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General Physics I & II w/Calculus

  1. May 20, 2008 #1
    Well I finished General Physics I & II w/Calculus this year with good grades (A/A-), but I really don't feel I retained everything. I got most of the concepts down from Newtonian Mechanics, but I don't feel as though I grasped everything in E&M. I took Physics II while taking Calculus II, so I really didn't fully grasp the Flux material that is apparently taught in Multivariate (which I'm taking in the Fall). We also seemed to cover so much material in E&M that by the end of the semester I was doing the "Plug and Chug" for some of the problems (like RLC circuits, Frequency Resonance, and visualizing flow in multi-loop circuits).

    Summer break started today, and I've already started re-reading the text. I plan to cover the Newtonian Mechanics, Thermodynamics, and Fluid Mechanics sections this summer, and then E&M and Modern Physics after I take Multivariate in the fall (during the 5-week winter break).

    How normal and widespread is this? I was told that these courses are meant to give an overview of a lot of material and that I would re-focus on certain aspects of the material in specific classes that pertain to my area of engineering, but I want to really understand the content. Is this unreasonable for the class level of these courses?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 20, 2008 #2
    I don't think it's anything to worry about. Physics I/II are introductory courses, so you'll likely see the stuff relevant to your degree again sometime soon. I personally have ended more than a few courses by just plugging numbers into formulas because of burn-out and an overwhelming workload as the semester progresses. Don't sweat it...you're doing yourself a huge favor by studying a little in the summer and getting a good grasp on the concepts.

    What's your major? Is E&M, etc going to be relevant for you later on?
  4. May 20, 2008 #3
    I don't think it's unreasonable at all. In physics I typically find with students (and found this myself) that the first time you hit the material is the hardest. Each time you go over it afterwards it gets easier - often much easier. If you take even one electrodynamics course you'll review everything you learned about E&M and more, and surely you'll do a circuits course or two that will take you farther.

    Assuming the class was taught at a decent difficulty (which is a dangerous assumption these days), I'd say you're in a great position to move forward.

    Maybe review the material now and then, and work a few problems for fun a night or two to keep it fresh? That's not necessary, but it may well pay off.
  5. May 20, 2008 #4
    If you're doing engineering, I think you should be okay. Honestly, most of my friends who are in engineering do not use most of the material from intro physics. If you're a physics major, then it's a different story. Also, it depends on your area of engineering, but E&M is almost exclusively a pure physics topic, and I wouldn't worry about. However, multivariable is very important even for engineers, and you might want to restudy E&M just as a way to better master multivariable.
  6. May 20, 2008 #5
    Oh you'll see this stuff again and it'll be hammered into once again. Learning something for the first time is the worst and I suspect most people do not retain much of it, but what is important is the ability to relearn what you once knew.

    I took a numerical analysis class a few years ago, and I'll be honest, I don't remember much of anything from it, but when I had to use some numerical analysis technique, I was able to reread my textbook and pick up the concept without much of a hassle.
  7. May 20, 2008 #6
    *cough* electrical engineering *cough*

    And while I'm at it, how can you say that about the theory that we use for the circuits in well you know nearly all of the technology you have in your house?

    I don't know who you hang out with but mechanics is very useful for you know MECHANICAL ENGINEERS. And e&m is useful for electrical engineers. Thermodynamics is useful for chemical engineers. And of course fluids and thermo are both useful for aerospace engineering.

    You might not be able to find that many engineering degrees that will use all of introductory physics, but you certainly can find programs that use a big chunk of it. After all, alot of engineering is really applied physics.

    The element of truth to what you said is that many engineering classes will not assume that you actually learned anything in intro physics and will review or reteach what is needed.
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