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Physics FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is physics?
What is the quality of instruction?
Will I get personal attention?
What facilities are available to me?
Will I have an opportunity to do research at FSU?
What about summer research opportunities?
How can I learn more about studying physics at Frostburg State University?
What do physicists study?
How do I know if physics is for me?
What can I do with a degree in physics?


What is physics?

Physics is the study of matter and energy and their interactions. The fundamental ideas of physics underlie all of the basic sciences -- astronomy, biology, chemistry, and geology -- and all of applied science and engineering. Physicists explore a range of natural phenomena from the dynamics of grains of sand on a beach to the birth of the universe. Their discoveries and inventions, like the transistor and the laser, have changed the way we live. Virtually all the problems of contemporary society have components which physicists are helping to solve.


What is the quality of the instruction?
FSU's Department of Physics cares deeply about the quality of undergraduate instruction and continually evolves to reflect the needs of students. For example, the physics curriculum was recently restructured to improve learning in the freshman and sophomore years. In addition to the new curriculum, the department has integrated computers and advanced software and hardware into the curriculum at all levels, including our freshman physics courses.

At FSU your lecture classes and laboratories are all taught by faculty members, not by graduate teaching assistants, a popular practice at other universities. This insures close personal contact between students and faculty.


Will I get personal attention?
Frostburg State University is a medium-sized university, with approximately 5500 students and a student/faculty ratio of 17:1. This allows for close interaction between students and faculty. For example, our freshman physics course has a typical class size of about 20, with the integrated lecture/lab taught by one faculty member. You will find that faculty are often available beyond regular office hours to meet with you. And like all physics majors, you will have a faculty adviser assigned to help you with academic questions including course selection.


What facilities are available to me?
To study physics at the undergraduate level requires up-to-date learning laboratories and computer facilities. At FSU, you can find both. You will learn electronics and instrumentation in one laboratory and, in an advanced laboratory, you will perform sophisticated experiments with modern equipment. You will also use the undergraduate computer laboratory for experimental data analysis, electronic circuit analysis, and numerical problem solving.

In addition to these facilities, the Department of Physics recently opened a Micro-Computer Based Laboratory. Featuring a state-of-the-art design, the laboratory permits students to conduct active hands-on investigations using transducers that send their data directly into the computer for storage and analysis. Data collection and analysis is accomplished automatically, allowing the student to concentrate on interpretation. The facility is one of the first if its type in a public institution of higher education in the state of Maryland.

Technical facilities aren't the only facilities important to a good education. Study and recreational facilities are important as well. The Physics Lounge is a place where students at all levels (from freshman to senior) can meet and interact. Sometimes the lounge is used for study, and sometimes for casual get-togethers. But in all cases it serves as a hub of activity for physics students at FSU. New students often get one-on-one help about specific study problems from more experienced students, and students often use the lounge for group study.


Will I have an opportunity to do research at FSU?
Every year undergraduate students in the department participate in faculty research. Students and faculty alike give these experiences rave reviews. Sometimes these experiences result in student publications or formal research presentations. Always students come away with a new appreciation of the pleasures and challenges of doing research.

Areas of interest include acoustics, chaos, CCD astronomy, instrmentation, computer programming, and physics education.


What about summer research opportunities?
Undergraduate students at FSU may participate in summer undergraduate research programs offered by various universities throughout the United States. Participation in such programs is on a competitive basis. For example, FSU students have recently participated in summer undergraduate research programs at Argonne National Lab and Michigan State University.


How can I learn more about studying physics at Frostburg State University?
Call the Department of Physics at 301-687-4298 and ask for the Department Chairman, stop by the departmental office, Compton Science Center, Room 123, or mail a requst for information to:

Department of Physics
Frostburg State Unversity
Compton Science Center, Room 123
Frostburg, MD 21532


What do physicists study?
Today is an exciting time to study physics. Physicists study everything from the dynamics of the grains of sand on a beach to the formation of galaxies, from elementary particles to semiconductors, from fiber optics to computers. Physicists test their ideas by performing experiments which lead to new ideas and theories.


How do I know if physics is for me?
If you like science and mathematics, you will probably like physics. If you like to explore and figure out why things are the way they are, you will like physics. If you like to ask questions about the natural world, and if you like to think of ways to answer those questions, you will enjoy physics. And if you like to study natural phenomena, and would like your understanding to contribute to modern technology, you should consider studying physics.


What can I do with a bachelor's degree in physics?
Because physics underlies all basic science and engineering, physics majors have many career choices. A significant percentage continue their education in prestigious graduate and professional schools -- studying physics, engineering (especially electrical and computer engineering and computer science), law, medicine, and other fields.

Those entering the job market directly after graduation find their knowledge and technical skills, including modeling of physical systems and computer and electronic skills, are strong selling points.