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Master of Science in Physics

Capstone Project

At the end of their studies, students in the UW Master of Science in Physics program undertake a capstone project. Completed under the supervision of a faculty mentor, the capstone allows you to demonstrate an advanced understanding of a specific topic in physics, as well as the ability to perform independent scholarly work.

While no specific number of credits is required for the capstone, most students take at least six credits, spread over two quarters or more.

Capstone Project Process

The first two steps of the capstone are to identify a project and a faculty mentor. Typically, the capstone involves experimentation, analysis or instrumentation related to a physics problem of current interest, or a topic in physics education. Many students work on research projects of faculty in the Department of Physics, and the faculty member serves as your mentor. You can also pursue a research topic of your own choice, provided you recruit a faculty member to be your mentor.

You can also conduct physics-related research for faculty in other departments, or do a project at your workplace, provided it’s approved by the program’s faculty coordinator. In each of these cases, you must find a faculty mentor.

You can begin looking for a suitable project topic and mentor as soon as you start taking classes. Browse research areas on the department website to identify faculty whose work interests you, and contact the faculty member to discuss working with their group. The faculty coordinator can help you identify and contact faculty with expertise and research interests that match your interests.

Past Capstone Projects

  • Chirp Sonar System Development and Testing
  • Creating Mathematical Models of Neurons Using MATLAB
  • Design of an Offner Imaging Spectrometer
  • Development of a Pre-Optics Curriculum for Physical Science Students
  • Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) Correlations in Annihilation Photon Experiments
  • Impurity Effects on Charge Collection in Liquid Argon
  • Laser Diode Stabilization Using External Optical Feedback
  • Methods to Improve Mode Discrimination and Power
  • Stability of a Short Cavity CO2 Laser
  • Pixel Detector for the ATLAS experiment at LHC: Data Acquisition and Calibration
  • Remote Sensing Measurements in Complex Wind Flow
  • Sern-Gerlach Experiment: Website for Undergraduates
  • Time Series Analysis of Electrocorticographic Data

Final Report and Examination

In addition to the capstone project effort, students must also prepare a written report and give a final oral presentation on the capstone project and take an oral exam.

There is no required format for the written report, though it’s typically formatted as a technical paper. The final oral exam committee consists of two faculty members, at least one of whom is a member of the graduate faculty. Students get help preparing for their final presentation and exam from their faculty supervisor.