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Programs Thoughts on Cornell's Applied and Engineering Physics

  1. Apr 7, 2017 #1
    I've been accepted to Cornell Engineering, and am thinking about doing AEP. I really like physics and math and was just wondering what people thought of it. Yeah I know I should ask people at Cornell, but they're just going to tell me that it's awesome and I should do it. I want to get a more objective opinion. What's the reputation of the program? I know it's Cornell, but specifically is the AEP department well known? Also it seems insanely hard- I've seen their semester course schedule. I would have to do Math Phys, Quantum Mech, Classical Dynamics, and another engineering course in one semester. My mother has a PhD in Physics, and she says a lot of the courses are stuff she learned in grad school (although her opinion is not a very big factor)
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2017 #2
    Shame on you, Kevin. Don't ever dis your mother!

    Personally, I would recommend one of the conventional engineering programs at Cornell. Do not think that because the label says "engineering" you will not be studying physics. Most of engineering is simply applied physics. What you will likely not get in a conventional engineering program will be things like quantum mechanics (maybe in EE), cosmology, string theory, astronomy.
  4. Apr 7, 2017 #3
    One of the perks of Cornell is its interdisciplinary study - many of the AEP students here do work with professors in biomedical, electrical, computer, and chemical engineering despite technically having an applied physics degree; it's designed this way - AEP is in the college of engineering, and not in the college of arts and sciences. On the other hand, many AEP students work in labs which lean more towards theory (the lab I work in is exactly 50/50 AEP/physics students). If you aren't sure whether you want to work in a classical engineering field, I'd recommend AEP; otherwise, Cornell's engineering program is one of the best in the nation so consider Dr. D's advice above.

    Since I came to Cornell with a less-than-stellar undergrad background, I am currently taking undergrad-level courses in the AEP and physics department (which one depends more on scheduling than any other factor). The courses I have experience with (math phys, quantum) have very high expectations for students, but the teaching level adapts accordingly - the professors I've encountered here at Cornell are exceptional.
  5. Apr 9, 2017 #4


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    I think the applied physics program at Cornell is one of the top along with Caltech, Harvard, and Stanford. If you are interested in materials, I think Cornell has one of, if not the best clean room in the country.
  6. Apr 10, 2017 #5
    That is not the entire spectrum of what physicists study.
  7. Apr 10, 2017 #6
    I should certainly hope this is correct. However, my point is that if the OP is seeking to include these areas of study, he should probably go straight physics. They simply will not appear in any sort of engineering oriented curriculum.
  8. Apr 10, 2017 #7
    You mentioned strings, cosmology, and astrophysics, not the OP; just because an engineer wants their engineering to be more physics heavy does not mean that they want their engineering to come with theoretical astro-particle cosmology. Applied/Engineering physics programs generally ARE engineering programs that exist at the interplay between science and application and are more theoretically oriented.
  9. Apr 10, 2017 #8
    You win! What do I know?

    Long, long ago, when I was in school, if someone spoke of physics in the broad, undifferentiated sense, it might be expected to include several (not necessarily all) of the topics I mentioned. Perhaps those are no longer a part of physics; I really would not know.

    I can't ever recall a physicist that I've known that was heavy on, for example, classical mechanics. But maybe that has changed too; what do I know?
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