What can you do better than me if you are currently pursuing Engineering? Things that I wished I had done better and known earlier.
What can you do better than me if you are currently pursuing Engineering? Things that I wished I had done better and known earlier. Here I would like to elaborate on the things that you can do if you are currently studying Engineering and want to move to Physics. I am NOT saying that this is the only way but it is the best way that I know. The earlier you do this the better. It would be super awesome if you start before the end of your first year or second year. But don’t worry if you are in your third year or final year. I’m positive that you can do this if you invest a little time. But know that you might have to take a 1-year break if you plan to go abroad.
a) Familiarize yourself with the physics curriculum from MIT or IISERs or IITs or any University you like and try following it.
It might be difficult to do all the courses but at least do the core courses like Classical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Electrodynamics, Waves and Oscillations and Statistical Physics by the time you are in your third year (if you start doing this in your 1st or 2nd year. Otherwise taking a break year might help). These courses are a MUST.(Having a decent foundation in these courses is an absolute necessity to do courses like General Relativity, Particle Physics, Atomic and Optical Physics, etc.) You can probably complete these courses in about 1 to 2.5 years depending on the time invested. The reason I mentioned MIT is that, on the OCW website, you can find all the assignments, exam papers, solutions (if available), textbooks used along with video lectures for almost all the courses mentioned above.
Besides we have our very own NPTEL courses which are taught mostly by IITs and IISC professors and has a really huge library that covers all these CORE courses and almost all graduate advanced courses. These are Undergraduate/ Graduate level courses. NPTEL in my experience offers one of these above-mentioned courses almost every semester. I would extremely strongly recommend you to in fact register and take NPTEL exams every semester if possible in the above topics if your University does not allow you to take these courses as electives. (I’ll mention why soon).
My opinion is that MIT lectures are superior to NPTEL lectures in Physics in terms of the quality of teaching and the content. MIT also has pretty dope lecture notes as well. I really like fact their notes are very elaborate in a lot of cases. But NPTEL has a way bigger course library in physics and most importantly you earn credit eligible certificates for them. So you can do both of them simultaneously. For Example, if NPTEL is offering Classical Mechanics in a particular semester, do take it but also simultaneously, you can also learn Electromagnetism/Waves and Oscillations from MIT. Again this is just an example. You can combine them however you want.
This is something I wish I had known earlier!
b) Go do research under your college physics professors on some small projects that you can.
(You “MAY” skip this step if you are already secured internships at places mentioned in C. However following step B would NOT hurt you in any possible way)
I did that only in the third year but you will have an amazing start if you do that right from your first. This is something that most students tend to ignore as they always try to e-mail IIT and IISER professors for a project instead. They are always bombarded with so many emails and it is harder to get your first research project under them, especially if you are in your first year.
Instead what you can do is look at the profile and the research areas of the Physics professors in your college and see whose research areas interest you the most. Take the help of your Engineering Physics Professor if needed. They will be way more open to taking you for a short term project rather than an IIT professor.
I also understand that in most colleges, your only choice is Condensed Matter Physics, Polymer physics, Semiconductor Physics, Optoelectronics or Laser Physics. Thats okay! Still go ahead with it! It is better to always explore various research directions rather than being adamant with pre-conceived notions. Who knows! You might like it more than Astro or Particle Physics.
This will give you a good profile with which you can start emailing professors in your second year in other areas that you like.
c) Now apply to places like IIT, IISER, TIFR, etc.
d) Apply abroad! (Go as high as possible!! Go Beyond Plus Ultra!!!!!!!!!!)
e) Try doing your Bachelor’s thesis in Physics
f) Apply Abroad for Graduate Studies
Other miscellaneous tips that might REALLY help!
Start your own Physics club in case your college doesn’t have one.
This is one of the ideas that hit me when I was in my final year but I was probably very late. There are a hell of lot of people who are interested in pursuing Physics in every college. I remember talking to a few people right in the 1st week of my college in my hostel mess while I was having Pulav who were interested in studying Physics and were interested in Cosmology and Astrophysics (That what most of them are interested in when they just finish 12 and there is nothing wrong with that!!) and wanted to pursue it as a Career. We never became friends and I spoke only 4-5 times throughout my college life. However, none of them pursued a physics career. There is nothing wrong with not pursuing a physics career. Pursuing Physics doesn’t make you the most superior entity on the planet. Doing an IT Job doesn’t make you bad either.
Find a mentor
This is something that is not absolutely necessary but will help you a lot. Finding a mentor from top institutes in India or outside in India to guide you through what to study and hot to go about your studies and research will definitely. Normally, one might think it is almost impossible to find mentors and it is definitely true. But I was really surprised to find the number of Professors who were actually ready to serve as mentors to students who wanted to move to Physics from a Different field through regular mentoring once a week through Skype (I am not telling who they are!)
Request your University for a Minor in Physics
This is something that you people should beg your University for. It will definitely help you a lot and save a lot of time rather than spending your time on subjects you don’t want to study.
How does the graduate program in the US vary from Europe?
What matters the Most for US and European admissions? GRE, Grades, or Research?
The United States and Canada
NOTE: I DON’T mean that professors who don’t have such contacts are bad researchers. I also DON’T mean that you shouldn’t work with Professors who don’t have such BIG contacts. In fact, I have heard stories where a Prof might be really good and have excellent ideas, but for some reason (like politics, etc), they don’t have big collaboration. Further, I also DON’T mean that working with Professors who don’t have collaborations in places like CalTech will not land you a top Ph.D. In fact, you could very well land into top PhD programs without the recommendation of a Prof from the “Big Universities”. It is just that the chances of a big professor being in a top University is very high. I just feel that working with well-known Profs MIGHT increase the chances of you landing into top Universities like UIUC, Michigan Ann Harbor, Maryland, UCSB, etc, if not places like MIT and Stanford for Ph.Ds).
|Physics GRE Score||910||720|
|Research||About 1-year research in a|
relatively unknown place
relatively unknown supervisor
|About 3-year research in a|
(& international research)
(decent grades in Physics)
Choosing Between the US and Europe
My opinion on this…
Some Random Tips
Stony Brook University
Earlier in this post, I had mentioned that it is very hard to get into a Ph.D program in Physics in the US. It is even harder to do so in Stony Brook because it is one of the best places for Physics. However, Stony Brook has an option which says asks you whether you want to be accepted for a Master’s in case you get rejected for a Ph.D. program. If you choose that option, there is a very high chance that you will get selected for the Master’s program at Stony Brook for Physics. I haven’t personally applied there but I know about 5 people who did that and had decent profiles and all of them were accepted for the Master’s program. So if you have enough money, you can go for it.
Someone online told someone online that once you go for this Master’s program, you can develop good contacts with certain professors and can directly be accepted for the Ph.D program at Stony Brook after two years. However, from another opinion, I found that it is kind of hard to continue to a Ph.D program after Masters and only a few people get that opportunity. But I guess, if you do well enough in Masters, you can get a great Ph.D. somewhere else including Europe. But that’s up to you to try out.
Education in Italy
Italian Physics program is among the hardest in Europe and even harder than Germany, especially in Universities like Padua, Pisa, and Sapienza. This was the opinion of someone who got accepted to HRI, IMSc, and TIFR in the same year (probably the only one to do so in his year) but is currently pursuing his studies in Italy. So if you go there, remember that it is going to be very hard. But once you come out, you will be really good at Physics. Italian Universities are as reputed as the top German Universities and the living is cheaper. Padua gives regional scholarships to almost everyone. If you want to go there my recommendation would be to look at their UG courses and see if you have a good grasp of them and decide if you would be able to handle their Master’s course. The exams and assignments are damn hard over there as well.
QI and Theoretical Physics
This is something I have unanimously heard from almost every student and professor. Theoretical Physics is hard! It was already pretty hard to get a position a few years back and will be much harder in the upcoming years. In fact, one of the professors told me this (I modified it): “if you can be happy doing something other than fundamental theory, you should do that. In particular, you will never be unemployed if you work in low-temperature experiments, whereas there is a glut of people who do fundamental theory. It is almost impossible to get into the field of fundamental theory unless you are from top institutions”
On the other hand, Quantum Information is a field that is becoming more and more popular nowadays and there seems to be a lot of scope for this field and also so much money and you have higher chances of being employed.
(All these are info that I have obtained from other people)
Compared to many other places, in my opinion, France is probably much easier to get admission into. And that too in the top institutes in the country like Sorbonne, Universite de Paris and Paris Saclay (Especially this). All you need are a few online courses, a good grasp of the basic subjects, and preferably some research experience. Just remember that the deadlines will be somewhere in March. But be careful that the living expense it a little high in France but the tuition fee is less. So it is better than going to places like the Netherlands.
This is from my experience of talking to people in this group as well as some of my friends who applied last year. For Sweden, you can apply to 4 Universities in 1 go and it is kind of easy to get admission there provided you did some online courses, have decent research experience. But remember, here there is a tuition fee and it is very hard to get scholarships. The awesome thing about Sweden is that it is the country in Europe whose curriculum is closest to the US Syllabus (and thus best for Indians and probably many peeps like you guys who are moving from Engineering) and yet have wide diverse course options like Germany.
This is from my experience of talking to people in this group as well as some of my friends who applied last year. It is also easy to get into the UK (Cambridge, Imperial, Oxford, Edinburg, and a few other top places) with a decent profile. Again, there is the tuition fee and living expense that you have to take care of unlike Germany which has 0 tuition fee.
Saving money during the application
Request Universities to waive the application fee. Some of them will not, some of them will. Also, ask them if you can send unofficial scores for TOEFL and GRE until you are officially offered an admission. This will save a hell of lot of money. I saved about 50% during my applications