Program in Engineering Physics

Academic Unit

Program Information

Interdisciplinary areas in physical sciences in engineering such as energy, environment, materials, microelectronics, astronautics, and photonics promise to become increasingly relevant in the 21st century. The Program in Engineering Physics, which provides students with a fundamental knowledge of physics, together with problem-solving skills and an understanding of engineering, is designed to address the needs of students seeking innovative careers in today's technological age. In addition, it allows students to keep their options open between physical sciences and engineering. Following completion of the engineering physics program, students typically enter careers in engineering, applied science, or applied physics through research, teaching, or entrepreneurial engineering. Past graduates have also pursued other careers as diverse as medicine, business, and law.

The program offers a unique combination of engineering, mathematics, and physics. It is directed toward students who have interest and ability in both engineering and physics. For engineering majors, in addition to courses in those subjects fundamental to the student's field of interest, the program requires courses in quantum mechanics and encourages study of subjects such as electromagnetism, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, condensed matter physics, mathematical physics, complex analysis, and partial differential equations. For physics majors, the program requires courses in engineering design plus specialization in topics such as solid-state electronics, fluid mechanics, optics/optoelectronics, control theory, computers and computational methods, or a variety of other applied disciplines. Computer science A.B. students are required to meet the technical course requirements needed to satisfy the B.S.E. degree. An engineering physics certificate is awarded upon graduation to students successfully completing the program. Exceptionally outstanding students are awarded the Jeffrey O. Kephart Prize (one per year). The program committee also selects yearly winners of independent work awards, conference travel support, and summer fellowships.

Additional information on the program, faculty, and past and current students can be found on the program's website.

Admission to the Program

Any student who satisfactorily completes the B.S.E. freshman year program or its equivalent is eligible for admission to the program. Engineering students entering the program are strongly encouraged to complete PHY 203, 208 and MAT 201, 202 or their equivalents by the end of the sophomore year.

In applying for admission to the program, a student should indicate interest in a particular area of engineering and should be enrolled as a major in one of the six participating engineering departments or in physics. A student planning to enroll in the program should consult the director of the program, who will assign a special adviser to help plan a curriculum.

Program of Study

An engineering physics major will normally satisfy both program and departmental requirements. The curriculum for each student is worked out by the student and the student's departmental adviser in consultation with the special adviser in engineering physics. In some cases, courses taken under the program requirements may be applied toward the fulfillment of regular departmental requirements. The program requirements are as follows:

1. All students must take two upperclass courses in mathematics (300 and 400 levels).

2. Engineering majors must take a minimum of six advanced courses in physics (which may include the following 200-level courses: PHY 205, 207, 209, and 210), including the quantum mechanics sequence (PHY 208, PHY 305). At least five of the courses must be listed (or cross-listed) in the physics department. In order to accommodate specific student interests, there is particular flexibility with regard to the sixth course, which may be a course with a strong physics content from other departments such as astrophysical sciences or chemistry, but must be approved in advance by the program's committee.

Physics majors enrolled in the program must have five engineering courses, chosen in consultation with their adviser. In order to gain exposure to the design-oriented philosophy of engineering, physics students are required to take at least two of their engineering courses in a coherent area of study so that a clear engineering stem can be identified, and a "core" engineering design course selected from those designated as such by five of the departments in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (CBE 442, CEE 366, CEE 477, COS 217, ELE 302, MAE 321).

3. Close collaboration with faculty is expected. Students are required to complete, with a grade of B- or better, at least one semester of independent work in an appropriate area. Physics students are encouraged to have a professor in engineering serve as a reader on their senior thesis.

4. Program students are expected to demonstrate strong academic performance. To qualify for the engineering physics certificate upon graduation, a minimum grade average of B- in the program courses is required. Courses taken pass/D/fail are permitted, but a pass counts as a C in determining grade average.

Further details can be obtained by contacting the director or visiting the program's website.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill the requirements of the program will receive a certificate of proficiency in engineering physics upon graduation.