Probing nature with experiments, physicists try to find basic principles, usually stated as mathematical models that explain as economically as possible the phenomena they encounter. Anyone can gain an appreciation for physics at the descriptive level, but the field appeals most to people who enjoy solving problems, constructing models, and experimenting with nature.
At Emory & Henry, we allow students to learn physics by doing physics. We keep lectures to a minimum. Our general physics course and many of our advanced courses are based on the philosophy that you must construct your own understanding.
As a physics student, you will work in teams in the laboratory using an activity guide that asks you to make predictions, carry out experiments, analyze the results, and write about the experience. Instructors work with teams and individuals, asking questions, helping you to solve problems, and offering guidance. In advanced courses such as analytical mechanics, modern physics, and electronics, a significant part of class time is spent working problems at the board, hooking up circuits, or performing computer analyses.
Two tracks of study are offered in the Physics Department in which either the B.A. or B.S. degree may be earned. The B.A. degree program provides background in basic physics, emphasizing laboratory skills and knowledge that you will need in industrial or government employment, providing knowledge of the computer, and stressing mathematical skills.
The B.S. program teaches basic physics to prepare you for graduate school, offering mathematics and research experiences integrated with physics concepts.
Either a B.A. or B.S. degree may be earned in physics with support work in the sciences or business. This concentration provides career-oriented skills based on the offerings of other departments.
An internship is required as part of the B.S. degree, and students are encouraged to apply to summer research programs throughout the country.
A background in mathematics and basic computer skills is helpful. Mathematics and chemistry combine well with physics as a second major or a minor concentration.
Emory & Henry offers an opportunity to begin an engineering program in a liberal arts setting. The bachelor’s degree program is completed in cooperation with a selected engineering school, with a choice of four combinations leading to a degree from Emory & Henry or from both schools over a period of five to six years. Most recently, Emory & Henry students have continued their study of engineering at Virginia Tech, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Rose-Hulman University.
Although this program is oriented mostly toward students in the physical sciences, a combined degree program in certain fields is available to students from the life sciences, behavioral sciences, and humanities. The basic engineering program is intended to prepare you for any of the engineering fields, providing the fundamental coursework for the fields of chemical, civil, electrical, electronic, or mechanical engineering. Students interested in pursuing biomedical engineering take additional courses in biology and/or chemistry.
A computerized general physics laboratory allows students to use motion detectors, force probes, timing devices, radiation counters, and other computer-based instruments as they work through the many laboratory-based activities. Apparatus available to students includes the Observatory, a CCD camera for astrophotography, a holographic optical bench, multipurpose data acquisition equipment, electronics prototyping boards, a darkroom, and a machine shop. Software includes Maple, Graphical Analysis, Voyager 4, Logger Pro and a variety of simulations and analysis programs.
Internships are required of majors, and summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) with participating universities and national laboratories are encouraged. Special studies have involved examining the effects of dynamical noise on symbol statistics, solving theoretical physics problems using the Mathematica language, and studying nonlinear dynamics (chaos) from the physicist’s perspective.