The best way to learn physics is by doing physics. To this end, at Houghton we offer a curriculum that, in addition to solid coursework, emphasizes the practical laboratory experience. Our goal is to provide a much broader experience for our students by having them spend several years becoming deeply involved in a “real-world” research problem – a problem that requires them to use all of the skills, tools and knowledge they have accumulated throughout their educational career, from electronic design to quantum mechanics to machine shop. Students present their work at professional scientific meetings, as well as prepare a thesis. Summers are often spent working on research with Houghton faculty as well, most recently on experiments at Ohio University and SUNY Geneseo for the inertial confinement fusion programs at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) and nanotechnology research at the Cornell Center for Materials Research at Cornell University.
Students get the chance to work on a wide variety of problems which require them to integrate the skills they have mastered in their traditional coursework, as well as learn new techniques. They also show posters and give oral presentations at scientific meetings. Finally, at the end of their senior year, they prepare a thesis detailing their work.