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Physics

Course Descriptions

Physics Courses


PHY 141 Foundations Physics I (SD) (4.00 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. Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

PHY 142 Foundations Physics II (4.00 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 Physics I (SD) (4.00 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. Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

PHY 152 Principles Physics II (4.00 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 221 Electronics (4.00 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 on a rotating basis.

PHY 241 Nonlinear Dynamics (4.00 SH). In most physics classes, the meat of the course is in developing general laws (e.g. Newton’s laws) and then applying them to a physical process (e.g. a block sliding down an inclined plane) to create a mathematical model of that process. With these models, a bit of mathematical machinery, and a set of initial conditions, one can set out to predict the future. This is a different kind of class. The situations a student will analyze in this course are often not predictable even in principle. Here the student will frequently take the mathematical model as a given. The task is to develop tools to understand the kinds of behavior that are possible in that model, the kinds of behavior that are typical of that model, and how these various kinds of behavior relate to each other. This shift in approach is a necessary one when moving from linear to nonlinear systems. Prerequisite: PHY 152. Offered on a rotating basis.

PHY 251 Particle Dynamics (4.00 SH).

PHY 252 Mechanics Of Systems (4.00 SH).

PHY 311 Thermal Physics (4.00 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 (4.00 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 Experimental Physics I (2.00 SH). Experiments from many fields such as optics, nuclear, and atomic physics. Fundamental experimental techniques will be introduced. Computer automation methods are emphasized. Prerequisite: PHY 152. Offered Fall/Spring semesters, alternate years.

PHY 322 Experimental Physics II (2.00 SH). Experiments from many fields such as optics, nuclear, and atomic physics. Fundamental experimental techniques will be introduced. Computer automation methods are emphasized. Prerequisite: PHY 152. Offered Fall/Spring semesters, alternate years.

PHY 331 Computational Physics I (2.00 SH). This course will stress the application of mathematics to physical processes. The emphasis will be on analytical approaches to problem solving. The topics discussed include: series expansions, complex numbers, linear algebra, partial derivatives, multiple integrals, vector analysis, Fourier series, ordinary differential equations, partial differential equations, special functions, and probability. Prerequisite: PHY 152; Co-requisite: MTH 250. Offered Fall Semester, alternate years.

PHY 332 Computational Physics II (2.00 SH). As not every problem of interest can be solved analytically, Computational Physics 2 will stress a numerical approach to analyzing physical processes. The topics discussed in this course include translating analytical expressions into expressions that can be calculated by a computer, representing the data from numerical calculations in meaningful ways, finding numerical solutions to physically relevant ordinary differential equations (ODEs) and partial differential equations (PDEs), and simulating random processes. Prerequisite: PHY 331. Offered Spring Semester, alternate years.

PHY 351 Mechanics (4.00 SH). Physics 151 provided students an introduction to mechanics using the formalism of either Newton’s laws or one of the conservation laws (momentum and energy). This course will deepen the sophistication with which students approach mechanics. Some of this will come from learning to apply mathematical tools such as series expansion, vector calculus, differential equations, symbolic solvers, and numerical integration while solving problems. This sophistication will also come from analyzing motion when an observer’s frame of reference is accelerating (non-inertial reference frames) and the motion of rotating objects. A student in this course will master an entirely different formulation of mechanics, one that will generalize into the framework for understanding quantum mechanics (Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics). Prerequisite: PHY 152; Co-requisite: MTH 250. Offered Spring Semester, alternate years.

PHY 352 Electromagnetic Theory (4.00 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 (4.00 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 (4.00 SH). Astrophysics is an all-purpose overview of astronomy and cosmology at a quantitative level accessible to the junior or senior undergraduate science major. The student will be introduced to advanced topics at the forefront of current research. This may include extrasolar planets and low-mass stars, the interstellar medium, galactic evolution, gravitational waves, and the expansion of the universe. In preparation for these advanced topics, introductory and intermediate astrophysical foundations will also be established. This may include the study of celestial coordinate systems, planetary mechanics and geology, radiative processes, stellar structure and evolution, and general relativity. Prerequisites: PHY 142 or PHY 152; MTH 152; and junior or senior standing. Offered Fall Semester, alternate years.

PHY 601 Physics Capstone I (2.00 SH). A study of selected topics or problems that require the integration of previous physics and related experiences. The seminar will involve individual and/or group 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 (2.00 SH). A focused student project which has been approved by the physics faculty. The project culminates in written and oral presentations. Offered Spring Semester.

 

Supporting Courses


AST 402 Astrophysics (4.00 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.

BIO 201 Cell Biology & Genetics (SD) (4.00 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. Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

BIO 202 Found II:Evolution,Form&Func (SD) (4.00 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 (SD) (4.00 SH). A course 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. Meets Scientific Discovery Intellectual Perspective requirement (SD).

CHE 180 Inorganic Chemistry (4.00 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 (4.00 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 Sci I (QR) (4.00 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. (Offered Fall semester.)

CS 152 Principles of Computer Science II (4.00 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. (Offered Spring semester.)

ES 230 Chemical Analysis (4.00 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 or MTH 150 or BIO 206 (may be co-requisite). (Also listed as CHE 230.)

MSE 211 Statics & Mechanics of Materials (4.00 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,

MSE 221 Prin of Electrical Engineering (4.00 SH).

MSE 231 Science & Engineering of Materials (4.00 SH).

MSE 241 Semiconductor Physics (4.00 SH). An introduction to the fundamentals of solid state physics as applied to semiconductor materials and devices.

MTH 152 Calculus II (QR) (4.00 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: C- or better in MTH 150 or the permission of the instructor. (Offered every semester.) Meets Quantitative Reasoning Intellectual Perspective requirement (QR).

MTH 250 Calculus III (QR) (4.00 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: C- or better in MTH 152. (Offered Fall semester.) Meets Quantitative Reasoning Intellectual Perspective requirement (QR).

MTH 253 Differential Equations (4.00 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: C- or better in MTH 250. (Offered Spring semester, odd years.)

MTH 261 Linear Algebra (4.00 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: C- or better inMTH 250. (Offered Spring semester.)

MTH 321 Numerical Analysis (4.00 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. (Offered on demand.)

 

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.