- What can you do better than me if you are currently pursuing Engineering? Things that I wished I had done better and known earlier.
- How does the graduate program in the US vary from Europe?
- What matters the Most for US and European admissions? GRE, Grades, or Research?
- Choosing Between the US and Europe
- Some Random Tips
Why are people hesitant to let students pursue Physics? Are they correct in doing so? My opinion about this.
- What if you lose interest in Physics? Can you get a job in some other field with a BSc/MSc in Physics?
- Can you earn sufficient money by holding just a BSc or MSc Physics degree like you earn with an Engineering degree?
- Can you keep studying and learning physics throughout your life?
- The process of entering academia can be extremely challenging and painfully slow and yet less lucrative than other jobs in Engineering.
This situation is much better in Engineering Physics from places like IIT Madras, where people also seem to get into data analytics, consulting, finance, electronics etc companies if they don’t want to pursue Physics anymore. Read more over here
Despite all this, I would still recommend entering a good undergraduate program in Physics for your Bachelor’s in undergrad if you are really interested in pursuing physics. One of the primary reasons is that you will save a lot of time! If you end up in an engineering program, you would probably be spending the free time which is available after your class hours, exams, and assignments to learning physics and doing some physics research. Instead, if you chose BSc physics, you can probably use that free time to probably learn a new instrument, practice art, and drawing, join some college clubs, play sports or hit the gym or maybe even spend some additional time doing physics, or maybe chill out and watch some anime! Literally, anything you like. Hence forcing someone to do Engineering, when they are not interested in the field is probably a dumb idea, especially if you have some good colleges in hand.
For students who are still in High School
What all I did to change my stream to Physics
Somehow I was convinced to enter into Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering for my B.Tech. Though my family wholeheartedly supported me for pursuing Physics after my undergraduate, I did not have any guidance on how to do so. I knew about JEST and TIFR-GS but did not have any idea how to start studying for that (though all I had to do was open the syllabus start studying from them😐).
I just spent the first 1 to 1.5 years reading random books, magazines, popular science books from my college library which were interesting and fun but did not help me learn any UG level Physics. Simultaneously, I decided to learn from the edX 4 Series course on Astrophysics. Though those courses gave me good exposure to Astrophysics, it was still not at the UG level. This 1st year is the time where 95% of the students actively join several clubs. But I did not join them because I already had very little time to spend for Physics. Clubs are most probably the most awesome things about college and I would recommend most of you to join one. Don’t miss that opportunity!!! Whether you learn something useful or not, you will definitely meet a lot of friends and have a great chance of finding like-minded people like you. I was especially surprised to know the number of people who had passion in Physics and also wanted to move to Engineering.
(A reason why I would still strongly recommend people to join a good Bsc Physics program if you can. It might be harder for you to meet like-minded people in college club/chapter and do Physics if you chose engineering.)
In my second year, I finally started with Resnick and Halliday and towards the middle of my second year, I finally started with an NPTEL Quantum Mechanics course taught by Prof Manoj Harbola. It was pretty challenging and fun.
Somewhere during this time, I think I also applied to several summer internships like the Indian Academy of Sciences thinking that my decent CGPA would help but it did not. I tried emailing several professors but in a lot of cases I got no response and a few times responses like, “you don’t have the necessary coursework” or “I already have enough students”. With my parents’ and relatives’ and friends’ help, I somehow got the contacts of a few Physics Professors from IISC and met them in person. They gave me a little guidance but they could not take me as their student as they were already full.
Towards the end of the second year, after taking the advice of a few professors from my college, I started looking at the UG Physics of IIT and MIT, IISC and IISER etc and finally realized that I was already way behind all the other students from those institutes as many of them already had published a few papers.
So I started self-studying physics and took up more NPTEL courses. Finally, towards the middle of my third year, I decided to contact professors from my college for help and one professor agreed to let me work with him on a research project on quantum computation as I knew some basic quantum mechanics. This was probably of the most important steps and I am always grateful for his help. Soon this research experience had helped me land a Summer Research Fellow Program at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics where I had worked on Astroparticle Physics. This was probably the first time I actually even met with fellow students who were actually from a Physics background!! (Yes really!) The difference between them and me was crazy! This is one of the times I felt so helpless. However, I learnt so much during these two months and I was motivated to still do better.
For my bachelor’s thesis, since my college wanted me to do something in Engineering but I wanted to do something in Physics, I decided to work on Astronomical Instrumentation, which has a good blend of both Physics and Engineering. After mailing professors, I finally got the chance to work at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics on the same. Here I had the oppurtunity to attend several talks, seminars and colloquiums of several big professors and researchers. I found that in the Indian Institute of Astrophysics or Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics you always have some talks or seminars every day going on. This is something that separates these institutes from most other Universities. It will amazing to be a part of such research institutes and would recommend people to at least do some projects in such places for at least a few months.
Finally, towards the end of the final year, I felt that I wanted to learn more Physics before applying for PG. My Summer internship at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics taught me that I was way behind others and hence took this decision. I was still open to giving JEST/JAM and also PGRE and decide my options based on that.
During this 1 year break, I decided to work on Stellar Physics, Spectroscopy, and Photometry at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics and took up some NPTEL courses.
The application process for the US turned out to be pretty hectic and I did not have sufficient time to prepare for JEST or JAM. So I gave up on studying in India.
My Personal Book and Online Resource Recommendations
Waves and Oscillations
Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics
- Perimeter (PSI) Lectures – Perimeter has the full set of recorded lectures that cover advanced topics like Classical Mechanics to Foundations of Quantum Mechanics and String Theory. The nice thing is that they have about 10 versions of each of the courses because they have been recording all the lectures for about 10 years. They might be a bit hard but if you are at an advanced level you could probably do it.
- Theoretical Minimum – Prof. Susskind has some really good set of Lectures in Physics starting from topics like Classical Mechanics to Particle Physics and Cosmology.
- NPTEL and MIT OCW Physics
- Feynman Lectures- Take your time to read this.
Thanks for reading! Please have a look at the second part of the blog which contains the most important details which will be helpful for you by clicking here.