Physics

The Physics curriculum at Western State Colorado Univeristy provides opportunities for students to take coursework that supports other scientific and technical disciplines, to complete an academic minor, or to prepare for physics or engineering programs at other institutions.

Western State Colorado University Physics Program offers some of the most challenging academic work you will find on campus; work that leads to new skills, knowledge and insight. Studies in these mathematics based sciences will serve you well in your academic work here, in graduate school, or as a professional.

We take pride in the personal attention you will receive from your professor.  The hours can be long and the work is hard. The professors will push you to do your best, and they insist on top quality work. The payoff is knowledge and skills that can lead to a challenging, rewarding, professional career. Our graduates are successfully employed as teachers, software engineers and as business, scientific and industrial professionals.

The word physics comes from the Greek word for nature, and we think of it today as the study of matter and energy. Physicists are concerned with understanding the way nature operates: the basic constituents of the universe and how they interact. The pursuit of that understanding leads to many practical applications. Physics is a rewarding area to study because it provides the basis for much of today’s technology,and it helps us satisfy our intellectual curiosity. The fundamental character of physics makes it a discipline that is central to the liberal arts.

The Physics curriculum at Western provides opportunities for students to take coursework that supports other scientific and technical disciplines, to complete an academic minor, or to prepare for physics or engineering programs at other institutions.  Students are also encouraged to participate in research projects with physics professors.  Western's Physics Program is a member of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.

Next Steps

If you're interested in Western's Physics Program, we invite you to take the next steps towards becoming a part of the Mountaineer family. 

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  4. Start the online application process - apply online now.
  5. Find scholarships, grants, or financial aid that match your interests and situation.

Courses

FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a list of courses offered by Western State Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the current university catalog at http://www.western.edu/catalog. To determined the courses required for your major, check the "Majors and Minors" tab for your area of study.

 PHYS 110 - SOLAR SYSTEM ASTRONOMY GSC2 (3 credits)

An overview of the historical development of astronomy and the basic physical principles that are relevant to it. The overall structure of the solar system is studied and its various components examined. Includes limited observational activities. Prerequisite: completion of the general education essential skills mathematics requirement.

 PHYS 110 - SOLAR SYSTEM ASTRONOMY GSC2 (3 credits)

An overview of the historical development of astronomy and the basic physical principles that are relevant to it. The overall structure of the solar system is studied and its various components examined. Includes limited observational activities. Prerequisite: completion of the general education essential skills mathematics requirement.

 PHYS 115 - PHYSICS OF MUSIC (3 credits)

A practical introduction to the physics of sound, with emphasis on music. Students investigate the properties of sounds produced by musical instruments. Topics include periodic functions, waves, resonance, overtones, frequency spectra, digital sound production and basic acoustic principles. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 19 or above; SAT math score of 460 or above; MATH 099; or Accuplacer Elementary Algebra test score of 85 or above.

 PHYS 120 - METEOROLOGY GSC2 (3 credits)

A summary of the structure of the Earth's atmosphere, worldwide weather disturbances, weather forecasting, and snow avalanches. This course may not be taken for credit toward the Physics Minor.

 PHYS 125 - ENERGY THE ENVIRONMENT GSC1 (3 credits)

A practical study of energy generation and its environmental impact, including the physics of energy fundamentals, fossil fuel use, alternative energy uses, and energy conservation. Primarily for non-science majors, this course will qualitatively detail basic physical principles behind the use of energy, including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and thermodynamics. This course is designed to provide the student with a physicist's perspective on energy use and environmental issues. Prerequisite: completion of the general education essential skills mathematics requirement.

 PHYS 125 - ENERGY THE ENVIRONMENT (3 credits)

A practical study of energy generation and its environmental impact, including the physics of energy fundamentals, fossil fuel use, alternative energy uses, and energy conservation. Primarily for non-science majors, this course will qualitatively detail basic physical principles behind the use of energy, including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and thermodynamics. This course is designed to provide the student with a physicist's perspective on energy use and environmental issues. Prerequisite: completion of the general education essential skills mathematics requirement.

 PHYS 140 - INTRODUCTORY PHYSICS GSC1 (4 credits)

A semi-quantitative introduction to the fundamental concepts of physical science, particularly the laws of physics as they relate to the structure of matter. Laboratory experiences play an important role in the investigations. This course may not be taken for credit toward the Physics Minor. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 19 or above; SAT math score of 460 or above; MATH 099; Accuplacer Elementary Algebra test score of 85 or above.

 PHYS 140 - INTRODUCTORY PHYSICS LAB GSC1 (0 credits)

A semi-quantitative introduction to the fundamental concepts of physical science, particularly the laws of physics as they relate to the structure of matter. Laboratory experiences play an important role in the investigations. This course may not be taken for credit toward the Physics Minor. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 19 or above; SAT math score of 460 or above; MATH 099; Accuplacer Elementary Algebra test score of 85 or above.

 PHYS 170 - PRIN OF PHYSICS I LAB GSC1 (0 credits)

A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, and many-particle systems. A mathematical proficiency at the level of college algebra is recommended. Prerequisites: PHYS 140 or one year of high school physics; and Accuplacer College-Level Mathematics test score of 95 or above, or MATH 141.

 PHYS 170 - PRINCIPLES OF PHYSICS I GSC1 (4 credits)

A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, and many-particle systems. A mathematical proficiency at the level of college algebra is recommended. Prerequisites: PHYS 140 or one year of high school physics; and Accuplacer College-Level Mathematics test score of 95 or above, or MATH 141.

 PHYS 171 - PRINCIPLES OF PHYSICS II GSC1 (4 credits)

A continuation of PHYS 170 dealing with electromagnetism, light, thermodynamics, and the atomic structure of matter. Prerequisite: PHYS 170.

 PHYS 171 - PRINCIPLES PHYSICS II LAB GSC1 (0 credits)

A continuation of PHYS 170 dealing with electromagnetism, light, thermodynamics, and the atomic structure of matter. Prerequisite: PHYS 170.

 PHYS 200 - GENERAL PHYSICS I LAB GSC1 (0 credits)

A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics, using the concepts of calculus as a tool. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, many-particle systems, and thermodynamics. A student may not receive credit for both PHYS 170 and 200. Prerequisites: PHYS 140 or one year of high school physics; and completion of MATH 151 preferred but may be taken concurrently.

 PHYS 200 - GENERAL PHYSICS I GSC1 (4 credits)

A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics, using the concepts of calculus as a tool. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, many-particle systems, and thermodynamics. A student may not receive credit for both PHYS 170 and 200. Prerequisites: PHYS 140 or one year of high school physics; and completion of MATH 151 preferred but may be taken concurrently.

 PHYS 201 - GENERAL PHYSICS II GSC1 (4 credits)

A continuation of PHYS 200 dealing with electromagnetism, light, and the atomic structure of matter. A student cannot receive credit for both PHYS 171 and 201. Prerequisite: PHYS 200.

 PHYS 201 - GENERAL PHYSICS II LAB (0 credits)

A continuation of PHYS 200 dealing with electromagnetism, light, and the atomic structure of matter. A student cannot receive credit for both PHYS 171 and 201. Prerequisite: PHYS 200.

 PHYS 320 - MODERN PHYSICS (3 credits)

An introduction to the special theory of relativity, quantum physics, atomic physics, and sub-atomic physics. Prerequisites: PHYS 171 or PHYS 201; prerequisite or co-requisite: MATH 251.

 PHYS 330 - MECHANICS (3 credits)

A treatment of basic mathematical methods including vector analysis, coordinate systems and transformations, particle dynamics, energy, and gravitation. Prerequisites: PHYS 171 or PHYS 201; MATH 251.

 PHYS 452 - QUANTUM THEORY (3 credits)

An introduction to the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics and its application to various types of natural systems, such as multi-electron atoms, molecules, and solids. Prerequisites: PHYS 171 or PHYS 201; corequisite: MATH 252.

Scholarships

Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page. If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309.

 Charlesworth, William Memorial Scholarship

Charlesworth, William Memorial Mathematics and Natural Science Scholarship Available to:

The applicant has applied to and has been accepted for admission to Western State Colorado University and is pursuing a major in mathematics or related natural sciences. The applicant has demonstrated a need for financial assistance. The applicant has demonstrated an interest and is active in inter-collegiate athletics. Preference should be given to entering freshmen; however, all classes, freshmen through senior, are eligible. Preference should be given to applicants whose study time is limited by family obligations or the need to earn income. No preference should be given based on the sex of the applicant. Preference should be given to applicants from Delta County, Colorado, or from the Western Slope of Colorado.

Scholarship Provided by:

Established with the Western State Colorado University Foundation to perpetuate the memory of William Charlesworth, a 1954 graduate of Western State Colorado University. The express purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to student-athletes pursuing majors in mathematics or related natural sciences.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Chaired by the chairman of Mathematics and Computer Information Science and shall include a representative from the Athletic Department appointed by the Athletic Director. A representative from the Natural Sciences Department shall be on the selection committee.

Application: Contact the Mathematics and Computer Information Science Department or the Athletic Department for application and deadline information. MCIS Department: (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128 Athletic Department: (970) 943-2079 - Paul Wright Gym 201

Find out more about Western's Math Program at www.western.edu/mathematics.

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry.

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology.

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology.

 Mckenny, Casey James Memorial Scholarship

Mckenny, Casey James Memorial, Natural and Environmental Sciences Scholarship is Available to:

Full-time students at Western who are Juniors or Seniors (qualified Juniors shall be given preference over Seniors). Must be a declared major in Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences. Must maintain a GPA of 3.2 or greater. Recipients must follow Casey's example of academic promise, love for the outdoors and service to fellow students demonstrated by volunteering in the community and involvement in campus activities and service.

Scholarship Provided by:

Gifts by Bill and Monica McKenny, Casey's parents, as well as other family members and friends.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Western NAES faculty in consultation with the Dean of Students and Bill and Monica McKenny.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128.

Find out more about Western's Physics Program at www.western.edu/physics

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology

 Nauman, James D. Scholarship

Nauman, James D. Department of Environmental Sciences Scholarship is Available to:

Full-time, Colorado residents who have a major in a field within the Department of Natural & Environmental Sciences. Must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and demonstrated financial need.

Scholarship Provided by:

Dr. James Nauman, who attended Western from 1945-49.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Physics Program at www.western.edu/physics

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry

 Walker, C. Ralph and Florence Memorial Scholarship

Walker, C. Ralph and Florence Memorial Scholarship (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) is Available to:

Full-time students at Western State Colorado University; must have declared a major in Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

Scholarship Provided by:

Gifts from members of the Walker family to perpetuate the memory and to commemorate the service and devotion of C. Ralph and Florence Walker who both served the College and the Gunnison community in an exemplary manner for many years. Professor Walker was Chairman of Western's then Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Physics Program at www.western.edu/physics.

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology.

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry.

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Lecturer in Physics
B.A., Western State Colorado University; B.S., Fort Hays State University. M.S., Western Governor's University.
Phone: (970) 943-2160
Office Location: Hurst Hall 105
Assistant Professor of Physics
B.A., Colby College; M.S., Ph.D., University of California - Santa Cruz.
Phone: (970) 943-2142
Office Location: Hurst Hall 116
Assistant Professor of Physics
B.S., Linfield College; M.S., University of New Mexico; Ph.D., University of New Mexico.
Phone: (970) 943-2155
Office Location: Hurst Hall 118