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Courses Dynamics through physics or mechanical engineering?

  1. Dec 28, 2016 #1
    Which is better? To study dynamics through physics or through mechanical engineering? What is the difference really?

    A book from MIT OCW classical mechanics 2 : Florian, Scheck. Mechanics: From Newton’s Laws to Deterministic Chaos. 3rd ed. https://www.amazon.com/Mechanics-Ne...coding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=QMETJM2KK82N7X72VER6

    That book contains a lot of "dynamics" topics.
    And the courses whose homework id be doing are these :
    Classical mechanics 2 : http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/han...8-09Fall-2004/CourseHome/index.htm?sequence=1
    Classical mechanics 3 : https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-09-classical-mechanics-iii-fall-2014/index.htm

    VS MIT OCW mechanical engineering, which has
    Dynamics and control 1,2
    Nonlinear Dynamics I: Chaos
    Dynamics and Vibration (13.013J)
    and a few others... A lot under graduate level.

    If I take the physics branch will I need to go back and study these topics before I design something like an engine? I would much rather take the physics branch because I really like physics and this book looks cool... but I want to design/build model engines... so which is better?

    PS: My prereq are intro to PDE, and I have learned to model physics in Comsol, I also know elec and magnetism and studied wave physics and an intro to aerodynamics
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 29, 2016 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Are you going for a physics degree, or a mechanical engineering degree?
  4. Dec 29, 2016 #3


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    Science Advisor

  5. Dec 29, 2016 #4
  6. Dec 29, 2016 #5
    Yeah, it will annoy me if I don't know why... but do you think I will know what they teach in the Mechanical Engineering version after taking the physics class or will I have to take both the mechanical engineering and physics dynamics classes to use it in practice?
  7. Dec 29, 2016 #6
    What if I want to do both, would I need to know the info from both, or would the physics class be enough so that I can use it in practice? (ignoring school requirements, im talking knowledge wise only)
  8. Dec 29, 2016 #7
    As an engineering student, I imagine the dymanics in mechanical engineering would also focus on technology, so youd probably be learning about...dynamics in some man made technology! feel free to correct me if I am wrong. :)
  9. Dec 29, 2016 #8
    I don't know about you. Once I got the WHY from the Physics Version (MIT 8.09), all the Mech E applications were obvious for me.

    But I am an experimentalist with an engineering mind, it was my second version of a Physics dynamics course (the first at LSU three years earlier), and while I was taking the course, I was writing lots of dynamics modeling code for an unrelated research project. So I was all keyed in perfectly to see the WHAT with less of it being spelled out explicitly.

    My mind moves from the theoretical to the practical much more easily than from the practical to the theoretical (once I really get the theoretical).
  10. Dec 29, 2016 #9
    Thanks kind of how I feel about studying the telegraph equation after taking 8.03... Its so obvious and an entire class for something so obvious I can just blow through it leisurely... Maybe you're leaning me in the physics direction. I thought it was an undergrad course though.
    You said you took 8.09 or something similar on a grad level that was more detailed?
  11. Dec 29, 2016 #10
    It was the same 8.09 that all the undergrads took. I may have been the only grad student in the course that semester.

    Word on the street (among grad students) was that the PhD qualifying exams were tough in the mechanics section. All the advice I got was that the mechanics and dynamics courses I'd had at LSU would likely leave me short, so my choices were to self-study or to take the 8.09 course. I prefer the structure and accountability and feedback of a real course (homework sets, exams, etc.) Passed both the 1st and 2nd General Exams on the first try.

    Professor Baranger ended up on my thesis committee so it ended up a great experience for me.
  12. Dec 29, 2016 #11
    Cool. Thank you.
    Wish they had answers to the problem sets on that 8.09 OCW though! -_-
  13. Dec 31, 2016 #12
    But I think there is a difference / one has to distinguish between Dynamics (the standard theory in mechanics) and Applied Dynamics, which I think is what you mean. May be that will resolve the issue. (It depends on what one is looking for, e.g. the OP.)
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