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Physics and Engineering Physics

Augustana ranks in the top 10 percent of small colleges in the U.S. for its number of physics majors.

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Augustana College offers a major and minor in physics, a major for teaching physics, and a major in engineering physics. The five full-time faculty all hold a Ph.D., and teach all laboratory sessions as well as regular coursework.

Careers and internships

Physics majors study a range of physics topics — including thermodynamics, mechanics, astrophysics, electricity and magnetism, and quantum physics — with much flexibility, depending on interests.

The engineering physics major is designed for students interested in the applied side of physics or the 3-2 program.

Many physics graduates pursue technology careers, while others enter graduate programs in physics, engineering or education. Engineering physics majors can take advantage of the college's coordinated-degree program, through which a student can earn both a bachelor of arts from Augustana and a bachelor of science in engineering from an engineering school. Currently, Augustana has agreements with Washington University and Northern Illinois University. Other popular choices include the universities of Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, Iowa State, Michigan State and Purdue University.

A sampling of recent graduates

Mark Hoffmann '14 is vice president of analytics and co-founder at 38th Street Studios in East Lansing, Mich., a software company.

Peter Draznick '14 is a co-founder at 38th Street Studios.

Abdul Rahman Merhi '15 is a graduate teaching assistant at Iowa State University.

Steven Ash '11 is the co-Owner at Exclusive Saver, Moline, Ill.

Amelia Wietting '09 is an IT Analyst IV at John Deere, Moline, Ill.

Gabriel Caceres '08 is a graduate research fellow in the department of Astronomy and Astrophyics at Penn State. He received a Ph.D. there in 2016.


Two students pose for photo at National Superconducting Laboratory in Michigan
Senior physics majors Matthew Tuttle-Timm, left, and Jacob Herman at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory in Michigan in the summer of 2016. They participated in an experiment to measure a new form of radioactivity.

Physics majors study a range of physics topics, including thermodynamics, mechanics, astrophysics, solid state and quantum physics.The engineering physics major is designed for students interested in the applied side of physics or the 3-2 program.

Physics majors who want to pursue engineering can take advantage of the college's coordinated degree programs with engineering schools in the Midwest: Purdue, Iowa State, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Through these programs, a student can earn both a bachelor of arts degree from Augustana and a technical bachelor of science degree in engineering from the university.

Augustana's variety of study-abroad options includes the physics and German learning community, Science in Society: Switzerland and Germany. During this 6-credit spring course, students explore some of the most important European sites for technology, innovation, physics and engineering.

Physics facilities include the college’s John Deere Planetarium and Carl Gamble Observatory, along with four area-specific laboratories in the Hanson Hall of Science: basics lab, optics and modern physics lab, electronics and acoustics lab, and the scanning electron microscopy lab.

What students say

Abdul Rahman Merchi '15, engineering physics and computer science; Winner of the Swedish Council of America's 2015 Glenn T. Seaborg Science Scholarship; pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Iowa State University of Science and Technology

"I am always and will always be grateful to Augustana College for the great education it gave me-especially the physics and astronomy department for its great generosity and amazing professors. "

Natalie Viscariello '15, physics and applied mathematics; Graduate student in medical physics at the University of Wisdonsin-Madison.

"When I came into Augustana, I thought I wanted to study German, biology or maybe physics. I definitely didn't expect to be going to graduate school in medical physics, but my time here helped me find my passion.... I'm in a much more exciting place than I thought I would be. All of my professors and friends have given me opportunities and support throughout my time here. They've helped me to become a better person and a better thinker. I've learned to be more confident in my ideas and that I can actually be an effective leader. I've learned that I can handle a lot, academically or otherwise."

Stuart Casarotto '14, engineering physics major, environmental studies and mathematics minor; Graduate student in mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder.

"Many professors and administrators helped me to reach the point where I am. Professors helped me construct and complete a crazy schedule. Administrators helped me start two clubs and allowed me to sit on two important committees. Because of the group I helped start-called AugiePonics-a hydroponics wall for growing food was installed in the dining center. I will miss some of the great professors most. Many of them have really changed my future for the better, and I will miss being able to go into their offices just to hang out."

"Season of Light' planetarium show Dec. 9-15

John Deere Planetarium at Augustana College will present its annual holiday program, "Season of Light, on Dec. 9-15.

Frieze Lectures look at Reformation starting Oct. 24

The Frieze Lecture Series is a 20-year partnership between the Rock Island Public Library and Augustana College. This year's theme is the legacy of the Reformation in this its 500th anniversary year.

Adam Gronewold and Dr. Cecilia Vogel

$10,000 physics award accelerates an idea

Adam Gronewold ’19 and his friends have an idea. The Rossing Scholarship can make it happen.

“Season of Light” planetarium show

Augustana College will present its annual holiday planetarium show "Season of Light" Dec. 9-15. The free show will be offered weekdays at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.