Questions regarding switching to Physics from Engineering

  • #1
ARoyC
24
6
Hello everyone.

I am from Kolkata, India. This year I have cleared IIT-JEE and taken admission to the Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy, Visakhapatnam Chemical Engineering which is under the mentorship of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. Even though I had to pursue engineering, my love is Physics. It is very difficult and risky to pursue Physics in India, especially from a weak financial background. So in the future, I have a strong urge to switch to Physics, maybe abroad.

Could you please tell me if it is truly possible or not? If possible, I would be grateful to you if you could help me out in forging my path for this journey.

I have thought of studying Physics and Advanced Mathematics on my own from books like Taylor, Morin and Griffith and Resnick and through online courses from Coursera or MIT OpenCourseWare. What else should I do? Would you suggest some other book? From where and how can I do some research internships in Physics? And how to get involved in research projects of CERN or other international research institutes? How should I prepare myself for GRE Physics and Mathematics? Would it really help me?

I am really a bit lost in these questions.

P. S. I am attaching the syllabus of my 4-years course. Maybe it will give you an idea of this course specific to my institute. (41 pages)

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Answers and Replies

  • #2
paralleltransport
131
93
Hello everyone.

I am from Kolkata, India. This year I have cleared IIT-JEE and taken admission to the Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy, Visakhapatnam Chemical Engineering which is under the mentorship of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. Even though I had to pursue engineering, my love is Physics. It is very difficult and risky to pursue Physics in India, especially from a weak financial background. So in the future, I have a strong urge to switch to Physics, maybe abroad.

Could you please tell me if it is truly possible or not? If possible, I would be grateful to you if you could help me out in forging my path for this journey.

I have thought of studying Physics and Advanced Mathematics on my own from books like Taylor, Morin and Griffith and Resnick and through online courses from Coursera or MIT OpenCourseWare. What else should I do? Would you suggest some other book? From where and how can I do some research internships in Physics? And how to get involved in research projects of CERN or other international research institutes? How should I prepare myself for GRE Physics and Mathematics? Would it really help me?

I am really a bit lost in these questions.

P. S. I am attaching the syllabus of my 4-years course. Maybe it will give you an idea of this course specific to my institute. (41 pages)

[Moderator's note: personal data have been removed]
Several things here. I don't know your financial constraints so I won't comment on that. A friend of mine came to US for IIT and studied engineering but switched to physics grad school. What he had was:

- Very strong mastery of the basics (that means IIT-JEE type things, basic classical mechanics & EM & stat mech & quantum). He studied mechE but did masters research on physics intensive subject (fluid mechanics).
- Top academics in their undergrad and good physics research work which I assume afforded him stellar recommendation letters.
- From top IIT school.

So my advice to you is your first step is to perform well in your first 2 years class. You goal is to be at the top of your class. I assume the fundamentals will be shared with many physics students. Then do good research with a professor (try to pick a physics intensive topic). Once those two things are done you may have a good chance of applying to physics graduate school. Even if you don't get in, you'll still have a good backup plan as an engineer. Many of the more advanced topics not taught to engineers you can self study. Pretty much all of undergraduate physics is on MIT ocw online.

Regarding what fundamentals are needed in undergraduate physics (I listed the corresponding course on MIT ocw) beyond the stuff covered on IIT-JEE:
- 1. Classical mechanics (landau vol. 1 OR taylor OR goldstein, 8.09)
- 2. E&M (Griffiths, 8.07)
- 3. Quantum (Griffiths, 8.04-8.05-8.06)
- 4. Stat mech (thermal physics, baeirlein OR kardar vol. 1, 8.044)

If you know these 4 you have solid fundamentals. Everything else is bonus. If those classes don't overlap with your curriculum, try to take them as electives and ace them. If you can't take them as electives, last resort is self study.

Regarding Physics GRE: Physics GRE is really basic physics and mostly about speed. You should aim for perfect score. Half of the material is IIT-JEE level physics, the other half is very basic stuff from 1-4, so you are already more than half-way there if you mastered IIT-JEE physics.
 
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  • #3
ARoyC
24
6
Thank you so much. At the very last moment, I switched to Electronics Engineering. I will try my best to study Physics myself.
 

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