The core values that distinguish the Physics program at High Point University are:
1. Creative and contemporary teaching that incorporates modern physics from the first day of the first year
While understanding classical physics is vital, it is modern physics (i.e. twentieth century physics) that leads scientists to investigate the expansion of the Universe and dark energy, the creation of black holes from stellar collapse, and the existence of quarks, the basic building blocks of protons, neutrons, and other sub-atomic particles. As a result, we weave modern physics into the first-year introductory calculus-based physics sequence called Fundamentals of Physics, making your introduction to physics exciting, relevant, and purposefully different from what you learn in high school physics.
In Physics, we believe you learn best by doing. We work to integrate lectures and labs so you can explore a new concept experimentally before hearing about it in lecture. We have created cutting-edge physics experiments in video analysis and gel electrophoresis. In addition, we have developed an innovative freshman course in Research and Scientific Writing where freshman physics majors begin doing undergraduate research in the first year.
2. Computational modeling and computer programming
Computational modeling is essential to every scientific and engineering discipline today. From understanding galactic evolution to predicting the path of a hurricane, scientists develop and test computational models in order to understand complex systems. Our physics program seeks to be a national leader in teaching and using computational modeling in all of our courses. In your first year as a physics major, you will create physics simulations in Python and learn to write MATLAB for data analysis. In the sophomore year, you will learn LabView and Arduino for data collection and instrument control, and in the junior and senior years, you will use Easy Java Simulations and Python to develop more complex models.
3. Undergraduate research
Research experience as an undergraduate molds you into a scientist. It builds your resume, opens up opportunities for employment or graduate school, and sets you apart from other students who merely take courses.
Undergraduate research begins in the freshman year with a year-long sequence called Research and Scientific Writing in Physics where students learn the tools of scientific inquiry and begin an independent project with a faculty mentor. We are one of the few programs in the country that offers such a course. Research culminates in the junior (and/or senior) year with a more in-depth, year-long research project with a faculty mentor.
The freshman research experience makes our students competitive when applying for paid summer research experiences like the NSF REU (National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program or NASA MUST program. We expect all of our sophomores and juniors to apply for summer research programs. In some cases, even our freshmen have been accepted to these highly competitive programs, partly because of their early research experience at HPU.