Department of Physics

Department of Physics
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What is Physics?

Physics is the most basic science.   Physics covers the universe from the smallest sub-atomic particles to the largest supernova.  The study of physics is the quest to understand the laws that govern everything we see (and many things we don't) and how those laws can be used to make new devices.

What do Physicists do?

Everything.  A Physicists is the high-tech "Jack-of-all-Trades".  Some jobs that WWU teachers or graduates have held are computer drafting at a semi-conductor equipment manufacturer, teaching at the high school and college level, managing in a high-tech company, programming at a phone company, researching on a quantum computer project, processing financial data, and managing a factory.

You may even have heard of some of the more famous physicists.  Einstein, Fermi, and Feynman are still studied in history books for their work on atomic weapons and power.  Gorden Moore, co-founder of Intel, holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Physics.  Angela Merkel, current Chancellor of Germany, has a degree in physics.

What do Physicists earn?

Salaries depend on the type of job you take and on the education level you have.  In the top picture to the right, salaries for a bachelors degree are listed.  If you teach high school, your salary will be on the left end of the red bar.  If you work for the government, it will be in the center.  If you work for a company like Intel, Google, AMD, TI, or Applied Materials, it will be on the right end.  Completing a Ph.D. in physics increases this amount considerably.  The picture at the right compares starting salaries for all typical education levels.  These salaries increase further with experience.  For example, a high-tech company posted a job in late 2010 for a Ph.D. in physics with five years experience for a starting salary of $140,000 plus bonuses and stock options.

WWU Physics Solar Energy Project

May 11, 2018 Update.  The Physics Department's solar array went live with power monitoring on March 9, 2010 at 5:00 pm.  This is a very modest array consisting of 6 175W panels.  Part of the panels are shaded in the afternoon by other things on the roof.  The lifetime production of the array is 7816 kW-hrs.  The lifetime savings at electrical rates of $0.10/kW-hr for the university are $860

News from the WWU Physics Department

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Page maintained by Tom Ekkens | Last update on July 23, 2015