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Is UAH a good physics school?

  1. Jul 13, 2004 #1
    University of Alabama in Huntsville. I hear it has ties to the US space program. I have also hear it has a VERY hard engineering program.

    Is it a good school for a physics undergrad?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2004 #2
    What matters at the undergraduate level is the devotion of the teachers to teaching and the quality of instruction.

    Besides, the numero uno factor in your undergraduate success is YOU.

    Worry abut the NASA ties when you go to graduate school.
  4. Jul 14, 2004 #3
    UAH used to have an excellent Optics program when I was colloborating with them, but that was 10 years ago.
  5. Jul 14, 2004 #4

    Dr Transport

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    They have Full Professors that I would not hire to teach high school. I earned advanced degrees there and since have figured out that I didn't learn half of what I needed. So bad that I have had myself removed from all of their alumni lists.....I don't want to associate with them. Does this give you a clue??? If you want to waste your time and money, go there, if not I suggest another school, outside of Alabama,
  6. Jul 14, 2004 #5
    That's just dumb. UAH is a good school. Besides, I can't transfer to a college outside Alabama.
  7. Jul 17, 2004 #6

    Dr Transport

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    OK, let's put it another way. A majority of the faculty have not been trained as physicists, but as astronomers. Their optics faculty has dwindled and really does not do optics as physics but as engineering. Anyone on the faculty that was or is a competent physicist has either left or retired, save one whom I know is one of the best I have ever worked with and he is ready to retire in the next year or so (his reputation in the physics community is still very strong, even though he did his best work in the 60's and 70's and was in management during the 80's and 90's).

    To put it succinctly, I wouldn't hire someone with a UAH degree in physics.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2004
  8. Jul 17, 2004 #7
    I went to their Web site, and I have to admit being astonished by the fact that they have no atomic, nuclear, or particle physicists on their staff. (They must feel that if you can solve the Schroedinger equation, you know all you need to know to teach quantum mechanics.)

    They have three solid state physicists --- one that looks close to retirement age, one that is roughly 50 years old, and a lecturer.

    Maybe Dr. Transport has something there.
  9. Jul 17, 2004 #8

    Dr Transport

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    I can talk fairly well about the department. I do not know the lecturer, he was hired after I left, to teach advanced labs. The other two are solid state theorists, the lady is the wife of the university president. She has not been teaching for at least 7 years because she is the Executive Officer for the American Physical Society. The last person was the chairman of my PhD committee, he is the only one on the faculty who is a Fellow of the APS, matter a fact, I think the only one who is a Fellow of any professional society, whether it be physics, astronomy or optics.

    When I went there, there were 5 or 6 optics faculty. Now I think it is down to 3 or 4 and one is the deprtment chairman. He has by far the best optics credentials, a Rochester graduate.

    I cannot tell you much about the plasma or astronomy faculty, I avoided them like the plague. I do know that in discussions with them, they didn't impress me too much with their knowledge of physics and for the most part I knew as much as they did. I can tell you this much, the ones who wanted to leave and go someplace else, didn't get offered equivalent positions, i.e. if they had tenure, they were not offered tenure elsewhere as well as equivalent stature (Assoc Profo or Professor).

    The university has a habit of denying tenure to well qualified applicants and giving tenure to people who are nothing more than cash cows. Most of the really good faculty I knew there left for places where they were treated better.

    As for graduate course work, I have a masters from another major university in the northeast. After finishing all the coursework towards my PhD, I hadn't seen anything new in any Physics course, the optics I took was all new to me, so there was no repeats. Most of the courses were no harder than my undergraduate work, save the advanced quantum, the professor, who since has retired, was a bear. I think the hardest course I took was in nonlinear optics and the instructor was in the EE department and I think he knew more physics than most.

  10. Jul 17, 2004 #9
    What school do you recommend then? I mean, I am a community college student right now. I don't think I could transfer to a college out of state.
  11. Jul 17, 2004 #10
    Oh, and by the way, I meant UNDERGRAD program. not Grad.
  12. Jul 18, 2004 #11
    Well, even at the undergraduate level having too many faculty devoted to a particular research topic is not healthy for two reasons:

    1. Some of the upper-division courses are not taught as well, because the faculty has too few members that understand the practical applications of the relevant theory.

    2. It shows that the faculty is devoted almost exclusively to research, thus education be damned.

    I think I would listen to Zandorian and look elsewhere if you can. Why not the University of Alabama? UAB? Auburn? University of Mobile?

    Here is a listing of colleges and universities in Alabama. What is wrong with these schools? Have you checked out the quality of their physics teaching?

    http://www.college-scholarships.com/alabama.htm [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  13. Jul 18, 2004 #12

    Dr Transport

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    I'd say, Auburn and UAB are the best ones. There are not too many schools in Alabama that I'd reccomend. With a 2-year degree, you should be able to go to an out of state school, you might have to repeat a course or two, but if you stay in Alabama there is no gaurantee that you wouldn't have to anyway.

    If you wan to stay in the south, Georgia Tech is really good, UCF has a decent optics program. At the undergrad level in Optics, I'd say Rochester, Arizona and Rose-Hullman are the top 3. As for physics, look around, there are plenty of places to go that are better than UAH.
  14. Jul 18, 2004 #13
    Thanks for all the replies guys.

    I have one more for you:

    Is it realistic to think about transfering to an ivy league school? I have a GED (I made a 638 out of 800) and I just started at a community college.

    I have one B and one A so far. The B is in english 101 and the A in math 098.

    If I make all A's from now on, could I go to MIT?
    I know so many of you are laughing at that..... but oh well.
  15. Jul 18, 2004 #14

    Dr Transport

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    The worst thing you can do is not try to go someplace else when you are finished. Work hard, do as well as you can and you should make it.
  16. Jul 18, 2004 #15
    Make it to MIT?

  17. Jul 18, 2004 #16

    Assuming you meant transferring out of JC into an Ivy League school:

    IMO, you have no chance. Ivy League schools typically don't recruit out of JCs, for obvious reasons.

    Assuming you meant attending an Ivy League school as a post-graduate:

    Define realistic. After all, it all depends on how you do in school, your letters of recommendation, and your GRE scores. This isn't a mere crap shoot.

    If you get all A's (or something close), score like 750 on the GRE (which is a damn good score) and have outstanding letters, you have a chance.
  18. Jul 18, 2004 #17
    If ivy league is out of the question, what about the best physics public schools? What are some of the best public college physics schools?
  19. Jul 18, 2004 #18

    Dr Transport

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    Go and try.....
  20. Jul 18, 2004 #19
    This does not mean that you would be by any means at a disadvantage applying as an undergraduate if you have previously acquired a two-year degree from a community college, does it?
  21. Jul 19, 2004 #20
    No, if you are referring to applying for graduate school, I think my post addresses that situation.

    If you are talking about transferring, I don't think Ivy League schools accept many transfers, if any. Again, they like to recruit fresh crops right out of high school.

    At the undergraduate level? That is tough to say. You want small class sizes and instructors devoted to instruction rather than research. But most public universities feature the exact opposite.

    For example, the University of Kansas has probably a better undergraduate program in physics than the University of California, at least in tems of instruction quality. But the University of California is much better at the graduate level.

    If you are attending a JC, your chances are significantly better transferring to a public school within the state. In many states the public universities must take you once you have completed a certain number of credits. So which state are you attending JC?

    Finally, what are you looking for in your search for a university? What do you want the university to provide you?
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