Elite Award for Physics

Dec 13, 2012

A national award for improving undergraduate Physics education will be presented to Kettering in the spring.

Kettering University is on the short list for improving undergraduate Physics education in the country and will receive a national award in the spring. 

American Physical SocietyThe Committee on Education (COE) of the American Physical Society (APS) announced the four institutions that will receive the 2013 Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education. The award, which will be presented during the APS national meeting in Denver, Colo., in April, recognizes Physics departments and/or undergraduate-serving programs in Physics that support best practices in education at the undergraduate level.

Dr. Bahram Roughani, head of the Physics DepartmentDr. Bahram Roughani, head of the Physics Department at Kettering University and a professor of Physics, said the University’s unique style of preparing undergraduates is key to receiving this national award.  “The Physics degree program at Kettering University is designed as an intentional and unique undergraduate experiential Physics education,” Dr. Roughani said. 

He defined the strength of Kettering’s program as:

  • Outcome-based education supported by assessment of the main elements of the Physics experiential education,
  • the unique combination of co-op, thesis, applied areas of Physics with industrial applications (Acoustics, Optics and Materials),
  • interdisciplinary capstone design courses and
  • emphasis on developing an entrepreneurial mind set.  

“This shows why our students are successful in graduate studies and easily secure some of the highest paying jobs with an undergraduate degree based on their unique Physics education,” Dr. Roughani added.

The 2013 winners are:

Kettering University
Kettering University’s Physics Department is a distinctive program, with co-op experiences integrated into the academic curriculum to promote graduates being placed in industry. Kettering has demonstrated excellence by tripling the number of majors over the last ten years as well as by focusing on the assessment of particular elements of the program including course outcomes and evaluation of co-op experiences.

Colorado School of Mines
The Department of Physics at The Colorado School of Mines dedicated and aggressive approach has transformed all levels of their curriculum, from introductory classes for non-majors to senior level courses and seminars. Over the past decade the number of majors has more than doubled, from 114 students in 2000-2001 to 258 students in 2011-2012, significantly outpacing the overall growth of the student body. They are now one of the top five largest Physics departments in the country, graduating on average 56 seniors per year since 2006.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT has engineered an impressive transformation of its undergraduate Physics curriculum, which currently produces the largest number of bachelor's degrees in Physics annually of any university in the United States. The Department has more than doubled the number of majors since 2001, accompanied by a focus on diversity that has resulted in a department in which more than a third of graduating seniors are women. These changes have been accomplished through a focused commitment to creating a program that is flexible, welcoming and respectful of all students, with advising, mentoring and other programs to support students at all levels. The Department has been a consistent innovator in Physics education with an emphasis on quality, including the innovative Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) approach to teaching introductory Physics to most MIT freshmen. This dual focus on outstanding educational practices and a student-focused departmental culture has resulted in an exceptionally strong undergraduate Physics program.

University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse
The University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse Physics Department is honored for revitalizing their Physics program through widespread student-centric reforms. These reforms have included implementing a revised curriculum at all levels using Physics-education research supported methods, increasing undergraduate participation in research, creating a supportive department community through seminars and student organizations, and developing a thriving Physics teacher training program. The results of these efforts have been a significant increase in the number of majors, bringing this undergraduate-only program from the brink of elimination to one of the largest Physics departments in Wisconsin, national recognition of many of the department programs, and quantifiable success of the students graduating from the program.

The Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education
The Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education was initiated in 2011 by COE to recognize Physics departments and/or undergraduate-serving programs in Physics that support best practices in education at the undergraduate level. Programs are recognized for three years, acknowledged on the APS website, awarded a plaque, announced in APS News and will be recognized at the APS national meeting in April 2013 in Denver, Colo. The awards acknowledge commitment to inclusive, high-quality Physics education for undergraduate students and as a catalyst for departments and programs to make significant improvements.

About APS
The American Physical Society (www.aps.org) is a non-profit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of Physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy and international activities. APS represents more than 50,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories and industry in the United States and throughout the world. Society offices are located in College Park, Md., Ridge, N.Y., and Washington, D.C.