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Established in 1917, the Department of Physics has a rich history of more than 100 years of educating the best and brightest minds in physics. The department has pioneered nuclear research on campus, launched successful startups and outreach programs, and even hosted a U.S. president.

Some important dates in the departments history

  • 1884: First physics professor hired at NC State
  • 1917: Physics becomes an independent department
  • 1953: First nuclear reactor in an academic setting is completed on NC State’s campus
  • 1965: NC State joins the newly formed Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory
  • 1990: President George H.W. Bush visits the lab of Jan Schetzina
  • 1991: The Science House K-12 outreach program is founded, with physics professor David Haase as its first director
  • 2003: WebAssign, created by physics professor John Risley, becomes the first major startup to come out of the department
  • 2006: The department begins moving into its newly renovated home in Riddick Hall
  • 2017: Department celebrates its 100th anniversary