Why study Physics at Westminster College?
Physics is the fundamental natural science because it describes how the universe works in terms of its most fundamental physical entities and processes. The Department of Physics at Westminster College offers a major and minor program in physics and a minor program in pre-engineering. Because of the extensive mathematics requirement of the physics major, many elect a second major or minor in mathematics.
The department has found that students learn better in an interactive, cooperative setting that helps reduce the anxiety many have about science in general and physics in particular. Students, in all physics courses, are members of a group to conduct experiments, answer questions posed in class, take group quizzes, give presentations, and do other activities that require cooperation and good communication.
In addition, physics majors have the opportunity to participate in Westminster's Dual Degree Engineering Program through which they would earn a Bachelor of Arts in Physics from Westminster and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Washington University or Missouri University of Science and Technology. In this program, students attend Westminster for 3 years and the engineering institution for approximately 2 years, thus earning two degrees in as few as five years! See http://www.westminster-mo.edu/academics/prepro/Pages/Dual-CreditEngineering.aspx for more information.
Upper level students in physics apply the calculus and complex numbers to phenomena in classical and quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, and modern physics. They also learn to procure, graph, and analyze experimental data with a computer, follow proper lab procedures, and write a report in an acceptable format.
At your disposal, you will have the new, state-of-the-art Walter H. Coulter Science Center with many impressive facilities. Also the professors at Westminster are extremely accessible and friendly. They are dedicated to making sure that you will be a very capable physicist upon graduation.
Cool Classes and Research Opportunities
You will be able to demonstrate advanced knowledge of classical and quantum mechanics as well as electrodynamics. You will become proficient using vector calculus, at solving differential equations, and at constructing proofs to theorems. You will also conduct independent research programs, which will likely be interdisciplinary.
In the recent past, for example, several students have experimented with color vision in humans, in a project that involved Westminster faculty members from computer science, mathematics, and psychology as well as physics. Others have performed measurements with a research Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer in an ongoing project to determine the optical properties of the constituents in planetary atmospheres.
For the past several years, students have presented a poster at the American Physical Society's April Meeting. In April 2011 students traveled to Anaheim, California and in April 2012 they traveled to Atlanta, Georgia. They were able to attend talks and make connections with the best and brightest physicists around the country. In addition, our students, in competition with students from Ivy League schools, won The Best Undergraduate Poster Award at the 2011 meeting!
In addition, many physics students participate in off-campus summer research internship programs at institutions such as the University of Minnesota, Vanderbilt University, the University of Tennessee, Brigham Young University, Washington University, University of Utah, and the Research Reactor Facility at the University of Missouri.
Upon graduation you will be prepared to go to graduate school in physics or an allied field. You will also be ready to train as an engineer or start in a technical field. About 80% of our physics graduates go to graduate, professional, or engineering schools.
In the past 20 years, Westminster physics graduates have entered graduate programs at Harvard University, Purdue University, Washington University, Tufts University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Illinois, William and Mary University, the University of Arizona, University of Missouri--Columbia, Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Oklahoma.
While many physics graduates eventually have careers in a technical field, some pursue employment in other areas. After two successful careers, first as an electrical engineer and then as a Certified Public Accountant, a 1985 Westminster physics graduate went to law school and is now a patent attorney working in Washington, D.C.
Name: Laura Stumpe
Position: Assistant Professor of Physics
Office: Room 313, Coulter Science Center