Department of Physics
The Department of Physics supports a wide range of research opportunities for both cadets and faculty. Our multi-purpose research program enhances the cadet educational experience through real-life, hands-on research projects; maintains and enhances the physics expertise of its faculty members and supports the needs of the Air Force and DoD by providing a unique collection of experience able to focus on specific problems. Approximately one half of the physics faculty is involved in research that includes astronomy and space physics, lasers and optics, and physics education. Topics under investigation over the last few years include:
- Space Physics and Atmospheric Research Center (SPARC)
- Lasers and Optics Research (LORC)
- Physics Education Research
- Cadet Research
- USAFA Observatory
Individual faculty members devote an average of about 10 percent of their time to research projects during the academic year and, often, a higher percentage of their time during the summer. Many faculty members support cadet research projects through the department's independent study courses. These activities make use of the Laser and Optics Research Center (LORC), the Space Physics and Atmospheric Research Center (SPARC), the Center for Physics Education Research (CPER) and the Air Force Academy Observatory, and they may extend to Air Force and National laboratory facilities during the summer. Faculty and cadets are encouraged to present their results at meetings and symposia. Financial support for travel and publications is obtained from a variety of sponsors, including the Dean of the Faculty, Air Force laboratories, NASA, and other agencies.
Laboratories and Facilities
The Department of Physics is well equipped to support advanced laboratory classes, cadet research and faculty research. The department's modern, multi-million dollar facilities include the Laser and Optics Research Center (LORC), Space Physics and Atmospheric Research Center (SPARC), the Center for Physics Education Research (CPER), and the Air Force Academy Observatory.