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UW-Eau Claire Students Can Earn
Dual Degrees in Physics/Engineering
MAILED: May 20, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — Jonathan Watson, one of the first students to participate in the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's new physics and engineering dual degree program, entered the program because a broad base in physics complements his engineering studies.
"This is an important benefit of the program, since it will show prospective employers that I have a general physics background outside my focused field of engineering," said Jonathan Watson, a junior from Eau Claire.
UW-Eau Claire's recently implemented dual degree program in physics and engineering allows students to get a physics degree from UW-Eau Claire and an engineering degree from either UW-Madison or the University of Minnesota in approximately five years. Typically a student spends three years at UW-Eau Claire and two and a half years at the engineering school.
For Theresa Krack, a freshman from Whitefish Bay who was torn between studying physics at UW-Eau Claire or engineering at the University of Minnesota, the program offers the best of two worlds.
"I was set to come to Eau Claire and study physics. Then I toured Minnesota and decided it would be really cool to go there and study engineering. When I found out they were working on putting together the dual degree program, I was thrilled - I could get the best of both worlds," said Krack, who someday hopes to work for NASA as an astronaut or an engineer.
"I like having to problem-solve and figure things out. I also like the hands-on aspects of both physics and engineering," she said of what attracted her to the majors.
"One of the most important skills engineers need is math. The physics degree requirements provide a stronger foundation in math and physics than those courses required for an engineering degree," program adviser Kim Pierson said.
Dual degree students will be ahead of the pack when applying for internships and employment after graduation, said Pierson, an associate professor of physics and astronomy.
"The dual degree prepares students to be problem solvers, to think outside the box. This is what employers are looking for in engineers," Pierson said.
The program also gives students who initially may have decided to pursue a physics degree a chance to change their mind in their junior year and switch to an engineering field without losing, in a sense, many of the upper level physics courses they have taken.
UW-Eau Claire's dual degree program, unlike some others in the UW System, is a new emphasis within the liberal arts physics major. As a result, some of the course requirements were altered to remove redundancies in the types of courses required for both physics and engineering degrees.
"This streamlined approach makes our program more efficient and gives us a recruiting advantage," Pierson said.
Students also choose UW-Eau Claire for its liberal arts curriculum, which has a reputation for providing a rich and broad liberal arts background, Pierson said. They like the smaller class sizes, which allow students and professors to work together on research projects and get to know each other, he said.
"The close contact with faculty fosters a sense of belonging and helps nurture students' self-confidence and sense of well being," Pierson said.
There are currently five students enrolled in the dual degree program, and 10 recently attended an information session. "We don't have a limit on the number of students we'll accept into this program. We'd like as many as possible," Pierson said.
Pierson said students are guaranteed admittance into the engineering schools as long as they meet the standards of the agreements between the universities. The UM-Twin Cities requires a 2.8 overall grade point average for transfer into the engineering school; UW-Madison requires a 3.0 GPA.
For additional information about UW-Eau Claire's physics/engineering dual degree program, contact Pierson at (715) 836-5009 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: May 20, 2002