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EE to Physics?

  1. Mar 19, 2014 #1
    I am currently an EE student, but I love physics. I want to switch to Physics but am too concerned about the job market. I am only a freshman, and I think I would like EE but would one day want to join with fusion research as a physicist. I know I would need some kind of physics PhD.

    The thing keeping me from switching majors is the job market for physicist vs. engineers. I know a lot of PhD physicists end up unemployed or severely underemployed. I think EE is much more safe. I don't want to double major because it would add at least 3 more semesters. Could I go from a BS in EE straight to a PhD physics program or is that not possible. If so, would engineering firms still hire me if I had a PhD in Physics?

    Any suggestions are appreciated.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2014 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    To enter a physics graduate program you are expected to have a physics BS or have taken at least most of the equivalent classwork.
     
  4. Mar 19, 2014 #3

    psparky

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    Stick with engineering. Much more stable job opportunities. I would say that all your fears are well founded.

    Without an actual engineering degree, engineering firms will shy away from hiring you. Why? Because they can not bill you as an engineer....they have to bill you as an non-engineer which means less profit for you and them.

    Lock in your engineering degree. If you want to play with physics after that....have a ball, yet have a good paying stable job in meantime.
     
  5. Mar 19, 2014 #4
    Do you guys think a minor in physics could get me into a PhD program?
     
  6. Mar 19, 2014 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    To enter a physics graduate program you are expected to have a physics BS or have taken at least most of the equivalent classwork.
     
  7. Mar 19, 2014 #6
    Some EE's work on plasmas and fusion:

    http://www.engr.wisc.edu/ece/ece-research-priorities-energy.html [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  8. Mar 19, 2014 #7

    analogdesign

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    Most experimental physics projects employ as many or even more electrical engineers as they do physicists. I'm an electrical engineer and among other projects, I'm working on a high-energy physics experiment. I may not understand the deep math behind lepton flavor violation but it is really fun and satisfying work.
     
  9. Mar 19, 2014 #8
    Oh cool. What kind of things to you do for these projects? Of course, it would depend on the project but give some examples.
     
  10. Mar 19, 2014 #9

    analogdesign

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    Well, I design integrated circuits so I would design a custom chip to read out a particle detector. Only very large detectors need chips. I worked on one high-energy project in the 90s when I was a student and I'm working on another now. I'm also working on readout chips for scientific imagers like X-ray and electron microscope cameras.

    The majority of EEs would be working (on the electronics side) on read out boards doing digital system design at the board level and with FPGAs. There are also a good number of EEs working on the detectors themselves in designing new detectors, doing RF systems for the accelerators, power distribution and management and the like.
     
  11. Mar 19, 2014 #10
    Thanks for all the answers.
     
  12. Mar 20, 2014 #11
    If you consider job and money you cant be a physicist! :)
    physics needs love! :)
     
  13. Mar 20, 2014 #12

    ZapperZ

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    This is why I started the thread on the field of Accelerator Physics (and I also included a mention on Detector Physics as well). It appears that a lot of people simply never realized that one really doesn't have to choose one or the other. You can stay in EE and work on projects that have a huge overlap with physics. Both Accelerator physics and Detector physics are two such examples. I can easily show you high energy physics graduate students working on the detectors they had to build, and you'll never be able to tell the difference between them, and an EE graduate student, and vice versa.

    Depending on what you focus in in EE, you can do a lot of physics and be involved in physics projects and experiments. And the same can be said about physics students. Those who focused on the RF structure aspects of accelerating structures have similar skills as EE students. It is why many physics students in this field of study have a greater chance of working in industries and private firms than your standard physics PhDs.

    As to going into Physics PhD program from EE degree, this has been done and not totally uncommon. However, you will not be equipped with all the necessary knowledge and will need remedial courses to get up to speed. In other words, you will have quite a bit of catching up to do, especially in passing the qualifier.

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=64966

    Zz.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014
  14. Mar 20, 2014 #13

    Correct me if I am wrong, but you are saying that RF is the specialty that works with accelerator and such?
     
  15. Mar 20, 2014 #14

    So I wrong would pretty much end up double majoring anyways?
     
  16. Mar 20, 2014 #15

    And to be honest, I already read this thread but didn't know if "jobs go begging" meant a lot of jobs or no jobs. Lol
     
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