Physics

Professor William Harris (Chair);

Associate Professors David Bowman (Coordinator) and Jonathan Dickinson

Contact the Department

Department of Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science
Georgetown College
400 East College Street
Georgetown, KY 40324

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Physics is the study of the physical universe. In physics, students learn to solve theoretical and practical problems using fundamental principles and to effectively communicate those solutions. This study provides preparation for graduate studies in engineering and other physical sciences and professional schools, as well as preparation for positions in industry.

 

The various disciplines represented within the Department of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science are united by their reliance upon:

  • methods for discovering and demonstrating patterns, and for constructing structures that exhibit, unify and illuminate these patterns;
  • application of these structures to model a wide variety of phenomena in mathematics and the sciences;
  • precise language as a means to express patterns and describe structures.

 

Accordingly, graduates of the Math/Physics/Computer Science department will:

  • demonstrate knowledge of basic content appropriate to the chosen major;
  • communicate precisely and effectively on quantitative matters;
  • perform basic modeling and interpret the results in terms of the phenomena being modeled;
  • read quantitative material, interpret correctly what has been read, and apply it correctly.

 

Major

(B.S. degree) Fifty-one hours required. Thirty-two semester hours of physics including PHY 211, 212, 241, 319, and 343. The remaining fifteen hours of physics courses must be numbered 300 and above. The allied courses required are MAT 125, 225, and 325, and no less than ten hours to be chosen from the following courses: MAT 310 and 345; CHE 111, 112, and 113; CSC 115 and 312.

 

Minor

Twenty semester hours required in Physics including PHY 211, 212, 241; and nine hours of 300 or 400 level course work in Physics.

 

A prerequisite must be taken before the course; a co-requisite may be taken before or concurrently with a course.

 

103. Astronomy. (3 hours) Covers the earth, moon, planets, sun, stars, galaxy, universe; occasional use of the planetarium. No laboratory.                                                                                                                                         Fall

 

105. Integrated Science in Context: Sustainable Energy. (4 hours) An introduction to the physical sciences through an examination of sustainable energy. The course is primarily for non-science majors and pre-service elementary and

 

middle school teachers. Mathematics requirements will be kept to a minimum. Laboratory.             Spring

 

206. Elementary Meteorology. (3 hours) Introduction to atmospheric structure and behavior including cloud structure and precipitation as well as the effects of pressure, density, temperature, and humidity differences on energy transport and atmospheric motions.  Climate, weather forecasting, air pollution, and other applications will be covered.  No laboratory.  Spring

 

208. Science Careers Seminar. (2 hours) An interdisciplinary seminar in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines that will introduce students interested in scientific research to an array of professions and professionals in these fields. This introduction will emphasize comprehension and analysis of published scientific research and provide students with the opportunity to meet the science professional who produced the work. Prerequisites: One science or mathematics course for majors, sophomore or junior standing, and approval of the instructor.                                                                 Fall

 

211-212. College Physics I and II. (4 hours each) Introductory course for college students. First term: mechanics, heat, thermodynamics, sound, and waves. Second term: electricity, magnetism, optics, modern physics. Laboratory. Prerequisite: MAT 107 or equivalent background.                                                                                              Fall and Spring

 

241. Engineering Physics. (3 hours) Supplements Physics 211-212. Selected topics in mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism, optics, and modern physics with the application of calculus in physics. Prerequisites: PHY 211, MAT 125 and 225. Co-requisite: PHY 212.                                                                                                                                         Fall

 

260. Engineering Preceptorship. (1 hour) On site supervised experience in the engineering sciences, observing and working with practicing engineers in the field. Pass/fail grading.                                                        As needed

 

301. Electronics. (3 hours) A.C. circuits; D.C. circuits; basic devices; basic instruments. Laboratory. Prerequisites: PHY 211, 212 or approval of instructor.                                                                                                                                        Odd Springs

 

313. Thermal Physics. (3 hours) Basic principles of thermal and statistical physics; laws of thermodynamics; equilibrium and irreversibility; cyclic processes; ensembles; thermodynamic potentials; canonical distribution; equipartition theorem; Maxwell distribution; phase changes; applications. Prerequisites: PHY 212 and 241. Co-requisite: MAT 325.     Fall

 

317. Statics. (3 hours) Application of the conditions of equilibrium to two and three dimensional systems; trusses, frames and beams; friction; shear and bending moment diagrams; centroids, centers of gravity, area and mass moments of inertia, vectors. Prerequisites: PHY 211 and MAT 225.                                                                                                       Fall

 

319. Dynamics. (3 hours) Kinematics and kinetics of particles and rigid bodies; work-energy method; impulse and momentum; harmonic motion; two body problem. Prerequisite: PHY 241 or 317.                             Spring

 

343. Relativity and Modern Physics. (3 hours) Special relativity, introduction to general relativity, introduction to quantum physics, hydrogen atom and complex atoms, atomic spectra, topics in nuclear and solid-state physics. Prerequisites: PHY 211 and 212; PHY 241.                                                                                                                                         Fall

 

401. Advanced Experimental Physics. (3 hours) Selected experiments in mechanics, heat, physical optics, electricity and magnetism, solid state, atomic and nuclear physics, and lasers. Prerequisites: PHY 211 and 212. Even Springs

 

405. Electricity and Magnetism. (3 hours) Theory of the behavior of electric and magnetic fields and their sources including Maxwell’s equations. Prerequisite: PHY241. Co-requisites: MAT325 and MAT345.        Fall

 

440. Independent Study. (1, 2, or 3 hours)                                                  As needed

 

450. Seminar. (1 hour) May be taken as many as three times. One formal presentation of current interest must be completed. Visiting scientists will constitute a portion of this course.                                        As needed

 

471. Topics in Classical Physics. (1, 2, or 3 hours)                                   As needed

 

473. Topics in Modern Physics. (1, 2, or 3 hours)                                     As needed

Click to See Career Options

 

AREA EMPLOYERS STRATEGIES

ASTRONOMY

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Writing
  • Colleges and universities
  • Observatories
  • Planetariums
  • Science museums
  • Nonprofit foundations
  • Industry e.g., aerospace, scientific supply, mass media
  • Federal government: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, U.S. Naval Observatory, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
Acquire excellent verbal and written communication skills. Get involved in a research project. Develop a specialty area of expertise and experience.

ACOUSTICAL PHYSICS

  • Basic and Applied Research
  • Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Testing
  • Colleges and universities
  • Government laboratories
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Industry e.g., electronics, building design, medical instrumentation, communications, engineering, noise pollution, sound recording, film production
Supplement program with courses in psychology, physiology, communications, political science, and sociology. Obtain a graduate degree in physics for opportunities in industry. Maintain an interest in music, the arts and humanities.

ASTROPHYSICS

  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Research
  • Design
  • Astronautics
  • Government laboratories
  • Research centers
  • Airports
  • Colleges and universities
  • Commercial industry
  • Space industry
  • National Aeronautics and
  • Space Administration
  • Observatories
  • Planetariums
  • Military
Obtain experience through part-time or voluntary position in a planetarium, observatory or science museum. Complete an internship with a research organization or related industry. Participate in research with scholars in the field. Contact the American Astronomical Society for more information.

BIOPHYSICS

  • Basic and Applied Research
  • Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Colleges and universities
  • Government laboratories
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Industry e.g., biotechnology, environment, pharmaceuticals
  • Hospitals
Acquire information about state licensure required for various types of technicians working in medical settings. Gain experience as a laboratory assistant or hospital orderly. Volunteer at a hospital or clinic.

FLUID AND PLASMA PHYSICS

  • Basic and Applied Research
  • Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Colleges and universities
  • Government laboratories
  • Government agencies
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Industry e.g., automobile, jet engine, space vehicle design, controlled fusion device design
Obtain a graduate degree (master’s or doctorate) for opportunities in industry or research.

GEOPHYSICS

  • Basic and Applied Research Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Exploration
  • Colleges and universities
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Federal government e.g., Coast and Geological Survey, U.S. Geological Survey, Army Map Service, Naval Oceanographic Office
    Industry e.g., petroleum, mining, exploration
  • Consulting firms
Specialize in geophysics or minor in geology. Develop good background in mathematics, chemistry, engineering, and physics. Maintain good physical condition.

HEALTH PHYSICS

  • Basic and Applied Research Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Monitoring/Inspection
  • Colleges and universities
  • Government laboratories
  • Government agencies e.g., Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Public Health Service
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Industry e.g., health physics instrumentation, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, radioisotope products, nuclear accelerators, nuclear reactors
  • Environmental firms
  • Hospitals
Earn a Ph.D. and certification by the American Board of Health Physics (ABHP) for top university teaching, research and administrative positions. Complete a master’s degree and certification by the ABHP for professional health physicists’ positions. Specialize in health physics and obtain technician certification from the National Registry of Radiation Protection. Acquire knowledge of government standards and regulations.

MEDICAL PHYSICS

  • Basic and Applied Research Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Colleges and universities
  • Medical schools
  • Hospitals
  • Industry e.g., medical instrumentation
  • Government laboratories
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Government agencies
Gain experience working in a hospital. Develop a research specialty in a medical or health related area.

NUCLEAR PHYSICS

  • Basic and Applied Research Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Law
  • Quality Control
  • Operations and Maintenance
  • Colleges and universities
  • Military
  • Industry e.g., nuclear weapons, nuclear accelerators, nuclear reactors, nuclear instrumentation, radioisotope products
  • Government laboratories and research centers
  • Government agencies e.g., Department of Defense, Department of Energy
A master’s degree is preferred for positions in industry. Develop excellent laboratory skills. Acquire a strong mathematics and chemistry background.

OPTICAL PHYSICS

  • Basic and Applied Research Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Colleges and universities
  • Government laboratories
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Industry e.g., medical scanners, eyeglasses, binoculars, microscopes, lasers, holography, display technologies, x-ray, ultraviolet spectra, fiber optics
  • Federal agencies e.g., NASA, Department of Energy, Department of Defense
Obtain a master’s degree for positions in industry. Supplement program with courses in electricity, magnetism, quantum mechanics, and electronics. Get involved in an independent optics project during senior year.

SCIENCE EDUCATION

  • Teaching
  • Computer Software Development
  • Educational Research
  • Writing and Editing
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Public school systems, K-12
  • Private schools, K-12
  • Publishing companies: books, magazines, videos
  • Software developers
  • Libraries
Gain experience working with young people through volunteering and tutoring. Work with after school programs and summer camps. Acquire appropriate state teacher certification for K-12 teaching opportunities. Visit schools and observe classrooms. Create a portfolio of science experiments and activities. Become skilled in the use of computers. Earn a graduate degree in information science.

TECHNICAL

  • Engineering (Process and Testing)
  • Quality Control
  • Industrial Hygiene
  • Design Development
  • Technical Writing
  • Computer Technology
  • Research
  • Research and development firms
  • Mining and petroleum companies
  • Hospitals
  • Engineering firms
  • Professional and technical journals
  • Government laboratories
  • Manufacturing and processing firms
  • Atomic and nuclear labs
  • Government agencies e.g., Department of Commerce, Department of Defense
  • Television and radio stations
  • Weather bureaus
Gain experience through internships or co-ops. Complete applicable certification or licensure through professional organizations. Gain knowledge about the field through informational interviews with professionals. Develop work habits that are systematic, precise, and patient. Develop a strong computer background. Gain experience using scientific instruments and equipment. Pursue a graduate degree in engineering.

SOLID STATE PHYSICS

  • Basic and Applied Research Development
  • Consulting
  • Teaching
  • Administration
  • Government laboratories
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Colleges and universities
  • Electronics industry e.g., communications, automobile, computer, navigation/guidance systems
  • Government agencies e.g., National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of Defense
Obtain experience working with electronics and computers. Request applicable job listings from the American Institute of Physics.

General Information

  • A bachelor’s degree will qualify for positions as research assistants, high level technicians, or computer specialists, as well as nontechnical work in publishing or sales.
  • An undergraduate degree also provides a solid background for pursuing advanced degrees in other employment areas such as law, business, accounting, or medicine.
  • Be aware that expertise and experience in a specialty area are usually required for employment opportunities directly related to physics.
  • A graduate degree and post-graduate experience will allow for more responsibility and advancement in the field of physics.
  • An earned doctorate is required for college or university teaching, advanced research, and administrative positions.
  • Some industries such as the manufacturers of electrical devices will train in the specialty of the firm.
  • A bachelor’s degree and state teacher certification are required for K-12 teaching opportunities.
  • Visit government laboratories or research centers. Talk with a physicist about his/her profession and career path.
  • Join relevant professional associations. Attend their meetings and read their publications.
  • Acquire excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Gain experience with tools, electronics, and machinery.
  • Become familiar with government job application process for positions in federal, state, or local government.

Helpful Links

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
(2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA /ADEA Employer



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