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Physics and Engineering Physics

Augustana physics students, including Andrew Kim '13, left, hold annual events for children.

  • Careers/internships
  • About the program
  • What students say

Augustana’s physics graduates generally continue in a graduate program in physics or engineering. Recent alumni are doing graduate work in such fields as medical physics, physics, electrical engineering, biomedical engineering and civil engineering.

However, because of the flexibility of the program, physics majors also sometimes pursue careers in such fields as technology, medicine or teaching.

Recent graduates:

Gabriel Caceres '08 is a graduate student in the department of Astronomy and Astrophyics at Pennsylvanie State.

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

Physics majors study a range of physics topics, includingthermodynamics, 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 ranks in the top 10 percent of small colleges in the U.S. for its number of physics majors. 

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.

Rose Davidson '09, physics and secondary education major, biology minor:
Stumbling upon Augustana in the midst of my college search was the greatest act of serendipity I have ever experienced. Although I started my college experience as a shy, quiet student, the small classes and genuinely caring professors provided me with the confidence and knowledge I needed to succeed. With this support, I was able to become intricately involved in the Augustana physics club through which I have had the opportunity to participate in extraordinary events such as a pyrotechnician course, in which we learned how to make and safely set off fireworks and became certified pyrotechnicians.”

Gabriel Caceres '08, physics, mathematics and philosophy majors

“Augie provides great opportunities for driven and committed students. The close ties with professors and outstanding classes led me to triple major in three subjects I was very passionate about. One possible difficulty of attending a small liberal arts college is the lower number of technical courses offered, but this can be easily made up thanks to the faculty, who in my personal experience always have time to meet students and even work together on directed/independent study courses. The training and support from my professors helped me get outstanding research experience, participating in various physics internships, one summer at the University of Chicago and later two more summer projects at Fermilab, where I was even able to publish a paper! The skills and knowledge I have gained have certainly prepared me for graduate school: in fall ‘08 I began my graduate work at Penn State for a Ph.D. in astrophysics.”

Gravitational waves? Q-C experts weigh in

A team of scientists announced they officially found gravitational waves — but, why exactly is that a big deal? “This is like finding a needle in a haystack, except probably on a bigger scale,” said Dr. Cecilia Vogel, professor of physics at Augustana. “Let’s say there’s a conversation going on three miles away and you can suddenly hear it with your ears. The event of the black holes colliding from so far away is really hard to detect, so it’s really impressive."

Internship on, off the court brings growth to Motzel's game

Senior Brandon Motzel, a pre-medicine and physics major, interned at the Texas Medical Center last summer. In addition to the academic benefits of the internship, he tested his skills against players from Rice University in pick-up basketball games. That experience is paying off for Motzel, whose play has helped set a tone for the Vikings since he moved into the starting lineup earlier this month

Students present poster, co-author paper

Two research students working with Dr. Nathan Frank presented a poster, "Unbound Resonance of 26F," at the American Physical Society's Division of Nuclear Physics meeting in October 2015. They also are co-authors on a recently published article, "Two-neutron sequential decay of 24O."

Frieze Lecture: a new universe

Dr. Cecilia Vogel, Augustana professor of physics, discusses how the publishing of Einstein's Theory of Relativity in 1915 revolutionized thinking about the universe. This is the fourth in the 2015 Frieze Lecture Series, an 18-year partnership between the Rock Island Public Library and Augustana College. The series theme this year was "1915 - A Landmark Year."

Merhi earns scholarship, will attend Nobel ceremonies

Abdul Rahman Merhi '15 will mingle with Nobel Laureates this December. He's the latest recipient of the Swedish Council of America's prestigious Seaborg Scholarship, which comes with a trip to the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar. Merhi is one of 25 young scientists from around the world to attend this year's seminar and Nobel ceremonies.
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