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Are Matrices, Quantum Physics helpful in Chemical Engineering?

  1. Jan 6, 2013 #1
    I am a sophomore majoring in Chemical Engineering. I have checked my classes requirement and seen that Chem E major doesn't need Matrices math or Quantum physics. I am wondering how so? And also, I am currently have 2 credits free for Spring semester. I am wondering should I study Matrices/Quantum physics should they helpful for Chem E major. Thanks for checking this out.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 6, 2013 #2
    I don't mean to come off as rude, but do you think your engineering curriculum would expect you to know advanced material they aren't going to teach you? Engineering degrees are usually very specialized to "mold" the students into a person with (usually) a specific skill set. If you need to know quantum, they will teach it to you in a class you are required to take.

    Now, as far as usefulness toward your discipline, I have no idea. Generally though, the more math you know the better though right? If you are curious about either topic and have some extra credits why not? They are both really cool topics. Also, you could ask some of your profs about it and see what they say. Learning more math/physics will probably give you more insight into your studies
  4. Jan 6, 2013 #3
    I doubt you will need much quantum. Matrices should have been covered in Algebra and then Linear Algebra.
  5. Jan 6, 2013 #4
    Matrices, yes, I though all engineering disciplines would cover matrices. Quantum physics? Can't see what that'd be helpful for though.
  6. Jan 6, 2013 #5

    Andy Resnick

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    It depends entirely on what you plan to do after graduation. A job? Probably not (although being able to differentiate yourself from the competition is always a good idea). Graduate school? Possibly. Some other option? It depends....
  7. Jan 6, 2013 #6
    Hm, somehow I didn't have to learn Matrices. Which gives me pretty hard time on the Diff Eq last semester.

    That's true though. Although, I want to know a little bit about why more prepared in Matrices and Quantum doesn't help much for Bio and Chem E. Like from what I know in my school, Bio and Chem Engr don't need Matrices and Quantum; yet Mech and E Engr need those.

    I am likely to take Quantum Chemistry for Chem Minor? Is quantum phys a good foundation?
  8. Jan 6, 2013 #7
    I really want to do something more of a scientist like research because my major already specify in factory and process planing. From so far I know, all natural sciences are very interrelated, at a level that I'm too afraid to ignore something :D. I always thought that Quantum Phys is hard and cool.
  9. Jan 6, 2013 #8
    Many linear systems are solved in charge/mass balance equations in reactor design. Linear algebra is a must-have (at least to the level of solving linear systems; don't know whether you will need to know about eigenvalues or linear transformations). A simple example is the phase rule in physical chemistry, very important in modelling phase diagrams which are seen in materials science. The phase rule follows from the rank-nullity (or dimension) theorem of linear algebra. So knowing linear algebra helps in understanding how tons of linear equations interact with one another, and that is important because many linear equations are indeed generated from mass conversation and equilibrium constraints.

  10. Jan 6, 2013 #9


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    Matrices and linear algebra are some of the most useful things ever.
  11. Jan 6, 2013 #10
    QM is useless for chemical engineering. even in grad school usually only straight chemistry needs QM, and then its quantum chemistry which is, after a QM 1 similar to the physics counterpart, will diverge from the physics curriculum to focus on applied topics like molecules and spectroscopy.
  12. Jan 6, 2013 #11
    From what I heard about quantum chemistry courses, they tend to work towards a 'conceptual' understanding of experimental phenomena related to the quantum mechanical behavior of molecules and what not. A quantum mechanics course by the physics department would require, at the very least, a working understanding of linear algebra (matrices included) and even some complex analysis already, as they usually focus on developing the mathematical apparatus of quantum mechanics. In short: no. I would take the linear algebra since it's quite useful for engineering and only take quantum chemistry for the minor. Taking a quantum mechanics course with your background and for the purposes you state (as a foundation for quantum chemistry) seems like overkill and a bad idea in general.
  13. Jan 7, 2013 #12
    when I took quantum chemistry, it was similar to undergrad QM's first half except they threw in helium atoms and diatomic molecules instead of doing deep studies into angular momentum. Both classes are not really mathematically challenging.

    I also took graduate QM. No complex analysis involved for the first half. It was brutal in the first few weeks then got better, then got brutal again when doing rotation theory.
  14. Jan 7, 2013 #13
    I found out today that in my school, all engineers are required to take quantum physics during their second/third year.
    I also found out that quantum physics is particularly important for electrical engineers who work in optoelectronics, photonics and solid state physics. It is also influential in the branch of computer science known as quantum computing.

    But hands down, linear algebra is far more important in all aspects of engineering than is quatum physics.

    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  15. Jan 9, 2013 #14
    Thank you so much you all :). Seem like Linear Algebra (Matrices) is a good choice!
  16. Jan 9, 2013 #15
    It shouldn't really be a choice. Is it not required for engineering? If not, that's weird but yea you should take it.
  17. Feb 5, 2013 #16
    I'm a nuclear engineering major and we didn't have to take linear algebra either. I took calculus 1-3, differential equations, and applied mathematics. In applied mathematics we cover Fourier series, the heat equation, partial differential equations, wavelets and basically engineering applications of all the math we've taken. We used MatLab a lot in that class also. Now I however did take linear algebra on my own just to complete a math minor cause along with the statistics course I was required to take, I have enough math credits to satisfy a minor. The only thing from linear algebra I've used so far is using matrix and reduced row echelon form to solve systems of linear equations which I don't do by hand anyway since its child's play with my calculator. I guess it's good to know some linear algebra though.
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