Engineering Students

  • Imagine you are sipping tea or coffee while discussing various issues with a broad and diverse network of students, colleagues, and friends brought together by the common bond of physics, graduate school, and the physics GRE.

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butsurigakusha
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Engineering Students

Postby butsurigakusha » Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:28 am

This is something that a friend of mine said shortly after having an experiment ruined by an engineering student in his group:

"The problem with engineers is that they're just as nerdy and socially inept as physicists, but they're as dumb as rocks."

Now, I don't really think that engineers are dumb; many of my good friends are engineering students, and my dad is an engineer. I just thought it was a funny quote and wanted to share it.

marten
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby marten » Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:36 pm

I have noticed a general tendency for engineering to want to know: "What's the formula? Where can I plug the numbers in?" I spent a whole year in an engineering program at a university where the primary method of education was "plug-n-chug". The general lack of theory is the biggest reason I want to switch back to physics.

Engineers and physicists have different senses of humor, physicists are waaay funnier... (and stranger)

bashing my own profession:
Marten

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grae313
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby grae313 » Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:41 pm

butsurigakusha wrote:"The problem with engineers is that they're just as nerdy and socially inept as physicists, but they're as dumb as rocks."

Now, I don't really think that engineers are dumb; many of my good friends are engineering students, and my dad is an engineer. I just thought it was a funny quote and wanted to share it.


Aaaah... the favorite pass-time of students in our physics department: bashing on the engineers :P

They do tend to be dumb as rocks though, don't they? My dad is an engineer, but his degree is in physics. Whenever a new problem comes up where you actually need to understand what is going on, rather than pluggin 'n chugging, everyone has to come to him for help.

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dlenmn
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby dlenmn » Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:16 pm

marten wrote:I have noticed a general tendency for engineering to want to know: "What's the formula? Where can I plug the numbers in?" I spent a whole year in an engineering program at a university where the primary method of education was "plug-n-chug".


Oh man, I do love myself a plug-n-chug problem! (I'm also glad to see other people use that phrase). If only it were always so easy.

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Helio
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby Helio » Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:39 am

I live with one of them.... the other roommate is a biochem and business.. even worse... no brains at all, only a huge memory.

Anyway, to be honest, some the engineers really do impress me at times as how much they are lacking to think "outside the box." Honours intro physics really showed it to me... people who got full rides and acceptances to MIT were really struggling with the material... it can't be too hard to find the angular frequency or the acceleration of a car driving off an incline.

Anyway, no engineers are fun people to around, but just sometimes i am like... you really do live under a big rock. The programs are usually so specified that I would be bored to death to take like half the courses. Take the statics course for mechanical engineers... my god.... i would rather shot myself then solve variations of the same problem for a semester, i.e. if a bridge is stable or not. Also there is a lack of depth. I had two engineers in my general relativity course. One gave up after 2 weeks the other is getting through without knowing what a lagrangian is. Looking at their dynamics exercises i am really asking myself why would you solve it using newton, if the lagranian gives you the answer in 3 lines.

trupti
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby trupti » Sun Mar 09, 2008 10:40 am

now that depends a lot on the place you belong too!! In our place the quality of engineering education is far supirior to education in physics!! thats the reason i chose to do engineering over physics.. the amount of knowledge and understanding i got by studying engg in a local college is far greater than what i would have got studying physics in a local college!! I was once with a MSc (equivalent to MS) physics student from our place..he told me on my face that engg students are such dumbasses and totally lack common sense!! then just few minutes later i had to explain him how to calculate motor torque required for a telescope :shock: :shock: Its not about engg or physics but about quality of education!! nowonder engg students from our country do so well as compared to American engineers...

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grae313
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby grae313 » Sun Mar 09, 2008 8:20 pm

You bring up very good points, but in a way you are missing our points. The problem is not with engineering as a discipline, but with those who would choose to pursue the American engineering education when it is completely lacking in basic understanding and common problem-solving sense. In your country, apparently it is the opposite. Please edit in your mind my sweeping generalizations to include the exceptions that we all know are there. I'm too lazy and un-politically-correct.

trupti
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby trupti » Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:51 am

Actually I am also not very correct in what i wrote in my above post..Its not only about quality of education..but as engineering is very much in demand all the best students in our country go to engg... generally what is taught in first year BS physics in US is taught to all scince students in our place (even if they end up doing medical or bio later on !!). The amount of what is taught in 3years of Bsc (equivalent to BS) physics can be learnt by a good and interested student within a year and half by sincere self study...But what what is taught in 4 years on engg cannot be learnt on your own because its very specialised plus a major part of the learning process involves learning, using and understanding complicated and costly machines and softwares which won't be available at home!!
At our place physics is more about theory..one has to be really to lucky to pursue experimental physics using sophisticated, hi-tech facilities at undergrad level so three years in physics one my spend only reading books and writting exams with shoddy practical expierence..whereas from the posts on this forum i realise that any motivated physics student in US can get a chance to work on really big research right at undergrad level
Also when a person is working in industry there is a great pressure of deadline..people want right solutions very fast..so an engineer has to give solution on time. It doesn't matters whether the person presenting the solution really understands every smallest detail of the solution..while if a person is doing research in physics (theory or exp) its okay if you form a new theory a year or two late as long as its a good one, bring some new ideas in the field

excel
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby excel » Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:10 pm

The amount of what is taught in 3years of Bsc (equivalent to BS) physics...

No, the standard 3-year undergraduate science degree awarded in India is not at all equivalent to the 4-year U.S. BS degree. Almost all U.S. universities consider the 3-year Indian science degree inadequate for graduate study in the U.S. Let me also note that the IITs only award 5-year BS/MS combined degrees in science, no 3 year degree.

whereas from the posts on this forum i realise that any motivated physics student in US can get a chance to work on really big research right at undergrad level

This is actually the reason why I came to the U.S. for my undergrad!

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grae313
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby grae313 » Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:11 pm

trupti wrote:Actually I am also not very correct in what i wrote in my above post..Its not only about quality of education..but as engineering is very much in demand all the best students in our country go to engg... generally what is taught in first year BS physics in US is taught to all scince students in our place (even if they end up doing medical or bio later on !!). The amount of what is taught in 3years of Bsc (equivalent to BS) physics can be learnt by a good and interested student within a year and half by sincere self study...But what what is taught in 4 years on engg cannot be learnt on your own because its very specialised plus a major part of the learning process involves learning, using and understanding complicated and costly machines and softwares which won't be available at home!!
At our place physics is more about theory..one has to be really to lucky to pursue experimental physics using sophisticated, hi-tech facilities at undergrad level so three years in physics one my spend only reading books and writting exams with shoddy practical expierence..whereas from the posts on this forum i realise that any motivated physics student in US can get a chance to work on really big research right at undergrad level
Also when a person is working in industry there is a great pressure of deadline..people want right solutions very fast..so an engineer has to give solution on time. It doesn't matters whether the person presenting the solution really understands every smallest detail of the solution..while if a person is doing research in physics (theory or exp) its okay if you form a new theory a year or two late as long as its a good one, bring some new ideas in the field


Well, engineers are more in demand here as well, but for whatever reasons, people who take engineering jobs with physics degrees are inevitably better at it (here in the US, I mean). Sure, there may be some specialized knowledge that needs to be learned, but with the excellent foundation of concepts and problem solving skills, as well as the computational and lab experience that physicists get in school, it is easy and quick to learn.

Every science/engineering major in the US takes first year physics as well (they all take first year chemistry, too)

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Mon Mar 10, 2008 2:55 pm

Every science/engineering major in the US takes first year physics as well (they all take first year chemistry, too)


Heh. Except one of my Physics professors never took college level chemistry (from Berkeley).

As far as this discussion is concerned... I'm split between making a sarcastic response to all of the engineer haters... or join along with you guys because they can make so much more money so much more easilly. :evil:

But as far as them being as dumb as rocks...

That's difficult.

I've met some pretty smart rocks.

May the wind be always at your back,
-Wonton Burrito Meals

trupti
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby trupti » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:18 am

Yes engineers with physics degree are anytime far better than engineers with without one. But not every one has the time or luxury to study both. If they start teaching engineers as much physics as physicsts know then it will take them 5-6 years only to complete an undergraduate engineering course. As I said before the demands of an engineering job are far different than that of a physicst. Its of not much good use for an engineer to know all fundas and principles but not be able to apply them in real world. As i said before the solution given should work in real world and that to should be implemented on time!! What an engineer should have is an intution for physics like a particular structure will be unstable due to unbalance forces (he need not find its lagrangian or hamiltonian for that!!) or if power supply is tripping then there is over current due to a short somewhere and find it quickly (he does not have to do total circuit analysis for that)..and obviously things like general relativity and quantum physics will be difficult for any engineer to study. If it was as easy for them to understand these topics as physicsts then the world would have never required physicsts!!

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Re: Engineering Students

Postby metric » Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:22 pm

My physics-engineering manifesto:

The key to a successful experiment or collaboration: mix physicists and engineers in the right proportion. Do not put your physicists to design, select, or build equipment if you don't want to buy industrial amounts of duct tape afterwards. Do not put your engineers to look for WIMPs if you don't want 300% statistical errors. I'm not saying that physicists can't select a motor nor that engineers can't perform decent data analysis, but sometimes huge amounts of money and time are lost when people that don't have the necessary background, experience & preparation try to do something they are clueless about.
Engineers have the idea that physicists are too far-fetched for the real world, and physicists tend to think that engineers know nothing if they are not selecting a motor from a catalog without writing a Hamiltonian of a complex mechanical system first. I hope you'll try to leave you prejudices behind and start collaborating, you'll gain a lot.
My experience as an engineer after several years in a big experiment is that physicists won't hear you the first time when you tell them what could possibly go wrong with their beautiful instruments from the engineering point of view, but after several k$ have been lost they start to hear. At the same time some engineers would try to impose their ideas, saying that they're are technically better, losing the main purpose of working in an experiment, which is to do science.
The challenge for the management of a project is what I said before: mix them and their contribution in the right proportion. Probably some of us will be involved in a big experiment or collaboration during the coming years, and maybe some of us will have to lead a group or take technical decisions if you're planning to become an experimentalist, I hope that you'll remember this and you'll put it to practice.
Engineers and physicists of the world, unite!

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twistor
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby twistor » Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:01 am

This reminds me of a joke I once heard:

A electrical engineering student asks his professor what the most important equations in his field are so he can memorize them. The professor thinks a bit and replies that there are 3 fundamental equations everyone in the field should memorize.

The most important equation is V = IR.

The second most important equation is I = V/R.

The third most important equation is...

naroays
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby naroays » Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:31 am

Ah yes, the bash-the-silly-engineers-who-still-use-F=ma-in-classical-mechanics thread

Go ahead, take your potshots during the current economic crisis, when us engineers won't be laughing all the way to the bank :p

Anyway, no engineers are fun people to around, but just sometimes i am like... you really do live under a big rock. The programs are usually so specified that I would be bored to death to take like half the courses. Take the statics course for mechanical engineers... my god.... i would rather shot myself then solve variations of the same problem for a semester, i.e. if a bridge is stable or not. Also there is a lack of depth. I had two engineers in my general relativity course. One gave up after 2 weeks the other is getting through without knowing what a lagrangian is. Looking at their dynamics exercises i am really asking myself why would you solve it using newton, if the lagranian gives you the answer in 3 lines.


Seriously, I think your sample size is too small to make such sweeping generalizations about engineers.

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metric
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby metric » Fri Dec 12, 2008 10:13 am

twistor wrote:This reminds me of a joke I once heard:

A electrical engineering student asks his professor what the most important equations in his field are so he can memorize them. The professor thinks a bit and replies that there are 3 fundamental equations everyone in the field should memorize.

The most important equation is V = IR.

The second most important equation is I = V/R.

The third most important equation is...


Apparently, even some experienced experimental physicists like Tommaso Dorigo (Tevatron-CDF II and LHC-CMS), could use your post to remember Ohm's law:

http://dorigo.wordpress.com/2007/05/18/will-45-amps-do/

At least in my university, there was nothing like memorizing equations in engineering. The concepts were emphasized, not the equations. I mean, you HAVE to know the equation anyway but you must be able to derive it and know where it came from. If you'd miss an exponent in one of your papers, as probably nobody would read it, who cares?. If an engineer builds a bridge and misses an exponent in the calculation...

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twistor
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby twistor » Fri Dec 12, 2008 10:59 am

Getting it right is just as important in physics and in engineering. In fact, more so in physics than in engineering, because if we get it wrong then so will the engineers because the laws of physics eventually get passed down to them for application.

I have a lot of respect for engineers, though. 4 years of college and your degrees will get you respectable jobs. It's not a bad deal if you enjoy wearing starchy clothes and sitting in a cubicle (plastered with Dilbert comics, I'd imagine).

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Re: Engineering Students

Postby metric » Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:04 pm

I must assume that either a) you're very bored b) you haven't got a life c) you're analysis software is running. I would go for a or b since the only thing you seem to do with your life is to post offensive comments trying to create a bad reaction from other people.
Usually the people that think like you are the ones that need a degree to feel important or superior to somebody else, probably because they don't have enough confidence in themselves and they need a paper to tell them who they are and to fill the void of their empty lives. Smart people that I know are not touched by these little fights to see who's best, you don't seem to belong to that group, au contraire you sound like an 8-year-old comparing your great toys to some other kid's, while the grown-ups are busy dealing with real problems. Man: the world is full of both dumb and bright physicists and engineers and you're no exception to that. Your comments are not a surprise to me: you're a tiny tiny human being.

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secander2!
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby secander2! » Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:54 pm

I've worked with projects which involve both physicists and engineers and I agree with you that both are necessary. Still, due to the fact that I'm a physicist, I will usually make fun of engineers every chance I get... it's just how it works... kinda like Cal Tech and MIT. Don't take twistor too seriously, and definitely don't be offended by him, his posting history shows that he enjoys making fun of everything and everyone. I personally find his posts hilarious as they add a little bit of spice to this forum, if you don't like them, it's probably just best to ignore them.


twistor wrote:t's not a bad deal if you enjoy wearing starchy clothes and sitting in a cubicle (plastered with Dilbert comics, I'd imagine)

Anyways, getting back to the topic at hand, I think it is clear that physicists are better... in contrast to engineers, we sit in a dark basement room wearing unwashed clothes with Ph.D. comics plastered to our walls!!!

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twistor
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby twistor » Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:11 pm

Usually the people that think like you are the ones that need a degree to feel important or superior to somebody else, probably because they don't have enough confidence in themselves and they need a paper to tell them who they are and to fill the void of their empty lives.


I respect you for your professional psychological opinion. Thank you for your valuable insights. With your help I just might attain self-actualization.

Your degree doesn't give you a degree of satisfaction?

Smart people that I know are not touched by these little fights to see who's best, you don't seem to belong to that group, au contraire you sound like an 8-year-old comparing your great toys to some other kid's, while the grown-ups are busy dealing with real problems.


You don't seem to be in that group either, since you have been touched. And I did have some great toys. The only thing that changes when we grow up is that we get to buy bigger, better toys.

Man: the world is full of both dumb and bright physicists and engineers and you're no exception to that. Your comments are not a surprise to me: you're a tiny tiny human being.


You're right, I am tiny, but only because of the shrink ray I invented. Problem is, it takes up an entire room. Now that I've invented it the engineers can go ahead and figure out how to make it smaller (that's your cue to get working).

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twistor
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby twistor » Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:12 pm

in contrast to engineers, we sit in a dark basement room wearing unwashed clothes with Ph.D. comics plastered to our walls!!!


(looking for hidden cameras...)

...WTF!

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twistor
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby twistor » Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:23 pm

"I must assume..."

Oh, and I realize it must be difficult to make out details from atop your soapbox, but you missed the part where I said, "I have a lot of respect for engineers..."

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metric
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby metric » Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:16 pm

secander2! wrote:I've worked with projects which involve both physicists and engineers and I agree with you that both are necessary. Still, due to the fact that I'm a physicist, I will usually make fun of engineers every chance I get... it's just how it works... kinda like Cal Tech and MIT. Don't take twistor too seriously, and definitely don't be offended by him, his posting history shows that he enjoys making fun of everything and everyone. I personally find his posts hilarious as they add a little bit of spice to this forum, if you don't like them, it's probably just best to ignore them.


twistor wrote:t's not a bad deal if you enjoy wearing starchy clothes and sitting in a cubicle (plastered with Dilbert comics, I'd imagine)

Anyways, getting back to the topic at hand, I think it is clear that physicists are better... in contrast to engineers, we sit in a dark basement room wearing unwashed clothes with Ph.D. comics plastered to our walls!!!


Don't worry secander, I'm familiar with the type, I've seen his posts before. I just think that some of these comments could forge a new generation of crackpots that, behind a joke, would try to mask their secret feeling of superiority just because they know what bosons are. I mean, I definitely don't love engineering (after all, I'm applying for a physics PhD!) just as I don't love accounting, but I won't trust my savings to a physics major just because he can handle the math.
And twator: of course I'm not smart! how could a smart person end up discussing with you? No offense.

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twistor
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby twistor » Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:38 pm

And twator: of course I'm not smart! how could a smart person end up discussing with you? No offense.


I see what you did there; very clever. Taking my name and purposely misspelling it in a misogynistic fashion. I didn't get it a first; I was like, "twator, wait... my name is twistor!", but then I saw through to your true genius.

Of course you know my type. We're really the same. For instance, you think you're better than me because of your (faux) moral superiority. "I'm better than you because I don't think other people are better than me."

No offense.

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Re: Engineering Students

Postby metric » Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:18 pm

Actually, I'm not even original, I got it from somebody else that called you like that before. You know, engineers cut and paste. :)

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1822&p=15179#p15179

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twistor
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Re: Engineering Students

Postby twistor » Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:28 pm

And you took that from physicsdude. This is exactly what I mean, engineers thriving off the work of physicists....




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