Course Spotlight: Promoting Preparedness in PHYS 1301W

 This blog post is the third in our Course Spotlight series which breaks down what to expect in CSE students’ most common first year courses. Check it out for more on what to expect in PHYS 1301W, CSE's introductory physics course. 

All CSE majors require PHYS 1301W: Introductory Physics for Science and Engineering I. The following Q&A with Dr. Aaron Wynveen, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies in the School of Physics and Astronomy, breaks down what to expect in this course and what resources are available to ensure your success. 
What can I expect to learn from this course? 
Introductory Physics for Science and Engineering I (Physics 1301W) covers kinematics, Newton's laws of motion, momentum and energy conservation, rotational dynamics, static equilibrium, oscillatory systems, and Newton's law of universal gravitation.  You may have seen much of this material in a high school physics class, but the topics here are explored in more depth and with greater mathematical rigor. 
There is a laboratory component of this course in which the topics discussed in lecture are investigated empirically, carrying out analyses of various experimental explorations which are then presented in lab reports.
How are grades usually calculated in this course? 
Grades are assigned based on exam scores, homework sets, lab scores, and class participation, with the weighting of these various components outlined in the course syllabus.  The course is not curved, but grade cutoffs may be slightly adjusted to reflect the difficulty of the material as outlined, again, in the course syllabus.
What study tips do you have for your students?
It is imperative to keep up with the material since the class moves along at a brisk pace.  As physics is a subject that is learned by doing, the best way to master the material is to work through homework problems, and rework examples from class and the textbook, every day.  Working with your classmates in study groups outside class periods is highly encouraged.  If you are stuck on a problem or a concept, take advantage of TA or faculty office hours or, again, seek out your classmates' help.
What resource(s) exist to help support my academic success?
There is a drop-in tutor room in the physics building (Tate Hall) staffed by teaching assistants (generally, physics graduate students) and which is open daily during normal working hours.  There are a number of other tutoring resources, e.g., the Tutoring & Academic Success Center in Walter Library, also that students might utilize. 
When should I contact my instructor vs. my TA?
Lecture questions should be directed to your lecture instructor.  Lab and discussion session questions should be directed to your TA as they run these sessions.  Your lecture instructor will likely outline how communication should be handled in the course syllabus.