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Heat transfer in EE

  1. May 19, 2017 #1
    I want to pursue EE, but there are still some subjects in ME that I enjoy. Do heat transfer topics ever come up in EE? I would imagine cooling circuit board requires lots of knowledge of heat transfer/thermodynamics. I studied Haberman's PDEs as part of my chemistry undergrad and all it talked about was heat and wave equations. So that sparked my interest.
    Are there any other topics form classical mechanics that show up in EE curriculum? (like dynamics, manifolds, simplectic geometry, etc)
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor


    I started my EE career modeling nuclear power plants for operator training simulators. That required some of almost every kind of classical physics and engineering.

    So the answer is yes, there are many engineering jobs that require cross-discipline skills. In fact, I'll even guess that most engineering jobs are like that.
  4. May 19, 2017 #3


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    Depends on the branch of EE. If you get into power supply or power control you will need to understand heatsinks and related topics.
  5. May 19, 2017 #4
    Power Electronics - 1/2 of the job is reducing losses, the other half is getting rid of the waste = heat...
  6. May 19, 2017 #5
    Electronic transport physics involves quite a bit of statistical mechanics, which is the deeper, more foundational subject in question.

    Drift-diffusion equations, Boltzmann transport equation, and, at the bleeding edge, quantum transport with Wigner functions or quantum hydrodynamics are topics of study, particularly in Europe.

    EDIT: The departments that study this are usually EE, math, physics, and chemistry.
  7. May 19, 2017 #6


    Staff: Mentor

    My friend works in microwave communications. He needs to get involved with wave guide and antenna designs as well as cooling.

    Power transmission design needs many disciplines.

    Energy storage ...

    I also worked in electric energy futures markets, which needs economics and law as well as EE.

    There are thousands of specialties within any engineering discipline. Therefore, the particular choices you make in which college courses to take does not matter as much as you think.
  8. May 19, 2017 #7
    This comment absolutely nails it for power electronics.

    There are also other power applications where classical dynamics is very important, such at pulsed alternators.
  9. May 20, 2017 #8
    Another area in which EE and ME are closely coupled are interconnects. You need to be concerned with EE parameters such as load capacity, frequency response, RF crosstalk, shielding, and impedance matching; as well as ME parameters such as coupling force, environmental resistance, and connect/disconnect service life.
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