Undergraduate Physics

Physicists develop tools to understand how the world works at the most fundamental level. As a student in this discipline, you’ll learn to build mathematical models that predict and explain our observations of the natural world, to design and conduct experiments to explore physical systems, and to think critically about data and evidence in order to construct new understandings of how the world works. The Physics major prepares you for work in a variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) fields or graduate work in the physical sciences or engineering.

As a student in the Physics Department, you can become a well-informed leader in an interconnected world that is increasingly shaped by science and technology. Edgewood College nurtures a life-long enthusiasm for scientific discovery, and deepens your understanding, through hands-on learning—both inside and outside of the classroom. As a science major at a liberal arts institution, you will also be trained in critical thinking across disciplines and hone the oral and written communication skills that are so valuable in today’s world.

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Program Highlights

  • All introductory physics courses are taught using a project-based approach, where you actively engage with the material on a daily basis in an integrated lecture/lab format.  
  • Each unit is structured around a real-world problem and culminates in a project that applies physics knowledge to solve that problem.  
  • Classes are small, with no more than 20 students in introductory courses, and typically between 8 and 10 students in upper-level courses.  
  • Faculty advisors help you tailor your physics education to your needs by choosing courses and finding summer research or internship opportunities that are aligned with your career goals.
  • Past students have done internships/research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (nuclear engineering, atomic physics, plasma physics), John Deer (mechanical engineering), the Naval Research Lab (biophysics), Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) (electrical engineering), and Morgridge Institute for Research (biomedical engineering).
  • Partnerships with Madison College and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville allow you to take coursework in technical areas that complement the Edgewood College curriculum.

Career Outcomes

As a professional physicist you may work in research in an academic or laboratory setting. Also, strong analytical and mathematical problem solving skills, developed as part of the Physics major, are valued in many professions. Physics majors often find careers in engineering, education, finance and business, information technology, or other STEM related fields. 

The Society of Physics Students has created a Career Toolbox for you to explore careers in physics.

If you are interested in a career in education, you can earn a teaching license through the Accelerated Secondary Program.

Collaborative Programs

Edgewood College and Madison College have a partnership that allows students to easily transfer coursework between the two institutions. Edgewood College students may take coursework in the following areas at Madison College:

  • Renewable Energy
  • Electrical Engineering Technology
  • Civil Engineering Technology
  • Mechanical Design Technology
  • Automated Systems Technology

These courses allow you to gain technical skills, which complement the theoretical training that you receive  in traditional physics courses. These skills will be useful if you hope to work in a STEM profession after graduation or if you plan on attending graduate school. Courses taken in these areas are covered by your Edgewood College tuition, so that all scholarships and financial aid still apply. Talk with your advisor about how to register for these courses.

 

Our Collaborative Program with the University of Wisconsin-Madison allows you to take one course per semester at UW and transfer it back to Edgewood College. This provides students to explore specialized coursework in science and engineering that is not available here at Edgewood College, and the credits count towards the elective credits for your Physics major. Tuition is covered by your Edgewood College tuition, so scholarships still apply. In addition, you may wish to take advantage of resources at UW-Madison, including library access and internship/research opportunities. 

Engineering Dual-Degree with UW-Platteville

If you are interested in a career in engineering, this is a great place for you! We have a dual-degree program with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville that allows you to earn two degrees: a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Edgewood College and either a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering or a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

 Qualified students will spend 3 years at Edgewood building a strong foundation in physics, mathematics, and chemistry in our small classroom, high-engagement environment. Students can then apply for transfer to UW-Platteville, where after two years, they can expect to receive an ABET-accredited engineering degree. Students must achieve a GPA of at least 3.0 in their major coursework to apply for admission to this program.

Transfer Agreement with WI Technical College System

Through this agreement, you have an efficient pathway to transfer from Madison College to Edgewood College. Students who have completed an associate degree in one of the following areas are eligible to transfer into the Physics: Applied Science major at Edgewood College, which is designed to be completed in as little as two years:

  • Civil Engineering Technology
  • Electrical Engineering Technology
  • Mechanical Design Technology
  • Electromechanical Technology
  • Automated Manufacturing Systems Technology

If you are interested in this program, you should plan to major in Physics: Applied Science. The Applied Science concentration is essentially a reduced version of the standard physics major that gives you credit for the coursework taken while earning your associate degree. We will not transfer individual courses into the major, but have approved the associate degree programs as a whole.

You will likely have completed some of the general education requirements as part of your associate degree. For example, Written Communication, Economics, Critical Thinking, etc. We will review your transcript and give you credit for all general education courses that have already been completed. When you get to Edgewood College, you will be eligible to complete the Applied Associate to Bachelor Completion (ABC) general education requirements. Talk to your advisor for details.

Office of Science Outreach

The Office of Science Outreach expands the resources and expertise of our science faculty and students from the labs and classrooms in the Sonderegger Science Center into the community. 

Our goals are to share the excitement of discovery, foster understanding of the natural world, improve personal lives through increased knowledge and awareness of science and technology, and support the next generation of scientists and engineers. We host an annual Family Science Night, offer summer science programs for K-12 students and partner with schools and community organizations to ensure that ALL children have the confidence and preparation to pursue careers in STEM fields.

Facilities and Instrumentation

The Department of Physics is located in the Sonderegger Science Center, which is well-equipped thanks to the Sonderegger Endowment Fund that allows us to purchase high-quality equipment for teaching and research.

Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab)
We have a new Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab) provides student access to high-tech equipment including:

  • Multiple 3-D printers with different printing capabilities
  • A high-powered laser cutter capable of cutting or etching most woods and plastics
  • 3D scanner
  • Electronic and soldering equipment
  • Hand tools and project space
  • 2- and 3- dimensional design software

Coming soon:

  • CNC machine
  • Injection molding   

The facility provides resources and opportunities for student directed projects, and is open to students from across campus, not just science majors.  Workshops and training sessions are open to anyone and are offered on a regular basis.  It is also being actively integrated into Edgewood College courses, including two new physics courses, Introduction to Engineering (PHYS 160) and Engineering Modeling and Design (PHYS 170), as well as some theatre classes.

Obsession Dobsonian Telescope

Our department is also home to a 20” Obsession Dobsonian telescope. The telescope currently resides at the Ernest Hupenden Painted Forest near Reedsburg, WI. This rural location is ideal for observing the night sky. The telescope is used by students in our Astronomy class and for student projects. Additionally, our department hosts public observing nights at the Painted Forest in the summer and fall. 

  • Zachary-Greenwood-Schaeferty
    My time as a Physics student at Edgewood College has taught me so much more than the math behind our everyday lives; it taught me to be curious and observant of the world around us. My degree in Physics encouraged me to think creatively, problem solve, and most importantly, never take technology and everyday processes for face value. There is always something new and challenging to improve both yourself and the world we live in. That’s what my degree means to me.
    Zachary Greenwood-Schaftary ’17

Faculty Spotlight

  • Rachael Lancor

    Associate Professor of Physics
    RLancor@edgewood.edu

  • Brian Lancor

    Lecturer
    BLancor@edgewood.edu