The Engineering Physics Program, offered by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is designed for students who are interested in not only a particular engineering field, but also the physics and mathematics that provide a foundation for that field. Thus, the mission of the Engineering Physics Program is to offer an accredited Bachelor of Science degree that combines a meaningful sequence of engineering courses within a particular engineering field with a traditional high quality undergraduate physics education. The goals of the program are to prepare graduates to directly enter the modern workplace or go on to graduate study, either in their chosen engineering field or in physics.
The educational objectives of the program are to provide students with:
- a sound knowledge of the fundamental principles of engineering and physics, together with an appropriate mathematical background for these subjects.
- problem solving experience in engineering and physics, in both the classroom and the laboratory learning environment.
- an understanding of the role of the engineer/scientist in today’s society.
Therefore, preparation also includes an introduction to the humanities, social sciences, communications and a sensitivity to issues of ethics and professional practice.
Furthermore, the program encourages majors to participate in student professional organizations, including the Society of Physics Students, the Society of Women Engineers and the various student societies within the student’s chosen engineering field. In addition, majors frequently qualify for membership in the honor societies Sigma Pi Sigma and Tau Beta Pi, among others.
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The basic curriculum of required courses, combined with electives in science, engineering, the humanities and social sciences, culminates in a two-semester engineering design capstone experience. Of the 127 credits, 45 are electives, permitting each major, in consultation with her/his advisor, to put together a significant core of engineering courses in their engineering field of choice, and to satisfy the University General Education Requirements through electives supportive of their professional goals.
The program consists of a minimum of eight engineering courses, most of which lie in the student’s area of engineering specialization, along with a technical elective and an engineering elective for a total of 24-30 credits. (A technical elective can be an Astronomy, Physics, Engineering, Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science or other approved science course, generally at the 300-level or higher.) The engineering sequence is chosen from the engineering major offerings (Chemical and Biological, Civil and Environmental, Electrical and Computer, Mechanical, etc) of the College of Engineering. Engineers teach all engineering courses taken by engineering physics majors.
The program requires a laboratory course in physics in each of eight semesters. These laboratory experiences emphasize the ability to conduct experiments, analysis and interpretation of data, working with modern instrumentation and meeting deadlines. When possible, students work in teams often alongside majors outside the College of Engineering. Most experiments require written laboratory reports. The junior year laboratory sequence is also a writing intensive experience. An English instructor meets regularly with majors to develop their technical writing skills, through assignments, guided revision and assessment.
Five courses in mathematics (in addition to a computer programming course) are required, with the upper level selections involving topics pertinent to engineering. A minor in mathematics can be earned with one additional mathematics course beyond these five plus PHY 476. Approximately 50% of graduating Engineering Physics majors earn a minor in mathematics.
The Engineering Physics program requires satisfactory completion of at least 127 credits at an accumulative grade point of not less than 2.0. The program in Engineering Physics is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, 111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202-4012 - telephone: (207) 347-7700.
The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers graduate programs leading to the following degrees: Master of Engineering in Engineering Physics, Master of Science in Physics, and Doctor of Philosophy in Physics. Further information about these programs is contained in the Graduate School online Catalog.
Cooperative “Work Experience” Program Option
Engineering Physics majors who have completed both their sophomore year and 16 credits in physics courses can participate in the cooperative education program. This program integrates a practical work opportunity at an industrial facility (obtained through a specific period of employment) with on-campus classroom and laboratory experiences. Academic credit is received through enrollment in PHY 495 Engineering Physics Practice.
Engineering Physics graduates work in industry, universities, government agencies and private practice. Most go directly to an engineering/physics employment opportunity immediately after graduation. Others continue their education in graduate programs in engineering, physics, law (patent law), business and medicine. Employment in industries producing electronics products, optical products and the nuclear/radiation medicine field is popular. Because the Engineering Physics major is familiar with both the practice of engineering and the scientific approach to problem solving, our students are often sought out for multidisciplinary employment opportunities. Recent multidisciplinary employment examples include navigation instrumentation (Lincoln Laboratories), nuclear radiation monitoring (The State of Maine), and optical and acoustical effects (The Walt Disney Corporation).
The Department of Physics and Astronomy has several large scholarship endowments. The Department awards between 25 and 35 scholarships each year to its undergraduate majors. The College of Engineering also offers scholarships and awards supported by endowments within the College and from Maine industries.