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Undergrad

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Applied physics, with its various emphases, is an exciting and innovative new major at Bethel. Our goal is to develop graduates who are equipped for high-technology employment, interdisciplinary research, and graduate education in applied science and engineering.

Why should I study applied physics with a mechanical emphasis?

Physics provides the foundation for all of the engineering fields because, broadly speaking, engineering is about taking what we know about the physical universe and applying it to help people in their everyday lives. The more one knows about physics, the greater the opportunity to find new and different approaches to solutions—before the design details are turned over to traditional engineers. A B.S. in Applied Physics with a Mechanics emphasis is designed to fill the gap between the traditional physicist and the traditional mechanical engineer. 

What can I do with this degree?

This broader version of the traditional physics degree is designed to provide the tools and experiences that are especially valuable for moving right into industry after graduation. Many problems that companies desire to solve do not easily fall into specific engineering categories. Knowing something about engineering design while simultaneously having the broad base of applied physics will position graduates perfectly for filling such needs. In particular, small start-up companies are looking for broader employees who can solve problems from different directions.

Furthermore, the fundamentals and techniques learned also provide an excellent foundation for graduate work in mechanical, aerospace, and civil Engineering. Graduate engineering is about finding new and/or better approaches to solving problems, and that is precisely what this degree prepares students to do.

As an example, recently we had two graduates go to study civil engineering with a structural emphasis. One student went to the University of Minnesota, and a second student went to MIT. Both students ended up working for Uni-Systems Engineering in Minneapolis. One of their early projects was the design of the retractable scoreboard in the Dallas Cowboys stadium. They have also designed retractable roof stadiums and the “world’s best” amusement park ride for Disney World.  

What unique experiences or opportunities will I have?

As a physics major, you’ll have opportunities to collaborate with professors on real-world research projects in our state-of-the-art labs; publish papers in prestigious science journals; present your findings at local and national conferences; intern at a wide range of companies, government agencies, and universities; and work as a research assistant during the summer months.

In a typical year, we have about eight students doing national, competitive summer internships at places like NASA Langley, Osaka University in Japan, the National Solar Observatory, NIST, and Mayo Clinic. We have at least a half-dozen students each year enter graduate programs at places like Stanford (Aeronautics), Princeton (Neuroscience), U of Minnesota (Mechanical Engineering), etc.

Academic Plans and Courses

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Top 15 undergrad physics programs in the nation

-American Institute of Physics

0 National Science Foundation grants have funded cutting-edge research in physics, engineering, and nanotechnology

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