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WTAMU to Offer Physics Degree

Aug. 6, 2013

COPY BY: Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, rmcdonald@wtamu.edu

WTAMU to Offer Physics Degree

CANYON, Texas—West Texas A&M University will join forces with the Texas Physics Consortium to offer a degree plan in physics following approval by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Final approval is pending by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, but WTAMU students can enroll in the STEM-area (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year.

The 120-hour degree includes math and computer science courses, introductory physics courses, 18 hours of support field courses, 26 hours of upper-level physics core courses, six hours of advanced physics electives, and 12 hours of general electives. Students can transfer 58 hours from junior college or can apply general education core courses.

Courses for the new degree program will be taught by WTAMU’s qualified faculty—Dr. David Craig, a radio astronomer and member of the international collaboration ALFALFA, and Dr. Cathy Clewett, a materials scientist who specializes in using nuclear magnetic resonance, the same technology found in medical MRIs.   

The 18 hours of advanced physics courses and electives will be offered through the Texas Physics Consortium, a group of physics departments across Texas that offers a joint B.S. degree in physics. The consortium of seven schools—West Texas A&M University, Texas Southern University, Texas A&M University–Kingsville, Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, Tarleton State University, Prairie View A&M University and Midwestern State University—pools faculty expertise and institutional resources to provide access to quality upper-level undergraduate courses while maintaining the close interaction of a small department. The consortium allows undergraduate students to work with a diverse faculty of experts in a variety of fields including astrophysics, atomic/condensed matter/materials physics, geophysics, nuclear and medical physics, as well as theoretical and computational physics. The consortium courses are offered via the Texas Trans Video Network (TTVN).

Students also can earn credit for internships at local employers such as Pantex, the USDA research station and small technical firms.

The physics degree program offers students several options through a variety of support-field electives that are part of the major. For instance, a physics student interested in pursuing materials science might take advanced electives in chemistry or a student interested in medicine including medical school, medical physics or optometry would take classes in anatomy and physiology. Other options include patent law with classes in the social or political sciences; electrical engineering or technical management with engineering pre-requisites or business courses. A physics degree is also beneficial in the teaching field with courses toward licensure for general science. 

J.O. Thomas, a senior at WTAMU planning on finishing his physics degree is “happy to be able to take classes with experts in their field while still being able to have a close relationship with the faculty in a small school setting.”

For more information about WTAMU’s new physics degree program, call Clewett, assistant professor of physics at 806-651-2545 or Dr. Nick Flynn, head of the Department of Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics at 806-651-2542 or visit wtamu.edu/academics/mathematics-chemistry-physics.aspx.



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