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Programs Phd in engineering vs the sciences

  1. Sep 10, 2008 #1
    How does the phd process for engineering compare to physics( or other sciences)?

    By this i mean things such as what is the research like? what kind of origional research is strictly engineering or is it researching physics phenomena with application etc. just curious how it compares to the sciences
     
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  3. Sep 10, 2008 #2

    Mapes

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    Having completed a master's in mechanics engineering and in the middle of a PhD program in materials science, I don't think you can draw an absolute distinction. In general, one could say that engineers study nature but their goal is to build tools; scientists build tools but their goal is to study nature. However, plenty of physics PhD students have focused on building equipment, and plenty of engineers have done great science during their doctoral work. Research is often random, and you take the opportunities you get to do something new.

    A better distinction between the disciplines is the required coursework. As you move from physics to materials science to engineering, the applications are given more prominence, as you suggested. I would say that there is also a shift from "truth" to " immediate usefulness." If you prefer a little bit of both, I recommend my current field!
     
  4. Sep 10, 2008 #3

    Choppy

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    I have to agree with Mapes - based on interactions that I've had with PhD's who went through the engineering route. There are a lot of similarities, and really what the difference comes down to is the nature of the projects available. In some cases the proects could be the same, and the only difference ends up being the title of the department you work in.
     
  5. Nov 24, 2010 #4
    I have to agree with Mapes - based on interactions that I've had with PhD's who went through the engineering route. There are a lot of similarities, and really what the difference comes down to is the nature of the projects available. In some cases the proects could be the same, and the only difference ends up being the title of the department you work in.


    Well, the real difference is not about the way you work through it, it's rather about the psychological pressure you feel. PhD is engineering is a safe path in terms of the job and future benefits, a physics phd on the other hand is almost sucidal. So the real reason why PhD physics is extremely difficult, is the fact that you get practicaly nothing for years of hard labor, same amount of which (or even lesser) yields lot better results in engineering
     
  6. Nov 24, 2010 #5
    In a lot of programs, you can do research with someone outside your department. My advisor has a joint appointment between Materials Science and Photon science, even though his background was physics. Our group has students from physics, chemistry, materials science, and EE (I'm in materials). We all study the same things though. I really think that the department dictates your coursework more than anything else. If that's the case for your programs, then you may want to pick the department that's going to align with the classes you already want to take.

    Keep in mind that professors' research styles don't always match the department they are in either, so it's more important to choose a group that fits you. Particularly in a field like materials engineering, some profs could be nearly condensed matter physicists, others could be completely on the applied side.
     
  7. Nov 25, 2010 #6
    a lab at my school has students from:

    Biology
    Chemistry
    Chemical Engineering
    Materials Engineering
    Physics
    Pharmacy

    they are working on new materials for drug delivery.
     
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