Majors and Minors
In the study of physics, one strives toward the goal of an understanding of the physical behavior of the universe and the basic laws of nature. In guiding cadets toward this goal, we hope to accomplish two objectives:
- that our graduates have acquired the ability to think analytically and
- that they will have gained experience in the method of experimental investigation of physical phenomena.
The curriculum is designed to provide flexibility and technical breadth in physics, qualifying our graduates for a wide variety of technical careers. Physics majors take a number of mathematics courses to equip themselves with the tools necessary for applying physical principles.
Laboratory work, essential in scientific education, is emphasized. At the same time, the curriculum includes a liberal distribution of study outside of physics and mathematics in order to ensure a well-rounded education.
Facilities include research laboratories in thin films, computer interfacing, atomic force microscopy, nonlinear and molecular spectroscopy, laser physics, and astronomy. Additional facilities include a nuclear physics laboratory housing a low-energy particle accelerator and a well-equipped machine shop.
The department also operates an astronomical observatory featuring a research-quality 20-inch telescope with spectrograph, photometer, and electronic camera. A 5-inch photographic refractor telescope was added several years ago.
Faculty conduct research in:
- CCD photometry of variable stars (Cepheids)
- electronic imaging in astronomy
- laser spectroscopy
- laser physics and nonlinear fiber optics
- thin films and thin film devices
- and low-energy ion beam experiments using a Cockcroft-Walton particle accelerator.
The department sponsors a chapter of the Society of Physics Students as well as a chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honor society.