Department of Engineering and Physics

The Department of Engineering and Physics at ACU deepens your understanding of the physical world through theory, application, analysis and practical design. As you develop technical knowledge and practical skills as a physics or engineering major, you learn to understand God’s handiwork in the laws of the universe and apply those principles to improve the lives of people everywhere.

The Department of Engineering and Physics at ACU deepens your understanding of the physical world through theory, application, analysis and practical design. As you develop technical knowledge and practical skills as a physics or engineering major, you learn to understand God’s handiwork in the laws of the universe and apply those principles to improve the lives of people everywhere.

Main Content

Our physics and engineering students have extensive opportunities to take part in exciting research in our well-equipped research facilities on campus and by joining faculty over the summer at prestigious national labs.


From research and development to testing and production, engineers design and manage the products that improve our quality of life. Engineers improve transportation, develop better nano-technologies for healthcare, design electrical systems, protect the environment, streamline manufacturing and harness nuclear energy, among other undertakings. These careers can begin with ACU’s Bachelor of Science in Engineering, in which you’ll study and apply the laws with which God structured the universe.


ACU physics students gain extensive experience as undergraduates. Not mere observers of physics research, they are active, well-trained participants entrusted with key responsibilities in their work with faculty members and international scientists at national research laboratories.

Physics Research

Involvement in physics research sets ACU physics majors apart from undergraduates at many other universities. Our students are not merely observers in the research process; they are active, well-trained participants who are entrusted with key responsibilities.

Each summer, teams of ACU undergrads work alongside graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, ACU professors and internationally-renowned physicists on cutting-edge nuclear physics research experiments at national laboratories. Other ACU physics majors serve as research assistants in on-campus solid state physics research. ACU undergraduate physics students have co-authored more than 100 published research articles based on these projects.

  • Brookhaven National Laboratory: Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider
    A recent study ranked physics research based on the number of papers published and the number of citations. The number one research lab in the world for hadron physics is Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island, New York, where ACU’s Nuclear Physics Research team works on the PHENIX experiment. Abilene Christian University is listed as a collaborating institution on three of the top 20 most-cited papers on hadron physics over the past ten years, based on our work at BNL.
  • PHENIX (Pioneering High Energy Nuclear Interaction eXperiment)
    ACU faculty and students are part of a group of more than 500 scientists and engineers from around the world collaborating on this experiment, which studies quark-gluon plasma and the properties of matter under extreme temperatures and pressures.
  • Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
    Fermilab, located outside Chicago, Illinois, is the world’s second-highest-energy particle accelerator and collider. (The highest-energy accelerator is the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.) In summer research at Fermilab, ACU students simulate the collision of a high-energy proton beam with liquid deuterium in preparation for building a detector that will carefully study the particles that emerge from this collision. The experiment is working to determine the number of anti-up and anti-down quarks inside a proton.
  • Fermilab Experiment 906
    This is the follow up experiment to the very successful Fermilab E866/NuSe.
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
    Located in northern New Mexico, Los Alamos National Laboratory is a research institution for the National Nuclear Security Administration. Its primary function is developing scientific and engineering solutions to solve national security challenges involving U.S. nuclear deterrent. Other research at Los Alamos involves work in bioscience, chemistry, computer science, earth and environmental sciences, materials sciences and physics.
  • NIFFTE (Neutron-Induced Fission Fragment Tracking Experiment)
    ACU physics students and faculty are important contributors to this collaborative project, which studies neutron-induced fission in order to improve the design, safety and sustainability of nuclear energy.
  • ACU Solid State Research Lab
    The ACU Physics Department operates an on-campus solid state physics research lab in the Foster Science Building at ACU. In 2009 this laboratory received equipment valued at over $120,000 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for ACU’s collaboration on solid state research projects.
  • Measurement of the acoustic properties of CaWO4 using phonon-imaging technique
    In collaboration with Bowdoin College and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this study aims to provide a more precise set of elastic constants for CaWO4 to researchers in the CRESST collaboration.
  • Phonon-imaging study of superconducting Tin
    This project uses the phonon-imaging technique to investigate the cause of long thermalization times observed in superconducting Tin. This research has application in the fast detection of gamma rays in a new type of gamma ray spectrometer that uses superconducting Tin to stop the gamma rays.
  • Conference Experience for Undergraduates (CEU)
    Held during the annual fall meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Nuclear Physics, the CEU gives undergraduate students the opportunity to present their research in nuclear or particle physics at a national conference among peers and distinguished scientists.
  • 2009 Physics Department Research

Engineering Research

Our engineering faculty are active researchers in their fields. They are respected internationally for their work, yet enjoy teaching and mentoring students. And with an average class size of 10 students, you’ll get to know your professor well – often with an opportunity to become a colleague.

Involvement in the process of research and discovery sets ACU apart from engineering majors at other universities. Our students see abstract concepts at work in real-world scenarios, and witness the fun and excitement of science in action through positions as research assistants with Dr. Tim Head in his Phonon Imaging Lab, Dr. Josh Willis and his LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) research work, and research in biomedical engineering, as well as opportunities for summer internships in national laboratories.

As a student in our engineering program you may have the opportunity to travel to Haiti to dig wells and provide clean drinking water for villages still struggling to recover from an earthquake, design a sustainable irrigation system for communities in Honduras, or work at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to help advance treatment for one of the world’s most deadly diseases. You’ll also have the opportunity to join the exciting new research in ACU’s NEXT Lab. By experimenting with molten salt as a coolant for nuclear reactors, NEXT researchers are on a mission to provide global solutions to the world’s most critical needs  – energy that is less expensive and safer, water that is pure and abundant, and medical isotope use to diagnose and treat cancer.

More About NEXT Lab