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Eletrical Engineering + Math

  1. Jan 19, 2012 #1
    Is it ideal to pursue a eletrical engineering and math major?
    Basically, I plan to double major in both subjects to keep possibilities for graduate school and eventually, have options for a career. I.e, a math major will allow me the option for graduate math school and electrical engineering keep that major keep engineering graduate school an option.

    I know it's early (I'm a senior in high school) but from dual enrollment, i basically have all my general education credits complete in addition to:

    -Algebraic based physics (mechanics and electromagnitism, thermo, etc) What you would see in an AP physics B course.
    -General chemistry
    -Calculus 1,2,3 and Differential Equations and Matrix algebra (not proof based)

    So, I do have to start planning when I begin attending a university for Fall 2012. What do you guys think?
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2012 #2


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    Hey Klungo and welcome to the forums.

    What kind of graduate math program did you have in mind in terms of pure mathematics, applied mathematics or statistics?

    The reason I ask is that if you wanted to get into pure mathematics programs you might have to do graduate programs in things like topology, analysis, algebra and differential geometry to be competitive.

    Also someone has pointed out earlier in this forum (can't remember the exact thread) that in some programs like applied mathematics and statistics, you don't necessarily need a mathematics degree per se and in comparison to getting into say a pure math PhD program, your chances are a lot easier.

    Also it might help the readers here to know where you are from (for example US, UK, etc).
  4. Jan 19, 2012 #3
    I'm doing it so theres that. I'm doing it simply because I like math and want to learn more math. I have no intention on pursuing a graduate degree or a career in mathematics, my career will be in EE (though I'd like to think of my future job being as an Applied Mathematician specialized in EE lol).

    But really if you plan on going to graduate school then pick the one you actually want to do and specialize more in it to make yourself more competitive. Its not feasible to dual major and be able to take graduate courses and/or research in both fields during undergrad.

    I would say minor in mathematics or EE, (you basically already have a minor in math though).

    You are in an interesting position since you are very much ahead in your studies and you havent even started so it the time it would normally would take you could easily do both majors well.
  5. Jan 19, 2012 #4
    Usually, there's no difference between pure and applied. Where I'm at, you don't even CHOOSE whether you want to do pure or applied until AFTER you get into the program. I think that is usually the case. Statistics is a different story.

    I had planned to do a double major in math and EE, but dropped EE in my senior year.

    If you don't mind taking longer to finish the degree, there's no problem with doing the double major. Whether or not you want to specialize more in one or the other depends on what you want to do. A double major would be very good for some people due to their interests, or especially if they are someone like I was who wanted to do EE, but whose thinking is more like that of a mathematician.

    There are areas in EE, particularly if you go to grad school that are very mathematical.

    I had a friend who double majored in math and EE and then went to Berkeley to get a PhD in EE, so I wouldn't worry about it slowing you down. It will just look good, either way, probably. If you do math, an engineering background doesn't hurt either. You learn a little extra math that way and you get lots of practice with calculus and a little ODEs, which will help with the math GRE and so on.
  6. Jan 20, 2012 #5
    In response to Chiro:
    Thanks for the welcome. I am a US student but I was looking forward to maybe pure mathematics should I end up going to grad school in mathematics. The requirements of the school for a BS Math I'm likely to go to requires proof based linear algebra, advanced calculus (some pre-analysis or analysis courses in disguise) and abstract algebra. There are several electives: set theory, topology, complex variables, pde's, etc but they also offer them as graduate courses too.

    As for EE. There are internships/co-op/research programs available that can make me more competitive for Engineering grad school.

    Here's the only thing that somewhat concerns me. Will both graduate schools look less at me for pursuing mathematics + EE? I mean, it looks like I'd be dedicating half to math and half to engineering.
  7. Jan 20, 2012 #6
    Picture yourself behind the recruitment desk of Pizza Hut and you're reviewing the applications for that "delivery guy" spot. What difference would it make if an otherwise good candidate - one who looks like a nice chap, doesn't seem like a clumsy geek and can drive - participates in juggling tournaments and tutors high school level Russian?

    While this is anecdotal, I read of a dude who majored in Math and Linguistics at Harvard and is now doing a PhD in Economics at MIT. I'm sure there's bucket loads more of these guys. Double majors do go to grad school!
  8. Jan 20, 2012 #7
    Alright, I suppose I'll give the double major a go.

    To any EE out there: What math courses or topics are heavily covered in the major?

    Thanks for all the help guys.
  9. Jan 20, 2012 #8
    Obviously not. Math will look really good for EE because, depending on what classes you take, it could be directly relevant. Maybe doing research would look better, but, like I said, that is a trade-off that is more than worth it if your style is more mathematical. You don't have to do research. My friend that went to Berkeley didn't do research.

    EE will not look quite as good for math grad schools as math does for EE, but it will give you a little extra math, and it doesn't hurt. I think maybe I waited a little too long before I dropped the EE major, but I am glad I took EE classes like E and M and signal processing because they contributed something to my mathematical knowledge that might be hard to get from math classes alone. And actually, the fact that I did a lot of EE before taking heavy math classes probably contributed a lot to my success in those classes because of the extra time to develop mathematical maturity.

    There's another thing to think about, which is what happens AFTER grad school. In my case, I am thinking about quitting academia and a large number of people are FORCED to do that after getting a PhD in math. So, my EE and CS background is going to be very, very handy in expanding my options. I think I would have a shot at getting an engineering job, now, given that I could probably pass a fundamentals of engineering exam pretty easily and have minors in EE and CS. It's nice to have that extra bit of marketability.
  10. Jan 20, 2012 #9
    Not too much is needed for most undergraduate stuff. Mainly a lot of calculus (including vector calculus for electromag) and ODEs. PDE is a good class to take first to help with electrodynamics. Linear algebra sort of helps, though it is usually not required. Signal processing is essentially Fourier series and transforms, plus the discrete versions of those.

    Also, it's nice to be really good with complex numbers. You might think you know how to deal with them, as I did, but I didn't know them as well as I should have, and I think that's the case for a lot of EE students. Chapter 1 of Visual Complex Analysis would be a really nice thing to read for that.
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