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Courses My physics 1 & 2 teacher skipped so much material...

  1. Oct 4, 2016 #1
    I go to a community college for mechanical engineering and I always thought that physics 1 and 2 were way too easy and that my teacher probably skipped a lot of important material. One of my friends just transferred to a university to major in physics and he's been telling me that we didn't really learn anything we needed to to major in physics. My CC focuses on its engineering programs, so the things we learned in physics were more geared towards what engineers will use, not what physicists will use.

    I have pretty much made the decision to transfer to a university to study physics after I get my A.S. in mechanical engineering, but the fact that I am going to be so far behind is stressing me and making me reconsider my decision to major in physics. I will list all of the things my physics teacher didn't go over and I want to know if any of you think I'm too far behind to major in physics. I was planning on studying over winter break and a little over summer if I have time ( I was planning on doing research over the summer), but I'm not sure if this will be enough. I have been in this situation before due to CC teachers skipping material and it sucks.

    I guess I could retake Physics 1 and 2 at the university I'm planning on transferring to but then I'd be so far behind on physics but so ahead on math that I'd only be able to take like 1 class a semester for my first year.. I'm not sure if It would be worth it for me to do that. I mean I really like physics but I've been back and forth between engineering and physics for the past year. I could just major in engineering and still enjoy what I do.

    List of topics my professor didn't cover:
    1. Inertial Frames
    2. Motion in Accelerated Frames
    3. Motion in the Presence of Resistive Forces
    4. All of Universal Gravitation
    5. All of Fluid Mechanics
    6. Everything about Oscillations and Mechanical Waves (Oscillatory Motion, Wave Motion, Sound Waves, Superposition and Standing Waves, etc.)
    7. The Kinetic Theory of Gases
    8. Dielectrics
    9. The Hall Effect
    10. Magnetic Torgue
    11. Magnetic Field of a Solenoid
    12. Barely covered Gauss's Law in Magnetism
    13. Magnetism in Matter
    14. Lenz's Law
    15. Motional emf
    16. Eddy Currents
    17. Everything about Inductance
    18. Everything about Alternating- Current Circuits
    19. Everything about Electromagnetic Waves
    20. Almost everything about light and optics. (Wave Optics, Diffraction Patterns and Polarization, etc.) We learned about image formation and some basics about the nature of light and that was about it.
    21. Everything about modern physics ( it says in my textbook that we were supposed to learn all this stuff about relativity but we didn't learn any of it.)
    22. Also never learned anything about Line Integrals, Surface Integrals, Greens Theorem, Stokes Theorem or anything like that in my Vector Calculus class
    These are just the topics I know we didn't cover just from looking at the contents of my textbook, but I'm sure there's more. I'm honestly not sure how I'm supposed to catch up on this and am considering just majoring in engineering since I've already taken a few classes in it. What do you all think
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 4, 2016 #2

    CalcNerd

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    Don't PANIC!!! yet, anyway. Even good Physics programs often skip certain topics or material, due to time constraints and wanting to focus on other more important subjects.
    .
    What text did you use at your CC? Some are much better than others. Is your AS in Mech Eng or Mech Eng Tech? ie Have you taken Calc I and II? ie was your Physics a calculus based physics course? If not, you will need to re-take Physics I and II as a physics major (or even as a ME).
     
  4. Oct 4, 2016 #3
    My textbook was Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Serway and Jewett, but I'm not even sure if my teacher followed it she kinda just taught what she wanted to. And my AS is in Mech Eng and I have taken math up to Diff Eq, so my physics classes were calculus based.

    And I understand that some programs skip material but my friend told me the whole first test in his modern physics class is on relativity and waves which are topics that we completely skipped over in physics 1 and 2. It seems like there wasn't enough time to teach everything so she just taught things that only related to engineering.
     
  5. Oct 4, 2016 #4

    CalcNerd

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    Yes, that textbook is sorta like Physics Lite. But it is still acceptable and better than some other texts. Haven't you had the opportunity to take Fluids as an ME?
    .
    If your CC taught up to DFQ and you were a good student, you should be fine. You might have some catching up to do, but most physics programs teach Modern Physics as a course unto itself ie they don't try and cover in a chapter or two, but devote a whole semester for this.
    .
    If you do switch over to a physics major, yes, I do suggest you self study to catch up. Not necessarily that you are behind, but to improve yourself and I would suggest to contact that college's Physics department on which text they used for their Physics I and II and review THAT text and do some problems from their school and their textbook.
     
  6. Oct 4, 2016 #5
    I have not taken fluid mechanics yet, the only other engineering classes I have left to take in my AS are dynamics and strength of materials. That is a good idea, I just emailed one of the professors to see what textbook they currently use.

    It's still kind of discouraging though, I already have to rush through a ton of physics classes is just 2 years (transfer students are only allowed 2 years at this specific university) and I was hoping that I would be able to get through it because of my background in engineering and because of my good grades. It feels like I'm going to have to relearn so much now.
     
  7. Oct 4, 2016 #6

    Student100

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    Most transfer physics students will start with an upper division course in mechanics or E&M, while also finishing anything the university requires for GE, or remedial work. (I had to take a course on vector calculus, even though we had basically done it during our multivariate class.)

    You should probably try to read through K&K on your own, and work as many problems as possible. Get the latest edition, it's relativity material is superior to the early edition. After that, you should be prepared for junior level mechanics. You should also try working through some of Purcell before taking upper division E&M.

    If you can do that, you'll be steps ahead some of your peers.

    I don't understand the part about your vector calculus course not covering basically everything that makes a course vector calculus! That seems odd.

    Pick up Mary Boas, and work through the topics you find you need in K&K or Purcell there, or topics that you feel weren't sufficiently covered. (Chapter 9 in the second edition really starts things you probably wouldn't have seen at community college, 1-9 should be a review. If it isn't, work through it.)
     
  8. Oct 5, 2016 #7

    vela

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    If you really skipped all of these topics, you might want to talk to the department chair. Instructors will skip topics here and there, but this seems like too much in my opinion.
     
  9. Oct 5, 2016 #8

    jtbell

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    Intro physics textbooks usually include modern physics, but many schools do little or nothing with it in their two-semester intro physics courses. Instead, they have a third course just for intro modern physics which often uses a different textbook. That's how it was when I was an undergraduate, and at both of the colleges where I've taught.
     
  10. Oct 5, 2016 #9

    eri

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    I teach calc-based physics to scientists and engineers, and I skip most of that material too. I include a week of fluids, a little bit more optics than you got, oscillations and universal gravitation, but the rest just doesn't make it in most semesters. Modern is a separate class entirely. Why do I do it that way? Well, when I first started teaching, more of that made it into the class. But fewer students made it through the class. I now cut out most of that stuff and spend more time making sure they've got the basics and concepts. I learned most of that in my more upper level classes anyway (and had never seen any fluid mech until I started teaching this class, despite the PhD!). I do spend a whole week on Gauss's Law; many skip it entirely but I want them to see a little bit of theory before leaving physics. It shouldn't take a week, but it somehow it always does.
     
  11. Oct 5, 2016 #10

    vela

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    So you're including the major topics which should be part of an intro physics course. Skipping electrical circuits is one thing, but omitting oscillations, waves, Lenz's law, and Newton's law of gravity is another.
     
  12. Oct 5, 2016 #11

    Student100

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    I think the important thing to take away from this thread for any other CC transfer students/the OP, is that any student transferring from community college to university for physics should also be independently studying beyond what's covered in your courses.

    Community College physics courses are aimed at those transferring for engineering type degrees, while universities often have a separate physics track for physics majors. This is fine considering 99.9% of students taking physics at CC are not transferring for a physics major. Should you be in that small handful each year who do, take the time to read more throughly from a text aimed more at physics majors. Study the derivations, work more challenging problems, review both topics covered and not. In the end, the only one who can assure you're prepared is yourself - it's not the lecturer or the classes responsibility. Even more so when the class isn't aimed at you, per se.
     
  13. Oct 7, 2016 #12
    You're definitely right. I knew that my teacher was skipping a lot of material when I was in the class, but I always thought I was going to major in engineering so I never really worried about it. I did read the whole textbook and learned a lot of extra material, but I didn't really focus on anything that she didn't go over. Most people in my class never studied and got A's on all of the tests because they were so easy.
     
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