So, I'm one of those "Engineers interested in Physics" but hopefully I have a little more information to help out. My Profile:
Undergrad Institution: Mid-size to Large State School, good Eng. reputation, OK Physics reputation (top 50)
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Length of Degree: 4 years
Class Rank: Magna Cum Laude, not sure of # Rank
Type of Student: domestic white male (I'm 27, graduated in 2008)
Q: (not yet taken)
V: (not yet taken)
W: (not yet taken)
P: 850 (04/20/2013)
Research Experience: All Professional - Semiconductor/photovoltaic device process engineering at thin-film start-up (2 years full-time as process eng.) 2008-2010; Solar device integration at private company (6 months, 2011)
Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Honors, Dean's List...
Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Day job currently as a Mechanical Design Engineer (interested in a career change obviously...)
Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Basic cleanroom / optics skills
Applying to Where: Well, this is the question! I know I am interested in probably a Materials Science program (wonder if I'd be able to get into a pure Physics dept. with no formal quantum, modern physics, etc. in undergrad? I learned this through my research job and have somewhat proved I'm comfortable with these subjects with my pGRE I think...)
I'm interested in semiconductor materials, solid-state physics, photonics, and optics. The advice given to me was apply to a Materials Science program (better chance of getting in than Physics). I want to work in industry most likely in the long run, with the aim of being something like a head R&D or principal process engineer.
I'm interested in Colorado School of Mines (mostly because of partnerships with NREL), and living in NC my safety will likely be NC State, but what other schools are within my "realm"? What about some slight stretch schools?
I know I'm a few years out of school which will factor in there somewhere (good or bad, probably both really...)