Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Best subject to take for Mechanical Engineering major?

  1. Feb 15, 2009 #1
    Hello all,

    I'm currently entering my second year of a Bachelor of Mechanical Systems degree, hoping to move into Masters of Mechanical or Mechatronics engineering.

    I've got to decide on a science elective and I've got it down to two:

    Thermal and Classical Physics:
    This subject extends knowledge of fundamental thermal physics principles and introduces the powerful and elegant Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of classical mechanics. Topics from thermal physics include thermal equilibrium, ideal gas and kinetic theory, equipartition of energy, heat and work, heat capacity, latent heat, enthalpy, thermodynamic processes; thermal systems and statistics, interacting systems, statistics of large systems, entropy, temperature and heat, pressure, chemical potential; heat engines, Carnot cycle, refrigerators, throttling process; Helmholtz and Gibbs Free energies, and phase transformations. In classical physics, topics will include elementary principles (Newton’s laws, momentum and energy conservation, mechanics of systems of particles), Lagrange’s equations (constraints and generalized coordinates, Lagrange’s equations, velocity dependent and dissipative forces, applications, symmetries and conservation laws, stability and oscillations) and Hamilton’s principle (calculus of variation, applications, Hamilton’s principle, Legendre transformations)


    Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity
    This subject introduces students to two key concepts in physics: quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Quantum mechanics topics include the quantum theory of light, the particle nature of matter, matter waves, quantum mechanics in one dimension and tunneling phenomena. Special relativity topics will include the foundations of special relativity, spacetime invariance, simultaneity, and Minkowski diagrams, relativistic kinematics, the Doppler effect, relativistic dynamics, and nuclear reactions.​

    My question is, which subject would be most beneficial for my major? I'm guessing the Thermal/Classical Physics will be beneficial for a mech engineering major, but you hear a lot these days of nanotech and such things, and I'm thinking that quantum mech could be of some use or other.

    Any help greatly appreciated. I know I posted this in the Academic forum, but as yet I've gotten no reply, and with semester fast approaching, I need help urgently.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2009 #2
    Unless you are sure you are going into nanotech or have an unquenchable thirst for QM - definitely take the thermal and classical option. It is very hard to find practical applications of quantum mechanics in mechanical engineering (afaik) whereas the applications of the other course are extremely plentiful.
  4. Feb 22, 2009 #3
    I second Thermal and Classical Physics ... by far.

    In most programs, a 1 semester of basic physics would be required as a prereq before you take Statics and also before you take Thermodynamics (which is a whole 1 semester class on its own). I almost cant see how the first class you mentioned wouldnt be required as a rereq.

    Im sure they take even more courses that build upon Thermo after that... I had to take Thermo as a Civil because its on the EI exam and also its likely to do with the ABET accreditation.
  5. Feb 25, 2009 #4
    Go for thermodynamics and Mechanics... (might be a little repetitive of Mechanics).
  6. Feb 25, 2009 #5
    QM will be totally useless for ME, so the other is your only bet. It may prove to be less than really useful, but it is your only hope at this point, I'd say.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook