Physics

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Written by Katerina Gonzales

Posted on 13 April 2014

GOTWLast week, the Oredigger caught up with someone just getting into the physics major, which is exciting, but it is also fun to pick the brain of someone who has been through it all. This week, Colton Bigler found time to talk about what he will be doing next at University of Arizona, his love of Captain America, and the best things about Mines.

Do you consider yourself more of a geek or a nerd and why?

I believe that I had these two terms socially defined for me in high school, in that a geek was more technically competent and less socially aware; a nerd had something that they enthused about. The nerds were a little bit more socially competent. I think within those contexts, that I fall within the nerd, but that definitions can change, so I'll leave that up to other people to define too.

What has been your favorite nerd moment at Mines?

Well, I think that the one that comes most readily to memory was this past weekend when the Captain America II movie came out. I was super excited, so I came in my full costume with a shield, and it was all sorts of fun, and it was a great movie. But I guess another one that I can remember now is the premiere of "The Avengers," we were all getting ready for the movie to start, and I stood up in the middle of the theater, and I shouted, "Avengers... assemble!", and it was so much fun to just be that dorky guy who didn't care.

Why did you decide to come to Mines?

I came to Mines because I really wanted to get into a quality institution and it was close to home, and remarkably known for being so close to home. I really didn't know about it until I started my college search, but when I got the email saying "free application, no essay," and all that, and after I did all the research and found out it was such a good school, it was really easy decision.

More along the lines of why I'm in science in general is the show "Numb3rs". Every Friday night throughout high school I would watch "Numb3rs." I loved the characters and loved the fact that I was able to see technical skills being used in a real world application. So that's actually why I came into a technical school, and I came in as a math major. I switched over to a physics major after my experience with both Phys 1 and Phys 2, after they just blew my mind. It was so cool having my mind blown every day in class and having an experience seeing how the universe works, how God chooses to use the universe, and it was really cool.

What are the best things about being a physics major and what are the worst things?

The best things about physics is that we've got a wonderful program, really quality teachers that are invested in supporting us and helping us learn. It's beautiful material. Again, it's so cool getting into this mechanism of the universe and how things work. And the people are also lots of fun. We've got a strongly built community, and I think the department does a good job of building that community: people that care for each other and things like that. As far as least favorite things: it's a hard major. I think that's well-acknowledged on campus. But notwithstanding the fact that everybody has to work hard, we spend a lot of time doing our stuff, and we love it. And that's both a good and a bad thing. When you cannot get things because they exceed the realms of what we're physically familiar with...like when we got into quantum mechanics, it was really hard for me.

What are your future plans? What happens after Mines?

I am off to the University of Arizona next year to study in their college of Optical Sciences: the PhD program. I'm super excited, it's going to be a great time, and it's going to be a lot hotter than Colorado, so I'm going to be missing the snow, but the program is super high-quality and it will be a great learning opportunity for me.
What are you going to miss most about Golden?

Definitely the people. But I think besides from that, I will miss waking up to crisp mountain air and the fog rolling over the mountains. I really just love this atmosphere. It's kind of a mountains feel, and I love the mountains, I love this climate. I'll miss it...a lot. I'll miss the memories.
Favorite superhero and why?

Captain America, because he's good. There was a line in what I think was called "The Civil War" in which Cap was purposefully breaking the law, but he didn't agree with the law. He told Spiderman that when everyone tells you that you're doing it wrong, and just sit down and move, but you know in your heart that what you believe is right, and they're acting out of fear or hatred, your job is, that no matter if it's just you, to plant yourself firmly in the way, and say "No, you move!" to the rest of the world because you know that you've got the right. Captain America is this idea of "I'm going to do what's right, regardless."

Favorite quote?

I wear a dog tag around my neck that says, "Hope in the Lord, for in the Lord there is mercy, and abundant redemption," so that's always something I try to keep close to my heart. Also, I think the quote I used senior year in high school was one that I really enjoyed, and that was "There may be someone who's better than you, but make sure it's not because they're trying harder."

Do you have any advice for younger students?

I guess I don't know that I'm wise enough to be offering advice, but...I would offer those starting or in the middle of their Mines career to enjoy the moment, because it's a gift to them and because it's beautiful. There is so much that this school offers us that wouldn't be something that we would anticipate. It's a very exciting place to be.
Colorado School of Mines

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