Welcome Letter

Dear students,

Welcome to Physical Systems and Applied Mathematics [PSAM], an interdisciplinary integration of physics and applied math. For those of you new to the college, welcome to Evergreen! For those of you returning to Evergreen, welcome back! We are so happy to have this chance to learn with you.

We are pleased to introduce ourselves as your faculty team: Krishna Chowdary will be with you in fall, winter, and spring, and Brian Walter will be with you in fall. We hope you are having a good summer. We are very much looking forward to our work together this year.

We are writing with some information about the program to give you a better sense of what to expect. We have been hard at work planning aspects of this program, and are excited about beginning our work together as a class. Our academic backgrounds reflect the disciplines we will study in the program: Krishna is an experimental physicist who also teaches math, and Brian is a mathematician. We each have years of experience teaching and learning at Evergreen and elsewhere. In PSAM we are particularly interested in ways in which the fields of mathematics and physics support, reinforce, and provide new perspectives on one another.

In this letter we will provide information about the PSAM program content, activities, textbooks, and schedule.

You should review the catalog description for our program: http://www.evergreen.edu/catalog/offering/physical-systems-and-applied-mathematics-18473. Our main areas will include physics and applied math.

In the fall quarter, we will focus on applied math content that underlies the physics material we’ll study in winter and spring. Our fall subjects will be multivariable and vector calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, and will included an integrative math lab. In winter and spring, building on our fall quarter math and on the introductory physics prerequisite, we’ll focus on physics, studying classical mechanics, electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, and completing advanced lab projects. What we are most excited about in the program, however, are the synergistic ways in which our principal subject areas will interact with one another and the collaborative learning community we will build through supporting each other in assimilating this challenging material.

Indeed, we want to explicitly acknowledge that each of us brings different strengths and resources to this work, and one of the best features of Evergreen is that we form learning communities, which help us all benefit from each other’s strengths. You may have previously experienced studying math in particular as a solitary or isolated activity; you may have even rather liked that about it. However, in PSAM, we will we take learning in community with one another as a serious part of our work, which will involve listening closely to each other and actively attending to each other’s needs as we learn. That, too, will pay dividends that may be hard to anticipate but are very real.

Our program website is https://sites.evergreen.edu/psam1819/. The website will contain scheduling information, announcements, homework problem sets, etc., and will serve as a central clearinghouse of information for our program. Please get in the habit of checking the website frequently.

We ask you to do the following as soon as you can:

  1. Complete the on-line student survey available through our program website as soon as possible and no later than September 21 (the Friday before the first day of class). You can access the Student Survey by using the navigation bar above or by clicking here.
  2. Obtain our program textbooks, making sure that you have them by the first day of class. You can find details about Texts & Materials by using the navigation bar above or by clicking here. We’ve tried to choose less expensive options for program books where we can. If you’re worried about the cost of the textbooks for this program, we encourage you to request copies from Summit, our excellent interlibrary loan program; simply go to http://evergreen.edu/library and do an “Evergreen+Summit” search for the text in question. Of course, it takes a few days to get Summit items, so be sure to leave yourself some lead time when you put in your Summit requests. Additionally, all our texts will be on reserve in the Library.
  3. Read over and start to work on our First Day Writing Assignment, due (as you might have guessed) for our First Day of class (details about that first class meeting available by clicking here). Please bring the First Day Writing Assignment with you to class.

You can see our fall quarter class schedule below.

You will see from that schedule that our principal activities include lectures, labs, workshops, and weekly quizzes. We will also have a final exams in each subject. Your time spent outside of class (including carefully reading our program texts, preparing for class meetings, working on homework problem sets and quiz revisions, and studying for quizzes/exams) will be significant. If you are well prepared, you should expect the total time to be at least 40-50 hours/week (including class time). We encourage you to think concretely now about how this time will dovetail with your other obligations, such as work and personal commitments.

We hope your summer is going really well, and we look forward to seeing you in late September. Our first program meeting is on Monday, September 24, at 10am in the CAL (the Computer Applications Lab on the first floor of the Lab 2 building, Lab 2 room 1223); click here for more details. Please feel free to contact us with questions you might have. We look forward to meeting and working with you this year! Please let us know how we can help you feel welcomed to and supported in PSAM.


Krishna Chowdary (chowdark@evergreen.edu)

Brian Walter (bwalter@evergreen.edu)