Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Robert Lynch, M.S., '05

Physics and Astrophysics 

Upon graduation from Franklin & Marshall in May of 2005, I entered into a graduate engineering program at the University of Virginia. I was fortunate enough to receive a graduate research assistantship where I was working on a project that linked biology with mechanical engineering. I was studying the rhythmic movement of biological systems and trying to incorporate natural motor function to mechanical systems in the hopes of creating more robust and sustainable systems. My research group focused mainly on swimming movements of both manta rays and medicinal leeches.

To start, I was well behind my co-researchers who were coming from biology of biomechanical backgrounds, and I hadn't had a proper biology course since freshman year of high school. I taught myself the material necessary to "catch up on the curve" if you will. I feel as though my experiences as a student at F&M helped to prepare me for what I got myself into in graduate school. At F&M, my professors in both the Physics and Math departments were not just trying to teach me how to solve a problem. They would teach the scientific approach and then encourage me to find my own way to actually come up with the final solution. During that first semester of graduate school I taught myself the main topics of biology for my research and then I honed my skills and expanded my knowledge as time went on. Without the proper skill of knowing the "bigger picture" that I acquired at F&M, it would have taken me longer to learn what I needed in order to start with my research thesis and it may have taken me longer than 2 years to complete my master's degree.

After graduating from UVA, I decided not to pursue a career in academia, which meant I was probably never going to have to call upon the work I did to complete my thesis. I started working for my current company, ARCCA Inc., after graduation and mainly only use the knowledge I gained from Physics I. On occasion I use laplace transforms to filter test data and FFT analysis to uncover underlying frequencies of waveforms, both of which I learned at F&M. In the 3 years that I have been at ARCCA I have developed my expertise in the field of accident reconstruction. I mainly use momentum based analysis and projectile motion equations to solve for impact speeds, PDOF and change in velocity during a collision. I also perform crush based analysis on vehicles where we represent the front of the vehicle as a linear spring and based on data from government crash tests we can back out a delta-V for our accident vehicle. I develop my opinions based on these and other basic physics formulas.

  • Alumni Profile: Robert Lynch, M.A., '05