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Physics

Course Descriptions

Physics Courses:

PHY 101 Physical Science (4 SH). A study of the basic phenomena and science concepts of the physical world. The course makes use of an integrated lab-lecture period and relies on observation, reasoning, and an activity-based approach to understanding ideas and solving problems. Topics studied include motion, heat, electricity, magnetism, light, optics, and materials science.

PHY 141 Foundations of Physics I (4 SH). The first semester of an introductory study of physics (mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, light and modern physics) without calculus. Basic principles used in both semesters are introduced in the first semester. Some emphasis will be given to applications of physics to biological systems. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: a good background in high school mathematics including algebra and trigonometry. Offered Fall Semester.

PHY 142 Foundations of Physics II (4 SH). The second semester of an introductory study of physics (mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, light and modern physics) without calculus. Some emphasis will be given to applications of physics to biological systems. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PHY 141 or PHY 151. Offered Spring Semester.

PHY 151 Principles of Physics I (4 SH). The first semester of an introductory study of physics (mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, light and modern physics). Basic principles used in both semesters are introduced in the first semester. Some basic concepts of calculus may be introduced as needed. A laboratory is included. Co-requisite: MTH 150 or higher. Offered Fall Semester.

PHY 152 Principles of Physics II (4 SH). The second semester of an introductory study of physics (mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, waves, light and modern physics). Calculus methods will be used. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PHY 151; Co-requisite: MTH 152 or higher. Offered Spring Semester.

PHY 311 Thermal Physics (4 SH). A study of the behavior of systems containing large numbers of particles. The course emphasizes the analysis of model systems using statistical mechanics. From that analysis, the thermodynamic behavior of real systems can be understood. Prerequisite: PHY 152; Co-requisite: MTH 250. Offered Fall Semester, alternate years.

PHY 313 Modern Physics (4 SH). Modern Physics offers a broad introduction to the major developments in physics in the 20th century. Topics covered include special relativity, wave- particle duality, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, solid state physics, nuclear physics, elementary particle physics, and other specialized topics. Prerequisite: PHY 152. Offered Fall Semester, alternate years.

PHY 321, 322 Experiments in Physics I, II (2 SH each). An introduction to experimental design and planning, data analysis, and presentation of experimental research results.  Each course includes a semester-long individual research project completed collaboratively with the instructor. Prerequisite: PHY 152. Offered Fall/Spring semesters, alternate years.

PHY 331 Computational Physics I (2 SH). An introduction to the use of numerical methods in the analysis of data and the solving of problems in physical science.  Topics covered include least-squares curve fitting, numerical integration of linked systems of differential equations, and function estimation.  Builds on and extends the programming and visualization knowledge introduced in PHY 151 and PHY 152.  Prerequisite: PHY 152; Co-requisite: MTH 250. Offered Fall Semester, alternate years.

PHY 332 Computational Physics II (2 SH).  Further study in the use of numerical analysis for physics.  Topics covered include matrix methods, numerical solutions of partial differential equations, and data modelling through Monte Carlo methods, as well as further development of programming knowledge and software design for numerical codes.  Prerequisite: PHY 331. Offered Spring Semester, alternate years.

PHY 351 Mechanics (4 SH). An analysis of the motion of individual particles and groups of particles, with an emphasis on the behavior of oscillating systems of particles.  In addition to the Newtonian mechanics principles studied in introductory courses, students will learn to use Lagrangian and Hamiltonian approaches to analyzing motion.  Prerequisite: PHY 152; Co-requisite: MTH 250. Offered Spring Semester, alternate years.

PHY 352 Electromagnetic Theory (4 SH). A study of the foundations of classical electromagnetic theory, including electric and magnetic fields, potential theory, Maxwell’s equations, and electromagnetic waves. Vector methods are used extensively. Prerequisites: PHY 152, MTH 250. Offered Spring Semester, alternate years.

PHY 401 Quantum Mechanics (4 SH). The theory of quantum mechanics is discussed and studied in detail. Applications are made primarily to atomic structure. Prerequisite: PHY 313. Offered Fall Semester, alternate years.

PHY 402 Astrophysics (4 SH). Astrophysics provides a quantitative overview of the physical processes in astronomy and cosmology at a level accessible to the junior or senior undergraduate science major. The student will be introduced to advanced topics at the forefront of current research, while also building a foundation based on the traditional methods and models of astrophysics. Topics covered may include planetary processes, stellar evolution, and the structure of the universe.   Prerequisites: PHY 142 or PHY 152; MTH 152; and junior or senior standing. Offered Fall Semester, alternate years.

PHY 590-594 Field Experience/Internship (1-4 SH).

PHY 601 Physics Capstone I (2 SH). A study of selected topics or problems that require the integration of previous physics and related experiences. The seminar will involve individual and/orgroup work culminating in an appropriate presentation. Additionally, each student will do preliminary background research to develop a proposal for his/her senior capstone project. Offered Fall Semester.

PHY 602 Physics Capstone II (2 SH). A focused student project which has been approved by the physics faculty. The project culminates in written and oral presentations. Offered Spring Semester.

PHY 610, 611 Advanced Topics (4 SH). Interests of students are considered in selecting particular topics. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Offered on demand.

PHY 620-624 Independent Study (1-4 SH).

PHY 660, 670, 680, 690 Honors Project (1-4 SH).

Supporting Courses:

BIO 201 Cell Biology and Genetics (4 SH). This course serves as an introduction for students who have chosen biology or molecular biology as a major or minor. A combination of lectures, laboratory exercises, and assignments will introduce students to ways of observing and thinking about fundamental concepts and processes in the following areas of biology—biochemistry, cell structure and function, metabolism, genetics, and biotechnology. Various resources will be utilized to reinforce biological concepts, learn new laboratory skills, and improve critical thinking skills. Multiple sections offered every Fall Semester; one section offered every Spring Semester.

BIO 202 Evolution, Form and Function (4 SH). BIO 202 is the second in a series of three foundational courses in biology, designed to serve as an introduction for students who are taking a biology or molecular biology major or minor. Using explorative lectures coupled with investigative laboratories, BIO 202 will focus on evolution, the structure and physiology of plants and animals, and animal development. Concepts and practices of experimental design, data analysis, and interpretation of results will be reinforced and extended through integrated laboratory activities. Prerequisite: completion of BIO 201. Offered Spring Semester.

CHE 117 Principles of Chemistry (4 SH). Acourse emphasizing stoichiometry, chemical equilibria, acids and bases, chemical kinetics, thermodynamics, electrochemistry, nuclear phenomena, and interactions of science and society. In the laboratory program students will investigate chemical systems, analyze observations and data, devise explanations, and communicate results. Prerequisites: High school chemistry and an acceptable score on a placement test or completion of CHE 111 or ES 160 with a grade of C- or better. Offered Fall and Spring semesters.

CHE 180 Inorganic Chemistry (4 SH). A study of the energetics of the bonding and reactions of inorganic compounds. Emphasis is given to the periodicity of the chemical and physical properties of the elements. Major themes of the course include effective nuclear charge, lattice energy, charge density, acid/base theories, and the descriptive chemistry of all of the elements. The laboratory includes the investigation of the energetics of reactions, the synthesis and analysis of coordination compounds, qualitative chemistry, and the communication of results. Prerequisite: CHE 117 with a grade of C- or better. Offered Fall and Spring semesters.

CHE 230 Chemical Analysis (4 SH). A study of the theoretical foundation and skills necessary for the solution of problems encountered in the area of quantitative chemical analysis, including classical and modern methods. Emphasis is given to the evaluation and presentation of data, sampling, equilibrium dynamics of analytically important reactions, experimental design, volumetric techniques, absorption and emission spectroscopy, electrochemical methods, and analytical separations. Examples and laboratory exercises will include environmental air, soil and water systems. Prerequisites: CHE 117, and MTH 135, MTH 150 or BIO 206 (may be co-requisite) with grades of C- or better. Offered Fall and Spring semesters. (Also listed as ES 230.)

CS 151 Principles of Computer Science I (4 SH). A broad introduction to the discipline of computer science, with attention given to many components of the field. Topics include an examination of subfields of computer science, computer representation of data, an introduction to hardware structure, and fundamentals of programming languages. Special emphasis is given to techniques for problem solving and algorithm development, designing and implementing computer programs, and software analysis and verification methods. Prerequisite: prior programming experience recommended.

CS 152 Principles of Computer Science II (4 SH). A continuation of the study of the discipline of computer science. This course includes an introduction to data structures, simulation, and scientific uses of computing. Programming for searching and sorting data is covered, as well as an introduction to recursion. Prerequisite: CS 151.

MSE 211 Statics and Mechanics of Materials (4 SH). A study of rigid and deformable bodies in static equilibrium, considering both the external forces that lead to the state of static equilibrium and the internal forces responsible for the deformations of solid bodies. Prerequisite: PHY 151. Co-requisite: MTH 152. Offered Fall Semester, alternate years.

MSE 221 Principles of Electrical Engineering (4 SH). An introductory course covering basic principles and applications of electrical engineering. Topics covered include steady-state and transient analysis of electrical networks, frequency response, op-amps, diodes, and transistors. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PHY 152. Offered Fall Semester, alternate years.

MSE 231 Science and Engineering of Materials (4 SH). A survey of fundamental concepts and approaches in the study of materials, dealing with atomic structure, mechanical properties, and thermodynamics of materials, along with analysis of specific categories of materials.  Prerequisite: PHY 151 OR CHE 117. Offered Spring Semester, alternate years.

MSE 241 Semiconductor Physics (4 SH). An introduction to the fundamentals of solid state physics as applied to semiconductor materials and devices.  Prerequisites: PHY 152, MTH 152. Offered Spring Semester, alternate years.

MSE 320 Solid State Chemistry (4 SH). MSE 320 is a detailed study of the chemistry of solid state materials. In particular, this course will reinforce the concepts of crystal lattices, packing in solids, and bonding in solids. The course will also introduce the concepts of synthesis and characterization of solid materials; the electronic, magnetic, and optical properties of solids; defects and nonstoichiometry in solids; mesoporous, microporous, and nanostructured solids; and superconductivity. A research project involving the synthesis and characterization of solids materials will also be part of this course. Prerequisite: CHE 180 and MSE 231, both with a grade of C- or better. Offered Spring Semester, alternate years.

MSE 360 Polymer Chemistry (4 SH). Synthetic polymers can be found in nearly every facet of human life.  The applications of organic polymers have extended from clothing to construction materials and from biomedical devices to drug delivery systems.  As a result nearly 50% of all chemists will work in polymer science in some capacity over their career.  This course will educate students on multiple aspects of polymer chemistry from molecular structures to macromolecular properties to bulk applications.  Focus of this course will be on nomenclature, procedures for polymer synthesis, and methods of polymer characterization.  This course will also discuss polymer processing and current applications of polymeric materials. A weekly three-hour lab is included. Prerequisite: CHE 262 or MSE 231 with a grade of C- or better. Offered Fall Semester, alternate years. (Also listed as CHE 360.)

MTH 152 Calculus II (4 SH). This course will focus on the fundamentals of integral calculus, including techniques and applications of integration. Other topics include infinite series and introductory topics from differential equations. Prerequisite: MTH 150.

MTH 250 Calculus III (4 SH). An introduction to the calculus of several variables. Topics include the geometry of three-dimensional space, partial derivatives, multiple integrals, and vector calculus. Prerequisite: MTH 152.

MTH 253 Differential Equations (4 SH). The study of differential equations and their applications in the natural sciences. Topics include linear differential equations, series solutions, Laplace transformations, systems of equations, an introduction to partial differential equations, boundary value problems and application of differential equations. Prerequisite: MTH 250.

MTH 261 Linear Algebra (4 SH). An introduction to matrix algebra and general vector spaces. Topics include systems of linear equations, matrix operations and properties, determinants, vector spaces and subspaces, linear transformations, linear independence and span, bases, coordinate systems, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, inner product spaces, and orthogonality. Prerequisite: MTH 250.

MTH 321 Numerical Analysis (4 SH). This course explores the development of methods to approximate the solutions to differential equations, zeros of functions, solutions to linear systems of equations, as well as analysis of errors involved in using these methods. Prerequisites : MTH 250 and CS 151.

 

What can you do with a Physics degree?

Imagine yourself a physicist, engineer, materials scientist, geologist, medical physicist, climatologist, data analyst, computer programmer, laboratory inspector, science writer, teacher, consultant, and more.