Advice to Incoming Students Interested in Engineering

If you're an entering student who's interested in the engineering combined-degree plan, it is important that you take or place out of General Physics I (PHYS 231) and Calculus I (MATH 121) your first semester, get at least a B (3.0) in them, and contact the program director, Eric Hill, prior to Spring registration so that he can work with you to identify appropriate courses.

Please note that General Physics I is offered during only the Fall semester, so a student would have to wait an entire year for it to be offered again. Also, only one section is offered (MWF 11-12:20 plus a choice of lab times). If this conflicts with your current First Year Seminar, your advisor and the program director, Eric Hill, can work with you to determine whether changing seminars would be recommended. If the course is full when you register, email the instructor, Martín Hoecker-Martinez. We will do our best to accommodate all qualified students who are interested in engineering.

Calculus I is a co-requisite for General Physics I, but we strongly encourage you to enroll in the highest calculus course for which you are qualified since Calculus II and III are core pre-engineering courses (and required for General Physics II and III which are also core pre-engineering courses.) If you place into Integrated Calculus I (MATH 118) or lower, you should contact the program director to discuss options. The soonest you could take General Physics I and II would be next year (or you may take comparable summer courses.) Since the math placement exam evaluates your preparation to take Calculus by testing your algebraic skills, particularly those associated with Algebra II, we strongly encourage you to practice them skills over the summer.  There are many good sites that can help you review; for example Kahn Academy and ALEKS.

Suggested first-year courses for students interested in engineering:

  • Fall

    • First-year seminar

    • General Physics I (PHYS 231) AND lab (PHYS231L)

    • Highest possible Calculus class (at least MATH 121)

    • General Education*

  • Spring

    • General Physics II (PHYS 232) AND lab

    • Highest possible Calculus class (at least MATH 122)

    • General Education

    • General Education

Students are required to have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 in the General Physics (PHYS 231-233) and Calculus (MATH 121,122, and 221) sequences in order to declare a physics major.

An alternative path into engineering (outside of the combined-degree plan) is earning a science degree and then pursuing an MS in engineering. The courses required for the combined-degree plan are still highly recommended for this option. The program director can help you choose appropriate courses for this option.

* If you're interested in Chemical or Biomedical Engineering, you should take General Chemistry I (CHEM 131 and 131L) your first semester. Otherwise, it may be postponed a year or two.