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What can I do with this Engineering Physics degree?

  1. Apr 6, 2010 #1
    I'll be attending University of Illinois in the Fall and am planning on majoring in Engineering Physics. I was trying to figure out what exactly I could do with this degree after graduating. Could I get into an MSEE program? or another field of engineering? Would I have any decent job options, or would I need to complete a M.S. or PhD?

    All of my relevant classes will be done over the next 2 years. They are as follows:

    Summer 2010 (13 hours)
    5 Calc I
    4 Phys 211 - Mechanics
    4 Phys 212 - E & M

    Fall 2010 (14 hours)
    0 ENG 300—Engineering Transfer Orientation
    3 CS 101—Intro Computing: Engrg & Sci (matlab and programming in C)
    3 CHEM 102—General Chemistry I
    1 CHEM 103—General Chemistry Lab I
    3 MATH 231—Calculus II
    2 PHYS 213—Univ Physics: Thermal Physics
    2 PHYS 214—Univ Physics: Quantum Physics

    Spring 2011 (14 hours)
    3 CHEM 104—General Chemistry II
    1 CHEM 105—General Chemistry Lab II
    4 ECE 110—Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering
    4 MATH 241—Calculus III
    2 PHYS 225—Relativity & Math Applications

    Summer 2011 (7 hours)
    3 MATH 285—Intro Differential Equations
    4 MATH 461—Probability Theory I

    Fall 2011 (13 hours)
    3 PHYS 325—Classical Mechanics I
    3 PHYS 435—Electromagnetic Fields
    3 PHYS 485—Atomic Physics & Quantum Theory
    4 ECE 210—Analog Signal Processing

    Spring 2012 (15 hours)
    3 PHYS 401—Classical Physics Lab
    3 PHYS 326—Classical Mechanics II
    5 PHYS 404—Electronic Circuits I
    4 ECE 410—Digital Signal Processing

    What can I do with this education? Can I go directly into an MSEE program or the workforce?

    Also, is the coursework for each semester realistic?

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 6, 2010 #2
    I'm really confused about what you're trying to do. Does Illinois not require gen ed classes? Is it even possible to take 13 credits during a Summer semester? Will they let you take 400 level classes as a sophomore? Will they let you take general physics 1 and 2 at the same time?

    Do you think it's a good idea to take physics 2 before you've even completed Calc 1?

    What you just posted looks like a recipe for disaster. I'd take your current plan and throw it away, and start from scratch. This time, with the help of an academic advisor from the University.
  4. Apr 6, 2010 #3
    I'm in UIUC, also in physics. Engineering physics is pretty much the exact same as our LAS physics program.

    That said, I wouldn't go into engineering physics if you want to be an EE. I'd go into EE. Engineering physics won't prepare you for physics grad school, and while it's possible to go to grad school in engineering with a BS in physics, it's not the most direct or easiest path.

    And why only two years? Are you hoping to graduate early? That schedule looks very skimpy on actual physics courses as well as electrical engineering courses. You may be prepared for some basic industry job, but you need to add another year or two of specialized courses if you want to do anything more, I think.

    Also, summer 2010 will kill you. You do know that summer classes meet five days a week for a full half day? And that you get assigned anywhere from 1 to 2 hours of homework a night? Calculus and university physics are foundational courses and doing them in such a slap-dash manner will cripple you down the road. And you can maybe take PHYS 211 with Calc I but NOT 212. I'm in 212 as we speak and you NEED to have mastered calculus or you'll be screwed.

    My suggestion? Transfer to EE; they're really quite nice about transfers (unlike some of our departments *cough*mechE*cough*) and it will prepare you better for what you seem to want to do. Also, don't do that crazy summer schedule, for god's sake!
  5. Apr 6, 2010 #4

    I'm transferring 50+ gen ed credits from another school. I'm already signed up for the courses this summer. I have taken Calc I before, but I've forgotten most of it; this course will be a refresher. I've also taken a year of algebra-based college-level physics, so these courses should not be too hard. I'll be in class/lab ~26 hr/week this summer and spending the rest of my time doing homework which I have not problem with. I'll be transferring as a junior so I don't think I'll have a problem signing up for classes. I'm trying to get this done quick because I'm already 24 and have been in and out of college for the last 6 years trying to figure out what to do. I suppose I should have been more clear. Hopefully my plan doesn't look that disastrous? :)

    I guess the real question is, is this degree worth getting?

    Or should I go ahead and get the EE degree instead (it will take about an extra 20 hrs of coursework)?

    I would be happy with either, but I don't want to have a B.S. degree that will potentially limit my future options.

    Edit: MissSilvy, interesting that you say that about phys 212. The school I'm taking it at (it will transfer, I've checked) only requires that I pass phys 211. Phys 211 only requires that I have completed Calc I, which I did years ago (and since forgotten). It is possible that I get killed this summer... also, thanks for the advice about the possible job outlook. I am leaning more and more toward just majoring in EE as an undergrad.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2010
  6. Apr 7, 2010 #5
    It still looks disasterous. As MissSilvy says, you really should have Calc 2 under your belt before doing Intro E&M. You must be comfortable about integrating in polar coordinates if your intro to E&M was anything like I took last semester. We did a lot of that, in derivations, homework problems, and even exams.

    You're 24. You're young. I'm 27 and in a similar boat as you. I transferred as a Junior this year, but I already had Calc 1-3 and Physics 1-2 under my belt.

    It'll be worthwhile to tack on an extra 6 months to your education to spread things out a bit. Maybe bump E&M to Fall 2010, and start bumping classes back a semester or two. While you're at it, you might also want to clear out Summer 2011 and use that time for an internship or an REU. Those will make you more competitive whether you choose to go to grad school or go right to industry.

    Unless you're the next James Clerk Maxwell, I'll be very surprised if you can do well in your classes with the schedule you posted, especially this summer. You might be able to pass if you work really hard, but if you get a 4.0 for the summer semester, I'll eat my monitor.

    There's no rush, you're still young. I'd suggest adding an extra semester or two to take your time and do it right.

    Have you talked to an academic advisor at your university? Did they have any comments about your plan?

    Oh, and to answer your real question, an EE degree would be more career-ready, especially if the program is ABET certified.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2010
  7. Apr 7, 2010 #6
    Hmmm good insights. I have reworked my planned course of action so that I can transfer into Eng Phys or EE after the Fall semester (the advisor said I could transfer to either). If I do not think I will be able to hack the E&M this summer, I will drop it and have made a plan that would only take 1 semester longer AND leave me with my last summer free to do an internship/REU. I think clearing up that summer for an internship is a smart idea since having an Eng Physics degree (I'm leaning toward this) does not make me all that desirable to industry

    However, I am dead set on at least TRYING to get a 4.0 this summer in Calc I and both physics classes. I am going to study 8 hours/day until summer classes start to try to learn the calculus I'll need for physics. I've almost completed all my coursework for the rest of the semester (I'm only taking 13 hours of classes right now), so pretty much all my time will be devoted to math.

    I have the Stewart Calculus textbook and Solution Set. Is this an okay book to self-teach myself calculus?

    If I am successful enough on my self studies I'll be able to drop Calc I this summer since I already have credit for it.
  8. Aug 26, 2010 #7
    Hey kyle,
    This is a pretty late reply and you're probably already settled in for your Fall 2010 semester and done with summer 2010 courses.
    But just wanted to add my opinion to some things. MissSilvy is correct in that Engineering Physics is just LAS physics with an engineering degree attached. Engineering Physics will do just as well to prepare you for grad school as any other branch though, and physics is really a field where grad school is a great continuance. If you did want to enter the industry though, and you like EE, then you really may want to consider just switching to EE and minor in physics instead maybe.

    Also you don't need to master calculus or be screwed for physics 212. The calculus required in that class is very basic and the only time Calc 2 principles even seem useful is on the electric potential topic (but to be honest almost everyone has trouble there anyways). Most calculus derivations are done for you, and then it's just manipulation of simple equations they give you.

    As for summer 2011, Diff eq is a pretty forward and simple course. But having 2 courses over the summer might be a strain. Otherwise it all looks pretty decent/normal and qualifies as a realistic amount of to me.
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