Chair: James Crumley
Faculty: Matt ArchMiller, James Crumley, Greg Taft, Todd Johnson, Thomas Kirkman, Dean Langley, Adam Whitten, Sarah Yost
The program of study at Saint Benedict's and Saint John's is planned to keep students abreast of the latest developments in the study of physics. The curriculum covers the basics of classical and modern physics, examining human understanding of nature from elementary particles to the cosmos.
Physics majors choose from a sequence of courses that can give them excellent preparation for graduate school, industrial research, secondary teaching or professional studies such as engineering, law and medicine.
For majors in the other sciences, 105, 106 and 191, 200 and 211 offer an introduction to the principles of physics at different mathematical levels: 105 and 106 make use of high school level algebra, geometry and trigonometry; 191, 200 and 211 assume concurrent registration in calculus and linear algebra.
Physics is a valuable study for non-science majors, too. The department offers courses (101-3, 150, and 187) which have been developed specifically to suit the needs of non-science majors. No previous introduction to physics is necessary, and mathematics is used sparingly.
The department's experimental facilities include gamma-ray analyzers, a 3-D printer, diffusion pump vacuum systems, a variety of lasers, fiber-optics, holography and interferometry equipment, an all-sky camera, and many new electronic instruments. Computing facilities include Windows PCs in laboratories and classrooms, a computing lab containing dual screen Linux PCs.
The department also maintains shop facilities for metal and woodworking, and an electronics shop. Students are encouraged to work independently. Many select their own experimental projects, build special apparatus and perform original measurements.
The Physics Department takes several steps to ensure that we are doing a good job of preparing our students; seniors take the Major Field Test in physics, for example, and those planning on graduate school take the graduate record exam in physics. Overall, however, we believe that the performance of our students after they leave us is the most telling measure of the effectiveness of our program. Our students go on to engineering schools, graduate schools in physics and engineering, government and industrial laboratories, and the like. We do our best to keep in touch with our former students, find out how well they are doing and how good a job we have done of preparing them. We use this information, among other sources, in periodic reviews of our program.
The physics department offers concentrations in physics and applied physics.
Laboratory work is an important part of the curriculum. Sophomores take 332 each semester. Juniors take 370 each semester. During the senior year, research projects are emphasized in 372 and 373. All majors will be expected to become familiar with computers and computer programming at an early stage.
Because there are many options available, students should consult with a physics faculty member during their first year.
Concentration in Physics (68 credits)
Students should start the following sequence in the fall of their first year: 191, 200, 211, 320, 339, 341, 346, 372, 343, 344, 373 plus two semesters of 332 and 370 and 6 additional credits of upper-division physics. A mathematics sequence that includes MATH 119, 120, 239, 337, 305 and 341 or 348 should also be taken consecutively starting in the first semester. The Major Field Test in Physics is to be taken in the spring semester of the senior year.
The following courses are recommended: CHEM 125, COMM 111 and ENGL 211.
Concentration in Applied Physics (70 credits)
Students should start the following sequence in the fall of their first year: 191, 200, 211, 320, 217 (or 217A and 338), 339, 372, 341, 343, 373 plus two semesters of 332 and 370 and 6 additional credits of upper-division physics. A mathematics sequence that includes MATH 119, 120, 239, 337, 305 and 341 or 348 should also be taken consecutively starting in the first semester. In addition, CHEM 125 and 201 are required. The Major Field Test in Physics is to be taken in the spring semester of the senior year.
COMM 111 and ENGL 211 are recommended.
Minor (44 credits)
191, 200, 211, 320, 8 additional credits in upper-division courses, two semesters of 332 and two semesters of 370. A mathematics sequence that includes MATH 119, 120, 239, 337 should be taken concurrently with the first four physics courses.