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Best way to incorporate EE, CS, and Physics for my degree?

  1. May 23, 2015 #1

    Okay, so I'm completing my transfer degree at a community college here pretty soon, and then will be going to a big university after that. I have three main topics of interest, those being, Physics, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science. These have been my interests for years and I am passionate them, so that's pretty set in stone.

    So here's basically what I want with each topic:
    Electrical Engineering - I don't really want to push it very far. I am incredibly interested in things having to do with computer architectures and signal processing, and would love to do research or something with that though.

    Physics - I want to go to grad school and do lots of research for this! Once I'm there I'd be mostly interested in Particle or Quantum physics.

    Computer Science - This is the one I'm most passionate about and most relevant to what I will end up doing for a career, something to do with software. Am mostly interested in topics like cryptography/computer security, networking, and database stuff. However I still want to learn about every other topic in that field too.

    I'll be going to Oregon State University, but I'd want to transfer somewhere else after I finish my bachelors.

    Anyway, I'm just passionate about all three topics. OSU has three relevant majors: Physics, ECE, and CS.

    I was thinking maybe to dual major in Physics+CS, but I'm not really sure. Would ECE+Physics be better? Or dual major in Physics+CS, with a minor in ECE. Not really sure if that minor is worth it. I know I'm being a masochist right now with the work load I'm gonna be putting on myself, but all is good aha. There won't be much overlap between the majors but that's fine, and I'll probably be going longer than most.

    Right now I'm just thinking Physics+CS is the way to go.

    Advice, opinions? :)
    Last edited: May 23, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2015 #2


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    Well only you can decide, but I would say ECE is the way to go. I guess I'm old school, I hear so much these days about dual majors in this and minors in that , heck, focus on one and be good and studious at it and an ECE degree will get you a good job with decent salary.
  4. May 24, 2015 #3
    I'd agree if I was going to school just to get a nice paying job at the end of it. :)
  5. May 24, 2015 #4
    Oregon State has an applied physics, engineering physics and computational physics options (look under the advising option) for undergrads which basically combine physics and the eningeering topics of your choice:

    http://www.physics.oregonstate.edu/~mcintyre/advising/ [Broken]

    Might be ways to combine the curricula to include more computational stuff into say an engineering physics degree focusing on electronics, good to ask your advisor at OSU.

    I double majored in physics and EE, if I could I would've done something like an engineering physics degree or do a major in physics and a masters in EE instead and saved myself alot of extra time, work and stress. It was interesting though, I learned alot and if you have the opportunity to do research work in both departments which can lead to a nice resume coming out of school. Your miles may vary. Good luck.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  6. May 24, 2015 #5
    Ah, cool. :) Will definitely go talk to my advisors about this.

    Oh gosh, now I'm thinking an Engineering Physics + CS dual major would be the way to go, haha.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  7. May 24, 2015 #6
    I've had another thought.

    I think maybe I should dual major ECE+CS because if I want to work to pay off debt before I go to grad school or whatever, an engineering bachelors would do more for me than a physics bachelors. And, when I get to grad school, I can get my Masters or PhD in Physics. But then like clope023 said, there's Engineering Physics.


    I just figured out that OSU's Engineering Physics program isn't ABET certified yet. So now I'm back to ECE+CS undergrad, and either Physics and/or CS for grad, I think.
    Last edited: May 24, 2015
  8. May 24, 2015 #7
    Based on what you've said;

    I'm not sure a CS major is necessarily going to be better than any other option here. You seem to be interested in a broad number of CS related topics, however from what I know from friends in similar programmes, in CS you're going to end up doing a pretty large chunk of more theoretical CS and discrete maths topics with some of the other things you mentioned (and a fair bit of programming). A Computer Engineering major on the other hand would probably come pretty close to covering what you're interested in in EE and in CS. Particularly, comp architecture and DSP will almost certainly be covered in a CE major. They may be covered in an EE major depending whether it leans more to the electronic or electrical side of things. You'll should also get a reasonable amount of programming experience, including at least some in high level languages (if you're doing comp architecture you'll almost certainly do some stuff with assembly language and microprocessors).

    With respect to physics, if you're interested in grad school in physics you pretty much need to do at least a good chunk of the physics major topics. You could probably coast by without say, statistical mechanics and solid state/condensed matter physics, but you'll realistically need at least the standard EM and QM subjects and it'd be a good idea to take an advanced classical mechanics course. However you say you're interested in "quantum physics or particle physics" which is, to be honest, extremely vague. Physics research is pretty laser focus so, at the risk of ending up in some research group doing something you have no interest in, you'll probably want to look a little more into this and get a better idea of what's there.

    For example in things that could be considered quantum physics there is: condensed matter (experiment/theory), quantum optics, photonics and laser physics, related to the previous, atomic and molecular physics, a more specialized aspect of the first two could be quantum computing and quantum information theory. Then there is of course the gamut of quantum field theory and particle physics, which I don't know terribly much about. Have a look at the "current research" page on the Physics departments website at whatever universities you're looking at, as that may give you some ideas as to what you could do.

    Thus, I would recommend something more along the lines of a Computer Engineering major with a Physics minor, and some extra electives in physics beyond whatever the minimum they require for the minor (at the very least at least one semester of quantum mechanics and electromagnetism if these aren't part of it already.). However, do have a look on the relevant major webpages for the places you're considering applying and compare the required courses and major electives with your interests, to make sure you can actually do some of this stuff.
  9. May 24, 2015 #8
    In quantum physics, I'm most;y interested in quantum computing and quantum information theory.

    As far as programming goes, I'm very experienced as it is (I work as a software engineer right now and have been learning for years), I just figure a CS major will give me a lot of understanding, depth, and knowledge that I wouldn't otherwise learn in the industry and on my own. So, the theoretical part. I forgot to mention, I'm also very interested in machine learning, or to be more specific, evolutionary algorithms.

    The university I'll be attending has Electrical Computer Engineering major, and I believe it's customizable to where it can be geared towards CE or EE. So if I did an ECE+CS double major, it'd basically be a CE geared ECE program with lots of extra CS courses.

    A physics minor would definitely be doable, I agree with you, I think that'd be a great option. :) Looking at my school's requirements for a physics minor, it looks like I'd get a pretty big chunk of physics classes. (link here: http://catalog.oregonstate.edu/MinorDetail.aspx?minor=590&college=08 )

    The ECE major has 7 areas of focus, those being:
    Computer Engineering & Networks
    Integrated Circuits
    Materials & Devices
    RF, Microwaves & Optoelectronics
    Signals, Systems & Communications
    (link: http://eecs.oregonstate.edu/academi...ctrical-computer-engineering?qt-ece_options=0 )

    I'm interested in the "Computer Engineering & Networks" and "Signals, System & Communications" areas of focus (mostly the former). Looking the CE&N focus courses, it's electives (and it's core classes) are definitely apart of what I'm interested in for CS and EE. :) It's just lacking in some other CS courses I'd wanna take.

    It looks like I could easily attain a CS minor with an ECE major, there's lots of overlap there (and it specifically talk about it on their site. link: http://eecs.oregonstate.edu/academi...e?qt-computer_science_options=2&qt-cs_minor=1 ). That way I could take the CS courses I'm most interested in. :)

    Perhaps I could major in ECE with a focus on CE&N, then minor in both CS and Physics. o:
    Last edited: May 24, 2015
  10. May 24, 2015 #9
    Wow they do the physics course structure really weirdly...anyway, for quantum information you'll probably actually need stat mech, so never mind about that prior comment xD

    From those physics courses you'd probably want to take at a minimum the capstone QM course and some of the prereqs for the others (from the paradigms courses). However the Materials & Devices and RF, Microwaves & Optoelectronics broadly cover some of the same topics (specifcally the EM ones in a more applied fashion). They've organized the topics in a somewhat non-standard fashion so you might want to consider taking most of the paradigms courses, but once you get there your advisor can probably help you organize a decent a programme :)

    The ECE major definitely sounds more up your alley, and since you take all but one of the courses for the CS minor anyway that's a pretty logical extra course to take. Going with the ECE major/CS minor and then taking as many physics electives as you can fit in (which will probably pick up a physics minor) seems like a good plan.
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