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A doubt about Indian EE aspirant physicists

  1. Jul 3, 2011 #1

    MATLABdude

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    No, not doubt as in questioning the capabilities or fact of the matter (as connoted in the western usage), but doubt as in general uncertainty / question (as I see from many Indian / Pakistani users, and grad students around my department!)

    Maybe this is just confirmation bias, but I notice a lot of threads started by (often new) users from India (not really Pakistan, for some reason) wondering how to parlay their B.Sc. or B.Tech degrees in Electrical Engineering into physics grad school (Indian, American / Canadian, UK, or Europe). In a large (and not quantified) percentage of cases, these are people who are still on the outside looking in! (As in, they haven't yet started university, or have yet to even take the various entrance exams!)

    The aspirant sociologist in me wonders--why is this the case? Why not just start out in physics (or math) and go from there?

    • Is it that physics is harder to get into than EE (in particular)? (My inclination is no)
    • Could it be that, based on the idiosyncrasies of the entrance exams, ranking systems and sharp drop-offs between good and not-so-good universities, it's that it's easier to get into (the bigger) engineering programs--and EE in particular--than science programs, at better universities?
    • Is it a matter of family / societal pressure, valuing the more practical and higher-SES (socio-economic status) engineers over science / arts (math) grads?
    • Is it a fall-back position, so that they have an engineering degree / experience?
    • Is it simple supply and demand? Lots of EEs, fewer that have advanced theoretical understanding?
    • Are the engineering programs (at least, at the undergrad level) just that much better, more sophisticated, and with better resources than science ones? (I guess that, at least resource-wise, that'd be in common with a lot of western universities)
    • Maybe it's just my confirmation bias, having chipped in on a few of these threads in Academics / Careers?
    • Am I so out to lunch that I haven't come close on any of my western-centric musings?

    One of those 4 AM insomnia-driven musings...

    EDIT: Maybe it's just selection bias, and lots of folks (who happen to have EE-ish degrees) that decide, like many other non-Indian posters, that their first degree isn't for them, and that Physics is the way to go?
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2011 #2
    I have heard that in India, engineering is a vastly more respected degree than either maths or physics, hence why in India many will be persuaded to pursue an engineering degree simply for the prestige and respect.

    Secondly, it might also be possible that due to the name of this site, it attracts many people who want to do physics degrees either at under or post graduate level.

    It is also true that engineering gives better fall back options too, as someone with an undergraduate engineering degree and postgraduate physics degree can still apply to jobs requiring an undergraduate engineering degree, thus they can become successful engineers if physics doesn't work out for them.
     
  4. Jul 3, 2011 #3
    Well, it is actually a few of the above. They're not independent of each other. Let me list them out to show you how one leads to another.

    It all starts here

    • Is it a matter of family / societal pressure, valuing the more practical and higher-SES (socio-economic status) engineers over science / arts (math) grads?

    Here in India, it is just not done for a child to do physics. In society, it is a must to opt for engineering over anything else. The educational system is terrible, and highly exam oriented. Their entire school life revolves around these exams. The children spend their last few school years writing exam after exam, and most of these exams are practice exams for exams to follow. Their IQ amongst their peers is judged by how well they've performed on these tests, which is very unfortunate. After this drudgery, the kids with really high grades in the 100s of exams they have to write opt to do only engineering. Engineering is the highest achievement for a student here. And of those, it is most sacrosanct to attend the Indian Institutes of Technology. They are brain washed even as small children that attending these institutes should be their only goal. They don't even know why. They don't even know what engineering is. This is why you have so many poor kids starting threads here in the Academic Guidance sub-forum to find out how the Indian Institutes of Technology rate in the real world. Many are surprised and disillusioned to find that there exist better institutes across the globe. Better for what one might ask; research? But to these kids, that is a moot point. To them, the IITs are simply better at everything. EE in specific is just held at higher value than the rest. (Read below)

    • Could it be that, based on the idiosyncrasies of the entrance exams, ranking systems and sharp drop-offs between good and not-so-good universities, it's that it's easier to get into (the bigger) engineering programs--and EE in particular--than science programs, at better universities?

    Starting an engineering college here is a wonderful business. The ones who start these colleges will have thousands of kids flocking to them even though the standard of education in these colleges is mediocre at best. It is very competitive even to get a lousy education and often involves money and arm twisting.

    However, since no one opts to do physics, the education in most of the other Indian colleges that offer physics is even worse. It isn't viewed as a very good investment, so they're simply not developed.

    • Is it a fall-back position, so that they have an engineering degree / experience?

    Sadly no. The reason why most kids opt to do engineering here is that it opens doors for them to get into IT jobs, which although might be terrible work per say, is held in high esteem. This is why most opt for EE. It is easier for them to get a job. After all this rut, most of them really don't care to do engineering. The ones who do want to pursue research leave the country as with the corruption here in every field, research in most places is awful.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
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