Questions and Answers

Do I need to know what field of engineering I want to study?

You do not need to select a specific field of engineering until you apply for transfer or admission to the engineering university. Your courses will be very similar during your first two years of college regardless of which field of engineering you eventually pursue. You will take calculus, physics, chemistry and general engineering courses.

How long can I stay at UW-River Falls?

Some students decide that they want to stay at UWRF more than two or three years. If you find that this is the case, you can finish your Applied Physics for Industry and Engineering (APIE) degree at UWRF in about four years. UWRF offers degrees in Agricultural and Environmental engineering as well.

How long do I have to stay at UW-River Falls?

Some students transfer to engineering universities after one or two years of pre-engineering work at UWRF. In these cases, students apply directly to engineering universities for transfer admission. There is no guarantee of admission.  You will want to select courses that will transfer to your engineering university. Several on-line transfer aids are available to help you plan.

What if I change my mind and want to switch engineering paths?

Students do change their minds about which engineering program they would like to pursue:  the Physics and Chemistry Dual Degree program, pre-engineering, Applied Physics for Industry and Engineering, agricultural or environmental engineering, graduate school, etc. Faculty are always available to advise students about their options and the unique requirements of each program. When a student is considering a change, the first step is to meet with their adviser to see how already-completed courses can best fit into the new option. Most courses can be applied to each of the engineering options. Sometimes, students may need an extra semester or two to graduate, but advisers can help minimize the extra time.

I thought I wanted to be a civil engineer, but now I think I want to be a mechanical engineer.  Is that a problem?

Not at all. Most courses at UWRF will be the same for engineering majors, regardless of their final engineering field: math, physics and general engineering. We encourage students to explore their interests. When transferring or applying to an engineering university, students will usually be asked to select an engineering field. This does not happen until your second, third or fourth years at UWRF, depending on which engineering program you are pursuing.

I want to be a chemical engineer or a materials engineer/scientist. Should I still take physics?

Yes, but you should also contact the chair of the UWRF Chemistry Department. They will advise you about which chemistry courses to take.

Do I have to pay for my graduate degree too?

Not in science and engineering. Most graduate students in science and engineering have their tuition covered and they receive a stipend or salary. Graduate students often work with faculty members on research projects.  Graduate students are often supported by the research grants of their faculty. These research arrangements often include tuition remission and stipends for living expenses for students. Some graduate students also work as teaching assistants for their department and can earn tuition remission and a stipend in that way. Students considering a graduate degree (Master's or PhD) in engineering are encouraged to contact professors that are working on projects they find interesting.

I want to visit/take a tour.  Whom do I contact?

For a visit and tour of the Physics Department, contact Professor Rellen Hardtke or call the department main office: 715-425-3235. Parents and families are welcome. Evening and weekend visits are available.

Campus tours and admissions presentations are available from the UWRF Admissions Office. Email: P: 715-425-3500.

What classes should I take in high school?

Take as much math and science, especially physics, in high school as possible. If your high school offers calculus and physics, take them. If your high school offers a second year of calculus and/or physics, take those too. UWRF does offer college course credit  for successful A.P. exams. You should also take English courses, writing and speaking. Chemistry, computer-aided design (CAD), and Computer Science are also helpful.

If I didn't take calculus in high school, can I still be an engineer?

Yes, you canYou should take the free UWRF math placement test before you enroll so that you can be placed in the correct math course. You can then take the math you need in order to prepare yourself for calculus and physics. This may increase the time to graduation, but it can and has been done. Again, be sure to take the math placement test so that you can start in the most advanced math course for which you qualify.

What classes would I start with?

A prepared engineering student at UWRF will usually begin by taking Calculus I (MATH 166) and Calculus-Based Physics I (PHYS 131). Some students are ready for Calculus II (MATH 167) when they enroll at UWRF. Academic advising is readily available from department faculty.

What kind of classes will I take in college?

Engineering students will take plenty of math courses like calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations. They will also take a year of calculus-based physics. Three engineering courses are taught at UWRF: engineering statics, engineering dynamics, and deformable bodies/mechanics of materials. Depending on which engineering program students choose, they usually take more physics, scientific programming, electronics, some english and chemistry courses, economics, and general education electives.

How good do my ACT scores/GPA need to be?

Most engineering majors have scored at least 24 on the math portion of the ACT and are ranked in the top 20% of their high school class. Because grade point averages vary from school to school, the most important criteria for engineering majors are: an aptitude for math, a sincere interest in engineering, and a commitment to working hard. The engineering and physics programs at UWRF are rigorous and not for the halfhearted, but you will find a great deal of academic support if you decide to pursue your degree here.

Contact Us

Physics Department
Phone: 715-425-3235

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