The individual who gets a degree in physics can apply the fundamental knowledge of physical processes (1) to the development of solutions for a variety of practical problems that occur in an industrial setting, (2) to the advancement of the frontiers of knowledge through research, and (3) to transmit to others our understanding of the laws of nature and the way of investigating them.
The field of physics is the foundation of many sciences and engineering disciplines. For example, the technological developments in the fields of mechanics, thermodynamics, acoustics, optics, electricity, and nuclear physics have resulted in separate disciplines, such as mechanical and aeronautics engineering, laser and applied optics, materials science, electrical engineering, and nuclear engineering. As advances open up new fields of study, the boundaries between engineering and physics fields blur; and we see more and more engineers and physicists working side by side on the same problems. Furthermore, physics graduates have a solid foundation upon which to build as their interests change, or as the job market changes.
Students who choose to major in physics have two options. The most commonly chosen is the B.S. in Engineering Physics. This option combines fundamental physics courses with such applied physics courses as: Rigid Body Mechanics, Strength of Materials, Materials Science, Fluid Mechanics, Heat Transfer, and Electronics. The B.S. in Engineering Physics is designed to prepare students for direct entry into the job market as an engineer or for entry to graduate work in physics or engineering. The second option is the B.S. Ed. in Natural Science. This program, administered by the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education, is designed to prepare high school science teachers. It includes a selection of courses in physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and professional education courses.
The success of any academic program is predicated on the quality of the students, the faculty, and the academic programs. We have been fortunate to attract a sufficient number of talented students to maintain a good balance of course offerings for our majors. Also, we have successfully recruited faculty who have received their doctorates from prestigious universities. The expertise of the faculty, coupled with the information we receive from our physics alumni, has allowed us to develop and maintain academic programs in physics that meet the needs of today's scientific world.
In addition to the general physics laboratory equipment, a variety of technical laboratory facilities are available for students' use: Gamma ray nuclear lab facilities with germanium and sodium-iodide detectors, a helium refrigeration system to do low temperature studies, such as superconductivity, an observatory which is equipped with a 14-inch telescope, several smaller telescopes, and various photometric and spectroscopic capabilities, an electronics lab, a high vacuum facility, laser and optics equipment and on-line computers to do automatic measurements and analysis of data. These facilities provide opportunities for the students to conduct undergraduate research under the supervision of faculty members in the department.
Students are encouraged to gain experience through work in the department as laboratory assistants and tutors. Application for such employment can be made in the office of the department. Career counseling is also available to physics students in the department.
A small number of scholarships are available through endowments in the SWOSU foundation for students who have significant financial need and have maintained a high grade point average. Applications for scholarships can be made in the office of the department.
The Physics faculty sponsors a chapter of the National Society of Physics Students, which is affiliated with the American Institute of Physics. The Southwestern chapter has been recognized many times as an outstanding chapter in the nation for its accomplishments and level of activity. This organization has also received many grants for research projects and for the promotion of physics. Students in the Engineering Physics program should become involved in these activities as early as possible in order to develop professionally and socially. The local student organization is the Physics and Engineering Club. Both local and national memberships are strongly encouraged.
Students receive many benefits from their involvement in physics activities. Our students have been quite successful after graduation. Many have attended graduate school in physics or engineering programs at prestigious universities across the nation. Others have taken employment with national laboratories, defense industries, and many major corporations. Still others have become high school teachers, physicians, optometrists, and military officers.