From the Program Director

Jennifer L. BurrisThis is an exciting time for the Professional Science Master's Programs in Engineering Physics here at Appalachian. In 2007, we officially launched the PSM program in Instrumentation and Automation with a single student. Since that time, we have added a PSM program in Nanoscience for Advanced Materials that builds upon our emerging facilities and faculty expertise in related fields. Since the first graduates in 2009, we have graduated 14 PSM graduates, and are continuing to grow. Currently, we have 8 students in the PSM program.

The success of our program has relied heavily on many people, but primarily our Advisory Board, our emerging internship partners, our first PSM director, Dr. Chris Thaxton, our Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, Dr. Holly Hirst, our Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, Dr. Edelma Huntley and our Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Anthony Calamai. Most importantly, however, are our students. They have persevered through the program growing pains while maintaining excellence in the classroom, the labs, and the workplace. One of our first students, Richard Norris, is featured in a related article by the APS - check it out!

2010 marked the beginning of a formal relationship with the Walker College of Business MBA program here at Appalachian. The Walker COB will be providing the bulk of our professional core courses and is on-board with an optional MBA track for our PSM students - PSM graduates can stay an extra year and earn an MBA! Our partnership with the East Carolina University College of Business has been critical for these early stages of our program, and will be an ongoing option for on-line professional core coursework as well. (For more information, check out the story in ECU COB's Stocknotes alumni magazine (Spring 2009) [PDF], page 4).

As we move forward, our focus will continue to be on the development of our regional and national workforce - producing outstanding graduates that offer their employers the unique combination of the exceptional problems solving skills indicative of a physics and engineering academic background with the experience and knowledge of corporate internships, backed by MBA-level coursework. Instrumentation and automation and Nanoscience for Advanced Materials are areas applicable to any and all enterprises that intend on being competitive in our technology-based economies - if you are a potential employer, you should strongly consider the value-add of a PSM-holding employee; if you are a student, you should realize that a PSM degree provides you a marked advantage in today's competitive job market.

I hope that you find this website and related materials informative. If you have any questions or comments regarding our program, please feel free to contact me directly at 828-262-2434 or

Best regards,
Jennifer Burris, Ph.D.

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Mail Address:
Department of Physics and Astronomy
ASU Box 32106
Boone, NC 28608-2106 

Physical Address (also for shipping):
GWH 231
525 Rivers Street
Boone, NC, 28608-2106

Telephone: 828-262-3090
Fax: 828-262-2049

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