Tom Wilson taught physics at ECC for 45 years, from 1950 to 1995. He was responsible for much of the present organization and the supplementary lecture and lab material in the program for majors in engineering & physical sciences.
In addition to Professor Wilson's unsurpassed efforts in the classroom as a physics teacher, he took every opportunity to instill in his students a desire to educate themselves beyond the typical engineering curriculum. An example of this are the quotations found in the physics classrooms, another is the compilation of ANECDOTES he drew upon in his lectures, and yet another is THE READING LIST compiled over many years and made available to his students during his tenure at El Camino College.
Considering what seems to be a current lack of interest in these things, Tom was not enthusiastic about posting them on the web. However, after insistent requests from previous students, as well as current faculty, he has agreed to make them available.
Please send any comments or corrections concerning the above to Leon Leonardo who will be sure to bring them to Tom's attention.
Considering a course in Physics? Considering Physics at El Camino College? Read on:
In every breath you take, what probability is there that you have inhaled one of the same molecules that Julius Caesar exhaled in his last breath in 44 B.C.? Physics answers that. (See answer below.)
Did the universe begin in a big bang of energy at a point in space? (Was there any space then? Was there any then?) How did the electron, positron, quarks get formed? Physics is working on the answers to these questions, and you could be a part of the quest.
How far can we go in gene engineering? Bio-engineering will be one of the most important technical fields in the 21st century, and with a major in physics, or engineering, or chemistry, or in one of the life sciences, you could be a part of discoveries vital to human beings.
At El Camino College, we've had students who have completed two years of college physics in our classes, then transferred to a 4-year university, and have then become contributors in all of these fields. They have come back to tell us how well ECC prepared them for their university work and also to tell us about their satisfying careers. They've also told us that the best teachers they had in all their college work were those they had in physics, math, and chemistry at ECC. If you think we're exaggerating, talk to your acquaintances working in technical fields that did their first two years at ECC and then obtained their degree from a university or state college. There are lots of them in the South Bay. For many years, ECC transfers to UCLA and CSULB have stood first or second in the graduating classes in Engineering.
There's a reason. ECC instructors devote almost all of their working time to preparing lectures, demonstrations, and labs, checking students work, grading tests, and talking with students about their class work and their future college plans. In 4-year schools, most of this work in the first two years is done by assistants, and the students rarely have a chance to talk to a professor in classes as large as 200 or more. At ECC, the physics department has its own machine/workshop, classrooms dedicated to each of the 4 major courses (1ABCD), and a full time lab technician who helps create and organize our department's many classroom demonstrations. Our physics courses for science and engineering majors average 20-30 students. You won't be an unrecognized, undifferentiated particle inside a big mass at ECC. Of course, it's possible that you may want to go through college in a faceless, anonymous way but you should overcome that tendency if you want a successful professional career. Start at ECC. (You'll save a lot of money, too.)
Many high-school graduates (perhaps also their parents) know that they will get a very good education and save money if they come to El Camino College for their first two years of college, but they feel a 4-year school offers greater prestige that will give them an advantage later in getting the job they want. But, in fact, employers and interviewers rarely give much consideration to where an applicant did his/her high-school work or lower-division college work. They are interested in your upper-division courses and grades, and in the reputation of the college where you did your upper-division work and graduate work (if any). It makes sense, therefore, to do your first two years at ECC where you can get sound basic college courses from good instructors, who are interested in your progress, and where you also save money.
Welcome to El Camino College.
(Answer: about 10%)