One of the best things about being a physics major is getting involved with the department outside the classroom. Here are some ideas:
Being a TA
Teaching assistants (TAs) assist professors in principally two ways: lab assistance and grading. Duties for lab TAs may include attending weekly training meetings, running lab sessions, grading lab reports. Students are paid an hourly rate based on experience with the department.
Being a TA can be a very valuable experience. Students often find that they have a much deeper understanding of physics after being a TA. In addition, having the responsibility and communication skills required to be a good TA is attractive to employers and graduate schools. One of the favorite benefits to being a TA is having a key to our student study space, affectionately called "The Zoo".
Applications for TA positions can be obtained from Donna VanderGriend in the department office. Students will be matched with open positions as they become available. Successful completion of the Physics/Astronomy core, PHYS 161, 162, and 163, is required.
Getting Involved with Research
Faculty in the Physics & Astronomy Department actively involve students in their research as a key component of the undergraduate education. Students who are taking PHYS 161 or PHYS 162 and who would like to learn more about research opportunities for students should consider taking our seminar for prospective majors, PHYS 190. Students are also welcome and encouraged to approach faculty individually and inquire about research opportunitites.
Many opportunities also exist outside of Western for undergraduates to get involved in summer research, including the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program and the NASA Undergraduate Student Research Program.