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Programs Math Recommended for a Physics Minor (Civil Engineering Major)

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I'm an incoming sophomore majoring in Civil Engineering, and I'm considering a physics minor. The minor doesn't have any math requirements and Civil only requires Calculus I-IV and statistics, but the major in Physics requires a long list of advanced math courses (real and complex analysis as examples) which I know essentially nothing about. The courses for the minor which I'm considering taking are modern physics (special relativity and quantum), mechanics, thermodynamics (with statistical mechanics), waves and optics, and an electrical lab. I imagine the math could get very intensive for this. I would already be at 18 or so credits without additional math courses so I would be afraid to add more. Would you consider more advanced math important for these courses?
 

Vanadium 50

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What did your academic advisor say?
 
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I haven't been able to speak to an advisor yet; I'm definitely going to talk to an advisor once the semester starts, but I wanted to just get a general idea now. I don't know how much these courses vary from one university to another, though, so maybe the answer would just depend on the university.
 
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I'm an incoming sophomore majoring in Civil Engineering, and I'm considering a physics minor. The minor doesn't have any math requirements and Civil only requires Calculus I-IV and statistics, but the major in Physics requires a long list of advanced math courses (real and complex analysis as examples) which I know essentially nothing about. The courses for the minor which I'm considering taking are modern physics (special relativity and quantum), mechanics, thermodynamics (with statistical mechanics), waves and optics, and an electrical lab. I imagine the math could get very intensive for this. I would already be at 18 or so credits without additional math courses so I would be afraid to add more. Would you consider more advanced math important for these courses?
Depends on the level that the physics courses are taught at. I am a math major, minoring in physics. Typically, as math, physics, engineering major, you have to take the introductory physics courses. The introductory physics courses require Analytical Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus 1 and 2. What I mean by Calculus 1 and 2, starting with limits, derivatives, then to integration techniques. Multivariable calculus will help with particular topics such as Magnetism to name a few in Intro EM.My intro mechanics course was not heavily calculus based. Just basic derivatives and integration. But it helps to understand intuitively what is going on. However, I felt that I did not need to take a class at this point in Multivariable Calculus to understand what was going on in .

However, if the intro courses are at the level of KK and Purcell, then yes heavy calculus is implied as a requirement. But these are usually honors courses at the top universities in the US.

Now for the Analysis and Complex Analysis. I am believing it is just the application of the results found a typical introductory course. Things like working on the complex plane (Complex Unit Circle in particular), modular arithmetic, and further integration techniques. I think you would be ok on the math side. However, I would try to squeeze in a Linear Algebra course and a Ordinary Differential Course. Linear Algebra would help with EM and Relativity both special and general. And ODE appear everywhere in physics courses.
 
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Calc IV is the differential equations course, so I should be okay for that. If the linear algebra needed is just basic computations (e.g. matrix multiplication, inverses, eigenvalues) I should be okay as well, because those things (though not much more) I do know.

I think my main fear might be mechanics because I've heard about calculus of variations being used (not in my university, just in general), and I know essentially nothing about that.
 
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Physics majors pick up and use the math required in there courses. Ussually a math methods course for physics/engineers is offered to pick up the slack. There are also textbooks on this subject. If you are interrested to see the math required, but not necessarily all of the math needed. Then look at books like Boas and Arfken?. There is also an engineering math methods book by Krizeig. Sorry for butchering the book authors name. Don’t have time to look them up.

The math taken by a mathematics major is different than that of a physics major.

Yes, linear algebra is a must. I would say even an upper division linear algebra. To better understand QM. However, what you know is currently enough to complete the basic intro physics courses.
 

Dr. Courtney

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Until you speak with an advisor at your school, your best available info will be looking at the catalog to determine the pre-requisites listed for the physics courses that are required and/or that you plan to take.
 

berkeman

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I'm an incoming sophomore majoring in Civil Engineering, and I'm considering a physics minor.
Can you say a bit about why you would like that combination? I can see how a Physics minor would be very helpful for some EE career tracks, but I wouldn't have thought that about Civil Engineering. Do you have some career tracks in mind where that combination would be helpful? Or are you wanting to minor in Physics mainly because you really enjoy Physics?
 
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Part of it is definitely just because I like physics. I know that a lot of the stuff I would be learning for a minor (especially modern physics) is not applicable, but I would definitely want to learn more about it.

I do think I might be able to apply a minor a bit though, especially if I were to go into research. What I would really love to do would be to try to understand the physics behind things we see in nature more deeply -- in particular, things related to coastal and hydraulics, things like sediment transport, coastal erosion, natural disasters.

What I would love to do is use some of that knowledge to do something practical (e.g. improve code, help us figure out how to design structures better). Even though I wouldn't be using a lot of the physics I would learn in a minor directly, I think some of it (maybe mechanics and waves) would be useful, and it also would help me think about these sort of problems.

I do understand getting into research might be hard and would probably require a PhD, but I think I would still be happy just getting some position in a company, where there may still be some interesting and technical challenges. In that case a minor probably wouldn't be as useful, but I would still be interested in learning more physics.
 
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dRic2

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in particular, things related to coastal and hydraulics, things like sediment transport, coastal erosion, natural disasters.
If that's what you really want to do then you don't need QM or special relativity or optics. I know you like them, but you can always pick up a book in your free time and selfstudy. If you are really interested in those topics then do a lot of advanced fluid mechanics/transport phenomena and thermodynamics. There is plenty of interesting physics there... It's just not QM or special relativity.
 
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If that's what you really want to do then you don't need QM or special relativity or optics. I know you like them, but you can always pick up a book in your free time and selfstudy. If you are really interested in those topics then do a lot of advanced fluid mechanics/transport phenomena and thermodynamics. There is plenty of interesting physics there... It's just not QM or special relativity.
I'm trying to understand some (I think kind of basic) fluid mechanics -- Euler's and Navier Stoke's equations, flow through pipes and channels, some very basic principles of sediment transport, as well as a bunch of solid mechanics (Cauchy stress tensor, Mohr's circle, beam theory). I haven't really learned much thermodynamics beyond what was taught in intro physics, but I would want to learn more. I do feel like I'm progressing very slowly, but I do find the stuff very interesting.

I'm a bit afraid that I might narrow in on a field too quickly as I still can't really be sure what I want to do. But I imagine you're right that I would probably get plenty of physics anyway.
 

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