Friday, March 06, 2009

University of Idaho Physics Program is SAVED!

The University of Idaho undergraduate physics program isn't going to be cut as first reported. There had been aggressive lobbying, especially by the student body, to save the physics program. It appears that after the recent workshop by various faculty members, the program is safe, for now.

The physics department must now create a strategic action plan for what direction the department will go in.

“We now have some prospects for a plan to meet the challenges that are facing everyone in public education,” Wood said.

There are several options currently being considered for the plan, including a new major that would blend physics and engineering.

“The degree would be called either applied physics or engineering physics,” Yeh said.

The degree would feature several physics classes, as well as a focus on engineering.

Many smaller schools simply can't compete with the larger, more established programs. So I don't think it is such a bad idea to carve out a specific niche and offer something slightly different in terms of a physics degree. Other schools have done something similar, where an undergraduate physics degree is paired with the idea of going into other non-traditional physics profession, such as continuing to law school, medical school, or even journalism. So the option of having an engineering physics degree certainly would make it not only more attractive, but also the possibility of producing undergraduates that could be more employable than simply a traditional physics degree.

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