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Electronics graduate , what field should I chose for MS (in US) ? Help.

  1. May 23, 2009 #1

    I am in the last year of my 5 year dual degree (which is B.E(Hons.)Electronics and Instrumentation with MSc(Hons)Physics ) from a highly reputed institute.

    I am currently doing intern at HP Global centre here in India , and I am yet to give GRE but I will be giving it in a two months time. I have a research paper published in the field of 'Semiconductor doping' and I am working on my second paper right now. After working for more than a year with my professor in this field , he has helped me a lot with recommendations and all.
    But the thing is I have a special interest in the field of Communications , I have done elective courses like Telecom Switching Systems and Data Communications and Networking ,inlcuding a 6-month project at a research institute in GSM Vocoder design.
    I have done Analog/Digital VLSI design , and worked at PSPICE /Cadence simulations a lot including design and layout (silicon layer level) of Digital and Analog circuits.And I won't mind working in this field in the future.
    So I am in a bit of dilemma , since my GRE dates are coming closer and I have to chose some Universities which I can only I do once I have decided my field.

    Kindly advice which field is more rewarding in the current scenario. I am not planning to end up as a scientist or a professor , and not looking for PhD either , But I want to work a bit more in the engineering field after my graduation.

    Also , is it 'not-good' if I apply for Communication inspite of having my papers published in the field of Semiconductor doping? Will it give a bad impression?

    Please advice. I need to start looking for Universities.

    Thanks a lot.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2009 #2


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    Communications tends to be more math and software (even when in Electrical and Computer Engineering departments). You probably want more along the lines of communications hardware, or IC design, or computer engineering instead. It'll probably be tough to find a U.S. institution willing to fund / accept you for just an MS (since they tend to prefer PhD types). Or so I understand.

    You might want to try Canada or Europe where an MS is not considered a consolation prize, but rather a stepping stone to a Ph.D. (or junior Ph.D.), or an end point to itself.
  4. May 26, 2009 #3
    What all MS disciplines are available related to hardware/IC Design/VLSI , more to do with microelectronics?? , Please guide.
  5. May 26, 2009 #4
    You've pretty much listed the disciplines or areas yourself, but there are quite interesting things involving FPGAs, GPU architecture, etc. Nanoelectronics is another exciting field which may build on your undergrad in physics. If you're looking for specific problems or courses, you should take a look at masters course listings on websites of universities.

    VLSI design consists of several sub-problems which may draw on things from computer algorithms, graph theory, optimization as well as circuit design and device physics. At the level of fabrication of course VLSI is clearly and more obviously interdisciplinary.

    Instead of really worrying about which of these fields is more rewarding, I would say that you should go ahead and pick up the one that seems interesting to you. I am quite sure that in a MS/PhD program in the US, you can switch fields more easily. Are you doing your undergrad in India?
  6. May 26, 2009 #5
    You said you are not interested in PhD and you have an MS. Why do you need to look at universities?

    Further, VLSI is applicable to most fields of electrical/computer engineering. Communication chips need to be designed and tested, which includes layout, simulation, etc. A company like Qualcomm or Broadcom would be great places to merge low-level VLSI and communication interests.

    As for merging them in the academic arena, mixed signal VLSI is very interesting. At most levels of communication system design there is VLSI involved. If you're interested in the high-level DSP aspect of communication systems, well, that's a different scenario and your semiconductor background won't be super helpful. It won't hurt, either.
  7. May 27, 2009 #6
    If he's from an Indian university, the MSc degree -- although a masters degree is regarded as an undergraduate degree (by way of the number of credits)..at least at my school and at other places he may want to pursue a PhD programme.

    Since he already he has an MSc, he can apply for an MTech (Masters in Engineering; on the basis of BSc or MSc) or a PhD (in Science or Engineering, but only on the basis of MSc and not BSc alone).

    So by MS, he means a Masters Programme at an American university, which he intends to pursue even though he has an Master of Science (MSc) degree.

    Sorry if this seems convoluted...it seemed weird to me when I was entering my school for a BTech (Engineering Bachelors degree) :-p
  8. May 27, 2009 #7
    yes I am almost done with my undergraduate in India which was a 5 year dual degree program , although I have MSc. in Physics , I want to pursue MS in electronics in which I hold a B.E (bachelor in engineering) . So basically I want to capitalize on my Electronics degree in which I have developed interest over the last year.
  9. May 27, 2009 #8
    Yes you're very right. I have done my bachelors from BITS Pilani and I am currently interning at Bangalore in HP Global.
  10. May 27, 2009 #9
    Exactly what I was looking for. The whole idea of any communication system hardware implementation merged with VLSI would be a perfect platform for me.Both of these things interest me a lot.

    So If I apply in any of these areas (VLSI/Communication or a hybrid discipline) , would any of my published papers in area of Semiconductor doping have any positive impact on my chances of getting a good graduate school? , or will it make a negative impression that my area of published paper is different? .... and just for my knowledge , please let me know , what would be more favourable? MS or MS+PhD program?
  11. May 27, 2009 #10
    I'm inexperienced in this arena, but I certainly do not see why they should have a negative impact. They are indicative of your experience (and success) in peer reviewed journal/conference(s). IMHO, EE is very interdisciplinary. Your semiconductor background will actually be useful if you get into device fabrication, as I have stated before.

    Your second question is deeper. First of all, I don't think it'll be easy getting into an MS only program for reasons that have been stated by an OP. Schools expect long term commitment in a field -- for good reason -- and "good" research may take longer to happen anyway. An MS then will just be a thesis with some course credits the way I see it (unless you get lucky, get an MS-only admission, do something pretty cool and it gets "recognized" in the generally acceptable sense of the term -- in which case it would make even more sense to hang on for a PhD). Academia/Research => PhD.

    I could go on and on, but let me first ask you this: are you thinking of getting into industry or academia? I don't think you can go wrong with a PhD either way, but you should probably read a rather interesting article about this:


    PS -- All said and done, if you are getting into hardware, there is a LOT of very cool stuff thats going on, esp in the industry, at places like nVidia. Not many EE graduates I know are into hardware and pure electronics stuff. On a lighter and perhaps less relevant note, you might want to read this article about the evolution of EE: http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/print/4345.
  12. May 27, 2009 #11
    Having a publication will have an extremely positive impact on your chances for admission to graduate school. It will show that you are able to conduct research and are able to write about it. It's not like you're locked into that field forever - especially since you're young and still have more school to go through.

    I'm not sure if you've ever used the book "Digital Integrated Circuits: A Design Perspective" by Jan Rabaey, which is a very popular and well thought of book in the VLSI field. Professor Rabaey does exactly what you're interested in at his lab:

    The Berkeley Wireless Research Center: http://bwrc.eecs.berkeley.edu/

    As for whether an MS or an MS+PhD is more favorable - you'll have to give us more information. What are you career goals? You said you don't want to be a professor, but do you want a PhD? It has to be something you want or there is no reason to do it - especially not purely for the salary benefits.
  13. Jun 8, 2009 #12
    I dont plan to get into academics again after I complete my MS .My main intent is still to work in the industry and not get into research. My interest in research will depend on my MS experience , so I don't want to be concrete here.But I just don't want to miss an opportunity to study at a great university , so I was a bit curious about increasing my chances of admission to a great univ. if I apply for MS+PhD. But I think by now you might have known , I am not into PhD as of 'right now' , but I am very keen to be at the best place for my post graduate studies.
  14. Jun 8, 2009 #13
    Also , I looked into my interest a lot , and have come to the conclusion that higher studies in electronics&communication which combines both VLSI /communication basics and instrumentation would reap a lot of benefit for me. If it is possible for any of the wise guys here to advice me good universities for pursuing electronics&communication , it would be nice . I have my GRE in a month , so I need to shortlist my universities soon.Also , I see a lot of lists on the internet which rank universities as per a particular discipline , should I go by them? or should I research myself into this , and then apply?

    Thanks a lot.
  15. Jun 21, 2009 #14
    bump bump^
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