1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Which is the most (and least) math heavy of the engineering fields?

  1. Jul 5, 2009 #1


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Which is the most (and least) math heavy of the engineering fields? And why?

    Just wondering. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2009 #2
    Software is the least intensive, I think. And its the most profitable, too. (Unless you consider the concepts of data structures and algorithm development "math")
  4. Jul 5, 2009 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    which is the most math intensive? Electrical?
  5. Jul 6, 2009 #4
    Electrical engineering is the most math heavy of the engineering disciplines. You rely heavily on differential equations when dealing with advanced circuit analysis and electromagnetism is basically a physics and math course. In a close second is mechanical engineering, which uses dynamics a lot. Chemical engineering is in last probably. Differential equations are used a lot, but that is true of all the engineering disciplines. Industrial engineering often has a lot of economics built in, which of course uses mathematics.

    This is all very subjective though, but I think it is a good characterization.
  6. Jul 8, 2009 #5
    Well, I know I'll probably step on alot of toes by saying this, but a very wise and smart man, Mr. Albert Einstein, once said e=mc^2 and I believe that is true for the engineering courses namely that electrical=mechanical*(civil^2) especially when it comes to maths and physics in the courses :biggrin:

    I study electrical and have a few friends in the other courses and can really confess to that :wink:
  7. Jul 8, 2009 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    looking for the easy way out? Simple, just go over the the business school, get your degree there, math should not be much of a problem.
  8. Jul 8, 2009 #7


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    (Un)fortunately, I'm not looking for the easy way out.
  9. Jul 8, 2009 #8
    Take this with a grain of salt since i'm not an engineer though I've known quite a few and taught their first year phys classes but...

    I'd say engineering physics requires the most math, then electrical, then mechatronic, then mech, then chemical, then civil.

    As for software it really depends. Every software engineer I've know has been really math heavy and took tons of combinatorics stuff. However, that very well may be the exception not the rule.

    The one I wouldn't know how to place is systems. To the best of my knowledge NO ONE knows what system's engineers do, not even system's engineers.
  10. Jul 8, 2009 #9
    I picked EE believing that it would be the most math heavy. I am not disappointed.
  11. Jul 8, 2009 #10
    I'm curious as to your motivation for asking the question. Are you hoping to learn a lot of math while taking engineering? Engineering math classes tend to be notoriously non-rigorous (and this is where the flames start) and almost entirely devoid of proofs or intuition. It tends to be "Here's WHAT you need to know, don't bother asking why", it's all very pragmatic. The only reason I mention this is because if you're hoping to use engineering math for mathematical exploits outside of engineering you'd probably be better off taking the math faculty's equivalent courses.
  12. Jul 8, 2009 #11
    (the least) Industrial engineering, furnature rearranger. And yes, these people exist. I'll have to find out what they are titled someday.
  13. Jul 8, 2009 #12
    I think some people prefer non-rigorous math. I love math but I cannot stand rigorous proofs and I rarely consider "why"s
  14. Jul 8, 2009 #13
    Well yes but I assume you're an engineer. Proofs and intuition is not a preference in theoretical physics and applied math (and most certainly pure math). It's a necessity. You simply can't be productive if you don't understand how these things were derived and what's going on 'under the hood' so to speak.
  15. Jul 9, 2009 #14


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I may almost disagree with you there. The only thing (in terms of math) that separates EE and ME are perhaps 2 courses of math
  16. Jul 9, 2009 #15
    The term is used in two radically different ways.

    Some in the industry use 'System Engineer' to refer to someone that knows process control, signal analysis, and a smattering of physics, chem, mechanics, and electronics. Those guys obviously need a lot of math. Schools may use different terms. They are really systems analysts/designers.

    The other definition is a person that has a good knowledge of running a particular system as might a user. They might have a role in customer service or test.
  17. Jul 9, 2009 #16
    What about biological engineering?
  18. Jul 9, 2009 #17
    I recall my undergrad days in chemical engineering and this question coming up and the electrical engineers proclaiming their's was the most math intensive and I recall the mechanical engineers not putting up much of an argument...nor the rest of us. Of course this can vary from case to case, school to school I suppose. However my most recent forays into the realms of electrical engineering due to my career choice have led me to believe it might indeed be the case.
  19. Jul 9, 2009 #18
    And I just want to say; this is sound advice. First year calculus seemed to be the real tripping up course for these people supposedly on their way to make 6 figures one day. The intro stats course also gave them fits as well if I recall. Brutal mathematical component to the curriculum there I tell you.
  20. Jul 9, 2009 #19


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I just asked the question b/c I'm about to do a project comparing the different fields.
  21. Jul 9, 2009 #20
    I've never really heard of biological engineering but if it's just like biology I'd say by far the least. Your average bio student knows zero math (except a horribly inaccurate introduction to stats course)
  22. Jul 9, 2009 #21
    It's not "just" biology. You've never heard of bioengineering, or biomedical engineering?
  23. Jul 12, 2009 #22
    I've heard of biomedical engineering (used to have a roommate who was one actually, he was doing some project with titanium pins in the knees or something) and i've heard of something being bioengineered but I've never heard of a major called biological engineering or bioengineering.
  24. Jul 12, 2009 #23
    Odd, these are only some of the many universities that have it:
    http://bioeng.berkeley.edu/" [Broken]
    http://www.seas.harvard.edu/research/bioengineering.html" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  25. Jul 13, 2009 #24
    You learn something new everyday.
  26. Jul 13, 2009 #25
    Choosing an engineering discipline with the most intensive math is like choosing an ocean with the wettest water. The complexity of mathematics involved varies by topic, not by field.

    EE's always like boast that they have it the worst for reasons I never understood. I think its just because some of them like to whine a lot. The lucky SOBs at least get to deal with relatively linear systems.

    My university has it as well, I thought it was rather common.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook