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Ph.D Qualifying Exam

  1. Feb 23, 2013 #1

    So here is my story..

    I will have a bachelors degree in Applied Physics in May. My favorite topic in Physics has always been electromagnetics so I have taken more advanced courses in EM theory than the typical physics student.

    I got offered a job at Penn State (from a connection by my EM professor) and got a full fellowship to work in the EE department. I have switched my plans from getting a Ph.D in Physics, to getting one in Electrical Engineering.

    I have compared the courses I took with the typical EE curriculum at my school and determined that my curriculum is a lot heavier in the DEPTH but their curriculum is a lot heavier in the BREADTH. What I mean by that is, I have taken a few graduate level E&M courses. These include two advanced E&M courses using Jackson as the textbook. I am also currently taking a course in applied antenna theory typically associated with 2nd or 3rd year grad students. I have taken courses in circuit design and I do circuit projects as a hobby in my free time.

    My question is, taking all this in mind, what would I need to study to prepare myself for the qualifying exams? Below is a list of relevant coursework to E&M from my resume'.

    Spring 2013:
    EE-787: Applied Antenna Theory
    PEP-644: Advanced Electricity / Magnetism II
    PEP-544: Quantum Mechanics I
    PEP-398: SKIL IV
    (SKIL IV Is a Laboratory class designed to teach measurement and laboratory techniques.)
    Fall 2012:
    PEP-643: Advanced Electricity / Magnetism I
    PEP-553: Quantum Mechanics w/ Engineering Applications
    PEP-397: SKIL III
    (SKIL III Is a Laboratory class designed to teach measurement and laboratory techniques.)
    Spring 2012:
    PEP-542: Intermediate Electricity / Magnetism
    PEP-298: SKIL II
    (SKIL II is a laboratory course mainly focusing on circuit design.)
    Fall 2011:
    PEP-297: SKIL I
    (SKIL I is a laboratory course mainly focusing on circuit design.)
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 24, 2013 #2
    Congratulations - I am in PA and have worked on systems in Penn State - they have great advanced manufacturing lab and I was working with ABB which provided the robotics.
    The biggest hole I see is circuit theory - DC and AC Circuits etc, non-linear devices, feedback. While not necessarily difficult topics ( you are obviously intelligent enough to comprehend), there is a lot to cover and come to understand. IMO these really need to be experienced to become competent - there are just so many different combinations. Its a practice sport....
    I would also try to get into a power electronics class - since the larger power electro-magenetic systems are so often controlled by power electronics, so an understanding there should serve you well.
  4. Feb 24, 2013 #3
    Thanks for the reply!

    I have always done circuits in my spare time as a hobby and I have learned a LOT that my physics classes did not cover. (Such as everything I know about Op-Amps) Recently I have been using a circuit simulators (Yenka and SolveElec) to expedite my circuit experience and help me learn. I can make circuits a lot faster and don't need to buy the parts. Granted it isn't as pleasurable to complete the circuit in the simulator but it has saved me a lot of parts that I would have accidentally burned out! :]
  5. Feb 24, 2013 #4
    Hello Again X ....

    That experience will be helpful, perhaps review some undergrad texts, and take some self tests to get a feel for what may be on the qual exams. Also - OP-Amps are good to know, but undergrads are taught HOW they work(internally), this uses some of the circuit tricks that are to be experienced. ( I have of course long forgotten this BTW)

    As for the simulators - I suggest getting LTSpice - it's free from Linear Tech., Spice is de rigueur for EEs.
  6. Feb 24, 2013 #5
    Thanks again!!
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