Alumni Story

Nick Johnson (C ’04)

Nick Johnson’s keen interest in energy resources and public policy began when he was a double major in Physics and Religion at Principia College. 

He was deeply involved with the solar car team, which helped him develop practical “hands on” skills and led to graduate study opportunities. In 2003, Nick went on the Australia abroad, which was coupled with participation in the World Solar Challenge car race.

“Professors Steve Shedd and Joe Ritter designed a terrific program incorporating geology and natural resources, along with preparation for the race,” Nick recalls. “I had one of the best times in my life while learning more about fields that I am now professionally involved with.”

Even after graduation, Nick continued a fruitful association with the College. He interned in the Physics Department, continued to help the solar car team with machining, and also helped to coach rugby, which he had played for three years as a student. For his MS in Environmental Policy at Michigan Technological University, Nick focused his research and thesis on a cost-benefit analysis to determine if a wind turbine at Principia College would make economic sense. “The main result was a giant ‘maybe,’ as Principia currently receives its electricity at a very inexpensive rate,” Nick concluded.

Nick is currently engaged in a PhD program in Energy and Mineral Engineering at Penn State, specializing in Energy Economics. “I am very grateful for all the writing I did at Prin, because I do a ton of it now. I was hired as a Teaching Assistant here at Penn State, in part, because I can write,” Nick says. 

Nick chose to double major in religion primarily because he wanted to better understand the Bible, the history of Christianity, and learn about the roots which led to Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery of Christian Science.