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Physics after Electrical Engineering

  1. May 31, 2006 #1
    Hello all

    This topic has probably been debated before, but I have some specific queries and I would like your answers to them in addition to your views.

    I have the option of pursuing a BTech (equivalent of BS) in Electrical Engineering, an integrated BTech-MTech dual degree in Electrical Engineering or an Integrated MSc degree in Physics from IIT Kanpur.

    As I am extremely interested in purusing physics in a research career eventually, I wanted to take up the integrated degree in Physics but I have been advised to take up Electrical Engineering and pursue Physics after completing my BTech. My primary interest in Physics is Particle Physics. Of late, I have been teaching myself Quantum Mechanics through Griffiths, Eisberg, Schiff and now I have begun to like the subject more than ever.

    My queries are

    1. Considering my interest in purusing Physics at the graduate level, should I go in for a BTech (4 year) program in EE or an integrated (5 year) BTech-MTech dual degree program? In the latter case, I will graduate with a BTech and an MTech in EE.

    2. To pursue Physics after EE, what courses must I take from the Physics dept during my study as an engineering student? Also what exams do I have to take after BTech? Please also advise about books I should use during my engineering training so that I can adapt to Physics later.

    3. To pursue Physics after EE, is it sufficient to do a PhD in physics later or is it necessary to do both a masters (MS) and a PhD in physics? In the latter case, is it advisable to consider a four year program in EE and pursue MS in Physics (related to question 1)?

    4. Is it advisable at all to go in for EE at this stage and forego a 5 year program in Physics (this question has meaning only if your answers to the first 3 state that Physics cannot be pursued after EE)?

    I am eagerly awaiting replies...

    Thanks for your time...

  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2006 #2


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    Preliminary suggestion : Do not do the Int MTech. Graduate with a BTech or go for the Int MSc.

    I have no idea how things work any longer. You haven't been through the counseling session yet, I'm guessing. Why have you decided on Kanpur? K makes sense if you know you're going to do Physics. Does K offer a Minor stream with the BTech program?
  4. May 31, 2006 #3
    Thanks for the response Gokul :smile:

    Okay, but can you elaborate on the reasons please?

    I have lived on the campus here all my life, studied in Kanpur and I absolutely love this place :smile: Also, I am familiar with the programs here.

    No, I am not aware of any IIT which offers a Minor stream with BTech.
  5. May 31, 2006 #4


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    Seeing that you are keen to eventually do physics, it seems like you'd only be hurting that by spending the extra year specializing in EE. As for your prospects with applying to grad school (I imagine you'd want to be doing that), I don't think the MTech really helps in terms of making you more qualified. I don't personally know anyone that did the Int MTech, but my gut feeling is that the IIT MTech (Int) student has lower "brand recognition" than the IIT BTech (and the IIT-K MSc Physics) student. In the rare case that you want to go to grad school in EE, and you do the Int MTech, you still will likely have to repeat a bunch of the same courses during grad school.

    They were planning to implement that some 5 years ago. I guess they're not done planning yet (or they canned the idea).

    And by the way, congrats on getting into IIT.
  6. May 31, 2006 #5


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    As an extra bit of advice that you can factor into your selection algorithm, getting a BTech degree does not make it harder to get into a very good physics grad program, especially if you've planned for the switch well in advance.

    I imagine people around you are advising strongly against the Int MSc! :rolleyes:
  7. May 31, 2006 #6
    No, I don't they will implement it wef 2006. I don't think they plan to implement it at all in the near future actually.

    Thanks :smile:
  8. May 31, 2006 #7
    So how does one plan for the switch well in advance?

    Yes they are :confused:
  9. May 31, 2006 #8


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    1. If you have any freedom at all with course selection, you should get in as many Physics courses as you can. Start with the basic courses in Class. Mech, QM, E&M and Stat. Mech. If you can't actually credit many (or worse, any) Physics courses, try and schedule some room to audit them.

    2. Work on summer projects with the people in the Physics dept. Develop your computational skills - the easiest projects to land at the early stages are computational ones. I take it you are not particularly interested in going into experimental physics.

    3. Be aware of the Physics GRE syllabus and make sure you cover all parts of it reasonably well in advance of actually taking the test. If you do this, you have a good chance of cracking the test. My memory is quite foggy here, but I think only about 30% or so of the material is beyond the scope of the JEE.

    4. Impress the physics profs. You want them to write you strong reference letters.

    5. And finally, the tough one. Do your BTech project with the Physics Dept. If your dept is as stuck up as mine was, they won't allow this. The next best alternative is an interdisciplinary project straddling physics and EE. Whether this is possible with the EE dept at Kanpur, I have no idea. It might be worth finding out about this during your counseling session.

    I've been there too.
  10. May 31, 2006 #9
    I am not sure about CM, EM and SM but I think I can take a QM course through Open Elective.

    No thats not true...I am interested in going into experimental physics (mainly) but I have academic interests in theoretical physics too. As for EE, my father specializes in DSP and circuits...that interests me somewhat but I think the current overlapping field is optics...thats interesting too but after reading so much about particles and atoms, I find that more enticing.

    Yes I did see some old test questions...apart from the undergraduate hardcore course stuff, quite a lot is JEE level or in a delta neighbourhood of it.

    Oh I thought the earlier ones could be tough. I think that overlapping could be in optics...as for other fields, maybe something related to accelerator electronics or something (nuclear physics related). I think this is possible at IITK...but I will find out.

    By the way what books would you recommend for all those physics courses for an engineering student (I have absolutely no problem with the math...I can cope with it...so suggest anything you feel like) so that GRE prep is possible despite the EE courseload?
  11. Jun 2, 2006 #10
    Someone please reply.... :smile:
  12. Jun 2, 2006 #11


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    I know that IIT Madras offers a minor stream with BTech.

    Your first year covers a common syllabus for all courses, right? In IIT-M, you'll be taught an introduction to QM in your first semester, and EM pretty thoroughly in your second semester.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2006
  13. Jun 2, 2006 #12


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    You have only ONE elective? Even I had more than that, and I thought they were making the system more flexible. Siddharth, how many electives can you take ?

    Yes, the likely areas of overlap are in optics/photonics and semiconductor/device physics.

    I meant "tough" in the sense that this is heavily dependent on bureaucracy.

    I have little or no recollection of the GRE syllabus any longer, but for over two-thirds of it, there's nothing to beat good old Resnick and Halliday.
  14. Jun 3, 2006 #13


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    I can take one free elective each semester, starting from my 3rd year(ie, 5th semester).
  15. Jun 3, 2006 #14
    No, I meant I am not aware if the other courses are offered to non-physics students...I have to find out. As most of the 4th sem courses are compulsory in EE, one has to chose electives wisely :yuck:

    I hope not...

    Does anyone here have an idea of the switch requirements as of now? Books, courses, etc???
  16. Jun 3, 2006 #15


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    What exactly do you mean by "switch requirements"?
  17. Jun 4, 2006 #16
    Books I must read from during my engg education so that I am adept at handling physics (theory) later....esp if I am studying myself (without courses)...

    You answered my queries about the courses and I did some independent research. I turns out that the following courses are necessary:

    1. Classical Mechanics
    2. Statistical Mechanics
    3. Quantum Mechanics
    4. Electromagnetic Theory
    (5. Maybe Quantum Field Theory later..)

    As for mathematics,

    1. Basic stuff, misc mathematical tools
    2. Linear algebra
    3. Group Theory
    4. Differential Equations

    seem okay for a start?
  18. Jun 4, 2006 #17


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    I looked at the IIT-K Physics course list. These are the ones I'd give a highest priority to :

    PHY - 401, 412, 421, 431, 432 and 553;

    http://www.iitk.ac.in/phy/New01/phy_msc5.html [Broken]

    As for books, you'll find the standard texts listed in several threads here. Here's a few :

    1. QM : Griffiths Or Resnick & Eisberg followed by Schiff, Shankar or Sakurai
    2. E&M : Griffiths (which will likely be your text for you first year Physics course) followed by Jackson
    3. CM : Goldstein (or Greenwood, if that is already an assigned text for some course)
    4. SM : Reif or Pathria or Hwang or Greiner
    5. Math : assigned textbook for MTH 203 (likely Arfken or Kreyszig or some equivalent)

    What is an SE ? (I see you can take 4 OEs, 3 DEs and 2 SEs)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  19. Jun 4, 2006 #18
    Thanks for looking at the list Gokul and for all the help so far :smile:

    PHY 552 is a prerequisite for 553.

    I do not have Shankar, Sakurai and three of the SM books. I'll try and get hold of them.

    SE = Science Elective. I still haven't found out the exact rules for taking physics electives if you're an EE student. Also, EE seems to have the least number of electives....
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2006
  20. Jun 4, 2006 #19

    A course on thermal physics and condensed matter are also quite necessary, especially if you want to get into solid state electronics or physics.
  21. Jun 4, 2006 #20
    Also, have you considered a double major in EE and physics? It is easier than you might think since there is considerable overlap and often they will allow certain tech electives to be applied toward physics courses.

    I am doing this and I am able to apply one EE tech elective toward a physics course and one concentration elective toward physics.

    In addition to the EE requirements, I am required to take thermal physics (3 credits), condensed matter physics (3), quantum mechanics (4), optics, lasers, and microscopy (3), contemporary physics + contemp lab (4). The E&M class EEs take is identical to the E&M physics majors take. Also, the university physics 1 and 2 classes (with labs) are the same for both EE and physics (basic mechanics, and basic optics/emag). I am also going to take the analytical mechanics class (4 credits) and hope that the mechanical systems requirement is waived. For some reason, they don't make engineering/physics dual majors take the analytical mech. class. I am also hoping that the thermal systems req. is waived (which is like EE thermodynamics) due to the thermal physics class I am taking.
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