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Applied mathematics, electrical engineering, or both?

  1. Oct 11, 2011 #1
    I'm starting my second year at school, and knowing that I will have to declare my major soon I'm torn between the possible choices. Officially, I am in the engineering program but I took a lot of extra credits in math last year since it interests me so doing the double major program in engineering-applied mathematics would not be difficult. On the other hand, I can major only in electrical engineering and have the security of being able to pursue an m.s. in applied math if I continue with the advanced math electives. Or, I could major in applied mathematics with enough engineering electives to go for the M.S. in engineering... The problem is just that I'm very overwhelmed by all this at this point in my life and I still don't know which field will suit my interests, and I'm afraid that if I change studies after my B.S. it will hurt me. The reason I've been taking the electrical engineering electives is because they seem to utilize more of the advanced mathematics (however at this level my perception could be wrong).

    Ultimately, this comes down to deciding whether I want to do the masters program in e.e. or math, but I don't know enough about the programs and what they encompass to decide which one interests me. Nor do I personally know anyone that could tell me.

    So my question is basically what are the differences/similarities between the focuses of the two disciplines at the graduate level and beyond, and what would the ideal path to each one be?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope there are some students who have gone through the same experience that could offer suggestions
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2011 #2
    sorry i see that i should have posted this in academic guidance this is my first time to this forum
  4. Oct 12, 2011 #3
    I would go with EE and enroll in extra math class. To be a good EE, you have to have more math than it is required. Normal BSEE require Cal I II III and ODE class. That is nowhere close. I studied PDE on my own, I think you can use Linear Algebra, PDE at the minimum, then consider Numerical Ana., Complex Ana. I think this will bring you quite far in you math major that you can change direction quite easy. Particular if you want to pursue electromagnetics, you are going to need all the math above plus Green Function more advanced than even in PDE. PDE barely touch the Green Function. A little Probability and Statistic will help in modulation and communication field.

    Bottom line, they are not mutually exclusive. Strong math make you a better engineer. Math itself don't have a whole lot of job opportunity, but it would be so easy for you to change career if you have a strong math background. Getting into Physics is a natural progression. Math is the language of science, all advanced physics and electronics are written in language of math.
  5. Oct 12, 2011 #4
    From a personal (your person) point of view all the options you present are good.

    I would make some observations however.

    I don't know how it works where you live but in the UK you would need a formal engineering qualification to practice as an engineer at anything other than junior level. So plan to get one under your belt at some stage.

    Don't believe that EE maths is more advanced than for other disciplines, it is just not true.

    What is true is that at the present state of knowledge electrical networks lend themselves more easily to available analytical techniques than say gas pipeline networks which can only be handled by numerical techniques. As an applied mathematician I have done both.

    Hope this helps

    go well
  6. Oct 12, 2011 #5

    jim hardy

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    2018 Award

    purely practical suggestion - look ahead twenty years.

    what do you like to do?
    are you a hands-on tinkerer who is always building things?

    if so, engineering will get you a job close to machinery which imho will be a real marketable skill-set in next fifty years as world re-industrializes with newer technology.

    if you prefer analytical office work it probably doesn't matter which way you go.
    but there's always need in industry for engineers...especially ones with high math skills.

    I envy you, young man!

    old ijm
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