Within the physics major, there are 10 different emphases that a student can choose. The hands-on program includes faculty that work constantly with students.
The physics major has a low number of students so the faculty can work with them on a one-on-one basis.
“We actually have the students meet with their faculty mentor every semester before they register to make sure that they are going to take classes that make sense,” said Todd Lines, the Physics Department chair. “Physics is different from some majors because it is mental development, meeting with the faculty mentor will tell you to spread out the classes so there’s a balance of classes.”
Project-Based Learning, as part of physics classes, give projects for students to develop skills. Each professor leads a group that launches equipment into the stratosphere; higher than the average commercial aircraft.
“The classes require lots of math which can be difficult,” Lines said. “So good study skills are going to be important while they’re here. It’s rigorous and it’s fun, but you get to understand how the universe works.”
After graduation, physics students expect to either work or go off to graduate school. Graduate school is a paid job to either teach or do research.
“Look for research opportunities, get an internship as early as you can and pay attention to grad plan,” said Joseph Harris, a senior studying physics. “I ended up having to put a lot of my heavier classes all in the same semester, and it made it really hard.”
Harris also advices physics majors to use the drop-in lab available to students.
“One of my professors said to me one time ‘friends don’t let friends do physics alone,” Harris said.
“Expect to have a lot of hard work,” said Bryan Lewis, a mechanical engineering professor. “Being an engineer is difficult. The degree is challenging and the students solve difficult problems. The program really prepares them on how to survive in the industry as an engineer.”
A few different options for students wanting to study engineering include mechanical engineering, software engineering and electrical engineering. New engineering majors will take the course ME101, introduction to engineering and tech, to help the students understand their engineering options.
Tim Checketts, a senior studying mechanical engineering, said he wished he had known how interesting and exciting his major got from the beginning.
“I thought it was going to be a lot of tough math and while it is hard, you learn so much about how everything works,” Checketts said. “In school, I didn’t get straight A’s in my math classes and that worried me in the beginning, but now I realize that it is not the most important part anyway…You don’t have to be a genius, as long as you know how to work hard.”
According to the students who studied physics and engineering, working hard is just part of the major.