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Engineering Physics

  1. May 8, 2013 #1
    Hi everyone, i heard about this course, but what are engineering physicists?
    I saw that in every educational curriculum, they have usually training in photonics or in materials science...

    In my university there is a Msc called "Engineering Photonics" from the electronics department, do you think it may be considered an engineering phycs equivalent master Msc ?

    Or if it's not, which are the differences between a physicist engineer and a photonics engineer ? Is the photonics engineer a kind of physicist engineer ? If so, why ?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2013 #2


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    probably different in each university. Engineering physics in Auckland is all about running simulations in all sorts of physical systems.

    As for photonics, most universities have them as part of electrical/electronic engineering departments, others physics. Again, taking Auckland as an example, in the physics department we do lots of research on photonic crystal fibres, THz spectroscopy, nonlinear optics etc, this is what a lot of "photonics engineers" would work on and relevant courses tend to be offered in electrical engineering departments in other universities.

    Basically from what I know those 2 kinds of engineer you mentioned are not the same. Especially engineering physics doesn't seem to have a set definition and probably vary from school to school.
  4. May 9, 2013 #3
    So what's the difference in an engineering physicist specialized in photonics and an electronics engineer specialized in photonics ?
  5. May 9, 2013 #4


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    from what I know, engineering physicist will be running more simulations (mode propagation etc) and the electronics engineer will be doing more experiments, measurements etc.

    again, things may be different in other universities. better check the department handbooks to be sure, or ask a course advisor.
  6. May 9, 2013 #5
    I asked the professor representant of the course "Can someone publicize himself as an Engineer Physicist for job purpose?" she answered me "I would say yes".
  7. May 9, 2013 #6
    the doubt is... does she know what is an engineer physicist?
  8. May 9, 2013 #7


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    I can call myself a laser physicist, optical engineer, scumbag who plays too much computer games etc. But any potential employer or client will want to know is:

    What have you been trained to do in your degrees?

    ^that is the only thing meaningful. Even one like a "electrical engineer" will be asked that sort of questions. I mean, one of the optical physics staff in our department got his degrees in civil engineering, but his research are all in the fields of optics.
  9. May 15, 2013 #8
    I really don't understand these people that want to take a physics track and still be considered an engineer. What is an engineering physicist? Why not just take an engineering track if you want engineering in your job title. I know a physics major who thinks just because he took a few engineering classes as electives he is now an engineering physicist, he's planning to apply for engineering jobs as well.
  10. May 15, 2013 #9
    Wow that is some crazy stuff, billybob. The nerve of some people!!!111
  11. May 15, 2013 #10
    You know engineering physicists is a real job title right? Engineering physicist is a physicist who specializes in the engineering field of his choice (solid state electronics, fluid mechanics, whatever); the degrees are more prevalent in Canada and Austraillia but they exist in the US too:

    http://www.engr.wisc.edu/ep.html [Broken] <- UW-Madison's ENGINEERING PHYSICS DEPARTMENT

    Guess they're not real engineers or scientists, since they don't meet an arbitrary level of specialization :rolleyes:
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  12. May 15, 2013 #11
    I know what an engineering physicist is, my point is they are physicist not engineers and the OP seems like one of those people who want to study physics but because of the job market for physicist he wants to make sure engineer is in his title or degree hence my example.
  13. May 15, 2013 #12


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    The way I see it, engineers are people who have been trained to use scientific knowledge for certain jobs. Any scientists (as in anyone who has learned enough in their scientific fields who hopefully have a piece paper or something else like that to prove it) can be called an engineer as long as they are sufficiently trained for their jobs.

    Half of my degree is made up of papers in engineering departments, and they really feel like job trainings. You learn to do this, this, and that. Next month You will need to show that you can do it well. If I see that you give me something that does fit my specifications, you're [STRIKE]fired[/STRIKE] going to get a bad grade.
  14. May 16, 2013 #13
    i'm frequenting a Computer Engineering degree, and would like to get closer to physics in my future job, that's why i considered to take photonics enginering ? Do you think am i making some kind of mistake ?
  15. May 21, 2013 #14


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    I don't believe your conclusions about the OP's intentions follow from anything he/she has posted; I think you're jumping to conclusions.
  16. Jul 6, 2013 #15
    The question is that at my university, after the bachelor in computer engineering or electronics engineering one can choose photonics engineering, in the description of the course there is written "an hybrid field between electronics and physics" what's the meaning ? Since electronics is a sub-field of physics?

    Anyway i e-mailed a teacher of the course asking ... "Once i've finished the course can i advertise myself as "engineer physicist" for job ?
    She answered me "I would say yes."
  17. Jul 6, 2013 #16
    Optics is a field that is commonly done in physics and electrical engineering departments. In some cases it has a department of its own (e.g. U of Arizona and U of Rochester). What wukunlin said, it's what you learned in your program. This summer I have been working in an optics lab that consists of both students from the physics and engineering departments.
  18. Jul 6, 2013 #17


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    I think you are getting too hung up on titles/names. Some topics can be studied in more than one department, optics being one of them. Some job titles use the name "physicist" and/or "engineer" in them. I know people with jobs as "Senior Engineers" who have no engineering degrees; I have met a person who has the title "radar physicist" but has an electrical engineering degree. The name doesn't matter so much.

    When you send a resume and cover letter for a potential job opening, you will customize them to make sense in the context of the desired position. Your education section will say something like: "Msc electronics engineering (engineering photonics)" or "Msc engineering photonics (electronics engineering)" or perhaps some other way of stating the same info. It will be unambiguous. If I read a resume from someone claiming to be an "engineering physicist" while all of their training and experience was in electronics and photonics from an electronics department, I would think that is a little flaky, especially if I was looking for an engineering physicist who really knew advanced mechanics, fluids, and statistical physics, etc. My graduate work was in plasma physics, but in an electrical engineering department, so I call myself an electrical engineer. I had an interview with a company where they "like physicists, and we consider you a physicist for our purposes", but I didn't advertise as such (and I didn't accept their offer!).

  19. Jul 7, 2013 #18
    Since you said that someone can publicize himself in order to get the position he's interested in... so an electronics engineer who had a curricula in photonics engineering can advertise himself like "MSc Photonics Engineering(Physics Engineering)" , i think the figure you were talking about is not an engineer physicist but a mathematician engineer...
    But in universities i think you are considered a physicist's engineer if you are specialized in nanotechnologies or photonics or quantum physics related subfield.
  20. Jul 7, 2013 #19


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    I guess I don't understand why it is so important to claim be an "engineering physicist." What do you gain by it? I would think that you only have something to lose - in this day and age we are PICKY when we look at resumes, and if anything is a little off it gets thrown in the garbage. Claiming to be "physics engineering" if there is no such program or department may cross that line for some. Perhaps this could be a cultural difference as - I am in the USA, so if you are in a different country things may be different. In any case, for me, I would only claim to be an "engineering physicist" if a) my degrees were from an engineering physics department, or b) I was already employed and my job title was engineering physicist.

    I wish you the best,

  21. Jul 7, 2013 #20
    Ok so you are saying taht since i can publicize me llike i want, since i have those skills and abilities, once i get the degree i can write on my curriculum Photonics Engineering (Physics Engineering) ?

    Anyway the figure that you were talking about like "engineering physics" i think is properly called "Engineering mathematics", whikle an engineer physicist is an engineer specialized in photonics or nanotecnology i think
  22. Jul 7, 2013 #21


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    I have no idea what "engineering mathematics" is. The university I attended had an "applied and engineering physics" department, so students could get a BS in Engineering Physics, or a PhD in Applied Physics. They had to take all the core upper division physics subjects (mechanics, electrodynamics, statistical physics, quantum mechanics, fluid mechanics, mathematical physics) plus a handful of courses from other departments to create their own specialization. That is what I was referring to with a) above.

    In the electrical engineering department (certainly at the graduate level) there were folks who effectively specialized in photonics, semiconductor physics, plasma physics, etc., but the degrees were all from the Electrical Engineering department. I would call them electrical engineers.

    We are going in circles here. you can write whatever you want - it is up to you. As an engineer who helps evaluate resumes for my company, I was trying to give you some advice. I just know that I have seen people with more authority than me throw resumes in the garbage for less.

    best wishes,

  23. Jul 7, 2013 #22
    Well, my doubt was this because i wanted to study physics engineering but close to my city there is only photonics engineering, that's why, i didn't want to lose the chance to become a physicist engineer do you understand what i mean ? any advice ?
  24. Jul 7, 2013 #23


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    Photonics engineer would be a speicalty. Engineering physicist is a broader category.

    This description on Wikipedia is reasonable:
    Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineering_physics
    See particularly - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineering_physics#Overview

    In engineering programs, one might not delve into the physics of particular topics, e.g., fluid mechanics or mechanics of materials, on the atomistic/quantum scale. However, in order to understand how materials or systems perform, it is often necessary to dig into the fundamentals.

    I encourage any engineering student to load up on advanced mathematics and physics, i.e., take as much math and physics as humanly possible - and do well.

    Engineering physics programs will vary among institutions and the field may vary nationally/internationally.

    One good EP program is the one at Univ. of Illinois (UIUC)
    http://provost.illinois.edu/ProgramsOfStudy/2013/fall/programs/undergrad/engin/engin_physics.html [Broken]

    There is another program at Univ. of California - Berkeley

    Re (RPI) offers MS and PhD programs in Engineering Physics

    Engineering after all is applied physics, but 'applied physics' usually implies a more in depth knowledge and understanding on the fundamental level. I am concerned that engineering programs have become too superficial when it comes to understanding the theory of physical systems/phenomena.

    If I could redo my academic career - I would have double majored in physics and nuclear engineering (along with the civil, materials, mechanical, electrical and aerospace engineering courses I took).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  25. Jul 7, 2013 #24
    Sorry, so by the definition of wikipedia, since as photonics engineer at MSc i have covered a bunch of physics sub-fields, as mechanics, and all the electronics courses at coputer engineering, once i finish the photonics engineering course i can be considered a physicist engineer ?
  26. Jul 7, 2013 #25
    Even because if you look at the areas of specialization, the photonics course is there ... so that's why i think it like this
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