Deciding between Majors; EE+Physics OR CompE+Physics

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  • Thread starter div4200
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Hello all,

I am a student at a major American university who has just finished his/her first year. I came in undecided on my major. The two that I was and still am considering are

- a dual-major in Electrical Engineering and Physics
- a dual-major in Computer Engineering and Physics

With either one, I would only actually receive one degree, a B.S. in either Computer Engineering or Electrical Engineering, depending on which program I choose. A little more than half of the classes that I would take would be engineering-related (including electives) and the rest physics classes, including a couple of physics electives.

As you have probably inferred by this time, I could use some help deciding between these two. What I would really appreciate from anyone who is kind enough to offer their time and knowledge are the following things:

1. A comparison of employment opportunities. Would choosing one over the other limit my opportunities in a particular field? Is one more broad than the other? What kinds of jobs could I get with each one, and how much do they overlap?

2. Your thoughts about going to graduate school with one of these degrees. I'm not sure what my plans for graduate school will be, but I will either study Electrical and/or Computer Engineering, or Physics. I'm not sure if I would be going for an M.S. or a PhD. How would graduate programs for engineering and those for physics view one of these dual-majors? If I wanted to study physics, would my lack of an actual physics degree be a problem?

3. Building on the last point in the above section, would I be better off choosing to the a B.S. in the engineering discipline, or in physics? The only difference seems to be that I would take a few more electives in the degree subject compared to the supplemental subject.

Finally, I think that it should be known that at least at the moment :) my main interest in in solid-state memory, in terms of both theory and applications. Really, I would be interested in a field that combines both physics (quantum mechanics, E+M, etc.) with computer hardware.
I am also somewhat indifferent to programming. I can do it, and am good at it, but it isn't all that much exciting to me.

If anyone can give me any insight it would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
div4200
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
153
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My advice would be to major in EE, not CompE (I recently finished my EE degree and am now employed as an electrical engineer). In some ways, you can look at CompE as a sub-field of the broader field of EE.

If you majored in EE and wanted to go to grad school in CompE, you would likely be able to do so. However, if you majored in CompE and wanted to go to grad school in EE, there would likely be gaps in your knowledge compared to EE majors. This is because COmpEs often don't have to take as much coursework in areas such as electromagnetics, signal processing, and electronics.

To give you a specific example, at my school, the majors were pretty similar. CompE majors at my school take very similar classes to the EE majors, except for they don't have to take as many classes in electronics and signal processing, and instead take classes on microprocessors and programming.
 
  • #3
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Thanks for your answer. If I may ask, could you tell me about what you job is like? What kinds of things do you do every day?
 
  • #4
153
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I work for a company that manufactures electronics. I don't want to provide a lot of detail about it for privacy reasons. My days are pretty evenly spent between sitting at a desk doing things like working on schematic drawings and doing hands-on work (helping with manufacturing and testing our products). Since I am a recent graduate, I haven't had to do any really hard-core engineering design yet (but hopefully I will in the future). However, there is a wide range in what environments EEs can be employed in. I like hands-on work so my job is a good fit for me, but for people that prefer desk jobs, there are plenty of EE jobs like that, too.
 

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