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EE vs. Applied Physics (different than become an engineer thread I think)

  1. Jul 5, 2011 #1
    EE vs. Applied Physics (different than "become an engineer thread" I think)

    Hello all,

    I read through the first few pages of the "So U want to Engineer" thread, but the gist was not quite was I was hoping.

    Ok, I am about to be a senior in an Applied Physics program in North Carolina. I work in a Raman Spec. lab. I get good enough grades that I believe I can be accepted to a PhD school somewhere. So beyond that...

    I am very interested in the field of Nanophotonics/Optoelectronics. It seems like there is fresh ground to be broken, which I find very compelling. The problem I am having is that I thought this field was in the realm of Applied Physics (and I think it very well could be), but a lot of searching returns EE programs. I am totally open to that route, but I am having a really hard time telling which one will allow me to really think through and understand the field from the ground up in a way which will best allow me to make novel contributions.

    TLTR: I am trying to read as much as I can about both types of programs (Applied Physics vs. EE), but I am really hoping someone on the forum has experience with, or thought about, the same type of dilemma. I may just have to buck up and start making calls to the heads of the research groups I have been reading about..

    Please let me know if I should be more specific in the information I am requesting,

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2011 #2


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    Re: EE vs. Applied Physics (different than "become an engineer thread" I think)

    There you go.
  4. Jul 6, 2011 #3
    Re: EE vs. Applied Physics (different than "become an engineer thread" I think)

    EE is basically Applied Physics, the line blurs more and more as you get deeper and deeper into research (In my opinion anyways). It doesn't surprise me that most of the results for EE programs, it is where you would get the most people caring about electronics isn't it?

    The difference between the programs really depends on the school you're looking out but the general difference between engineering and physics is that physics searches for a deeper understanding and engineering searches for answers to practical problems. So I would imagine an Applied Physics would be the way to go.

    I'm not a PhD student but I am an undergraduate studying Engineering Physics and doing an EE minor. I've often considered the EE major but chose physics because the program seemed to be more about deeper understanding of nature while EE was more for practical solutions to problems and I plan on doing research later on.
  5. Jul 7, 2011 #4


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    Re: EE vs. Applied Physics (different than "become an engineer thread" I think)

    Every research group is different - there are no generalities that will help here. There are research groups in EE departments that do pure physics (I was in one), and the are groups in applied physics departments that do more engineering, and vice versa of course.

    If there are faculty in your department familiar with this area I would ask them what schools they recommend. Beyond that, contacting the professors at the universities you are considering is one approach to try. Looking in the literature to see where publications of interest are coming from is also another approach.

    good luck,

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