PHY 2048

General Physics I

( Preparing for Fall 2017 )


I am often asked what students should do to be ready for this class.

My detailed answer is in some notes on preparing for the first day of class.


We will begin use of a new, free, OpenStax textbook for PHY2048 this fall.

Textbook information and ISBN numbers are given on a separate page.
Information about allowed calculators is also on that page..

There are many good two-line-display scientific calculator choices in the $15 to $20 price range. Many can be used throughout your career, including on the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. My comments about some of the options can be found by following this link.


The most important preparation for this class is to convince yourself that your job in college is to come to class prepared every day and learn everything well enough that you do not have to study for the "final" exam. There will never be a final exam on the part of this subject you will use every day in your professional career.

You should also read my advice on taking calc-based physics, with particular emphasis on the trig and algebra skills required for this class, and my study suggestions.

(working) Reconstruction for Fall semester in progress.
Check back in mid August for final course plan.

This course is for students planning to major in Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Mathematics, or Computer Science, plus a few other majors (such as Science Education and some Geology programs) that specifically accept only PHY2048 or an equivalent "University Physics" class that uses calculus.
Architecture, "Construction Engineering Technology", and
most Pharmacy majors should  NOT  take this class.

A detailed explanation is at the bottom of this page.
Most students should have completed CHM1045 before taking physics, although I understand why some successful students defer taking chemistry until after physics. However, anyone who has skipped chemistry needs to understanding that they will have to learn the basic SI units and unit conversion on their own from examples done in class and/or on a video. Our books assume that everyone already knows this basic skill from other classes because the standard curriculum for physical science and engineering majors has you taking chemistry (and calculus) during the first semester of the freshman year, and many already know it from high school.
I do not recommend taking chemistry, particularly organic chemistry, at the same time as both physics and calculus, so please contact me if you are planning on taking on that challenge. Few students can handle 45 hours of class time and regular, daily homework every week along with TWO lab reports, particularly if they have a part-time job. The exception might be someone who has already taken organic along with bio II and MAC2311, but please realize that most students find 5 credits of physics to be much more challenging than 4 credits of introductory biology and that calc II is harder than calc I. Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry majors should finish up organic chem along with the first calculus classes and then take physics along with the more advanced calculus classes, or finish up calculus first and then take organic with physics. Most pre-med majors do NOT require PHY2048, and those that do require PHY2048 might recommend against taking both physics or organic chemistry at a CC because of an "upper division" rule enforced by some med schools. Consult a pre-med advisor at your transfer university if you are hoping to go to medical school.

Updated 01 May 2017.

Ref. no. 176049   --   MTWR 11:55-1:00 in SMA 140 -- taught by Dr. Carr

Ref. no. 176050   --   taught by TBA at 1:25 pm (MTWRF) in SM119


Link to old draft of course plan



Engineering majors need to read and understand all of the warnings below about the STRICT limits on attempts at "core" classes like calculus and physics and the importance of knowing all of the BASIC SKILLS taught in pre-calc and trig classes. The admission rules are different at Florida or UCF than they are at FAMU or FSU, but all of them have the same purpose: to exclude students who would hold back the class when encountering topics that build on what you will learn here.

In addition, other science departments at FSU have also adopted very strict limits on the total number of D or F grades accumulated in ANY of the courses required for their majors. If PHY2048 is required for your major, this applies to you. Pay attention each time FSU Advising Day rolls around, as these transfer rules can change with little notice other than what you would learn from an FSU advisor.

I want to emphasize this recommendation from my physics advising pages:

You should NOT take PHY2048 and MAC2311 at the same time unless you earned at least a "B" in both trig and pre-calc on the first attempt. The reason for this is that physics and calculus are true college-level classes, not easy ones like trigonometry or pre-calc. Both your calculus instructor and I will expect you to be fluent in algebra and know basic skills taught in algebra and trig classes (like the quadratic formula and how to use inverse trig functions and logarithms) without further review. We have enough to do in class learning physics and problem-solving techniques without wasting time on things you are supposed to already know. Your calculus professor should have similar expectations. As one example, here is what students from Fall 2004 had to say about what you need to still know from trigonometry or (at worst) be able to quickly re-learn on your own if you forgot it. Very few students appear to read this advice, which is unfortunate.


As a future engineering major, you must realize that you will rarely get more than one attempt at any of your required classes. Engineering schools look at every grade on your transcript, and each has its own specific policy on the total number of failing grades and/or withdrawals they will accept under "grade forgiveness" and the required minimum grade and/or GPA you must have in "core" math and science classes. You should know the policies at the school(s) you plan to attend before you take chemistry, calculus, or physics. In many cases, but not all, you are better off withdrawing from a class rather than failing it.

For example, the FAMU-FSU policy does not count withdrawals as attempts but will NEVER admit you as a transfer student if you have more than a total of ONE failing grade in the four "core" courses they require for admission. PHY2048 is a "core" course at FAMU-FSU for everyone except Chemical Engineers. (Their provisional admission of students with two failing grades in the four core courses now only applies to native FSU students. I'm guessing that this is because most transfer students failed to pass the challenging course used as a gateway for borderline cases.)

Other Engineering schools have different polices than FAMU-FSU. Some of those can be found on my engineering advising page.

To repeat: Engineering colleges count attempts at any institution, not just at TCC.
They are serious about this, because you usually get only one try at an engineering class and those professors will assume you still know (or can quickly re-learn on your own) most of the material taught in our classes whether you learned it the first time or not.


You may  NOT  use a TI-83 calculator or any other graphing calculator, let alone a cell phone, during the exams in PHY2048. If you do not already own a decent 2-line scientific calculator as a backup to the TI-83Plus required in TCC math classes, you will need to buy one to use on tests in my class. I recommend one of the "solar" ones. Click the link to read my comments on the calculators you are allowed to use. Yes, I've repeated this information here, and you will also find it in my syllabus and hear it announced on the first day of class and read it in an e-mail I send out several weeks before classes start. You have no excuse for not having a suitable calculator and getting used to using it before the first exam.


Study suggestions from former students:
Go to the TCC Canvas site around the first week of class and read the advice from last year's students on how to be successful in this course. Canvas is also where I put a copy of last semester's exams, although the full archive of midterm exams is on the open web for this class.

My Study Suggestions

General comment:
A key thing to learn in physics is how to ask yourself the questions required to address a broader, not-so-well focused question. Part of solving a problem is to ask yourself "what question might I answer that will help me deal with this one?". This is embodied in the "IDEA" problem-solving approach emphasized in our textbook and in class. Work on this every day.



Many Pharmacy majors should  NOT  take this class.

FAMU requires PHY1053, not PHY2048, for admission to the PharmD Pharmacy program, but recommends PHY2048 because FAMU's backup majors (Biology and Chemistry) for rejected applicants require PHY2048. However, most other universities do NOT require PHY2048 for Biology majors, although they do require it for Biochem and Chemistry majors.

I don't know of any schools that will only accept PHY2048 for Pharmacy. Check with me and them to confirm that you need the same calculus-based "university" physics class required for engineering before enrolling. FAMU recommends PHY2048 on their pre-pharmacy advising page because only about 10% of applicants get accepted to the PharmD program and a common alternative major (Biochemistry) requires PHY2048 at every university I know of.

The tradeoff is between getting a lower grade than you would probably get in PHY1053 (likely decreasing your chance of being accepted by the program) and not needing to take a different physics class when you decide to change majors (because you didn't get in). If your backup plan is to major in biology anywhere except FAMU, you should definitely take PHY1053. Chemistry and biochemistry always require PHY2048, but biology does not at most universities other than FAMU.

If you decide to take PHY2048, perhaps so you can major in Biochemistry after being rejected from the Pharmacy program, I strongly advise you to pass both MAC2311 and MAC2312 and get started on Organic Chemistry before taking physics.

I also don't know of any Architecture schools that have a minimum requirement of PHY2048. Architecture programs generally require only the equivalent of the "trig based" PHY2053 class (PHY1053 at TCC) or an even more basic course such as PHY2004 that we don't teach at TCC. Once again, check with me and them to confirm that you need the same calculus-based physics class required for engineering majors before enrolling in PHY2048. If their class does not have a calculus pre- or co-requisite, it isn't PHY2048.

Architecture majors at FAMU should  NOT  take this class.
FAMU requires PHY1053, not PHY2048, for this major.

Construction Engineering Technology majors at FAMU should NOT take this class.

The FAMU catalog says they require PHY1053 for that major in the "College of Engineering Sciences, Technology, and Agriculture". Unlike majors in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering that can lead to a career as a licensed Professional Engineer, that major only needs a fairly basic physics class.

The repeat rule highlighted near the top of this page only applies to those seeking a degree from a College of Engineering that can lead to a Professional Engineer license. It does not apply if you want to major in "Civil Engineering Technology" or "Electrical Engineering Technology" in the College of Engineering Sciences, Technology, and Agriculture at FAMU. They don't care how many attempts you needed to earn a passing grade on your transcript.

Contact me if you have any questions. See my advising notes on physics for details.


Note that this class has Calculus I as a pre/corequisite
and that PHY 2048L must also be taken at the same time as PHY 2048.

My comments on the calculus requirements for my physics courses.

My comments on the calculators you are allowed to use.

Old Syllabus


 ?? Contact me if you have any questions.

My TCC home page.