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Engineering Engineering Physics / Mechanical Engineering

  1. May 22, 2009 #1
    I am currently a senior in high school who will be attending Cornell U this fall. I have applied to Cornell intending to graduate on Engineering Physics. However, through some research, I have found that not many people focus much on Mechanical Engineering while majoring in EP and found more people focusing on EM.

    So I thought maybe Engineering Physics is different than what I have originally thought of it as.

    So my major question is what would Engineering Physics lead me to? I know this is a very broad question, but if I intend to focus on Mechanical Engineering, what kind of career would it lead me to? I am thinking of getting Masters also, and then maybe a job or to grad.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2009 #2
    what are your grades in Physics and Mathematics? if they arent As dont even bother with EP.
  4. May 25, 2009 #3
    As haughty as it sounds, grades are not my problem. Rather, the problem is that I don't exactly know which career direction that EP and/or ME would lead me to.
  5. May 25, 2009 #4
    EP is the obvious choice of the two. EP is the hardest thing you can study in university.
  6. May 29, 2009 #5
    Could you (or anyone else) please elaborate on what exactly engineering physics is, and why it's harder than other types of engineering or physics?
  7. May 29, 2009 #6

    D H

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    The primary difference at the undergrad level between physics and engineering physics, at Cornell at least, is that physics is in the College of Arts & Sciences while A&EP is in the College of Engineering. There's a lot of overlap between the two, all the way through to Physics 410, the senior lab course.

    The primary difference between engineering physics and other engineering classes: A&EP is a lot harder, but in a way a lot easier. Physics majors learn fundamentals, engineers learn details. You probably will not come out as well-versed in structural engineering as will an ME major or circuit design as will an EE major (just to pick a couple). What you will have is a deep and thorough understanding of the physics that guides structural engineering and circuit design. Learning that detailed stuff is easy if you know the fundamentals. Another difference: the math they taught engineers was inscrutable to me. Physics and A&EP majors take real math classes.
  8. May 29, 2009 #7


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    This varies a great deal from university to university. In Canada, you take a common first year program, and then rank the programs you'd like to go into near the end of first year. I believe what ends up happening is that they rank everybody by their GPA, and then start giving out peoples' first choice until a discipline / program is all full, in which case, anybody with a GPA below the cut-off that wanted the (now-full) discipline gets their second choice, and so forth.

    Regardless, if there's enough demand, there's usually some competition to get into most disciplines (there's usually one or two where they joke and say 'You don't choose X engineering, X engineering chooses you') but not everybody that has a very high GPA selects, e.g. engineering physics (or any other discipline) or vice versa. I like the common first year program because you get a little more exposure to what you actually do in said program before you enter it (and not because of prestige, or to follow in your relatives footsteps, or whatever).

    In my admission year of engineering physics, two people switched out the first week, another guy half-way through, and two more at the end of the year (this was in an admitted class of 30). And this was when we still had 90% of classes in common with other engineers!

    EDIT: What I'm trying to get across is that, if you're sure that engineering physics is for you, and you think you can hack it, you should apply, irregardless of grades (or at least, find out what the competitive average is, and see if you're at least ball park). What's the worst that's going to happen?
  9. Jun 19, 2009 #8
    im an upcoming senior in high school, ill be graduating in January, and i have an intrest in becoming an automotive ME, and i was wondering if anyone could give me some guidence on thi...thanks
  10. Jun 19, 2009 #9
    Hey there. I'm a rising senior at Cornell's EP program, so I thought I'd pop in here.

    From all that I've seen. the AEP program is incredibly flexible. The entirety of the first two years are just general engineering stuff. Important courses include Calculus and Physics I-III. It's the perfect time to pursue anything your non-physics interests. Should they interest you, you can take courses in chemistry/biology and in any other field of engineering, including mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineering.

    Junior year is heavy on AEP courses:
    - Mathematical Physics I and II. Great courses that teach you the fundamentals of complex numbers, Fourier/Laplace transforms, and differential equations.
    - Electrodynamics
    - Classical Mechanics
    - Quantum Mechanics
    - Electronic Circuits (Some people will take this sophomore year)

    These are all very physics-y classes and are pretty heavy.

    Senior year, there are less required AEP courses. In general, you'll only need to take 3 year-round, so this is the time when you can take whatever the hell you want, and it's when it'll really have paid off if you took classes earlier to figure out your interests. Many EP majors pursue pure physics, but there is nothing that states you have to. One of my friends plans to use his senior year to load up on mechanical engineering classes; another wants to pursue electrical engineering in his final year. There's nothing that will stop you from doing that, honestly.

    The academic adviser here (yeah she's biased maybe) says that EP is the best of physics and engineering. Since you graduate with a degree from the school of engineering, you're employable. Since the physics requirements are very rigorous, you're good for physics graduate school, too. And since the program is so highly accredited, everyone wants you. The six open courses allow you to tailor the program how you please to demonstrate your interests.
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