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Going to engineering from math

  1. Jul 11, 2007 #1
    How realistic is it to apply to a masters in EE or Comp Sci from pure math?

    I do have basic physics, chemistry, applied math, and EE classes. But not beyond really the freshman/sophomore year of those - the exception may be junior and senior classes in applied math if I choose to take them next semester.

    Has anyone here done this and succeed?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2007 #2


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    I would think going from math to Computer Science wouldn't be too much of a stretch. How much programming experience and classwork do you have? Have you taken compilers and operating systems and data structures, etc? What OO language work have you done?

    Going from math to EE would require picking up all the technical EE upper division courses, which it sounds like you don't have yet. Even so, it might be worth the extra time. Have you checked out some of the upper division EE courses? Do they look interesting to you?
  4. Jul 11, 2007 #3

    George Jones

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    I think you should listen carefully to what berkeman says.

    I do know of one oustanding individual who went from pure math to EE in a big way - http://people.deas.harvard.edu/~vahid/" [Broken]), who is the Hammond Vinton Hayes Senior Fellow of Electrical Engineering at Harvard. He got a Batchelor's and Master's in pure math, a Ph.D. in EE, did a postdoc, and then worked at AT&T as head of the Department of Wireless Communications and Signal Processing. After this he was hired by MIT as an associate professor (skipped the standard assistant professor level) and later moved to Harvard.

    Back in the days of yore, he was a pure math grad student, I was physics grad student, and we took some grad pure math courses together. I still have a book on differential geometry that he gave me because he thought that it more suited my interests than his.

    Obviously, this guy is an exception to almost averything.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  5. Jul 11, 2007 #4
    You most likely won't be able to take graduate classes until you fulfill certain requirements. That's not to say you won't get accepted to a master's program, just that they may make you take some undergraduate courses before you can start your master's degree.

    The standard courses you need to have are a signals & systems class and a course on circuit analysis. You might need some other classes based upon the field you want to go into.

    One thing I'm not sure about is the employment aspect of going from math to an MSEE. That is because you have had no laboratory or design-based classes. Graduate classes generally don't have lab based classes, and significant design/lab classes are required for an undergraduate program to have ABET accreditation. I'm not sure how companies will view someone who bypassed an ABET accredited undergraduate engineering degree.

    However, there is most likely a very good answer for this if you look around a bit or ask the department you are applying to.

    Also, going to an MSCS will be much easier than an MSEE.
  6. Jul 11, 2007 #5
    My EE is definitely further along than my comp sci. I have not even taken data structs yet.

    I have two years of training from the Navy in electronics also. I could go into junior level EE classes.

    Currently I'm pondering the AI/Robotics path. I'm thinking maybe a masters in AI and a masters in mechantronics or EE with some mechanical, and then my own company.
  7. Jul 11, 2007 #6
    I have got 4 years experience with troubleshooting electronics from radar, to Signal data converters to mechanics like the missile launcher. And prior to that 2 years (23 months and 1 week) of electronics. I was an FC2 in the Navy.

    Maybe that will fly for some hands on experience? There was intensive labs in my two years of electronics training - 5 days a week, 8 hours a day of electronics with that.

    I'm not interested in working for other people. I'm thinking, maybe a year or two at most working for someone else, and then starting my own robotics company. I've taken a class in robotics also.

    I have not had the signals and systems class yet in college, but I have had one in circuits and one in electronics.
  8. Jul 11, 2007 #7
    I'm not sure, "what a big way" means. But if it means academia, then that's not even a concern anymore of mine. That game is better left to someone else. As far as being confident in starting my own robotics company, I feel pretty good.

    I've been told with my past I'm quite abnormal and exception to.

    Which DG book? I liked Baby Do Carmo's a lot. His big one looks fun, but it seems better suited for a midnight venture vice a day job. And Spivak... after his Calculus on Manifolds, ack. He can keep that.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  9. Jul 11, 2007 #8

    George Jones

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    No, I ddn't necessarily mean academia, but nor did I exclude academia. I just meant that he has achieved a level of success in EE that very people achieve in anything - in or out of the academic world.

    It was an introductory Dover (but still in the modern style), Introduction to Differentiable Manifolds by Auslander & MacKenzie. I've heard good things about do Carmo's books, but I don't have any of them. I do have Calculus on Manifolds, but not Spivak's multi-volume tome.

    Whatever you choose, good luck!
  10. Jul 11, 2007 #9
    Cool. Right now I'm just throwing ideas all over the place and asking lots of questions.

    I'm feeling certain I don't want academia, and certain I wish to start my own AI/Robotics company. Now I just have to figure out how to get there :biggrin:

    In some ways it seems natural to do the applied math masters with lots of Robotics and AI. And maybe then a masters in comp sci?

    I know from my Robotics class that a lot, if not all that math is way over the heads of most comp sci majors.

    Thanks for the answers. I appreciate it!
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