Today: Apr 23, 2024

New program in applied physics

For three years a new masters program in applied physics has been in the works. The program has finally been approved and Elliott Horch, associate professor of physics at Southern, said this summer graduate students will be able to take these classes.

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Left to right: DonnaJean Fredeen, dean of School of Arts and Sciences; Elliott Horch, associate professor of physics; Christine Broadbridge, physics department chair

The new program is interdisciplinary and Horch said it will focus on physics because there are not many professional science masters programs of this kind in the Northeast.
“The idea was to take advantage of the fact,” said Horch. “There’s sort of been a trend around the country about building interdisciplinary masters programs in the sciences.”
As a way to be interdisciplinary, the program will have required core courses in the physics department, said Horch, in addition to courses in computer science and management.
“The thinking is really to make it broader than physics, to produce graduates who have a broader scope and can do many things in these industries,” said Horch. “We’re grateful to our sister departments for being so enthusiastic for this program and supporting us.”
When developing the program, industries in Connecticut were examined to determine the types of graduates those employers were looking for, and Horch said the main goal is to work with these industries and place graduates in jobs.
“The desire on our part [is] to have this program work for Connecticut employers so that we can really have an impact on the work force,” said Horch. “Especially at this time with the economy not as good as it is. We’re very focused on Connecticut employers.”
Christine Broadbridge, physics department chair said the program can be thought of as the flip-side of achieving an MBA degree, in which a student may have a strong business background with a smaller focus on science. The M.A. program in applied physics is for students with a strong science background.
“A professional science masters is about training individuals that have a science background but have knowledge of how to take scientific developments and implement them to create new products,” said Broadbridge. “So, it trains people to become managers with a strong science background.”
This type of interdisciplinary education will open up doors for students because Broadbridge said in the future, in terms of science, people would not just work on their one field of study.
“I think it opens up a lot of opportunities for them to go and switch career directions,” said Broadbridge, “or take their career to the next level.”
The new masters program is only one of the positive changes in the department.
“I think it’s a great addition to the programs that we already have in the physics department,” said Broadbridge. “We’ve had some exciting additions over the past years.”
Those additions include a concentration in engineering, a nanotechnology center and a grant for the CRISP lab, said Broadbridge.
“The timing is really perfect; all these programs are coming together,” said Broadbridge. “It’s just a wonderful time for the department and really for our students.”
Horch said the program took years to approve because there are a number of different layers that have to approve the program. Now that the program has been approved, Horch said students can start to register for classes this semester.
“We’re offering courses in the summer,” said Horch, “We’re working with graduate students to tell [them] they can matriculate for summer 2012.”
The requirements for acceptance into the program will be typical with any graduate program said Horch. Students will need a 3.0 undergraduate GPA.
“We have done surveys of prospective students. It would appear that students who are willing to actually pay money and apply are going to be people who are generally qualified,” said Horch. “We’ll take a hard look at every applicant; we want to think a little out of the box.”
DonnaJean Fredeen, dean of SCSU’s School of Arts and Sciences, said the program is an important way for Southern to demonstrate a focus on programs that meet the state’s workforce needs.
“This program is the first Professional Science Master degree in physics in the state. Therefore, people in the workforce have an opportunity to learn the business of science industry, particularly in the area of product development,” said Fredeen. “I am very pleased that we are now able to offer this degree and believe that it will enhance the already very strong reputation of our physics department.”

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