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EE or Physics?

  1. Apr 9, 2009 #1
    I'm a sophomore and still undecided, although currently not taking classes. I'm slightly leaning towards EE because I like more hands on stuff, but I do like theory a lot. From some of my upper classmen Physics major friends they say that when they've been looking for Co-Ops the HR person will grill them on whether or not they have done lab work. Is this common? Do a lot of upper level Physics classes have any lab work?

    I really have no desire to be an Engineer. I think it's important but I really like Science and searching to discover rather having a new project done by Friday at 5pm. I'm pretty lost with the whole decision that I'll have to make this coming fall. My Physics friends tell me do Physics and my Engineering friends say do Engineering because if I major in Physics I'll never have a job. I'm lost, thanks for your help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 10, 2009 #2


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    If employment is your major reason for indecision, I would argue that physics majors don't do all that bad as far as jobs go. Obviously they are less competative for engineering jobs than engineers. However physics gives you an abundance of marketable skills. And if you truly have no desire to be an engineer - engineering probably isn't the path for you.

    As for labs, upper year physics can have a lot of lab work depending on the options you take and the specific requirements at your school. Most physics degrees will require you to take some kind of an upper year laboratory course though, and these can be pretty intensive.
  4. Apr 10, 2009 #3
    That pretty much sums it up. I had the same dilemma when I was your age. But, I love physics and engineering equally. I love theory and experiment equally. I eventually chose electrical engineering with a strong emphasis on theory and physics training.

    However, if you have NO desire to be an engineer, then there is only one choice for you.
  5. Apr 10, 2009 #4
    That brings up another point. If I did choose EE, could I fill some Engineering classes with Physics classes? For example, could I take E&M from the Physics department in place of the Engineering E&M? Is this what you mean? I know I need to talk with advisers but taking classes this semester has just made me figure out things for myself. Thanks.
  6. Apr 10, 2009 #5
    Depends on the school's requirements. Ask your adviser.

    I got a BS in EE. It required a lot of physics. In fact, just a couple more math and physics courses and I got minors in both.

    Physics EM is way more indepth than EE EM. I've have them both.
  7. Apr 10, 2009 #6
    Have you considered a degree in engineering physics? At my school they take about half their courses in the physics department, and half with EE. For example, they take a 3 quarter E&M sequence with the physics department, whereas EEs take one quarter of it with the EE department.
  8. Apr 10, 2009 #7
    Talking to your adviser is the best thing. For reference, in my case, I just took all of my elective courses in physics (quantum mechanics, optics, acoustics, thermodynamics). Then in grad school, I was really able to take many physics courses since diversity was strongly encouraged by my adviser. I was lucky that my electrical engineering department had a great electromagnetics teacher, and I took 4 courses with him 2 undergrad and 2 grad level. However, I agree with the previous comment that usually physics departments cover EM theory better. It's really appalling how poorly modern electrical engineering students understand EM. Most students don't see the value in it, but it is so important to being a good electrical engineer.
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