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Tranquility
2005-Jun-28, 03:15 PM
I posted this thread on FWIS earlier when BABBling was closed. I'm leaning towards taking this course after the advice on FWIS, but I still need more input on this, if anyone will be kind enough to help.

I'm in electrical engineering now.

There's this physics course that they started offering at college, called Modern Physics. The course wasn't offered often before because we don't have a physics major (just a physics minor but they're looking to change that, and there IS an environmental physics major). Anyway, the catalog entry for the course is: "This is a course required for Environmental Physics majors but is also very useful for Engineering majors, particularly Electrical and Computer Engineering. It deals with special relativity, introductory quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, elements of solid-state and semi-conductor physics."

I really want to learn more about this stuff, and I find the subject very interesting. There's a couple of problems though:

1) The course has an optional lab which conflicts with a circuits design course I'm taking which is far more important since it's a major requirement and is a prerequisite for a lot of important courses I'm taking later on. But since the physics lab is optional, I don't have to take it, and the course becomes a 3-credit course instead of a 4-credit course, which makes it a free elective. I would have liked to take the lab, but this problem isn't really a deal-breaker for me. But do you think the lab component for such a course would be definitely too important to give up?

2) I've already used up one of my free electives (I get 1 more) doing an advanced C++ course. I don't mind doing a moderately difficult free elective course if the subject matter is both interesting AND useful to me, so will the stuff I'd be doing in this course, as per the catalog entry, be useful to me as an electrical engineer, that it justifies the effort I'd spend doing it?

Moose
2005-Jun-28, 03:49 PM
I can't provide answers, IMO, that has to come from you. I can, however, ask some impertinent questions that might help you get some pertinent answers.

Is there an opportunity to take this course next year, where hopefully you'll be able to get both the program and the lab without conflicting something important (and understanding that you're basically rolling the dice again, you might have a worse scheduling conflict, just as easily as no conflict at all?)

Have you tried tracking down the professor for that class and asking what you've asked us?

Taks
2005-Jun-28, 10:08 PM
my school (university of missouri-rolla) required modern physics for all engineering majors (i'm an EE as well). we actually referred to it as A-bomb. the course material is difficult for one semester since you get force fed a lot of information regarding a wide variety of topics. however, i'd be willing to bet actual difficulty will be dependent upon the teacher.

the class did me no good but it was interesting. the question as to whether it would do you any good is really rooted in your career interests. i'm signal processing and communications, btw...

taks

Enzp
2005-Jun-29, 03:39 AM
I second the idea of discussing it with the prof.

When I was in school I used to think in terms of I pay money to "go to college" and then I select courses. Later in life I went back to school and realized that what I was really doing was buying courses for $300 each or whatever it is now. So like buying a car or signing up for a field trip, it is something I am buying and it behooves me to find out about it and ask the questions.

They are selling the courses to you, they are not doing you a favor allowing you to buy it. They owe you. Knock on their door.

Tranquility
2005-Jun-29, 03:17 PM
Thanks for the responses everyone.


Is there an opportunity to take this course next year, where hopefully you'll be able to get both the program and the lab without conflicting something important (and understanding that you're basically rolling the dice again, you might have a worse scheduling conflict, just as easily as no conflict at all?)

Doubtful. First of all the courses I'm doing in the fall are not that difficult that I can't manage taking a free elective with medium difficulty. There's electronics II, circuits II, electromagnetics, and an english course. The semester after that though I'll have more time-consuming and difficult courses, like electrical energy and devices, signals and systems, control systems, stochastic processes. So there's a difficulty curve there. Also, there's a possibility that the course doesn't get offered the following semester if there aren't enough students, a problem that's real even in this semester's offering. So the course might not be offered the following semester in the first place.


Have you tried tracking down the professor for that class and asking what you've asked us?

I would, but he isn't teaching any summer courses so he's out of the country.


the class did me no good but it was interesting. the question as to whether it would do you any good is really rooted in your career interests.

I don't think it is, but as I said I don't mind if it's a bit difficult but interesting. Career interests aren't definite yet, I'm still not in my junior year, medical electronics and communications are distinct possibilities though.


When I was in school I used to think in terms of I pay money to "go to college" and then I select courses. Later in life I went back to school and realized that what I was really doing was buying courses for $300 each or whatever it is now. So like buying a car or signing up for a field trip, it is something I am buying and it behooves me to find out about it and ask the questions.

They are selling the courses to you, they are not doing you a favor allowing you to buy it. They owe you. Knock on their door.

I know, but I figured since a lot of the folks who frequent this board are in fields of science or engineering and might have gone through this course and probably have more first hand experience on whether the stuff they learned in the course is really applicable in real life.

Taks
2005-Jun-29, 04:04 PM
I don't think it is, but as I said I don't mind if it's a bit difficult but interesting. Career interests aren't definite yet, I'm still not in my junior year, medical electronics and communications are distinct possibilities though.
no, no, i think you misunderstood what i meant. by "do you any good" i was specifically referring to a direct correlation between class and career, i.e. does the information in a class directly add to your knowledge base in your area of interest. certainly any class that that challenges you will be good in the long run simply because it exercises critical thinking skills. sorry for the wording if it misled you.

actually, i took a class on "real-time DSP" which i figured would be fun and relatively easy since, well, i'm already a practicing DSP engineer (working on my phd). unfortunately, it did not challenge me nor was it really fun. there were fun aspects, but in the end, i wanted something a little harder. sooooo, i'm rounding out my classwork with some advanced mathematics for a real challenge... we shall see.

either way, good luck. if you want any direct info on communications engineering, PM me and i'll be glad to offer any insight i may have (read: perpetuate even more **!) :)

mark

papageno
2005-Jun-29, 04:29 PM
Studying some introductory solid state physics and semiconductor physics could be useful for electrical engineering, because it allows you to see the same things (macroscopic electromagnetism in condensed matter) from another perspective.
In general I would recommend it.

However, since it is a general course about Modern Physics offered for the first time, I am not very confident about how much will be left in your mind after a few months.
Also, not doing the lab experiments takes away half of the fun.

If you can attend the lectures without affecting negatively your academic career, then I suggest that you do it.

Taks
2005-Jun-29, 06:39 PM
Studying some introductory solid state physics and semiconductor physics could be useful for electrical engineering, because it allows you to see the same things (macroscopic electromagnetism in condensed matter) from another perspective.
semiconductor device physics is a pain. i did poorly as an undergraduate (got a C) about 16 years ago. unfortunately, i also did poorly on that question (did not answer) on the phd qualifier and they are making me take it again! ahhhhhh!!! :) this fall, actually.


However, since it is a general course about Modern Physics offered for the first time, I am not very confident about how much will be left in your mind after a few months.
kind of the point i made earlier... classes that are real general don't leave a trace... hehe. sometimes that's good. :)

taks