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Major in TAM

  1. Sep 3, 2009 #1
    So, I want to major in TAM (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics) for my graduate degree which would be a PhD. I'm wondering what kind of major for undergrad would be best for that since the university I want to go to doesn't offer that as an undergrad major. The relevant undergrad majors would be Mechanical Engineering, Engineering Mechanics, Engineering Physics, and possibly others but I think these are the best.

    I would also like to know what kind of classes I should take. How heavy is TAM in math and physics? I don't want to just stop taking math classes at some point ending with differential equations or something like that. I heard TAM requires heavy mathematics but I'm not sure about that and I need confirmation. One of the descriptions I read was a unity between engineering, physics, and mathematics. Is this accurate?

    If TAM doesn't really incorporate advanced mathematics, what type of engineering does?

    Also, what kind of research positions would I be able to get?

    Last edited: Sep 4, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 4, 2009 #2


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    I am kind of curious - if you don't know what TAM really is, why do you want to do it for grad school? I think you will be most sucessful if you figure out what you are interested in, and pursue that, regardless of what department that puts you in. If you are mostly interested in applied math, you can either do applied math (!) or specialties in any number of departments. Electrical engineering has information theory, electromagnetic theory, quantum and solid state electronics, control theory, etc. that can all be highly mathematical. Likewise, mechanical engineering has control theory, fluid dynmaics, mechanics, solid mechanics, etc. Computer science can be as mathy as you want, as well. If you want a more general background, applied physics with an extra handful of math classes and a few electives from other engineering departments will probably serve you pretty well.

    The TAM department where I went to school was heavily into math, solid mechanics, nonlinear dynamics, mathematical biology, biophysics, space mechanics, etc. They taught a graduate sequence in applied math that many engineers took. But at the same time they had big equipment they were using to test big steel beams and stuff. kind of a strange department, although they had superb teachers and actually worked with the math department to design and teach the required undergrad engineering math sequence. I recently heard their department is closing down, as have most TAM departments int he country over the past several decades. The faculty will be absorbed into other departments, mostly mechanical engineering, I think.

    Since TAM isn't an undergrad major, just chose a major that fits with your interests. You can worry about grad departments in the future. In fact, if you are sure you want to go to grad school, take a variety of courses until you figure out what you would like to do in grad school. Engineering majors are very broad and contain many specialties, and it doesn't hurt to dabble a little in the process of figuring out what you want to do. I did exactly that as an undergrad - it meant that I didn't have an optimized undergrad background for what I have done thus far, but I ended up in a grad program I loved, and have a job that could definitely be worse.

    Good luck.

  4. Sep 6, 2009 #3
    TAM uses a lot of math from analysis and PDEs to numerical mathematics. I will be applying to some mechanics and applied math programs (Fall 2010). I am interested to know more from people who are doing the same. Are you applying to any programs?
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2009
  5. Sep 6, 2009 #4
    I might just not be well versed in different majors but.. I've never seen anywhere that offers a degree in "TAM". It seems like you would be interested in majoring in physics and mathematics during undergrad then finding a graduate program in either math or physics that is doing research in mechanics. I don't think any university is going award you a degree in 'Theoretical and Applied Mechanics'

    Also to me that phrase just doesn't quite make sense. If you are studying Theoretical and Applied Mechanics aren't you just studying Mechanics as a whole. Like if you studied Theoretical and Experimental Physics you would essentially just be studying physics, what else is there in the field of mechanics besides theory and application?
  6. Sep 6, 2009 #5
    You can find TAM programs at UIUC and Northwestern:

    http://mechse.illinois.edu/content/for/prospective_students/graduate_students/degree_requirements/phd_tam.php [Broken]


    Cornell used to have a TAM department but it has been merged with the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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