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Physics -> EE

  1. Nov 23, 2009 #1
    Physics ---> EE

    Hello all,

    I am currently a Physics major in my 2nd year having second thoughts about my major. After taking my physics III course on E&M I have found myself pretty interested in electricity. I am highly considering switching over to Electrical Engineering for a more hands on major. I am getting the feeling that Physics is too theoretical for my liking and I find myself more interested in the experimental field of things. I enjoyed doing the labs we conducted in class and not so much straight pencil and paper on 1 subject then move on to more pencil and paper and so on without actually seeing it and its usefulness. For my plan in life, I would love to work with the government on top secret projects. I would love a career dealing primarily with electricity and power as opposed to programming or marketing/sales. Before I do make the move I have some questions about the EE major itself:

    1. How hands on is EE compared to Physics?

    2. I would like to eventually get my PhD in EE, how useful will this be?

    3. Would I need to become fluent in programming? If yes, which language? I have only programmed with FORTRAN in the past.

    4. How tough is it for EE's to find jobs with the government?

    5. How does electrical engineering compare to the other disciplines of engineering? I hear EE is one of the toughest, why is that? What makes this a difficult major ?

    Thanks in advance for your time and responses!

    p.s If you are an EE yourself, what do you do in your job? Is it routine ? Do you frequently get bored with what you are working with ? What do you like/hate about the job you are currently in?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 24, 2009 #2
    Re: Physics ---> EE

    I have a BSc in EE, but never worked in it, so take my advice with caution. :) I actually did a double EE-physics major, and decided to stick with physics, now finishing my MSc.

    1. If you mean working in a lab versus theoretical work/simulations, there isn't much difference between EE and physics, as far as I can tell. Both have research done in labs, and also research done in front of a computer or with pencil and paper. Of course things you do in EE have a more or less immediate relation to the real world, there are more useful, in a sense, and will probably be implemented into something you use/sell/buy. Some areas are really on the border between EE and physics, like electro-optics. But in general, physics is more about why things work the way they do, and EE is about how to use our physics/math knowledge to build new devices (this is, of course, an oversimplification, not true for all cases).

    2. I guess a PhD in EE would be very useful, although perhaps an overqualification for many jobs in industry. (anyway, I'm not from the US, so I can't comment on the situation there)

    3. Yes, programming is very-very important. Fortran is used only by physicists. To begin with, you should study C/C++ and MATLAB. There are also more field-specific languages, for example those for building integrated circuits.

    5. I think EE is considered to be difficult because it is very math-heavy (this is what I liked about it). There are areas which are on the border math-EE, like many topics in communications. EE is also a very big field, where you need knowledge in physics, programming, and a lot of math. But, personally, I think physics is a more difficult subject, because you need to get hold of the underlying concepts. In EE, it is more or less straightforward.

    Best of luck with your decision,
    --cosmogirl
     
  4. Nov 24, 2009 #3
    Re: Physics ---> EE

    I switched from EE major to Physics after 1st year because I found EE boring. It was all about designing electric circuts, devices and useing low-level programming language (C/C++). I didn't have good EM course either. Dealing with superconductivity, semiconductor devices on microscopic scale etc. was sth that I learned during Physics major. According to my exp doing Applied Physics/Engineering Physics is much better choice if you are interested in material science, optical devices, conductivity etc. However if you like pure circuts stuff (it's like building sth from small pieces without knowing how those pieces are build and work) go for EE.
     
  5. Nov 27, 2009 #4
    Re: Physics ---> EE

    Any others?
     
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