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Physics Class
Physics

Programs of Study

The Physics and Earth Science Department provides the opportunity to investigate and study those areas of physics essential for graduate work in physics, as well as a physics-related career in industry, government, or secondary education. In the physics curriculum, the emphasis is on theoretical developments and problem-solving at the appropriate level of mathematical sophistication; and on experimental investigation that stresses physical principles and that makes use of modern laboratory techniques and equipment.


 Physics | Engineering | Geology
General Science | Minors | Courses


What makes the physics major at Moravian College distinctive from other institutions?

Laboratory Experiences

Whereas programs at other institutions may incorporate all of their laboratory experiences into a single “Advanced Laboratory” course, our program offers a number of advanced lab experiences that are associated with specific courses. Through an experimentally oriented curriculum, students can acquire a number of valuable experimental skills – in fact, seven of our advanced course offerings have associated labs:

  • PHYS221 – Linear Electronics (two labs per week)
  • PHYS222 – Modern Physics
  • PHYS333 – Optics
  • PHYS334 – Thermal Physics
  • PHYS341 – Quantum Mechanics
  • PHYS345 – Electricity and Magnetism I
  • PHYS346 – Electricity and Magnetism II

Multiple co-requisite mathematics courses

Students will effectively complete a mathematics minor on their journey to the physics major. Having co-requisite courses means that students will see mathematical techniques right alongside practical applied uses. Such mathematics courses include:

  • MATH170 – Calculus I
  • MATH171 – Calculus II
  • MATH210 – Calculus III
  • MATH221 – Differential Equations
  • Any other mathematics elective

Use of technology and computers

Students work with computers in a number of different ways – through data acquisition using PASCO and Vernier equipment and software, data analysis using Graphical Analysis, lab report writing using MicroSoft Office and LaTeX, simulations using Electronics Workbench and MultiSym, modeling and programming using C++, V-Python, and Time-Space continuum, and numerical techniques using Maple.

Coursework

While the department has the standard complement of courses, we do offer a number of different courses that many other schools do not. For instance, we offer a full year of mechanics and electricity and magnetism as well as other elective courses (indicated below).

a. Required courses (B.S.)

  • PHYS111 – Introductory Physics I
  • PHYS112 – Introductory Physics II
  • PHYS222 – Modern Physics
  • PHYS331 – Mechanics I
  • PHYS341 – Quantum Mechanics
  • PHYS345 – Electricity and Magnetism I
  • PHYS346 – Electricity and Magnetism II

b. Electives

  • PHYS221– Linear Electronics
  • PHYS332 – Mechanics II
  • PHYS333 – Optics
  • PHYS334 – Thermal Physics
  • PHYS342 – Nuclear Physics
  • PHYS343 – Mathematical Physics I
  • PHYS344 – Solid State Physics
  • PHYS370 – Mathematical Physics II

Small, intimate program

One of the more attractive aspects of the department is its size – the department has a faculty of three full-time professors and typically graduates from two to six physics majors a year (the national average is approximately three majors graduating per year for all institutions). The department thus offers a small intimate program of study where personal attention and small classes are the norm. Because of the smallness of our program, faculty will interact with students on a daily basis and provide a sense of availability and attention that many large schools do not. Professors are also responsible for all laboratories – we do not relegate that responsibility to teaching assistants or graduate students. 

Successful graduate placements

In the past decade approximately 58% of our students have gone on to some form of continuing graduate education. Past graduates have gone on to not only graduate school in physics but also law school, medical school, and multiple areas of engineering and computer studies. In a study conducted by Franklin and Marshall College of the number of graduates going on to obtain a Ph.D. in physics between the years 1986 and 1995, Moravian College ranked 12th in the nation with 14 of our graduates during that time frame continuing on the obtain a Ph.D. in physics. In addition, over 90% of our recent graduates are currently employed in such fields as computing, engineering, medicine, law, and education.

Opportunities for student-faculty research

The department has a strong history of students performing independent research, either through the senior Honors program, or independent studies and SOAR. Indeed, on a student by student basis, the department has one of the higher ratios of students completing Honors (to total majors) among all departments at Moravian College. Research areas of department members include magnetic materials (Mossbauer spectroscopy and magneto-optic Kerr effect), thin films, fluids, disordered systems, seismology, and Raman spectroscopy. In addition, the department has a strong record of placing students in REUs at other institutions during the summer term. Faculty have collaborated on projects with other institutions such as Iowa State University and Cardiff University (in Wales).

Student research labs

As upperclassmen, our majors are assigned to a student research lab that they can use as their own personal office, and granted access to all of the labs. Students feel very connected to the environment within the department and spend time in the labs doing science and performing research, developing an “esprit de corps” with their brethren physics majors. With access comes a measure of responsibility and the use of proper lab safety practices as well.

Strong student club organization

The “esprit de corps” is further strengthened through our student organization, the Society of Physics Students (SPS). Among their many activities, the physics club provides peer tutoring, sponsors several “pizza lectures” during the semester, and runs field trips. The club won the Marsh White outstanding chapter award from the national organization in 2003. The Moravian College chapter is also one of the longest operating Society of Physics Students organizations in the state (and nation) among liberal arts schools.

Outreach

In addition to their other activities, the club also visits local schools throughout the school year to perform demonstrations and activities for elementary and middle school science classes. Along with the chemistry department we have also participated in an equipment loan program where we have taken computer controlled optical spectrometers (from Ocean Optics) to local science classes for their use for up to two weeks at a time.

Facilities and equipment

The department occupies the ground floor of the Collier Hall of Science and has three teaching labs, five research labs, a student lounge, a machine shop, and an instrument lab.

Academic options

The department offers multiple degrees depending on the interests of the student – both the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees are offered by the department - in addition to interdepartmental majors. Significant cooperative and dual degree programs are also available with other institutions – the department has engineering dual degree programs with Lehigh University’s Department of Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering and Department of Material Science and Engineering through which students can earn a B.S. from Moravian College and an M.S. in engineering from Lehigh University. The department also has a dual degree program with Washington University in St. Louis through seven different engineering programs by which the student will obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree from Moravian College and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree from Washington University. In addition, the department also offers a cooperative geology major administered through Lehigh University’s geology department.