Working in the physics lab

Program Highlights

The department is committed to excellence in teaching, mentoring, and the integration of Christian faith with life of the mind.  We do this through innovative and creative courses at the cutting edge of physics education, faculty committed to working one-on-one with students, and a departmental culture that sees one another as not teachers and students, but as family.  The Program Highlights flyout links to the left will tell you more about the curriculumcourses, and undergraduate research going on in the department, but here's a Top Ten Features of a North Park Physics Education list to sum it all up:

10) We're nationally recognized.

We're small, but according to the National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics in a report they wrote in 2003, our department was one of the top 20 physics departments in the country.

9) You're a name (and more), not a number.

Do the math:  If your introduction to physics course has 100 students, and your professor spent even 20 min with each one each week, that would equal 33 hours per week for your professor.  With a large class, almost everyone has to be a number.  All our classes in the North Park Physics Department are small, and your professors really want to spend time with you!  No joke!

8) Physics majors have fun!

Where else do you get the chance to swing a sledge hammer at your professor while she lies on a bed of nails?  Where else do you get to go do your labs riding up and down on the elevator in the John Hancock building?  Where else do you get to hit yourself in the face with a bowling ball as a class assignment or try to decapitate your lab partner with a boomerang?  Where else do you get to work at a National Accelerator lab for your internship? 

7) We'll do all we can to get you participating in research.

While we focus on teaching (no graduate student TAs here), most physics majors are actively involved in research.  Many students participate in summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates at such places as:  the University of Virginia, Stanford, Notre Dame, Northwestern University, Michigan State University, University of Illinois, University of Oklahoma, University of Nebraska, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Argonne National Lab, Lawrence Livermore Lab, Los Alamos, Fermi Accelerator, the Mayo Clinic, and Kitt Peak National Observatory.  One student spent his summer working for NASA and got to design an experiment to go on the shuttle. Prof. Lin is also involved in supervising undergraduates interested in climate research. 

6) Placement into graduate school?  No problem.

Further education is a great alternative when you finish, and our graduates get into some of the best.  After all, what could be better than having someone pay you to go to school!  A number of our graduates have gone on to receive a Ph.D. in areas such as Medical Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Nuclear Engineering, Astronomy, and even Physics. 

5) You will be challenged ...

Doing physics is hard:  we liken it to banging your head into a brick wall ... but it feels so good when you're done ☺.  On a more serious note, we believe one of the highest forms of love and respect a teacher can pay students is to challenge them to the limits of their abilities.  Anything less is an insult to you, and a waste of your time.

4) ... but as part of the Physics family!

At North Park you will be recognized for your talents and abilities. A famous physicist once said: "Once you accept the idea of the universe shrinking into a nothing that is something, wearing stripes with checks is easy." Problems like what you look like or say or come from just seem to shrink into the background when compared to the problems we try to solve. No matter what your race, religion, sex, or preference for dessert toppings, you will be welcome in the Physics department.  Together, students and faculty, we'll work on the challenges physics brings.

3) Once you do physics, you can do anything!

Learning physics will build up talents and skills you never thought you had, that you can apply to any of a number of fields of endeavor (and not just careers).  We've had graduates go on to do graduate work in science and engineering, but also finance, philosophy, documentary filmmaking, etc.  One alum even went on a solo bike trip from Alaska to Argentina!

2) You'll get a job!

Our graduates have found success in a wide variety of positions.  The sky is not the limit (as Tim found out in the Marines).   Our graduates have gone on to careers in:  mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering, computer programming, marketing, system administration, civil engineering, traffic engineering, finance, the Peace Corps, the military, medical physics, medicine, sports engineering, research (Fermi National Accelerator, Battelle Labs, Sandia, Argonne National Lab), science museum exhibit development, and education.

and the number one feature of a North Park Physics Education:

1) Physics majors at North Park are not nerds!

You will be encouraged to participate in other activities here, such as varsity and intramural sports, music, theater, small groups, student government and everything under the sun.  In the true spirit of the liberal arts education, physics majors have taken minors in music, Spanish, economics, marketing, communications, philosophy, secondary education, math, political science and computer science.  Students have also participated in the exchange program spending one or more terms in Sweden, Germany and Mexico.  And yes, believe it or not, one year the homecoming queen was a physics major, as well as the outstanding senior innumerable times in the past several years.  Here at North Park we believe in educating the whole person. Knowing a lot of physics is not enough to make a good physicist.  Besides, its important if you are going to do your best in physics classes that you take some time to just enjoy yourself and have some fun.