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Department of Physics & Engineering

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Here is information about our 3-2 engineering program, our NASA affiliation, student internships, employers, a typical schedule of classes, and our graduates.

Our hands-on approach emphasizes labs. In recent years, we have benefited from grants from the U.S. Department of Education, NSF, NASA, Dominion Resources, and the Naylor Foundation. These grants fund student projects and help keep our labs up-to-date.

Our graduates report satisfying professional careers. They often pursue an M.S. or Ph.D., and in the last five years, our acceptance rate into these programs is 94%.

What is the 3-2 Engineering program?

This is our collaboration with West Virginia University, the University of Virginia, and Marshall University. Students study three years at Wesleyan and then two years at one of the universities. Students earn two degrees — Wesleyan’s physics degree and the university’s engineering degree.

Students can finish all this in only five years because many of Wesleyan’s courses count toward the university’s engineering degree, and many of the university’s courses count toward Wesleyan’s physics degree.

The 3-2 program benefits students by enabling them to start their engineering studies in our smaller classes. A strong physics background is especially valuable when engineers work on projects at the forefront of their profession. In addition, more than half our students participate in sports, student government, theatre, or music.

B.S. in Physics

The B.S. in Physics prepares students for employment or graduate study in physics or related fields. The program includes all the courses recommended by the American Association of Physics Teachers.

B.S. in Applied Physics

This program prepares students to use physics to meet the needs of society. Employers value our graduates because they are ready to work with lasers, electron microscopes, nuclear systems, radiation safety, energy efficiency, solar panels, robotics, computation, and airport security systems. In addition, our Applied Physics majors have been accepted to graduate studies in physics, medical physics, and most fields of engineering.

Summer internships

Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Cleveland Clinic, Corhart Refractories, Cornell University, Jefferson National Lab, NASA-Fairmont, NASA-Langley, National Energy Technology Lab, National Institute of Standards and Technology, University of Pennsylvania, Raytheon, Thrasher Engineering, Toyota, WV Division of Highways, Wesleyan, WV Division of Highways, WVU

Typical class schedule — 3-2 Engineering

1st semester—Engineering Design I, General Physics I, Calculus I, Composition I, Freshman Seminar

2nd semester—Engineering Design II, General Physics II, Calculus II, Technology for Calculus, Composition II, General studies

3rd semester—Light & Atomic & lab, Chemistry & lab, Thermodynamics, Human Communication, General studies

4th semester—Fluid Mechanics, Calculus III, Laser Lab, Humanities, Economics, General studies

5th semester—Electronics & lab, Statics, Differential Equations, Scientific Programming, General studies

6th semester—Dynamics, Mechanics of Materials, Electromagnetism, Engineering Lab, General studies (2)

7th-10th semesters—Engineering at the chosen university

Typical class schedule — B.S. Applied Physics

1st semester—General Physics I, Calculus I, Composition I, Freshman Seminar

2nd semester—General Physics II, Calculus II, Technology for Calculus, Composition II, General studies

3rd semester—Light & Atomic & lab, Chemistry & lab, Thermodynamics, Human Communication, General studies

4th semester—Nuclear Physics & lab, Calculus III, Laser Lab, Humanities, General studies

5th semester—Electronics & lab, Statics, Materials Science & lab, Differential Equations

6th semester—Dynamics, Mechanics of Materials, Solid State & lab, Engineering Math, General studies

7th semester—Quantum Mechanics, Scientific Programming, Engineering Lab, Research Seminar I, General studies (2)

8th semester—Electromagnetism, Fluid Mechanics, Digital Electronics & lab, Research Seminar II, General studies (2)

Our graduates (2013-19)

Disciplines—Aerospace Engineering (5), Applied Physics (2), Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering (5), Electrical Engineering (3), Engineering Management, Geophysics (3), Industrial Engineering, Laser Science, Mechanical Engineering (11), Medical Physics (3), Safety Engineering

Advanced degrees—Cleveland State, Colorado School of Mines, Duke (2), Embry-Riddle, George Mason, Lehigh, Marshall, Ohio State, Pitt (2), Stanford, U of Arizona, U of Cincinnati, U of Delaware, U of Kentucky, U of Louisville, U of Maryland, U of Melbourne, U of New Mexico, U of Nevada, U of North Carolina, U of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech (3), WVU (16)

Employers—Alliant Technical Systems, Bell Helicopters, Bechtel-Bettis, Cabot Oil, Cross Motion Solutions, Dupont, General Electric, Garrett Container Systems, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Ideal Innovations, Kettering Medical Center, Key Logic, LEAM Drilling, Lockheed-Martin, Mercy Cancer Center, Mitre Corp., Mon Power, Motorola, Mylan, NASA (3), Naval Air Systems Command, National Energy Technology Lab, Osiris Therapeutics, Pentree Engineering, Pratt and Whitney, Raytheon, Rockwell Automation, System, Thrasher Engineering (4), Tower Engineering, Toyota, United Hospital Center, Vantage Oncology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, WV Division of Highways

Fields of engineering

(Some fields are unavailable at some universities)

Aerospace engineers design airplanes, spacecraft, rocket, fuel-efficient cars, propulsion systems, and guidance systems.

Applied physicists work with lasers, electron microscopes, nuclear systems, radiation safety, energy efficiency, solar panels, MRIs, robotics, computation, and airport security systems.

Biomedical engineers work on neural repair, hip replacements, and genetic manipulation.

Chemical engineers adapt chemical reactions to industrial quantities.

Civil engineers design, construct, and operate facilities such as highways, bridges, and drinking-water systems.

Electrical engineers develop communication systems such as cell phones, control systems such as microprocessors, and electrical power transmission systems.

Geophysicists use remote sensing to discover and evaluate underground resources such as natural gas.

Industrial engineers plan such things as assembly lines, efficient hospital emergency rooms, and amusement park layouts.

Mechanical engineers design devices that move, such as cars, heat engines, and industrial machinery.

Medical physicists are licensed professionals who use radiation to treat cancer. The AAPM reports an average starting salary of $95,000.

For more information:

Please contact:
Albert Popson, Jr., Chair

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Connect with our Physics and Engineering faculty.

NASA Affiliation

Each year, NASA funds 11 fellowships to Wesleyan students (including freshmen). Students in our Space Club design payloads for launch aboard NASA rockets. NASA funds internships at NASA facilities and at Wesleyan.


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Student Stories

Success stories from students who have gone through our Physics programs.