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Course Descriptions

Department of Physics

Dr. C. Steven Whisnant, Head

Phone: (540) 568-6109
E-mail: physics@jmu.edu
Web site: www.jmu.edu/physics


Professors
K. Giovanetti, W. Ingham, G. Taylor, S. Whisnant

Associate Professors
C. Hughes, D. Peterson, J. Rudmin, J. Staib

Assistant Professors
W. Alexander, D. Chodrow, I. Niculescu


Mission Statement
The Department of Physics is committed to excellence in undergraduate instruction for students representing all segments of the university. For physics majors the department offers a program of study based on courses in the broad areas of physics and student participation in research. The multi-track degree program of study allows students flexibility to select courses that support their career plans. The department offers courses that are required by other disciplines and shares in the university-wide General Education program. The Physics Department is committed to providing a supportive environment within which students can achieve their full potential and faculty and staff can make their maximum contribution while enjoying the rewards of professional development.


Goals
To help students
  • Appreciate the role of science in society and the historical development of physics in the ongoing quest to discover the structure of the universe.
  • Gain an understanding of the basic principles and the experimental basis of the various fields of physics and the logical relationships of the various fields.
  • Become capable problem solvers using techniques that require mathematical skills, conceptual and mathematical models, order-of-magnitude estimates and an understanding of limiting cases.
  • Develop competence in designing, constructing and using laboratory instruments and to draw valid conclusions from experimental data.
  • Develop competence in using computers for computation, data acquisition, numerical control, device development and information acquisition and processing.
  • Improve written and oral technical communication skills.





Co-curricular Activities and Organizations
  • Society of Physics Students



Degree and Major Requirements
The Bachelor of Business

Bachelor of Science in Physics

Degree Requirements

Credit Hours
General Education1 41
Mathematics course 3
Social science or natural science course(s) 3-4
University electives 33-37
Major requirements (listed below) 40



1 The General Education program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.

Major Requirements

Core Corses Credit Hours
Choose one of the following: 6
PHYS 240-250. University Physics I-II
PHYS 140-150. College Physics I-II
PHYS 140L-150L. General Physics Laboratory I-II 2
PHYS 260. University Physics III 4
PHYS 270. Modern Physics 4
Cognate Disciplines
CHEM 131-132. General Chemistry I-II
CHEM 131L-132L. General Chemistry Lab I-II 2
MATH 235-236-237. Calculus I-III 12
MATH 248. Computer Methods in Engineering and Science 4

40



Program Tracks
Each student, in consultation with their faculty adviser, will choose one of the following program tracks:
  • Applied Physics
  • Physics/Engineering Combined Program
  • Fundamental Studies
  • Individual Option



Applied Physics Track
The Applied Physics track is designed to prepare students for careers in a wide variety of scientific areas including laboratory and industrial settings.

Required courses for electronics and instrumentation, materials science and general applied physics concentrations are as follows:
Required Courses Credit Hours
PHYS 360. Analog Electronics 4
PHYS 347. Advanced Physics Laboratory 3
PHYS 391 - 392. Seminar 1
PHYS 491-492. Assessment and Seminar 1
PHYS 498R. Applied Physics Research 2
Elective courses (see below) 15

26

The following are elective courses for electronics and instrumentation, materials science and general applied physics. Select, in consultation with adviser, 15 credits from the list below:

PHYS/MATS 275. An Introduction to Materials Science
PHYS 337. Solid State Physics
PHYS 371. Digital Electronics
PHYS/CS 372. Microcontrollers and Applications
PHYS/CS 373. Interfacing Microcomputers
PHYS 380. Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
PHYS 390. Computer Applications in Physics
PHYS 391-392. Seminar
PHYS 420. Modern Optics
CHEM 450-450L. Nuclear, Radiation Chemistry & Laboratory
ISAT 310. Energy Fundamentals

Additional physics course approved by physics adviser

For example, students interested in careers in materials science would complete PHYS 360, PHYS 420 and PHYS 498R and may elect PHYS 380, PHYS 275 and PHYS 337 for a concentration in materials science. As another example, students interested in careers in electronics would complete PHYS 360, PHYS 498R and may elect PHYS 371, PHYS 372 and PHYS 373 for an electronics concentration.


Physics and Engineering Combined Program Track
This dual degree program makes it possible for the student to earn a B.S. degree in physics from JMU and a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Virginia. The engineering areas available under this program include biomedical, environmental, transportation, materials science, systems engineering and engineering physics.

During the first three years at JMU, the student must complete 96 credit hours including all JMU general education requirements, the physics core requirements, differential equations and at least 12 additional credit hours in physics courses designated by the JMU physics department with at least a B+ average. In general these 12 additional hours will be chosen from those recommended for the applied physics track, but substitutions may be approved by the department head. During the fourth year of study (when the student will be in residence at the University of Virginia), the student will take further courses approved by the JMU physics department for credit toward the Bachelor of Science degree in physics. A total of 37 credit hours of physics or other physics-related courses taken at either school will be required for the JMU Bachelor of Science degree in physics. For further information, consult the head of the Department of Physics.


Fundamental Studies Track
The fundamental studies track is designed to prepare students for immediate post-baccalaureate employment or for entrance to advanced study in physics or related areas.
Required Courses Credit Hours
MATH 238. Linear Algebra with Differential Equations 4
PHYS 340. Mechanics 3
PHYS 350. Electricity and Magnetism 3
PHYS 347. Advanced Physics Laboratory 3
PHYS 360. Analog Electronics 4
PHYS 380. Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics 3
PHYS 391-392. Seminar 1
PHYS 460. Quantum Mechanics 3
PHYS 491-492. Assessment and Seminar 1Choose one of the following:
Choose one of the following: 2-6
PHYS 398. Problems in Physics (two credits)
PHYS 498R. Undergraduate Research in Physics (two credits)
ISCI 450. Interscience Research (two credits)
PHYS 494. Internship in Physics (two credits)
PHYS 499. Honors (six credits)

27-31



Individual Option Track
The individual option is a course of studies chosen specifically to match the interest and career plans of the student. This option will allow custom-designed interdisciplinary majors such as biophysics, geophysics and chemical physics, as well as majors designed for prospective secondary school teachers, technical writers and entrepreneurs.

A student electing the individual option must complete the core requirements for the physics major, and will select a program consisting of a coherent collection of a minimum of 25 additional credits of physics courses numbered above 260 and courses in related fields. This individualized program must be selected in consultation with a faculty adviser in the physics department, and must be approved by that adviser, the department head and one other faculty member in the department.

The individualized program, as approved by the physics department and accepted by the student, becomes the major requirements for that student.

Concentrations
Within the four tracks, the following concentrations are available:

A student electing the individual option must complete the core requirements for the physics major, and will select a program consisting of a coherent collection of a minimum of 25 additional credits of physics courses numbered above 260 and courses in related fields. This individualized program must be selected in consultation with a faculty adviser in the physics department, and must be approved by that adviser, the department head and one other faculty member in the department.
  • Computational Sciences
  • Electronics and Instrumentation
  • Materials Sciences
  • General Applied Physics
Students are expected to review progress toward completion of the selected program of study with their faculty adviser.

Computational Sciences Concentration
Computational Sciences is a concentration within the applied track. The Departments of Mathematics and Physics offer a coordinated sequence of courses that prepare students for careers in the rapidly expanding field of computer modeling of complex systems. This program is structured so that students can earn a major in one department and a minor in the other.

Students need not decide on a major field until their junior year. The computational sciences concentration will prepare students to design and use computer models in any of those areas in which applied mathematics is used to understand complex systems (meteorology, astronomy, geology/geophysics, oceanography, physics, etc.). The preparation is appropriate for both those students who plan to enter the work force after graduation and those who plan to enter graduate school in applied mathematics, physics or one of the other fields mentioned above.

Students should complete the following courses during the first two years of the program:

MATH 235-237. Calculus I-III
MATH 248. Computer Methods in Engineering and Science
MATH 238. Linear Algebra with Differential Equations
PHYS 140L-150L. General Physics Laboratory I-II
PHYS 240-260. University Physics I-III
PHYS 265. Introduction to Fluid Mechanics

During the junior and senior years students will normally complete the necessary course work for their major and minor. Mathematics majors will take PHYS 340, Mechanics, and MATH/PHYS 365, Introduction to Computational Fluid Mechanics, counted as a physics course to complete their physics minor. Physics majors will take PHYS/MATH 365 counted as a mathematics course and either MATH 337, Applied Calculus, or MATH 387, Fourier Analysis and Partial Differential Equations, to complete their mathematics minor. Seniors in either major must complete at least one “topics” or independent-study/research course that involves computer modeling.


Recommended Schedule for Majors


First Year Credit Hours
CHEM 131-132. General Chemistry I and II 6
CHEM 131L-132L. General Chemistry Laboratory 2
Skills for the 21st Century (General Education, Cluster One) 9-12
MATH 235-236. Calculus I and II 8
PHYS 140L-150L. General Physics Laboratory I and II 2
Choose one of the following: 6
PHYS 240-250. University Physics I and II
PHYS 140-150. College Physics I and II

33-36

Second Year Credit Hours
MATH/CS 248. Computer Methods in Engineering and Science 4
MATH 237. Calculus III 4
PHYS 260. University Physics III 4
PHYS 270. Modern Physics 4
MATH 238. Linear Algebra with Differential Equations 4
General Education courses 11

31


Third and Fourth Years
During the junior and senior years students will select courses to complete the specific program track, which they are following. These course selections will be made with the assistance of a faculty adviser.

Minor Requirements

Astronomy Minor The minimum requirement for a minor in astronomy is 20 credit hours selected as follows:

Second Year Credit Hours
Choose one of the following: 6
PHYS 240-250. University Physics I and II
PHYS 140-150. College Physics I and II
PHYS 140L-150L. General Physics Laboratory I and II 2
PHYS 220-221. General Astronomy I and II 6
PHYS 3xx. Astronomical Techniques 3
One course selected from the following: 3
PHYS 480. Astrophysics
GEOL 272. Planetary Geology
HON 300Z. Life Beyond Earth
PHYS 297, 397 or 497. Topics in Physics
(appropriate topics could include Relativity, Cosmology, Cosmic Rays)

20


Physics Minor The minimum requirement for a minor in physics is 22 credit hours selected as follows:

Choose one of the following: 6
PHYS 240-250. University Physics I and II
PHYS 140-150. College Physics I and II
PHYS 140L-150L. General Physics Laboratory I and II 2
PHYS 260. University Physics III 4
Physics courses numbered above 260 10

22


Teaching Licensure
In addition to the general education and academic major requirements, physics majors desiring secondary teacher licensure must complete pre- professional education requirements and the Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

Physics majors need courses in biology and geology as well as inorganic and organic chemistry. It is necessary to be admitted to the teacher education program prior to enrolling in professional education courses. See the information beginning on Page 191for teacher education admission and retention polices and procedures. Students seeking licensure are encouraged to consult regularly with an education adviser. For a full description of the program in secondary education, refer to the College of Education.



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Last Modified: 6/11/2003