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Engineering BS Mathematics to EE Master or Graduat Minor

  1. Jul 10, 2016 #1
    I'm considering going after a MS in Electrical/Minor Math or Masters Math/Minor electrical. I have BS in mathematics. I am completing the background EE courses as needed.

    What areas of EE are the best fit for someone who had a strong interest in Analysis and continuous mathematics? I was considering focusing on Signal Processing.

    Are there any others?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 10, 2016 #2
    Control Theory and Electromagnetics are other possibilities. Both would also require some physics knowledge also.
  4. Jul 10, 2016 #3
    How much and what kinds of physics?

    I will be taking an undergrad EE course in electric fields, I haven't see any control theory courses offered beyond linear systems.

    What types of jobs exist in control theory for EE? I see many positions saying they want signal processing.
  5. Jul 10, 2016 #4
    There is essentially no limit to how much physics you might learn...:smile:. That being said electromagnetics is the foundation for optics, photonics, antennas, microwaves, fiber optic communication, radar systems, particle accelerators and lasers (along with an adjoining knowledge of semiconductor physics, solid state and quantum mechanics).

    For control theory there are multivariable, adaptive, stochastic, optimal, and nonlinear coursework. You would be well served to have a knowledge of linear systems, digital signal processing, microcontrollers, etc. It can be very hands-on or purely sitting behind a desk using a CAD.

    Control theory is kind of a subject unto itself. Very cross disciplinary with basic knowledge you could ply your trade on mechanical, fluid, aerospace, electrical, nuclear or chemical systems (called process control engineering). All involve classical physics knowledge of some type.

    Control EEs are employed by many different industries. I know EE controls engineers working in semiconductor fabrication and power generation but the field is much, much broader. Probably most industrial processes that are above the most trivial design had a control engineer involved.

    One other thing that is not quite as obvious is that many EEs perform control work as part of their routine job in say circuit design or even communication systems. so they are not "Control Engineer" by title but de facto.
  6. Jul 11, 2016 #5
    You would probably want to look into signal processing, communications, random processes, and/or controls. They can all be highly mathematical and many graduate programs I've seen actually require (or strongly encourage) at least one course in analysis for these specializations, often as a prereq for some advanced probability theory, if you find that interesting.

    I think it can become as mathematical as you'd like.
  7. Jul 12, 2016 #6
    Electromagnetics also somewhat caught my eye with regards to antennas/radar though I have really no experience with the subject.
  8. Jul 13, 2016 #7
    Electromagnetics combines a strong understanding of both physics and mathematics. The essential mathematics you would use are vector/tensor analysis, ordinary/partial differential equations, complex variables, integral transforms and special functions. Because most real world problems cannot be solved analytically you would need some programming experience and the ability to use canned software such as HFSS, Comsol Multiphysics or Advanced Design System.

    Depending on what type of work you are doing you might also encounter functional analysis, asymptotics, integral equations, calculus of variations, linear algebra, numerical analysis, differential geometry, topology and stochastic processes among others.

    In terms of the physics the essentials are Maxwell's equations: what they mean and how to get meaningful answers from them including how to synthesize desired response from typical engineerable structures such as multilayers, waveguides, transmission lines, cavities, different antenna geometries including arrays and their particular properties. Additionally electronic and optical properties of materials is useful along with and basic understanding of electric circuits and electronics. For high power antennas you might also need basic thermodynamics and heat transfer. If you are designing large structures it would be helpful to have a knowledge of structures and loading.

    Radar is actually more closely related to signal processing in practice. Here you would mainly develop new algorithms to extract data from an antenna. It does require at least a minimum knowledge of antenna arrays, basic EM scattering, microwaves and receiver design along with a strong knowledge of information, communication, filtering and detection theory. I would note that unless you are a US citizen this is not an area you would be able to have a career in the US as most of the jobs are in defense related areas.
  9. Jul 13, 2016 #8
    Thanks for the in-depth response, I am actually hoping to get a job in the defense industry as the problems they work on look more exciting. I am a US born citizen so that shouldn't be a problem. I don't really want my job to consist primarily of circuit design, which is another reason for looking at these areas. A mix of EM theory and signal processing sound like what someone with my goals should focus on?

    Have any tips for getting into this industry?

  10. Jul 14, 2016 #9
    That would be advisable although I would focus on one mainly and take a few classes in the other.

    Most EEs I've conversed with (quite a few) view EM as the more difficult field to get into due to having to master both the physics and mathematics. Which also means there are fewer of them. Although honestly I'm not sure about current demand for either.

    The easiest way to break into industry is to know people. Which will require you to meet and make acquaintances and colleagues in this field. The easiest way to do that is to start in school. Try to find a master's program that specializes in applied EM/radar/defense communications that has strong ties to industry and take courses similar to those mentioned above by axmls and myself. Find a professor and become involved in research. At minimum they will probably let you do a thesis project if you express legitimate interest. Cultivating these relationships will help finding a job.

    One way to find out which schools are active in the area you are interested in is to look at IEEE conference papers author affiliation.
  11. Jul 16, 2016 #10
    Thanks again everyone for the responses.

    One other question - do you think it's doable to do a masters in Math, graduate minor in EE and write a thesis on this topic and get a job in the area?

    Or do you think the Masters title in EE would be far more benefical? My other serious interest besides EE is Mathematics(which was my initial goal) but I am getting increasingly scared about the career prospects even with a graduate degree.
  12. Jul 17, 2016 #11
    Life is scary no matter how well prepared you are. I would like to tell you to always pursue your interests but I must freely admit that a masters in EE is more employable than a masters in math.

    Speaking from experience, I was in a graduate program in mathematics and left for a graduate program in EE. Do I regret it? Yes, I do. But I realized that the primary employment of graduates in mathematics from the department I was in were in teaching/curriculum coordination/public school administration, mathematical research (requiring a PhD), finance, medicine, or an engineering profession (the only one I was interested in). Since I had an academic background in engineering and physics it made sense to leave to acquire a more advanced skill set which would allow me to enter the engineering profession at a higher level. This coupled with the student loans I was accumulating as a math graduate student due to the low pay of GTAs (tuition was NOT covered) led to my leaving.

    Why do I regret my decision? That semester as a master student in math was the most interesting and happy academic semester of my entire university experience (8 years to date), I made a lot of friends and acquaintances and found I really enjoyed teaching remedial mathematics to freshman. I did not have the desire to pursue a PhD in mathematics and was/am not interested in teaching at the secondary school level or lower. That left basically community college open if I wanted to teach and the positions are rapidly diminishing for MS holders.

    In summary, one cannot remain a student forever without thinking somewhat of the future in terms of career prospects. I did and choose the safer (but not foolproof) route. Given the opportunity later in life I may try to pursue a master in math purely out of interest.

    No one can make this decision for you.
  13. Jul 17, 2016 #12
    You need to consider ABET accreditation: http://main.abet.org/aps/accreditedprogramsearch.aspx. You will not be able to be a PE in some states if you don't have a bachelor's in electrical engineering. Some states will let you become a PE with the master's only, but will require you to have more industry experience than someone with just a BSEE. However, there seem to be many jobs which don't require the PE, so there's that. I was in this same situation, looking into going into EE with a BS in math. I asked the university if I could do a BSEE and they told me I had to take freshmen computing for engineers as a prerequisite before I start. I wrote my thesis on computational plasma physics....................................
  14. Jul 17, 2016 #13
    I've been told that typically only power engineers NEED a PE in electrical engineering.
  15. Jul 18, 2016 #14
    I know people with Math BS degrees and went on to do semiconductor fabrication as a masters in EE, they just had to take a few undergrad classes like Electronics, Signals and Systems and they were fortunate that a fabrication class was being offered when they were doing undergrad catchup. You'll obviously have a leg up with my more mathy areas of EE but it isn't a hard and fast requirement if you have a prior stem degree.

    While looking for ABET accreditation is a good idea, a PE isn't needed for every (or even most) job(s) you would encounter within EE, so I think that's nuance the OP doesn't need to worry about.
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