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Department of Physics 
Strategic Plan 2020-2023

Department Vision

The Department of Physics at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology aims to produce world-leading research while emphasizing quality individual education at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Department Mission

The mission of the Department of Physics at South Dakota Mines is to expand knowledge through cutting-edge research, teach students in an excellent learning environment, enhance the public’s excitement for and understanding of Physics, and provide technology transfer to industry. We carry out this mission in accordance with the principles of inclusion, equity, and diversity. 

Department Core Values

  • Concern for the individual.
  • Research excellence.
  • Service to society.

  • Department Goals aligned with SDSM&T Strategic Plan (2019-2023)

    Academic & Co-Curricular Excellence - Graduate innovative students in the fields of science and engineering who are prepared to contribute to solving global challenges and serve as leaders in an increasingly competitive and interconnected world.

      Department Goals:
      • Offer world-class undergraduate and graduate physics education.
      • Improve training of undergraduate physics majors for jobs in industry.
      Department Actions:
      • Create PHYS 211/213 aimed for majors that better matches other SDBoR common PHYS 211/213 courses.
      • Create Physics for Engineers sequence to meet desires of other SD Mines departments.
      • Add seminar-style course for first-year majors, especially those not yet taking physics.
      • Create full-year introductory laboratory course to replace PHYS 213L, with an aim of having it match the timing of material in PHYS 211/213.
      • Increase use of computational methods within courses.
      • Improve use of assessments for continuous improvement. Implement rubrics for assessing Experimental Design and Advanced lab courses and analyze results, improve introductory Mechanics and E&M national test analysis, and SSI analysis. Become involved in APS EP3.
      • In conjunction with SDSU and USD, develop and implement plan to improve effectiveness of DDN courses.
      • Complete revisions of Graduate Student handbook, including improvements of descriptions of Qualifying Exam (including possibly changing details of Qualifying Exam).
      • Establish policy on Peer Teaching Reviews.
      Department Metrics:
      • Students achieving Normalized Gains above the national average on the Force Concept Inventory and Conceptual Survey in Electricity and Magnetism (despite fewer credits than most comparison courses).
      • Reduce GAP scores on SSI survey on Instructional Effectiveness to < 0.5.
      • Reduce GAP scores on SSI survey Additional Questions to < 0.5.
      • Maintain placements in discipline-related positions or graduate school at >95%.
      • Maintain B.S. graduate starting salary at above university average.
      • Increase undergraduate enrollment to 50 by 2025, and 80 by 2030.
      • Increase B.S. graduation rates to 7 / year by 2025, and 10 /year by 2030.

    Research & Innovation - Promote an innovative and research-driven culture that discovers knowledge and creates wide-ranging partnerships that benefit society through economic growth.

      Department Goals:
      • Continue to lead and enable research at Sanford Lab.
      • Increase research productivity within all sub-disciplines.
      • Succeed in leadership of a large multi-institution grant or center.
      • Initiate Technology Transfer.
      Department Actions:
      • Improve research mentoring of junior faculty.
      • Recruit new research-active faculty.
      • Successfully propose a summer REU program in part to increase awareness of our graduate program with prospective students.
      • Determine and implement path forward for enabling High-Performance Computing.
      • Implement policy for Third Year Review of new faculty.
      Department Metrics:
      • Increase external research fund expenditures to > $1.5M / year by 2025, and > $2M / year by 2030.
      • Increase number of externally funded graduate students to >12 by 2025 and >15 by 2030.
      • Attain average slope of publication h-index of department m > 1.3 by 2025.

    Outreach & Engagement - Build recognition and respect by promoting the unique achievements of our students, faculty, and staff and increasing engagement with alumni, stakeholders and the community.

      Department Goals:
      • Improve engagement of alumni, especially those in industry.
      • Increase outreach opportunities for K-12 students in the Rapid City area.
      • Improve the promotion of the achievements and opportunities in Physics in areas outside Rapid City.
      Department Actions:
      • Reconstitute the Physics External Advisory Board, write a charter for it, and engage with it.
      • Write yearly alumni newsletter.
      • Determine and implement methods of targeting prospective undergraduates beyond Rapid City.
      • Continue and improve effectiveness of high school lecture series.
      • Continue to engage local media on research results of note.
      Department Metrics:
      • Increase donations from alumni to > $15,000 /year by 2025.
      • Increase number of undergraduate applications to > 50/year by 2025.
      • Increase contacts from alumni to at least 10/year by 2025.
      • Increase number of media coverage items of department to > 5/year by 2025.

    Campus Culture - Strive to make our campus a place where students, faculty, and staff thrive in an inclusive, equitable, diverse, and creative environment.

      Department Goals:
      • Work to increase diversity in the faculty and students.
      • Maintain a climate that is inclusive, caring, equitable, and creative.
      Department Actions:
      • Participate in APS programs to increase diversity in Physics.
      • Improve recruitment of women faculty.
      • Recruit faculty who will be effective at maintaining and increasing diversity.
      • Participate in University training opportunities.
      • Provide peer mentoring for students to ease transitions and increase retention.
      Department Metrics:
      • Maintain GAP scores on SSI survey on Academic Advising and Concern for the Individual at < 0.5.
      • Increase fraction of women faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate majors.
      • Maintain or increase retention of women and underrepresented minorities.