Physics and pre-engineering
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The physics department prepares responsible physicists, engineers and teachers for academic, research and industrial positions. Student involvement in active research within the department fosters an understanding of the philosophical and structural concepts of physics as well as an ability to apply the science itself. The department consciously promotes an active participation in the wider scientific and engineering communities. Visit the physics department Web site at www.goshen.edu/physics.
A major in physics is offered with two tracks, standard and biophysics. The department also offers a 3-2 pre-engineering program described below. Certification for secondary education in physics or physical sciences
Career and postgraduate opportunities
Upon graduation, the physics major is prepared for graduate study in physics or engineering. Other possibilities include science secondary education or the combination of a physics baccalaureate degree with a master’s degree in business administration, as background for a management career in technology and engineering industries. Study of physics also provides the training and experience for careers in biophysics, neurosciences and many careers beyond the standard boundaries of science and engineering.
Goshen physics majors who have chosen to pursue a graduate degree have an excellent graduate school admission rate. More than 70 percent of the physics majors elect this path. Individual professors at research universities have testified to the excellent preparation received at Goshen College. Recent Goshen graduates have chosen schools such as Purdue University, Princeton University, the University of Notre Dame, Carnegie-Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, the Pennsylvania State University, and Vanderbilt University.
Biophysics applies the principles of physics and chemistry and the methods of mathematical analysis and computer modeling to understand how biological systems work on the molecular level. Biophysics offers career opportunities in teaching and research at universities and medical centers or research and development at pharmaceutical, biotechnology, nanotechnology and other biologically-oriented high-tech companies. The biophysics track described below is appropriate preparation for graduate study in biophysics and neuroscience. The department has an ongoing research program studying the fusion of vesicles with membranes, which is a step in neurotransmission.
Engineering 3-2 program
The combination of a liberal arts background and an engineering degree from one of the leading engineering schools in the nation is the optimal education for the modern engineer. In this program the student spends three years at Goshen College and two or two and a half years at the engineering school, receiving a bachelor of arts degree in physics, chemistry or informatics from Goshen and a bachelor of science degree from the engineering school.
Goshen College has program agreements with University of Notre Dame (South Bend, Ind.) and Case School of Engineering of the Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio). Admission to the engineering school is granted to a student with a 3.3 overall grade point average, upon recommendation of the physics department.
Transfer to other schools is possible and common, but is done on an individual basis. Goshen College will grant the B.A. degree when the student completes the engineering course and the Goshen College requirements.
While at Goshen College, the engineering student is enrolled as a physics, chemistry or informatics major. Studies of science and mathematics to fulfill the requirements of the first two years in the engineering school are undertaken. In addition, the student completes the Goshen College core requirements, including the Study-Service Term (SST).
A large percentage of the Goshen students pursuing this program receive cum laude degrees from the engineering school and continue graduate study. Employment opportunities are excellent for graduates from this program.
Teacher education certification
Teacher certification is available for grades 5-12 in two related areas. Courses needed in addition to the standard track physics major are:
Physics – Phys 208, Phys 210
Physical Science - Chem 200, Chem 303, Phys 210
Also required are 30 credits of education courses, including a semester of student teaching. The first education class, Educ 201, should be taken in May term of the first year or spring of the sophomore year. See the education department pages and the Teacher Education Handbook for more details about requirements.
Major in physics
50-55 credit hours
Core requirements (32 credit hours)
- Chem 111-112, General Chemistry 8
- Math 211-212, Calculus I & II 8
- Phys 101, Research Seminar 1
- Phys 203-204, General Physics 8
- Phys 310, Thermodynamics 4
- Phys 410, Senior Seminar 3
Standard track (18 credit hours)
- Math 213, Multivariate Calculus 4
- Math 321, Differential Equations 3
- Phys 302, Analytical Mechanics 3
- Phys 303, Classical Field Theory 3
- Phys 313, Quantum Theory 3
- Physics electives 2
Biophysics track (23 credit hours)
- Biol 110, Ecology & Evolution 4
- Biol 120, Cell Biology & Genetics 4
- Biol 130, Organismal Biology 4
- Chem 303, Organic Chemistry 4
- Phys 304, Electronics 4
- Phys 314, Statistical Mechanics 3
Planning guide for engineering 3-2 track
Planning and advising notes
*Note that the three-year engineering plan above includes some courses required for engineering, but not required for the standard physics major.
Physics department advisers will assist each student in creating a suitable four-year plan. Students in a four-year program should choose SST units freely, anticipating that course schedule adjustments can be made to accommodate the choice.
Special resources and opportunities
Goshen College offers multiple opportunities for undergraduate research in physics, both during the school year and also during the Maple Scholars program in summer. Working on a research project with a faculty member allows the student to encounter the real world beyond the classroom. Student authors present papers at the annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research and at professional conferences.
Active research areas of the physics department include optical holographic interferometry and finite element modeling of musical instruments, phospholipid bilayer studies in biophysics, x-ray diffraction measurements of heterostructures, and manipulations of elastic waves in metamaterials.
There is no explicit internship requirement in physics, but internships have been arranged for interested students. Most students are involved in some form of research, frequently undertaking summer NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) at major universities. A thesis may be undertaken in consultation with the research faculty adviser. Thesis abstracts are integral parts of graduate and professional school applications.
Cooperative (Co-op) experiences are available for engineering students.