Fact Sheet

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Mathematics and Science

Overview

This department offers courses in the basic sciences:

  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics

All midshipmen take these courses, generally during their first two years. In the Fourth Class year, mathematics and science courses comprise approximately 40 percent of the academic program. The courses are designed to teach the fundamental concepts that midshipmen will use in later courses in the Engineering and the Marine Transportation curriculums. The department also provides a strong science background required of all educated people in our world of high technology.

The department’s General Education Mission Objectives for Mathematics & Science (GEMOMS) are as follows:

  1. Development of quantitative and qualitative reasoning skills so that our students will be able to model the physical world around them using the language of mathematics
  2. Develop students’ understanding of the physical world through mastery of the fundamental principles of science
  3. Develop students’ understanding of the experimental method & role of observation in determining causal relationships
  4. Develop students’ understanding of computational and statistical principles and methods
  5. Develop students’ integrity and scientific professionalism.

Physics and Chemistry

All midshipmen are required to take two terms of Physics and one term of General Chemistry. These courses have a strong laboratory component so that midshipmen can experience the experimental side of science regardless of major.   The department maintains general and advanced science laboratories that incorporate the recent technologies of microelectronics, lasers, advanced instrumentation and PC-based data acquisition.

In addition, research grade instrumentation is used in the nuclear lab (e.g. radiation detectors and nuclear instrumentation) and the Engineering Chemistry lab (e.g. atomic force microscope, atomic absorption spectroscopy). The department is also responsible for the operation of the Class of '81 Astronomical Observatory which houses our 16” Meade LX200 telescope. The observatory as well as laboratories and offices are located in the Fulton/Gibbs building.

The physics and chemistry courses are rigorous. The Plebe physics courses are calculus-based and are taken concurrently with or just after Calculus I. All Marine Engineering majors are required to take an Engineering Chemistry course and at least one elective (depending on major) from an approved list. Marine Engineering Systems majors also take Physics III.

Mathematics

Because mathematics is so important to nearly every area of study at the Academy, all entering midshipmen take an examination administered by the department. Those students who are found to be weaker in math are placed in an extended Calculus 1 course. The extended Calculus 1 provides students with an extra hour of math instruction per week.

All midshipmen take two terms of Calculus and one term of Probability and Statistics.  Marine Engineering students also take one term of Differential Equations. Marine Engineering Systems majors take a second course in Differential Equations as well as Calculus 3. Marine Engineering Shipyard Management majors take Calculus 3 and two courses in Operations Research.


Math and Science Concentrations

The Department of Mathematics and Science offers three concentrations each consisting of three electives. These concentrations offer our students the opportunity to focus on a field of interest and to keep up with changes in the workplace. These concentrations are in the fields of Marine Science, Nuclear Science and Mathematics.

Electives

The department also offers electives that, in addition to providing advanced study, reflect some of the scholarly and research efforts of the faculty. Examples of such electives are:

  • Advanced Engineering Math
  • Applications of Nuclear Science
  • Astronomy
  • Astrophysics
  • Atomic Physics
  • Chemistry of Hazardous Materials
  • Cryptography
  • Environmental Sampling
  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Java Programming
  • Modern Physics
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Oceanography
  • Physical Oceanography

Nuclear Engineering

The Nuclear Engineering minor track of the Marine Engineering Systems program is one of the department's oldest and most successful programs, dating back to the 1960s, when the Academy trained personnel for America's first nuclear merchant ship, the SAVANNAH. Presently, midshipmen taking this sequence find employment opportunities in the nuclear power industry or enlist in the navy's nuclear service. The Atomic and Nuclear Physics courses are given by the Mathematics and Science Department, while the Nuclear Engineering courses are given by the Engineering Department.

Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013