Department of Physics
Moulton Hall 311
Campus Box 4560
Normal, Il 61790-4560
Welcome to the Department of Physics.
This program has many advantages over a traditional four to five year engineering program. From an educational perspective, it produces an engineer with a strong foundation in physics, mathematics, the social sciences and humanities. In addition, it offers the engineer in-depth experiences in two fields of study at two universities.
Illinois State's Engineering Physics program is ideally suited for ambitious students who desire a broader background than can be provided in a standard engineering curriculum. However, the program is also well suited for individuals who decided to become engineers late in high school. Such persons have the chance to correct possible mathematics and science deficiencies as part of a degree program. Others who have not yet decided between engineering and the sciences find the program attractive because it gives added time and substantially more information on which to base the choice. Students desiring a supportive, small department experience thrive in our program. All our double-degree majors will, with the combined engineering and physics background, be in a better position to participate in the rapidly-changing technologies of the future.
A special advantage which distinguishes the Illinois State University program from other public universities is the small size of the Department's classes. None of the physics courses listed in the course list below has more than 50 students and most have 25 or fewer students, allowing ample opportunity for individualized attention. All courses are taught by professors, not graduate students. We concentrate exclusively on undergraduates. Our 10:1 student faculty ratio in the Physics Department ensures that majors have all the faculty attention they need.
Another advantage of our undergraduate-only department is our ability to involve students in hands-on research and design experiences outside the classroom. From fundamental laser physics and space science, to applied nanotechnology and nonlinear systems, to our solar car race team, we offer a wide spectrum of choices for our majors to get involved. To download an updated Engineering Physics Major brochure, please click here.
Members of the faculty hold Ph.D.'s from many of the nation's leading universities. Each is a dedicated teacher and scholar, publishing their results in the nation's top physics journals. Our faculty have often been honored by professional and academic physics societies, including the American Physical Society, the U.S. Dept. of Energy, and NASA. The Department has a 10:1 student to faculty ratio, and does not award graduate degrees. This means that all classes are taught by professors and undergraduate students receive all the faculty attention and support that they need.
The Department serves nearly 120 majors in its physics, computer physics, physics teaching, and engineering physics programs. More than half are from the top quarter of their high school class. The mean ACT composite score is above 27. The lack of graduate students opens up numerous opportunities for undergraduate students in research, employment, and scholarships. Students may apply for employment as research assistants, lab graders and proctors, computer programmers, and planetarium assistants, or they may apply to assist faculty in professional research in the areas of laser physics, nanoscience, space physics, nonlinear systems, and atomic, molecular and optical (AMO) physics. Faculty regularly obtain grants from major national agencies such as NSF, NASA, and DOE that support our undergraduate researchers with paid stipends.
Majors have the benefit of excellent computational facilities in the Physics Department. Students make extensive use of the system from three computer labs reserved exclusively for physics majors. Our scientific visulaization lab allows state-of-the-art three-dimensional stereo visualization of large data sets and supports our undergradaute research students working on projects ranging from large-scale computer simulations, to spacecraft and laboratory data analysis. A cluster of unix-based workstations from Silicon Graphics, IBM, HP, and Apple give physics students access to all the computer power they need for courses and projects.
The Department is also proud of its experimental facilities. Well-equipped laboratories and a high degree of individualized instruction make the electronics and experimental physics courses an exciting component of the degree program. Advance lab (PHY 270) students regularly design and build their own experiments with assistance from the physics department shop. We also have five experimental research labs which involve students in projects in materials science and nanotechnology, fundamental atomic measurements, bio-optical engieering, and studies of nonlinear chaotic systems.
The ISU physics department has recently initiated a joint program with the Bradley University department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering which offers our engineering students an educational experience in a small, dynamic department that has excellent relationships with industries and companies in Illinois and nearby states. Transferring is facilitated by an agreement which allows completion of ISU's general education program to count as completion of the Bradley program. This unique program allows students to continue their education in a supportive small department environment not unlike the ISU physics department.