2012 BFY Abstract Detail Page
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||A Comprehensive Laboratory Experience
||BS physics majors at CWRU take a set of four advanced laboratory courses during their sophomore and junior years. The sophomore courses cover analog and digital electronics, electronic instrumentation, computer interfacing and signal analysis. Associated lectures explain Fourier Transform and convolution principles plus filtering, phase sensitive detection and other techniques for extracting information from a signal. A popular final project in the first course is construction of a music synthesizer which is used to play a short tune, saving it in a memory chip for replay on command. By the end of their sophomore year, our majors can make valuable contributions to a research group, with practical skills that are often superior to those of new graduate students. The junior year begins with a semester of classic and modern physics experiments, with comprehensive support for each experiment plus training in professional skills such as advanced error analysis, ethics and communication (writing and speaking). In the fourth course, students work on experiments contributed by various department research groups using research quality equipment. Instructors provide information and assistance similar to the guidance one might provide a graduate student joining a research group. This experience prepares our majors for a year-long senior research project that is similar to a post-graduate research effort. These laboratory courses are time consuming and difficult for both students and instructors but our graduating seniors consistently rate them as one of the highlights of their four years at CWRU.
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