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Undergraduate Overview

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Why study Physics?
Because it's fun and exciting. By explaining the discoveries being made about our universe Physics helps you understand Nature. It helps you mature as a knowledgeable and logical person in the modern world. In combining the abstract concepts of mathematics and philosophy with the applied aspects of instrumentation and engineering Physics is unique among the sciences. Applications of physical laws also provide the basis for the development of technology. In practical terms, a Physics graduate is well suited for a wide variety of careers.

What can you do with a degree in Physics from Clarkson?
Obviously, you can become a physicist. But that's not all. Because of the flexibility in our curriculum, your opportunities are more extensive. With your degree in Physics, you can go directly into business, industrial, or governmental employment, as a design, research, quality control, or development scientist or engineer. You may also go into the teaching profession. If you want to continue your higher education, you can enter graduate school not only in Physics, but also in Mathematics, Chemistry, Engineering, Business Administration or you can continue in a professional program such as medicine, dentistry, or law.

What is so special about Physics at Clarkson?


The instructional and research facilities of the Clarkson Physics Department offer you the advances in most modern technologies. Here you can learn about the technologies by using them and not just by reading about them. You can gain hands-on experience in large scale computing, astrophotography, electrocatalysis, high powered laser operation, optical and electronic signal processing, analog-digital conversion techniques, vidicon and charge-controlled devices (CCD), fiber-optics, computer interfacing, data acquisition and processing, digital electronics, electron microscopes and surface spectroscopies. The technical skills you gain by using these facilities can significantly boost your position in a competitive job market in Science and Engineering. In addition to the technical facilities, the department offers a colloquium every week. Well-known physicists (from all over the world) present results of their most recent discoveries. By attending these seminars you not only meet famous scientists but also gain a broad perspective about today's world of science.

Research Experience
Many of the technical facilities described above are tied in with the department's graduate research program. You can get direct access to our departmental research facilities as early as your sophomore year. Colleges without a graduate Physics program are often unable to offer such facilities. On the other hand, graduate research at many other universities is dominated by the large number of graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and technicians. In comparison with such places, Clarkson undergraduates play a much larger role in the overall life of the department. The balanced ratio of graduate/undergraduate students allows for research participation by the undergraduates. This also promotes a close student-faculty relationship and the under-graduates get to work side by side with their graduate colleagues, under the direct supervision of the faculty members. Such a strong research program for undergraduates is one of the most attractive features of our Physics Department.

Now, you may ask, what is so great about doing research as an undergraduate? The answer is that the most interesting (and often the most highly paid) jobs are those where no one gives you the answers, no one tells you do step A, then step B, etc. You are on your own and are expected to do your own thinking. That is what research is all about and Physics research is a great way to get started. But even if you don't count the intellectual stimulation of doing research, for a variety of jobs your experience makes you a better candidate than someone without a research background. The technical and computational skills you acquire through research are obviously important for your post-graduation career. And there is more to it: By participating in research you can attend regional and national conferences. There you can take a closer look at the current activities in the areas of your interest; you will know who is doing what and who is interested in hiring people like you. With the recommendation of your faculty supervisor you may get a chance to spend a semester at one of the prestigious National Laboratories. There you can make more contacts with your prospective employers. Moreover, the experience you gain in such a laboratory can become a very impressive feature of your resume. In the recent past our Physics majors have worked at Brookhaven National Laboratory, at Argonne National Laboratory, and at Los Alamos National Laboratory. By working with the graduate students on a regular basis you get a first-hand view of life in a graduate school and the general format of graduate research. This experience can help you decide whether you should look for a graduate school or for a job after college.

Placement Record
Traditionally, Clarkson Physics graduates have been extremely successful in competitive employment as well as in top ranking graduate schools. For instance, in the recent past, they have been employed by AT&T, IBM, General Electric, General Dynamics, Hewlett Packard, Texas Instruments, Intel, Analog Devices, Eastman Kodak, US Air Force, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, and Naval Research Laboratory. Some of our recent graduates have gone to graduate schools at Cornell University, Stanford University, University of Illinois (Urbana), University of Chicago, University of Rochester, Carnegie-Mellon University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. More details on placement information can be obtained from the University Alumni Office.